Photo: Jennifer Wile Rubin
By Averill Pessin
My teammate is needy
“You’re always busy. You’re always with your horse. Other people have sports and still have a social life.”
Shout-out to the friends and family who understand the time commitment the equestrian sport takes and who wait patiently at home, quietly shoving a cold plate of spaghetti into the fridge because we’re late again.
But, for the non-equestrians who don’t understand, let’s help them. Because we like people and love having friends but we also struggle to keep social commitments. We turn down more invitations than we accept, often eat on the go, and rarely see the inside of a movie theater.
In most sports, your teammates are other people. Capable of feeding themselves, dressing themselves and (gawd-willing) flushing the toilet themselves.
Not so, for equestrians.
When the competition day is over, we are far from finished. We can’t high-five our ponies, change clothes and head over to Pizza Shack with the gang. Our teammates are too needy for us to just grab our backpacks and walk off the field.
We have to make sure they have the proper body temperature and respiration rate. We take their equipment off, make sure every trace of sweat is removed, then put them in another outfit.
Our equine teammates rely on us for every aspect of their care. Feeding, cleaning, exercise and grooming. I’ve never heard a football player say he had to change the quarterback’s pants or trim the linebacker’s nose hairs.
Our pony partners need us emotionally for companionship, love and reassurance. Human teammates need that too, but I’m sure Steve on your hockey team doesn’t ask you for a cookie 87 times and kick the door in, if you ignore him.
Steve probably also doesn’t tell you when he has a bellyache in the middle of the night. Or require hand-walking until 4 am.
We’re sure Steve is a rad dude. Sometimes we envy you that your teammate will buy lunch from time-to-time, and that Steve’s poops are not your problem.
At the end of the day, there is very rarely a true end to the day for equestrians. The needs of our partners are never-ending.
And, while we don’t begrudge our horses a single second we spend with them, we do need some slack from our human companions sometimes.
Thanks to our loved ones who wait patiently. Thank you for bumping dinner reservations or picking up take-out. Thank you for not saying a word when we show up late with messy hair. Or with hay in our hair.
To those who struggle to understand, we hear Steve doesn’t have any plans this weekend.