The round orange sun was just starting to peek over the horizon line, casting a dim glow over the world. It outlined the dark silhouettes of the grazing horses, as well as glistened off the fresh morning dew that coated the emerald blades of grass. If this was an ordinary day, Alyssa Schaeffer might have stopped for a minute and admired the breathtaking scene. However, the day was anything but normal. It was just before six o’ clock in the morning, on a Saturday, and she had already been up for two hours. Of, course that could only mean one thing: it was a show day.
Yes, there was no question that show mornings were exhausting, yet Alyssa wouldn’t trade them for anything. Despite the bustle of loading tack onto the trailers, wrapping horses, packing tack trunks, all while keeping your clothes immaculate, Alyssa loved the business. Besides, it meant she was one step closer to the actual show and the thrill of putting in a flawless round. She was showing two horses today. One was her talented equitation and jumper horse, Optimo, and the other was a catch ride, Pellegrino.
Alyssa forgot all her thoughts about the day when she swung the aluminum gate open and stepped into the field. “Oli!” She called out. Some of the horses lifted their heads and stared at her direction, possibly hoping she was going to bring them in for their morning feed. “Oli!” Alyssa called out again, swinging the gate shut and walking into the field. Sighing, she kept hiking out into the field. She called out for her horse once more, and then clicked her tongue. Oli, a striking bay 16.2 hand Dutch Warmblood, started lazily walking towards Alyssa, twitching his ears and swishing his tail at the early morning bugs. Alyssa strode towards him and slipped his leather show halter on.
She led him out of the field and into the barn where she fed him his morning grain and gathered her braiding supplies. A few other girls had brought their horses in to get them ready for the show, but overall, the barn was quiet. After her horse had eaten his grain, she gave him a quick bath. Stifling a yawn, Alyssa brought Oli out onto the crossties to dry and be braided. She dragged out a step stool next to Oli and started braiding. Many of the other girls paid braiders, but Alyssa couldn’t afford to pay $50 or more per show, especially for a simple two-day “A” show. For the bigger shows, like regionals or a week long event, she would, but Alyssa was a skillful braider, having endured years of plaiting horses. She could neatly do a full mane in about thirty or forty minutes.
After the braiding came the loading of tack and horses onto the trailer. Alyssa had gotten wise to showing, and would pack up her tack trunk the night before a show so it could be loaded onto the trailer without a hassle. At this point in the day, the barn was starting to have more activity. Stable hands were bringing the other horses that weren’t showing in, stalls were being mucked out, and the girls that were showing were running around with tack or horses in tow.
Alyssa quickly wrapped Oli, and then attached his head bumper onto his halter. After seeing a horse get nervous unloading and fling its head up onto the edge of the trailer and leave a two inch, gaping, bleeding gash she had made sure to always put it on. She led him out to the stable’s parking lot, where the horses were being loaded onto the massive six-horse trailer. Her trainer was directing the students on when to load their horses, to avoid rifts between horses that disliked each other. Alyssa walked Oli in a few circles before being beckoned on by her trainer. She walked up the ramp. Oli heaved out a large snort and then followed. He knew the drill at this point.
Alyssa snapped the trailer tie onto his halter, unclipped the lead rope, and swung the partition closed. She walked off the ramp and hopped up into the pickup truck that pulled the whole thing. Her best friend, Adrienne, was already seated in it.
“Ohmygosh itsAlyssa!” Adrienne squealed, slightly sarcastically.
“Ohmygosh itsAdriennnneeee!” Alyssa squealed in the same tone, and then the girls burst out laughing.
“What are you showing in today?” Adrienne asked Alyssa.
Alyssa bit her lip and twirled one of her chocolate colored curls. “I’m catch riding a horse in the Pre-Greens, and I’m showing Oli in some medal stuff and the Level 3 jumpers. What about you?”
“Lucky!” Adrienne said, pouting slightly. “I haven’t catch rode anyone in forever. I’m showing Oberon in the medals and Champ in Working Hunters.”
Alyssa didn’t always consider herself lucky. Adrienne had everything as far as Alyssa could tell; money, multiple fancy horses, gorgeous long blonde hair and wide, sparkling blue eyes, a fair, patient personality, and riding talent.
“Well, you know, I’m so lucky that I can ride some horse that’s probably some psychotic greenie that will try to refuse every jump and buck me off!” Alyssa said, trying to lighten the mood.
“They just want to make sure there’s nothing hiding in the jump that could eat them!” Adrienne said with a laugh.
Two more girls climbed into the truck, and then their trainer, Christine Evans, hopped up into the drivers seat. She put the keys into the ignition and turned them. She drove out onto the road and yelled, “Who’s ready to show?” A chorus of “Woo!” and “Yeah!” answered her question. Smiling, Alyssa buried her face in Adrienne’s arm and fell into a much needed sleep.