Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dead Birds and Horse Show Superstitions

Every athlete, no matter what sport, has some superstition or ritual they hold dear. For years I wouldn’t compete unless I was wearing Mickey Mouse socks.  The socks developed holes and my horses continued to do well, so I haven’t felt a need to replace them lately.  Besides, Linda, Secret’s mom, has it covered.

It all started at the Region 8 show in Saugerties, NY last September.  When Linda was setting up Secret’s stall, she found a dead bird. Secret did super that weekend, the little Frie-Rab holding her own among some tough warmblood competition. 

At Morven Park this May, Secret was not herself.  She was hormonal, crampy, tense, grumpy, and really wanted to stay in her stall with a heating pad and a box of chocolate. Our performances in the ring were further hampered by some biased judging--the judge actually wrote on the score sheet “limited by genetics.”  I tend to agree with the judge, but the gene I blamed was the x-chromosome, not the bloodlines.  And there was no dead bird.

Last month, we went to New Jersey for the Memorial Day show, and as Linda was cleaning Secret’s stall, she unearthed a dead bird. Secret proceeded to do awesome, placing high in really tough classes against some really fancy horses. 

Then, on Friday, as we were loading for Ride for Life, Linda found a dead bird in the hay loft. And yes, you guessed it, Secret rocked our world. She danced her way through all of her tests, earning a career 3rd level high score of 65% for a red ribbon.

I was beginning to worry that we would have to start sacrificing birds before each show, when thankfully Rebecca came to the rescue. One of the vendors at the show was selling dog toys, and one looked amazing like a dead bird. Linda bought it, and then hung it from baling twine next to our ribbons. Yea, our barn has a weird sense of humor….

Another weird quirk in our barn is naming things. We name everything. My rolling tool box that holds my grooming and show equipment is Max, the chest that lives in the trailer with the “life ends if we forget this” stuff in it (extra standing wraps/girth/reins, light bulbs, and the ever-important roll of toilet paper, etc.) is called Stanley, and the big box that holds the tack stall set-up equipment is Corry. The bird needed a name. So Cara dubbed the bird Ted. 

Ted, bring us luck in two weeks at Region 15. 

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