What do you say?


I have a brand-new show horse—two months with us—and one that shows some promise.   But she’s new to us,  and I just started showing again after a long hiatus.  Since this is our “practice year,” we still have some rough edges to smooth off.   I’m not a novice rider nor is she a novice horse.

Here’s what I’m throwing out to the wonderful Morgan community: what do I say to non-horse *friends* who are constantly hounding me about how we placed at a  particular show (all A-rated)?  They don’t understand the ups and downs of competition and are bringing me more down than I surely need to be.  We were reserve grand champions at our first two shows  but fighting to stay alive at world-class New England.  I just don’t know what to tell people and feel like I shouldn’t be under so much outside pressure to win immediately…  I know I ride fairly well and have a fairly nice horse but am having some trouble dealing with John Q.  Public, as well as my family.  Any thoughts or advice from the competitively sports-minded?  Thanks!

33 Responses to What do you say?

  1. Annonymous says:

    I too am in that same position. Eagerly anticipating comments…..

  2. denu220 says:

    I’m sorry you’re in the same boat. The trouble with me is that I won a LOT when I showed 20 years ago… Even so, people just don’t seem to understand what we riders/drivers/owners go through during the entire course of competition; it can be a very emotionally draining experience and then feeling like I have to answer to folks just pushes me over the edge. Best of luck to you the rest of the season!

  3. jdenzel says:

    If it were me, I’d say, “World Champions are not created in a day”!

  4. colwilrin says:

    Congrats to both of you on diving back in to the Morgan show world! Welcome back, I hope to see you out there.

    As for John Q…it is fine to say “we did very well”…or “she’s coming along nicely, right where the trainers want her now”…”we will peak right at the optimal time”.

    Also, note if you got beat by titled horses. There is no shame in bragging about taking a 5th behind 4 world/national titled horses.

    On the sneakier side…lie…they will never check the results anyway. This isn’t a bunch of Morgan people you are talking to. I’ve known people (in other breeds of course :)) who tend to add on another 10 horses in the class if their ribbon is low. It becomes like the typical “fish story”…amazing at how many 40 head classes there are when you are talking to co-workers!!!

    Good luck!!!!!

  5. Annonymous says:

    I’ve taken on the challenge of a new horse that I get along with really well but are still working out our issues in the ring. We do pretty well, but family and non-horsey friends just don’t understand that sometimes it takes time get really get into a grove together.

    “it can be a very emotionally draining experience and then feeling like I have to answer to folks just pushes me over the edge.”

    …..You said it perfectly…

  6. Black Eye Beth says:

    Hey Denu, Honestly, I can’t write what I would like to say to people who do things like that (I am trying to keep this a “family” blog!). Showing is such a stressful thing for most people and unless you been there you can’t comprehend the mass amounts of emotions that come with it. My best response has always been to say with a straight face, “Okay, if you think it is so easy, then you hop right up there and do it”. I do also like colwilrin’s suggestions.

    People that don’t ride don’t understand that each time you get on a horse (or drive) generally it is never the same experience. We are dealing with a living and breathing entity that has ideas of its own. In addition, riding when you are older is much different than when you are younger. I am not sure what it is but things seemed to come to me much easier in my high school/early 20′s.

    Hang in there…if it’s fun for you then that is all that is important!

  7. denu220 says:

    Those are all great suggestions! I think I’m going to be very careful in the future telling people when/where I’m showing, etc. Some people may never know (gee, wonder why?).
    Certain well-meaning friends press me on my placement and then want to know if I was last or say stupid things like, “Well, at least you weren’t last!” Yeah, with the line-up at New England it was great just leaving the ring with a ribbon. Period.
    When I kept coming in second for the first two shows, people were wondering why I couldn’t snatch first… Uh, because a multi-titled world champion beat us, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of…
    I’m just so sick of feeling like I have to answer all these questions, especially with a new horse and friends and family pressuring me to get higher ribbons.
    The only other factor—and I don’t know if any of you have encountered this—is that some folks know how much I paid for this horse and are just exasperated that we aren’t coming together right away like the National Champion she is… UGH!!! Thanks for listening. Good luck with the rest of the season, everyone!

