Why Do We Do It?

This morning as I was drinking my coffee (probably about cup number 8 or 9), I began to think about my horses, showing and why I am so enthralled with the whole thing. Unless a person is a trainer or a large breeder, showing one’s morgan horse throughout the summer is mainly a hobby; a very, very expensive hobby. As I look at the amount of money that I have spent over the years, I began to think about why I do it. Why do I spend so much money and time to go around a ring on my horse to have a judge and others on the rail decide whether I or my horse is any good? I am not degrading this, I am just honestly wondering why I do it.

I have come up with many possible answers to this question, but so far I have not decided which one best fits my situation. In reality, they probably all do.

As many of you know I get very, very nervous before I enter the ring (I often decide that I am absolutely crazy to think this is a good idea) but when I exit the ring I always feel that I have accomplished something (even if it is not falling off or crashing). So, maybe I do it to test myself and prove to myself and others that I can swallow my fears in order to climb one more rung on my personal confidence ladder.

The other possibility is that I after I have worked so hard taking lessons all year I want others to see that I have improved. A fear I have for when I finally ride my horse at a rated show is that people will say to themselves or others “That is a really nice horse. Too bad that lady can’t ride” (you know you’ve heard this, too). And on this same line, maybe I want to prove that I am worthy to own and ride a nice horse.

Maybe I want others to agree with me that my horses are as pretty and/or talented as I think they are. This certainly makes spending all the money to buy or produce them not seem like a waste of resources. I don’t know why, but I do want others to say that they are beautiful. If people don’t agree, it doesn’t reduce my love for them so why do I care?

I am also a very competitive person and, like most people, I like winning at things. Since I don’t really have an outlet for that anymore. For those of you that have kids (or a husband…just kidding, honey!), you can understand this; How many games of Candy Land or Don’t Break the Ice have you thrown? I do like competing against others to win. Is that just Human Nature?

Or possibly it is the comraderie that comes with owning and showing horses. I have met some very fun, and interesting people (as well as some very strange ones) all of which have added something special to my life.

So as I am sorting out why I am going out early in the cold weather to ride my horses and sitting on a hot horse in 90 degree weather wearing a 3 piece suit sweating this summer, I am also wondering why others do it? Why do you show your Morgan Horse?

13 Responses to Why Do We Do It?

  1. denu220 says:

    I struggle with the same issues, Beth. While people in the world are struggling to eat and stay warm (or cool), trying to hang on to their jobs, I have horses trained and shown… I can think of hundreds of charitable causes that would better benefit from my bank account than my need for horses…
    Yet, there is something within me uniquely touched by horses and showing. I’m not sure I can put my finger on it. I remember the first time I went to the fair and saw horses shown, thinking “That’s me!” I remember thinking those horses were the most beautiful thing in the world… The whole picture was just eternally memorable and imprinted on my soul.
    Growing up, I was never a particularly athletic child. Okay, let’s call a spade a spade: I was the child last picked for kickball, etc. As an adult rider, I’ve become quite athletic and enjoy it. I’ve actually been able to feel pretty while riding… Horses do something for the inside of my soul and spirit that I could never get from the rest of the world.
    And yes, I’m very competitive. Although I did well in school and have multiple college degrees (yes, I’m a geek), I still enjoy pinning well and especially winning. I’m okay with the ribbons as long as I remind myself the my personal value and self-esteem are NOT dictated by the color of the placement!
    So, why do I show? I show because I love every aspect of it (except the pre-class diarrhea) and want to take that beautiful picture to the world so others can enjoy it and be inspired… Horses are very special and do something very special for me personally.

  2. royalattraction says:

    i ask myself this everytime i run behind a nearby bulding to puke before my classes haha. the nerves really get to me, but once i hit that ingate my body just goes numb :) The reason i show is because I work so hard all year and i want to see how much my work pays off :)in the end, the victory pass completely outweighs my dry bank account!

