If you’re out competing this weekend, here are 11 familiar sights you’ll probably see in the collecting ring…
1. The horse at its first show
The first competitive outing is a biggie for a horse just starting out in any discipline. You can usually spot this animal a mile off; he’s gangly, his eyes are on stalks and he’s probably snaffle mouthed. And his rider may look highly stressed with at least two fingers firmly tucked inside the neckstrap. Give this duo a wide birth!
2. A discarded grooming kit/basket
Hopefully you realise you’ve forgotten your box of treasures before you leave the showground.
2. Someone arguing
Probably a parent or child, or a rider and their long-suffering partner, bickering about their recent performance (or lack of), or who was meant to put dinner in the slow cooker before they set off that morning…
3. A hard-working groom
Some grooms don’t seem to have stopped all day; a constant cycle of cleaning boots, legging up and primping horses. While your helper is putting their feet up, polishing off the last of the Prosecco and cake…
4. A designated jump putter-upper
Similar to that person who stupidly places themselves next to the collecting ring entrance gate, the individual stood in the middle putting jumps up and down is probably too polite to just walk away, so it’s their unofficial job until someone else comes and takes their place.
5. Many, many trainers
Trainers with all different teaching styles and tones of voice will be seen, and heard. Some use words of encouragement, while others make their clients cry. Horses for course, I guess.
6. The lost stick
Alas, the poor lost show cane or schooling whip is usually found at the end of the day, bedded under the sand. Probably dropped by mistake and unlikely to be reunited with its former owner.
7. A leg bandage mishap
Watching a leg wrap gradually unravel before your eyes is similar to watching a car crash. A possible disaster if the horse treads on it or spooks. Yikes.
8. At least one spectacular fall
You just hope it’s not you.
9. A lack of direction
There’s always one rider who has never heard of the left-to-left concept, or a pair who insist on riding two-by-two on the track.
10. The owners
They’re the reason why a lot of horses are at the fixture in the first place. There to be impressed and hopefully leave with a bundle of red rosettes. Why does it feel like there is always added pressure when performing in front of these groups of VIPs, even though you don’t have anything to do with them!?
Including dropped coffee cups, schedules or back numbers. Please do your bit and take yours home, folks!
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