So, today, I'm off to a horse show, for my sins, and not just any horse show...a Dressage Show, which, as I pointed out to someone in the home improvement biz, "is beyond watching paint dry...its like watching polyurethane dry!"
I'll be off to a horse show most weekends for the next two months, so it seems, to watch Velvet compete. I love to watch Velvet do her thing, but this joy doesn't come without a certain amount of hardship: horse shows are deadly dull, terribly uncomfortable, and incredible time wasters unless you come prepared. If you are like me, you don't want to get remotely involved in the back-breaking work that takes place before, during, or after the horse is ready for his or her 3 minutes in the spotlight, you are relegated to the sidelines with very little to do.
As a public service announcement, here are two lists to enable the horse show visitor to sally forth, ready for a long hard day in the field:
10 Things To Bring With You When Attending An All-Day Horse Show:
1) Your own seating arrangement: Never, never, never go to a horse show without your own seating. Seats at a horse show are never plentiful, and most often wildly uncomfortable. This doesn’t bother the riders, who can’t sit down anyway because of those insane pants they have on, but if you plan to attend, invest in a comfortable folding chair with a back and, ideally, a beverage holder. Money well spent.
2) Your own food and drink: most of the food at a horse show is for the horses. Riders are happy to grab the occasional tepid Diet Coke or a synthetic, re-heated pepperoni burrito, or something equally disgusting, but this doesn’t mean you have to lie down and submit to this kind of culinary terrorism. Make a picnic, and, depending on the weather, bring a cooler with ice, or a thermos of hot soup, and, if you’re lucky enough to avoid being the designated driver, bring cocktails. While overt consumption ringside might be frowned upon, that’s why God invented the back seat of your station wagon. I always channel my inner Auntie Mame when heading out to a horse show, “Don’t forget the maps and the martinis!”
3) Copious Reading Material: horse shows go on forever, and since your rider is only going to be on for about 7 minutes out of a 34 hour day, it’s advisable to bring a book you can sink into, or 3 weeks worth of Sunday New York Times you didn’t get round to. Or The Yellow Pages. Anything…
4) Mud-proof footwear: Whatever the weather, horse shows are muddy, and nothing will piss you off like ruining a good pair of shoes, or spending the day with ooze between your toes.
5) Clariten-D 24-hour capsules. All kinds of crap in the air, even in January.
6) A Black Sharpie. This is for writing pertinent info on the back of the ribbons your child wins. A Black Sharpie at a horse show ensures you’ll never be lonely.
7) Hygiene facilitators: hand sanitizer, wipes, napkins, and towels. Lots and lots of towels. Someone always needs to towel something.
8) Someone interesting to talk to. Because, God knows, you’re not going to meet anyone there who wants to deconstruct the latest episode of Mad Men, indulge in some healthy Republican-bashing, or who finds the announcement for all the participants in “Maiden English Pleasure,” remotely funny.
9) A fully charged cell phone and camera. When either looses power, your boat has well and truly sunk.
10) An exit visa: have the thing you have to get to next firmly in place, even if you’ve completely fabricated it. Mention it frequently and loudly. Stick to it.
10 Things You Can Do At An All-Day Horse Show to Stave Off Utter Boredom:
1) Catch up on your chic, intellectual, lefty, liberal reading, like “The New Yorker” which, apart from being good for your soul, will also ensure that none of the horsy set bugs you. Save “O” and “Real Simple” for plane rides.
2) Home Administration: Make shopping lists, make an enormous 6 page to-do list that you can later throw away, plan party menus, pay your bills, which will ensure that everyone bugs you, since they will assume you are one of the organizers.
3) Have lengthy phone conversations with friends you haven’t seen for a while, assuming, which you should never do, that the horse show venue has cell phone coverage.
4.) Address and sign your Christmas cards (for any year, any time of the year)
5.) Go for a long, long, long brisk walk along the muddy muddy muddy roads surrounding the venue, which guarantees solitude, but is risky since there is never an exact time for when your rider will be “on-deck.”
6) Knit, embroider, crochet, or any other kind of sewing project, which will ensure that the horsy moms besiege you all day long.
7) Put in some much-needed time on that very-neglected self-improvement project, by making a list of resolutions beginning with “Reduce number of days I attend horse shows.”
8) Write novels. Many novels. Like Trollope. You’ve got the time.
9) Read novels. Many novels. Like Tolstoy. You’ve got the time.
10) Open an alternative to the existing food concession stand, charging $10.00 per homemade muffin. You will be able to retire in comfort to the Bahamas that evening.