  3. bluedesiign says:

    All I have ever wanted is to train and show a horse of my very own. While trying to achieve this goal I have faced the cruelest side of the horse industry more than once. There was even a point where I stopped going to the barn. I was sure that I would never even look back. By fate I was brought to a horse that would change my mind forever. He gave me the courage to continue fighting to achieve my dreams.
    I now have a horse of my own and he and I are working on the training part. This year I hope that we will be able to show. I can’t wait to see him in the ring. To see him mature and progress over the past year is just amazing to me. I adore my horse and I can’t wait to see where he takes me.
    I think the feeling of accomplishment is the best part. To show a horse is one thing, but to learn and grow with them is another.

  4. trotsie says:

    At okc this year I sold my horse for quite alot of money. While I should have been thinking about paying off my car, or decorating my new home, Starting a new life with my fiance, or maybe even donating to a charity. The only thought that entered in to my mind is-What color is my next horse going to be? I know I have an addiction problem with morgan horses. People in this industry have been both welcoming and completely nasty to me, But it is all about the horses to me. It is my dream one day to be doing a vicory pass at nationals on a horse that is my partner. There for I will drive several hours a week to see her. There for all of my pay checks with go to her trainer. I know this sound bizarr, but it is the love of the morgan horse.

  5. lc says:

    For me it’s definitely the competitive thing, coupled with my love of everything HORSE SHOW -the clipping, bathing, hoof sanding, hours spent cleaning my tack, imagining my classes and who will be in them. I love the grounds themselves; how they smell, the sounds of hollering horses, watching my peers and childhood idols alike. But obviously it is because of this amazing breed. I’m always anticiapting laying my eyes upon a new breath-taking star or I’m looking forward to see the veterans coming back year after year. To me life would be “flat” without the thrill and passion of horse shows.

  6. Mocha Mom says:

    I used to struggle with this question. Especially when I quit working to raise our children, but also wanted to have horses to keep me “busy”. I felt guilty spending money that I did not earn for my pleasure, especially since neither my husband or kids had any interest whatsoever. Fortunately, my husband understood me better than I did and encouraged me. I have finally accepted that it is a passion that is its own justification. There is no rationalizing it. It’s actually similar to my husband’s passion for Steelers football.

    On those rare occasions when I do feel the need to rationalize my passion, I say that I’m stimulating the economy. :-)

  7. colwilrin says:

    Since I got my first yellow ribbon at day camp, when I was 6, I have been hooked on showing. It is a given that I am a competitive person, so I look to what else makes me spend all my extra cash. Yep, the Morgan personality is what keeps me with this breed…but why showing? I think for everyone, there is a feeling of utter joy at some point…otherwise, why do it.

    For me, that feeling originated when I rode Saddleseat. There is nothing like the feeling of trotting up the in-ramp and climbing down the rail. That moment when the horse engages their hind-end motor. You are pushed to the back of the cutback, the neck comes up in between your hands, and you tilt your eyes down and see the horses upper leg and knee as they climb down the rail. When it is right…it just feels perfect…and nothing, I mean nothing, can stop the smile that comes to my face.

    That, for me, is why I keep showing…for those moments when the smile just won’t stop.

  8. smccullo says:

    Wow! I am invisioning a fabulous poster here. I had one of those rides yesterday – when you can see the knees, and they rise up and are light and bright, there is nothing like it….but this was out trotting in the state land across the street…so why do I need to do pay MONEY to do it publicly in front of EVERYONE?? I think for me its showing the public what a great partnership I have, and making my trainer(s) and husband proud. (yes I am a pleaser type).

    Great question, btw.

    smccullo (sue)

  9. leslie says:

    Good question. I really don’t know why I do it, but I know that I’ve tried to stop or take a year off but it never works. Every year I say I’m going to retire my horse at the end of the season, but then when spring rolls around I get the bug and go for “just one more season.” It was a running joke at my barn.

