If you are a female, and you've entered a show pen before, this post will probably relate to you. I don't care if you barrel race, ride reiners, show cow horse, are on a drill team, you mounted shoot, or you show breed specific - ladies, let's get together and agree on one thing, sometimes it's tough to be a girl in the show pen, and there are many things that we go through as female equestrians that our male counterparts will never have to deal with. Some of them, can be downright funny, others annoying, and some a bit more serious, i'm going to delve into a few of them today.
When Aunt Flo Comes to Town...
No ya'll, I am not talking about Barrel Racer phenom, Fallon Taylor's, trusty steed "Baby Flo", I'm talking about that time of the month. I don't know about you guys, but apparently my biological clock takes showing just as serious as I do. Similar to how I can only wake up at 4 am for a horse show, Aunt Flo only ever seems to come a-knockin' at horse shows. She's like, "Screw the whole 28 day cycle thing, you have a show today? I'LL BE THERE, I'M YOUR NUMBER ONE SUPPORTER." - Direct Quote from my Super-Fan Uterus. A few more direct quotes, just so you guys can get really acquainted with my uterus... because you know, in the name of good journalism and all... "Oh, you have to be on a horse for atleast 3 hours straight? That sounds like a perfect time to host a kickboxing session in your intestinal track!" "Why are you so glum? It's totally fun to ask random girls for a tampon because your boss and all your clients are men, it's a fun get-to-know-someone game!" "Are you a little chilly? I'm a little chilly, let's turn up your internal heater to like, let's just say, "BOIL THIS BITCH ALIVE", that's much better, okay now go show your horse and try not to look like a constipated tomato."
There is no way my male counterparts have to deal with the struggle of show shirts as much as I do. I watch them ride around... they are never tugging at their shirts like I constantly witness women doing. Their shirts seem to be fitted yet still loose, no matter their physical body type. While female show shirts seem to really only fit very skinny, very long-torso'd women well. Do male show shirts have built in air conditioning? Because the amount of women I see with sweat sticking their shirts down WAY outnumbers men. Then, there's the price difference between the two sexes shirts, and how if I want a plain, normal coloured shirt, I'm out of luck because Ariat firmly believes that I need rhinestones, lace, patterns AND a logo plastered on top of my boobs. I only want that sometimes Ariat, OKAY?!
I should literally write an entire blog post about why I hate show shirts, there are SO MANY reasons...
When your show shirt is too short and so it keeps flying out of your jeans.
When your show shirt comes untucked in awkward spots and you are just trying to tuck it back in but it looks like you are scratching your ass.
Going to the bathroom and having to re-tuck and re-zip and RE-your life back together for ten minutes.
When your show shirt is too long and it makes you look like you have this super fun inflatable tire in your jeans that at ANY MOMENT you are going to pull a rip chord for so you can just float off your horse.
When your show shirts can't just go in the dryer - you have to "take them to the dry cleaners" - like I have MONEY for that bullshit.
(DON'T get me started on starching shirts)
When you have to iron your show shirts... Do I look like I am truly capable of that? I can barely put my own hair in a pony tail under a cowboy hat!
When your sweat, or your horses sweat/goobers/just generally horsiness stains your show shirt and it doesn't come out - WHY?! I spent so much on you and THIS is how you repay me?!
The struggle is real.
This is only mildly relatable to the post, but it is brilliant, so I had to use it
It's going to start getting a little bit more real, and a little bit less frivolous, so let's buckle up.
Why... WHY... do men feel the need to tell me to smile when I'm at shows?
Why... WHY... do men feel the need to tell me to smile when I'm entering the show pen?
Men, by the way, that often I don't even really know. Why is it that these men feel the need to tell me, "you're too pretty not to be smiling." As if my level of attractiveness and the wattage of my smile effects my horse and myself in the show pen.
When is the last time someone told Matt Gaines, or Llyod Cox, multi-million lifetime earners, to "SMILE", before they walked to the herd? I bet you, fucking never. Alright, I hear you, those guys are pretty serious big time trainers Louisa, and you are just a lowly 2,000 Limit Rider, it's a bit different. You are right! So I tested this theory and watched my fellow male counterparts dry work their horses and enter the pen. Not one time, did I hear anyone tell those men to smile. Instead, I hear people (also mainly men) say to them things like, "Go out there and get tough", "Go Kill It!", "Get your game face on!". Meanwhile, in la-la female land, I often hear people say to us, "Go have fun!", and my personal favourite recently, "Judges score extra points for smiling!"
I'm just going to let that sit in for a quick second. Your second is up, I'll tell you what Judges score extra points for - level of difficulty, level of courage, clean cuts, accuracy. I would much rather grab those extra points, but thanks for the smile tip, next time I hot quit, I'm going to start giggling and smiling and hope that the judge throws me a "oh she's a smiling female" point.
"Why So Serious?"
This one sort of goes hand-in-hand with smiling, but I felt it deserved it's own space in this post, mostly because for me, it's even more infuriating. #MySoapBox #MyRules. I'm going to lay it out plain and simple for anyone that has ever asked another person in the warm-up pen why they look so serious... I don't care if you are wearing a blindly sparkly hot pink shirt, you have bleach blonde hair, and you also clearly have a uterus to accompany the previous accessories listed... women are allowed to take things seriously. We are allowed to dry work our horses with stone cold faces of concentration. When we show, we are allowed to look concentrated as well, and maybe sometimes that even reads as mad. When we get out of the show pen, we don't have to apologize for doing bad, or doing well, and if we do bad, we DEFINITELY don't need to smile for someone. If my face reads as mad, it's none of your business. Don't tell me I have "Resting Bitch Face", or am "Unapproachable", maybe just leave me alone if that's how you start conversations.
The other day I was dry working my horse before going into the pen, the first time I had shown Lady in three months, I was excited and nervous and scared and happy all at the same time. But mostly, I was focused on things we have been working on at home, executing them in the show pen, and picking decent cattle. A man came up to me, that I had never, ever met, and said to me, while laughing, "Wow, why so serious?" If it was acceptable to pull someone off their horse and throat-punch them, I would have, but that's not lady-like, is it gals?
The whole point of this post is that as I think women face a vast array of interesting and individual situations in the horse world. In my own sport, one that is very much dominated by male trainers, and male competitors, I think I feel and see it even more than some women that compete in many female sports. Sometimes, when my show shirt is riding up, and I'm begging a tampon off someone, I'm cursing being a woman. Then, later, probably laughing about it. However, most days, when I'm visualizing my runs, and I'm serious about what i'm about to go do, whether it turns out good or bad, I don't even take into account I'm a woman. I'm a competitor, even if it is a low level, and I deserve to be treated as such. So if a man did make it to the end of this post, waded past the uterus comments and ended up here, I beseech you, next time you feel the need to be coy, or flirty, or sarcastic, or funny, and throw a comment about smiling, or being too serious, at a woman, just stop yourself because you really never do know when someone may snap and legitimately throat punch you.