  8. colwilrin says:

    At the end of the day…If you are having a great time with her…that is all that matters.

    AND…REAL horse people understand that completely!

    Chin up…go out there and have a great time with your wonderful new horse!

    Remember, It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you are surrounded by turkeys.

  9. denu220 says:

    Hah, hah—I like your “soar” comment (especially the part about the turkeys!)! Yes, my mare is a BLAST to ride and will be fun to breed :) Thanks, colwilrin

  10. Peppermintpatti says:

    Well, I sure know how you feel. I too started riding again after many years and kids. I use to win all the time but have only won a time or two since returning to riding. I rode my horse who had just carried my friend’s daughter to a World Championship the past season and didn’t place. Talk about being embarrassed! My daughter bless her heart said “Mom, I thought you looked great”. It has killed my confidence but I am going to keep trying. Good luck to you and know you are not the only one out there.

  11. denu220 says:

    Thanks, Peppermintpatti! Good luck to you too!

  12. bella92290 says:

    Change the topic and talk about something else with them. Very few of our non horse friends understand at all. Sometimes I try and put it in perspective for them by comparing it to something they are passionate about, that seems to help. Other than that no one understands our horse world better than our horse friends, which ends up being like family.

  13. denu220 says:

    Good suggestion, Bella. I opted not to share with certain individuals that I’m showing again next month (*wink, wink*). I’ve finally learned certain friends just can’t be trusted with all the details of my life—horsey and otherwise. Thankfully, we have each other to lean on in the horse show family!

  14. Jan says:

    I think there may be a lot of issues here all rolled up in one topic. First of all, this is a great opportunity to educate those non-horsey friends and yes, some will never “get it”. It’s a learning process and sometimes a long one, especially when we don’t have the privilege of starting out as junior exhibitors, but start as adults. I don’t know too many people who can jump on a horse and show it to it’s best advantage right from the start. Those critters can have alot of quirks that can only be figured out in the show ring. Secondly, as beginners with a particular horse, we would not expect to place like last year’s world champion rider who had the time and experience to show the horse to all of it’s potential. We may call that a good judge– It will come–in time–with practice and experience.

  15. denu220 says:

    Those are encouraging words, Jan. Of course, I’m hard on myself… I’ve had my horse since the end of May and it’s the end of July here…Twice reserve grand champions and four times reserve champions at the first two shows, then pinning at New England. Yeah, I’m hard on myself. Still, I like what you said about me not being able to expect myself to show her like the national champion she was at OKC several years back… Hopefully, we’ll both get back up to speed (er, collection) after a full winter of expert training.

  16. Dawn Fire says:

    Good for you for showing your horse!!!

    Surely anyone who has EVER participated in any sort of competitive sport ever in their entire lives understands that you cannot win every time. Plus, even if they have competed in any sport before, they probably were not attempting to control an animal that weighs 10 times what they do and has a mind of it’s own.

    I say that if people can’t be supportive, perhaps you need to find new friends. A true friend will offer a word of encouragement no matter what the outcome of your class.

    Best of luck to you!

  17. denu220 says:

    Thanks, Dawn! I thought your park mare was awesome and enjoyed watching you compete!

  18. jennyhasija says:

    This is harsh and I apologize…but please remember that most of John Q Public cannot even begin to dream how to pull this horse and show stuff all together…financially and skillwise. We are so privileged! Just to be able to OWN a horse…AND go to a show…AND do WELL…that puts you on somewhat of a different plane :) Just please don’t say that! LOL

  19. denu220 says:

    Oh, I agree with you 100%!!! I think we’re privileged even carrying on this discussion! I count my blessings every day… I recently had a world champion western rider tell me when she doesn’t pin, she tells people she came in 9th. Hah!!!

