This time last year, right about now, I was walking…no, dreaming…my way through Horseman’s Mecca. I was in a horseman’s dreamland. I was at the World Equestrian Games.
I watched the world’s top performance horses, live, in the flesh. I could partake of any genre I chose: show jumping, cross-country, dressage, clinics without number to learn from, horse porn to take home by the box full. Horse porn, by the way, is the printed media of the horse world, the breed magazines, the stallion issues, the glossy magazines you can buy at the tack shop, full of lovely horses, some for sale, that you look at with lascivious eyes saying “I want that one.”
There were tack shops, with every sort of saddle. You could stop and have a very serious and wide-ranging conversation with a representative selling anything equine related: from arena footing to zebra striped neck sweats.
You didn’t have to explain to the long-suffering husband next to you what a three-day event was or why western equitation and reining aren’t the same thing. This is because my husband, wisely having never promised me, didn’t come. That was fine with me. I went with 8 other like-minded horse women and we had a ball.
I was surrounded by thousands, nay, tens of thousands of people like me: middle aged horse crazy women. Oh, there were men there, of course, probably horse husbands who had never dreamed they’d ultimately be obligated to honor their promise to accompany their wife on something SHE was passionate about, if only she’d agree (first!)to go: deep sea fishing, the Super Bowl, that golf championship, etc.
And, of course, there were horse crazy men there, as well. Thankfully, I didn’t see a whole lot of kids.
The Games were fabulous. For six days I was in horse heaven, There were people from all over the world. The Spanish, Italian and Swedish teams stayed at my hotel. They brought the international flavor with them. The grounds were covered with horse statues, the museums full of horse art and tack, anything you touched or saw had something to do with the horse. I walked the cross country course before the event, and listened to the event as I watched the horses negotiate the obstacles. The announcer was British, oh thank god, and I could say to myself, this could be Burghley, or Badminton! The animals, the tack, the art, you name it, it was all there, spread out in glittering display. I felt like a sultan at a medieval bazaar, where anything I desired could be mine. I was wallowing in horse, and I loved every single minute of it. It mattered not that I walked ten miles a day. I was in shape for it. I gave myself carte blanche, giving myself permission to buy whatever caught my eye. It mattered not that I had no horse for which to shop. I enjoyed myself more than I can ever remember at any other venue. I spent a little money. It was okay. It was wonderful.
There was a moment when a red roan Connemara, recently gelded but still stallion in his mind, took his ‘at liberty’ demonstration a wee bit too literally. He cleared the arena fence and galloped straight at me. I knew what to do without thinking of it, confident that, even as excited as he was, he would not escape. I knew, again without thinking, that I was just one of fifty thousand other people at the Kentucky Horse Park, every one of us knowing just what to do in this situation.
When I came home, (and came down off my equine high), I realized that I’d been without a horse for far too long. I’d put Jordan down in August 2003. Not three weeks later, my then husband walked out on me.
After the divorce, I was in deep financial doo doo. I was solvent, but barely. Then, a few years (it seemed like forever), I remarried, and was suddenly happy, content, and no longer had to worry about paying my bills.
But I was still horseless.
That was so easy.
I’ll cut to the chase. Because of the WEG, I am now the proud lessee of Trooper. Leasing is the best way to go. I don’t have to worry about boarding him, or keeping him here (which is possible, I did it with Jordan, but the logistics are too daunting now). But I’m back in the horse world. I have a nice horse to ride, a nice saddle in which to ride him, am slowly and carefully improving my riding skills, have the use of a nice, new, well lit and appointed barn, a trailer to take him to the covered arena in which to ride him, without being rained on. I’ve met a dozen new friends, all horse people.
It’s great. I am so happy to be back.