Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Show business

The letters have gone out: I am a wanted woman. I haven’t received mine (it will be at my old address and I’m not going around to retrieve it) but my friend has. My name is on her letter too. But we have both agreed to stand firm this year: the local agricultural show must go on without us.

When I agreed to steward for the pony classes, I thought it would be a fun thing to do. I didn’t realise I was signing away my August Bank Holiday ad infinitum. That, however, has been the case. I’m actually quite scared to say: “No, sorry, no can do.” I plan to duck and dive a bit instead…


Showing classes, or rather the people who show their horses, have rather a reputation for competitiveness. Even – or should I say, especially - the tiny tots on the lead-rein: the determined mothers dressed in tweed matching their adored little one’s jacket, the toning ribbons in the child’s hair (it’s usually a girl) and the pretty Welsh pony and its tack polished to within an inch of their lives. “You’re on the wrong diagonal!” I heard an anguished father hiss at his daughter as they trotted passed. When I was that size, I had no idea what a diagonal was.

Then there are the Arab owners. There are two types of people who buy Arabs: the jolly hockey sticks endurance types and those with a desire to show their exceptional equine in-hand. The in-hand Arabs arrive, their dished faces adorned with traditional rolled leather Arabian bridles, their heads held high and their pixie-like ears pricked to attention. They are usually accompanied by the most unhorsy horsy people you would expect to see in a show ring. If it wasn’t for the leather cane carried under the arm, the flat shoes for running, and of course, the horse, you could be forgiven if you thought they were supposed to be somewhere else.


They appear perfectly lovely, hair piled high, immaculately dressed and made up – until something goes wrong. Like when they’re late and the class has started – and finished - without them. Then they’re not so sweet. As they argue with the judge, you think: “You’d have made it if you hadn’t spent so much time in front of the mirror.” But you don’t say anything.

You don’t know whether to speak up, either, when the judge bends down to examine a pony’s hooves .. . and leaves her tweed skirt around her ankles. You bite your lip to stop yourself laughing, then wonder if you should dash to her aid. The competitor standing nearby prods you. “Steward! Don’t you think you should be helping your judge?” As you traipse across the field, you hope she’ll notice before you get there. She doesn’t, but fortunately she has a sense of humour.

As you leave after the last class, you cringe as you hear her tell the reporter from the local paper: “You’ll never guess what just happened to me …”

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Eminem, you cannot tantalise us like this, and then tell us you are not going !! Surely this is just a wheeze to get us to raise some holiday dosh for you by only agreeing to go to the show and report back if we get your soon-to-be-installed Blue Peter style 'totaliser' Pay-palled up to a £100 quid to help you buy some drinks..

Come on, you can't be a spoilsport like this..

Omega Mum said...

What about that woman who fed all the good ponies drugs so her son would win? Any of that going on? You have to go. The world needs a new set of Pullein-Smith sisters. You could be at least one of them.....(PS this is a comment on your towering literary, not physical stature..)

mutterings and meanderings said...

Oh, I'll probably go but as a spectator...

Mopsa said...

I haven't been to one of these for yonks. Fab place for people watching and buying nice collars and leads for the dogs. I always felt so "other".

rilly super said...

M&M, I hope the show does go on despite your absence as everything seems to have been cancelled this 'summer' around these parts. Even the game fair at Harewood is off next weekend and even FMD didn't stop that, I'm told. Even the small matter of world war 2 didn't stop the Ryedale show which is also buggered. I do love to see all those smartly turned out horses and riders with their tight plaits and tight leather, even if I have to take a horse's nosebag full of anti-histimines to attend these events. It's hard to un-volunteer for things, so I'm told, so good luck and here's to a super bank holiday dear.

ziggi and her unshowable ponies! said...

it sounds so much fun - i can't understand why you don't want to do it again!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Rilly - where is that good old British spirit where the 'show must go on' even if the world was falling apart outside ?

I know you are probably worried about all the hassle you will take off the 'competitive mums' and 'pushy dads', but I'm sure we could come up with some suitable punishments. e.g.

Being rude to eminem because they are late for a 'class' - Being pushed backwards into a water trough.

Swearing at eminem since they didn't win the cup they were after - Being upturned in some horsey 'leavings'..

Insinuating that eminem is biased and is taking a backhander since their opponents have walked off with the best prizes - Being taken to the van of the Public Address system, and being soundly horse whipped, with their cries for mercy being broadcast around the entire show ground until they make a full, sincere and grovelling apology...

Mid-lifer said...

Stand firm! I used to be one of those children in showing classes and I know what you're talking about. God, some parents!! (btw Omega Mum - It's Pullein-Thompson!)

Just to cheer you up, I've given you an award - and also tagged you!

Mid-lifer said...

Oh - actually, I didn't tag you! just the award.

Gill said...

oh dear, what a shame that your letter went to the wrong address, I am sure you would have loved to judge... if you'd known about it!

Lizzie said...

Well done m&m. It took me years (no comments please) to learn how to say 'no' gracefully. I still can't say it gracefully but at least I can say it. It is v. liberating I can tell you.

Lizzie x

muddyboots said...

having done the pony club thing onwards, you ARE going to have fun, horsey mothers.. l'd leave the country now if l were you... south america is nice l understand

mutterings and meanderings said...

Mopsa, why do you feel so 'other'? I don't!

Rilly, I will go _ just don't want to have to get up at the crack of dawn and dear with other people!

Ziggi, I don't believe your ponies are unshowable at all! Don't you do M&M classes with the New Forests? (and non-horsy folk, that doesn't mean mutterings and meanderings classes!)

Anon, I think you may have attended such events before ...

Mid-lifer, thank you for the award I shall post it with pride.good job bout the tag - this blog is currently a tag-free zone - I may put something up to that effect on my sidebar...

Gill, it's a damned shame, isn't it!

Lizzie, indeed it can be very difficult!

Muddyboots, I could write a whole post on pushy mums I have observed (not mine, she's not horsy) but fear I would upset too many people!

Mopsa said...

Otherness - not really fitting in. Not being born to the horsey set. Not understanding the jargon and the lingo as to the manor born. Being treated like a serf by the minority (but in your face) jumped up overhorsed twats. Preferring to go on a pub ride, a gallop through the woods or a spot of casual bouncing over jumps. You know.

debio said...

My daughter did some 'showing' briefly - yes, on a Welsh pony in Gryffindor colours....

Didn't last long, she was bored and I felt like a prat - tweeds and flat shoes are sooo not me - and the other parents! I could go on...

Pony enjoyed it - such a little show-off and very handsome.

Brilliant post m&m - took me back years.

@themill said...

Wonderful! You've just reminded me why I'm not horsey!

Omega Mum said...

Mid-lifer: Thanks for putting me right. I never did quite get the hang of the stories, let alone the surnames!

lady macleod said...

ruuuuunnnnnn!!! rrrruuuuunnnnn!!!