  20. Bette's Mom says:

    Even at my seemingly advanced age, I tried to engage my mom about my renewed interest in our sport and she just didn’t get it. I tried this explaination… “Mom, pretend I was a world class gymnast, and I got the best equipment I could afford, and went to the best coach I could find, and I worked really, really hard, but on the day of the nationals…. my balance beam was having a bad day.”

    At least she paused to think… Welcome back from another newbee! You will find you will make so many horsey friends you won’t even bother discussing horses with those friends who are NOT!

  21. colwilrin says:

    I agree with your statement about only wanting to talk with horse people once you have your “crew of girls!”

    There is only one thing worse than having your non-horse people asking why you didn’t win…READY…

    When you do win something HUGE…beat a few WC horses in the process…you come into work on Monday morning…positively gleeful…waiting to tell everyone….

    You find your group of co-workers, recount the story in a quick, quivery excited voice…then they look at you with eyes glazed over and say:

    “Yah…well, that’s nice…have you seen the Smith file?”


    PS…then you slink back to your office, get on email…and recount the glory in great detail with all your horse friends who really get it!

  22. denu220 says:

    They just don’t get it, do they?!!

  23. denu220 says:

    Sometimes I feel like I’m from Mars and the rest of the non-horsey world lives beyond Pluto… No, most of them don’t get it at all, and we’ve discussed both extremes.

  24. jdenzel says:

    My Mother, who is 85 years old only gets to see her granddaughter once a year at Jubilee! There have been year’s when my daughter has not pinned and years when she has. After every class though her grandmother exclaims, “How wonderful! What a beautiful sport! You ride so well!” The ribbon isn’t what’s important! It’s the passion for the sport!

  25. jjoker says:

    If you were really my friends you would support me. I’m trying to better myself and love what i do so if you can’t understand that please say nothing, it’s hard enough without negativity

  26. denu220 says:

    I’m sorry, jjoker. Do I know you? I can’t find your previous comments here in my post. I would never refuse you emotional support and certainly wouldn’t criticize what you’re doing. Please help me here and identify yourself so I can be more sympathetic…

  27. colwilrin says:

    I think jjoker meant to but that entry in quotes…as a suggestion to the original poster on what to tell her non-horse friends.

    Is that correct?…though, I did read it the other way (denuzzo’s way) the first time through.

  28. annonymous says:

    I put horseshowing in perspective while packing for the NY show while the Twin Towers were falling. Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously.

  29. colwilrin says:

    I was there that year…do you remember when the alarm went off in the colesium? Everyone was outside looking up at the sky, praying.

    It sure does put things in perspective, and makes me very proud of the men and women who give everything to enable us to feel safe as we enjoy our American horses, and all they have to offer!

  30. denu220 says:

    Maybe I misunderstood jjoker’s suggestion? I hope not—I don’t want to upset ANYONE.

    >>>> I tend to take myself too seriously, especially when showing. Perspective is always good…

  31. jdenzel says:

    If your are referring to the quote above by me, “World champions are not created in a day”. Yes I was replying to the original person who posted on the website and who asked what she should say to her non-horse friends. I did not mean to offend anyone. Non-horse people have no idea what the stress level is when showing horses. To mention “world champion”, I feel may shut them up.

  32. colwilrin says:


    I was referring to the post of jjoker quoted below.

    “If you were really my friends you would support me. I’m trying to better myself and love what i do so if you can’t understand that please say nothing, it’s hard enough without negativity”

    At first read, it may look like it is directed at the previous poster…meaning the writer felt unsupported by the other posters.

    However, I think that jjoker meant it as the answer to what you would say (the original poster’s question) to a non-horse person who didn’t understand how tough those blue ribbons can be to come by.

    I don’t want to put words in jjoker’s mouth…so forgive me if I am off on my interpretation.

  33. jdenzel says:

    colwilrin, I understand now. And, yes it makes sense that that is what jjoker meant. Thanks for clarifying! I was horified that I somehow hurt someone’s feelings. I want this website to continue being fun, constructive and educational, just like Black Eye Beth intends.

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