    I don’t keep my horse in training, I do my own show care and grooming, and I’ve mostly done local open shows rather than the Morgan circuit, so showing hasn’t been quite as ridiculously expensive for me as it is for those who do the big shows, but I’ve still ended the summer with credit card debt a few times. Stupid, but I keep doing it.

    It’s a competitive, athletic, and social outlet, but I’m sure I could find better outlets that are actually within my financial means. If I go to shows just to watch, photograph, or groom for friends, it’s never the same. I can’t explain it. I guess it’s just a purely emotional, illogical thing.

    I got rid of my suit at the end of last season and am in no position to buy a new one, so maybe this will be the year my horse really retires from the show ring. We’ll see…

  10. kad says:

    Why do I do it? WHY do I do it? Why DO I do it? No matter how I approach the question, I cannot honestly come up with any one answer. I, like many, spend entirely too much time, effort money on my horses with no rational explanation. I do however know that I wake each and every day and feel sooooo extremely fortunate that I really need no paticular reason at all – That in and of itself is a good enough reason for me!

  11. Scottfield03 says:

    So I am answering this from a little different perspective, because I do not do this as a hobby as most of you do, but rather as a profession. Most of you look at this from the financial side and ask yourselves, “Why?” Believe it or not, I do too… I was an excellent student, had many scholarship opportunities, truly could have pursued whatever I desired. I chose this. And when I am putting in my 72nd hour of work in a week, or when I have just had a student leave the ring after making the same avoidable error for the 7th time, or I pick up the phone at 9:30 at night because one of my clients was wondering how their horse worked that day, I question my sanity just as thoroughly as the rest of you do. So this is my rationalization in those moments… I can’t explain why I love this, why I do this, and that is EXACTLY why I have to. It is just in me. It is all I can think about the vast majority of the time. Its all I want to talk about, most of what I dream about, the thing in my life that brings be the most joy. The highs are high, and the lows are low, but I know I am not alone on this roller coaster. There are hundreds, if not thousands, just like me. And we all descend upon the same show grounds for whole weeks at a time, and for those precious few days, I am with people who “get it,” Horse People who are just as crazy about this sport, business, and mostly these horses, as I am. Explaining this passion becomes an elusive endeavor for me. The way I see it, I do this because no matter how much I invest emotionally and financially, I am repaid 100 fold by the people and Morgans in whom I invest. And while this sport may be difficult for each of us to justify to the other, I don’t know that we need to. We all innately understand that this desire is intangible in a way that simply can’t be defined by words, and yet, it is most definitely understood by all of you. How magical is that…

  12. EdanaLL says:

    This is an excellent question, and one I have struggled with a number of times. I even gave up showing for one year a long time ago, but it “didn’t take.” I was right back the following year. I just couldn’t stay away. I love being with horses and horse people. I love the competition. I love the exhilaration when my horse and I are on exactly the same page and we perform brilliantly. I love when we are so `on’ that we even manage to beat some of the `big guns’ out there. I compete in the carriage division (open shows and the Morgan circuit), and it’s a bit more work than some of the other divisions (loads of harness and brass to polish, multiple cones courses to memorize and walk.. multiple times!). So yeah, when it’s 90 degrees and I’m out in a field somewhere walking timed obstacles for the umpteenth time, I start to question why I’m even out there. But the `bad’ far outweighs the good, so I continue to make sacrifices in my personal life and put every spare penny into the horses. Ultimately, it’s totally worth it.

  13. Morganz says:

    That’s a good question. My grandfather got me into the sport of riding before I could even walk. I will always remember the first time I was riding a little pony in a paddock and my grandfather forgot to tighten the girth and off I went into the wood chips. I was about 5 and haven’t stopped riding yet. I started showing when I was 8. Ever since then I have gone every year. I love showing, I spend all my extra time conditioning and training my horses in the off season and at the shows it all pays off. I love the morgan people, they are so nice. Personally, I can’t see myself not showing!

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