Whether itís a friend, partner or relative, many horse people are lucky enough to have some non-horsey supporters (though they are seldom known to return after the first show). Unfortunately for these poor, misinformed souls, being a non-horsey person in a horsey world entails some confusing and often contradictory etiquette that they must subscribe to. For the sake of the physical and mental well-being of the non-horsey supporters, I have lain out some examples of commonly violated horsey etiquette below.
1. Itís sweet that youíre concerned about me and all, but for goodnessí sake, if I fall off the horse, KEEP FILMIMG! Iíll be fine... Probably.
2. After filming, if Iím not already on my feet, please catch my horse BEFORE checking if Iím alive.
3. I will be about as friendly as a T-Rex with a toothache and an itch on his back after Iíve had a bad round. If you try to tell me it ďwasnít that badĒ, or that Iíll ďdo better next timeĒ or really anything at all, I will probably rip your head off and find a reason to blame you for it, and you just need to be okay with that.
4. You should have placed a bottle of water in my hand before Iíve even left the arena. I donít care if you were filming from the opposite side to get the best angle. Itís not my problem if you canít teleport.
5. Never try to feed me before a show. Iím not hungry, Iím nervous. I donít care if my stomach sounds like something out of a Slipknot album. If you bring food within 10m of me, I will projectile vomit on your face. You have been warned.
6. When I have finished competing I am starving. If the tuck shop has closed and you have failed to feed me, I will eat you.
7. You do not comment on the grass slobber-stains, the sweat-soaked hair and clothes, or the smell. Iím an athlete, not a princess. Just use your imagination until I resume my usual level of attractiveness.
8. If I win, you will clap. You will not make a scene. You will hug me and congratulate me despite the fact that I will be sweatier than a foil-encased sumo wrestler in a sauna.
9. Unless it was a bad round and I won due to a stroke of luck. Iím there to do well, not to win. They are not always the same thing. For you, guessing whether or not Iíve accomplished my goal will probably be a bit like a game of Russian roulette, but hereís a hint: if I was hanging onto the side of my horseís neck while it carried me around a winning jump off round, chances are I am not happy with my performance.
10. If you are standing near the horse and I walk away, you ARE supposed to hold the horse. If you let it get away, I WILL put you on mucking out duty.
11. Your body is not your temple. Itís my moving truck. And it should at all times be supplied with spare crops, spurs, gloves, reins, girths, bits, carrots, water, headcollars, and more baby wipes than an orphanage storage cupboard.
12. If my boots are dirty, you will wipe them. You will never try to wipe my boots while I am busy, late, or stressed.
13. I will always be busy, late or stressed. It will always be your fault.
14. Despite the fact that the stress of a horse show will reliably turn a nice girl into a demon-orge-orc hybrid, remember that I do love and appreciate you, and by the time itís all over, Iíll remember too... probably. Unless you failed to follow the above etiquette. Then youíd better have wine and chocolate in that moving truck.
*This article was inspired by my wonderful boyfriend who, despite being distinctly non-horsey, recently made a valiant effort to uphold the standards of horsey etiquette at a show. He managed to put on my horseís headcollar and load her, helped me pull her mane (with numerous voiced concerns of ďIím not hurting her, right?Ē), tolerated my sweatiness, and provided me with a chocolate brownie upon my victory. Unfortunately, he failed to continue videoing not only my first stupid fall, but also my stubborn refusal to repeat the incident, involving a magnificently undignified clawing and crawling up the side of the horse and back into the saddle. So heíll have to go... obviously.
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