By Sharon King

I’m planning on showing in my first USEF rated show in a few weeks. It’s a regionally rated show and a person should be properly dressed (just check with George Morris).

Lots of planning has already gone into my outfit so far. I purchased the first pair of tall boots I have owned in 20 years.Tall boots have zippers! Gone are the days of having to hop around and around tugging mightily on your boot pulls to get your boots on. Also gone are the days of having to have a friend yank your boots off at the end of the show, sometimes yanking you and a chair or even your trunk across the floor in a desperate effort to separate you from your boot. The boots have arrived and although the amazing zippers could not be closed at first, I am slowly breaking them in so that I can ride in them for hours in the next few weeks.

Boots, gloves, breeches, helmet and show shirt taken care of. I remembered that at a rated show, a person has to have a jacket.

So, I dug into my closet and pulled out my old show jacket. The jacket itself is probably quite a bit older than the 24 years I’ve owned it. I bought it on consignment at a tack shop in CT in 1993. I was 18 years old. It’s a beautiful wool jacket from Tailored Sportsman, navy blue with white pin-strips. I wore it during college for the four years I was lucky enough to show in the IHSA with the Mount Holyoke College hunt-seat team. One reason I was so lucky? I had no USEF points and could show at the lowest IHSA level despite having had plenty of riding instruction.

Now, here I am at 43 years old, still with no USEF points and, at this point, DECADES of instruction.  Mind you, I might not place at all and still not earn any points. But I could. It will be a blast to give it a shot.

And, I will need a jacket that fits.

So I slide my arms into my old wool jacket and take a look in the mirror. It still fits! In the style of the day, it’s short and doesn’t flare out over the hips the way the coats in the Dover catalog do now. Turning to the side, I take a look and slide my hand into the pockets, thinking I might find a bobby pin or two.

Instead my fingertips find a slip of white paper, printed with the name CUSTARD. In the IHSA, each rider draws her horse’s name just before the class begins. Custard must have been the last horse I drew to ride at my last IHSA show. I remember him clearly. He was a MHC school pony; a palomino with a feisty attitude, who always picked his little knees up high and tight and even over fences, but also didn’t mind turning his head around to take a bite off your foot on the flat.

However my USEF adventures turn out, I’m looking forward to stuffing more horse show memories in my pockets.