“I NEED to ride,” I blurted in my mom’s ear as I turned our car onto the road leading up towards the HITS show grounds in Saugerties, NY. I could barely make out the permanent stabling barns in the distance, but that’s all it took for me to switch my mind from office mode to horse show mode. It has been almost three years since I stepped foot on the vast show grounds in Saugerties, but the 3.5-hour drive up north with stop-and-go traffic is all too familiar and got me excited for the weekend ahead.
I spent that Friday morning in the office tapping my feet and checking the clock like a child impatiently waiting to go on a fun family vacation. I was lucky enough to only have a half-day of work and was able to get an early start to my weekend up at the show watching my sister Megan, and her horse, Leo. I wheeled into the crowded parking lot and wedged the car into a makeshift space, traversing a few mud puddles before beginning my search at the back of the property for tent 25. As I took a giant leap backwards to avoid being run over by two golf carts zooming by, I found myself in the direct path of an overly excited (presumably jumper) horse on his way back to the barn. I continued on unscathed, but quickly realized how out of tune I was with being at a horse show. I felt so out of place. Maybe it was because I was wearing a pair of shorts and not tan breeches like I have in years past. I imagined I appeared to strangers like one of those horse show dads who attend maybe one or two shows per year looking totally uninterested and bored.
I couldn’t stand the feeling of looking like an outsider to everyone around the stabling area, so I marched right into my sister’s barn and searched for work. But before greeting the people standing in the aisle way, I had to pet and say hi to every horse in his or her stall. I didn’t intentionally ignore my sister’s barnmates, I guess I was just ecstatic to be around horses again. In a matter of minutes, I was walking one of the horses to the wash area for a bath and later asked the horse’s owner if I could wrap his legs. Night check, sure I’ll do that too! I was determined to soak up every minute of being around the horses and didn’t want to take any of it for granted because I knew that in less than 72 hours I’d be back in my office chair.
Being around horses revived a passion that was forced to go on the back burner this summer. While I was fortunate enough to attend the Devon Horse Show and the Brandywine Valley Summer Series as a spectator in my own backyard, I wasn’t able to have that hands-on experience I craved. Spending a weekend up at HITS made me feel like a kid on Christmas morning. I got to stand up by the in-gate, wipe my sister’s boots off before she went into the ring, and give her horse a treat on their way out. Although I didn’t have a chance to pull my boots on and get back in the saddle, it felt so good to be back in the middle of all the action. The weekend came to an end, the horses were loaded onto the trailer, and I packed the car to head back home. Hello again, real world! While I didn’t get to ride, the weekend excursion away from the office was exactly what I needed to wet palate with just enough horse-filled fun and excitement to get me through the next long stretch of work and dry spell of not being around horses.
In three weeks, I’ll be packing up my car and heading back to Lancaster, PA for my final semester of college. Over the years, I’ve added extra classes and internships to my course load in anticipation of graduating a semester early, finishing in December, rather than May. Why, you may ask? Well, the Florida show circuit starts up in January every year and the winters here in the North are gruesome. Who knows exactly what I’ll be doing come January, but there is one thing that I know for sure — I will definitely be in Florida, surrounded by plenty of sunshine, and plenty of horses.