With USEF releasing their new horse show covid guidelines, there has been a bit of a stir across the interwebs. Some people seem ready and willing to get back to horse showing no matter how different it looks, but other people don’t want to participate until the guidelines are able to be loosened.
I admit that when it comes to the latter group at first I was kinda like “damn, y’all have spent months whining about not horse showing, and now you’re whining about not wanting to have to horse show like that“. But as I read their explanations a bit more and understood where they were coming from, their reasons made more sense.
To me, horse showing is not a social experience. I mean… it is, by it’s very nature, being a large gathering of like-minded people, but it’s not the reason why I horse show. I tend to be the reclusive one that disappears somewhere by myself for hours and rarely goes to a competitor party. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing all my friends (except Bobby, he’s a loser) but it’s not what draws me the most. For me, the biggest perk of horse shows is being able to spend focused one-on-one time alone with my horse, taking care of him myself, doing what we love to do, while enjoying time in our little bubble away from the real world. My favorite non-riding part of showing is getting up early and having some quiet time in the barn or hand-walking my horse in the quiet calm before the storm. None of the new covid restrictions would change that.
But not everyone is like me, obviously. There are a lot of people that really really love the social aspect of horse shows. Spending time with their friends, going to the parties, talking about horses 24/7, having their family come watch, etc. I am not a social person so that’s not me, but can still totally understand it. Especially those who don’t get a lot of “horse time” or “horse friend time” in their regular day to day lives. For them these new covid restrictions, while absolutely 110% valid and necessary and the right thing to do given what’s going on in the world right now, put a big damper on all the things they love so much about showing, so they’re opting to stay sidelined until things relax a bit.
There isn’t actually choice here for me to make anyway, about whether or not I want to start showing again. It’s summer now, already nearing triple digit temps in Texas, and my heat intolerant horse is unlikely to do much of anything until fall. Maybe a very local jumper show or a day trip for XC schooling, but definitely not any real horse showing. Our season was done before it started when he bruised his foot so badly in November, so this really isn’t even a debate for me personally. Seeing both sides of the fence though, I can see a lot of different reasons why someone would or wouldn’t want to get back to it – health reasons, economic reasons, social reasons, horse-specific reasons, you name it. It’s a strange new sea we’re living in, and not everyone is in the same boat.
I admit that I’m a little surprised USEA still says AEC (Championships) are a “go” for August in Kentucky, though. That seems like a Bad Idea to me for myriad reasons, but I sure won’t be judging anyone who wants to go as long as USEA is willing to make it available. Again, it’s not even on the table for me anyway due to the whole “August in Kentucky” part so it’s easy for me to not feel tempted.
I’m curious though, now that I’ve spent some time way overthinking all of this: why do you horse show? What are those little moments that keep you coming back for more? Are you eager to get back out there no matter what kind of covid restrictions are in place, or are you going to wait until things ease up a bit?