I have been a Barn Mom for 8 years now. It is the coolest group to be a part of because Barn Moms are somewhat like MacGyver armed with a Caboodle, imagination and the ability to tolerate almost anything.
No one starts off as a Barn Mom, it sneaks up on you. One day you are sending and posting 78 pictures of your child’s first riding lesson, and the next minute you have” bobby pin and hairnet preferences” and know the ins and outs of every arena and show grounds within a 350 mile radius.
Some Barn Moms even know a lot about horses – not me, but a lot do. I can order barn shirts, bags, make baskets, raise money, hold Barn Birthday parties, pack and unpack trailers and coordinate many a horse show plan. I do not do horses; I don’t ride them, show them, lead them or hold them. I will, however, feed them, water them, hug them and love them. I will do the same for my trainers and other barn staff as well.
What I love to do best as a Barn Mom is help Barn Kids. I love to help them get ready to go in the ring. I love to help calm, nerves, to encourage, to dry tears of frustration and sadness with humor and support until they are replaced with a smile and a laugh. I love to apply lip gloss in a dust storm. I love to straighten back magnets, tie ties, and fix bun bows all the while looking into the hopeful eyes of a kid about to do what they love. I love to hug sweaty, dirty Barn Kids because that’s when they are the happiest! I love to congratulate a blue ribbon ride by saying, “Told you so.” There are two things I know for sure. The first one is, I can send a kid in the show ring from bun to boots and not a thing will be out of place. The second is that my caboodle can survive any horse show and possibly a zombie apocalypse.
I always hope that Barn Kids, the trainers, and all other Barn Moms (and Dads) realize how much I love being a part of this world. I plan to stay long after my daughter moves on, although according to most people who know her that is not likely to happen. Horses and horse activities are the center of her universe. But if she does outgrow it, I will always volunteer at horse shows. I will go to shows to hang around other Barn Moms and horse folk. The camaraderie of a horse show is like no other event. People from all levels of riding, income, experience and all ages come together with one common interest, the horse. The show season is long and tiring, but somehow after about two months off, the first show of the season feels like a family reunion. It’s a great feeling. So many wonderful memories in my life have come from being part of a barn and going to horse shows. Now let me tell you about that pony.
At the very first barn my daughter rode at, there is a somewhat surely Shetland pony of indeterminate age named Jesse. He has been subjected to countless birthdays, paint-the-pony and pet-the-pony activities, and has been featured in American Girl Fashion Shows. He is a star on the runway and a champ in a glass elevator. He has been in Children’s Museums and elementary school classrooms. He’s a veteran pony. Now, here comes the Barn Mom part.
Around Halloween, Jesse was to attend a fundraiser for a local children’s hospital. Jesse’s owner decided it would be wonderful for Jesse and his attendants to dress as superheroes for this event. The attendants would dress as Batman and Robin, and Jesse as Superman. I was asked to assist in this event. Ever the Barn Mom, I readily agreed. I assumed that Jesse would wear a cape and possibly a large “S” around his neck. I was wrong. I will never forget the smile on her face when she excitedly presented me with Jesse’s costume saying, “Look, it has PANTS!” I couldn’t believe she actually wanted this pony to wear pants. She did. Jesse and I spent about 45 minutes discussing the issue of wearing pants. I am convinced that, had a video been recorded, I might have won some money. I learned that day to never underestimate a pony. Jesse learned that no matter how hard you try, if a Barn Mom wants to get something done it will get done. Jesse wore the pants. I made my Barn Owner happy and all of us helped the community. Ever since that day, when I see Jesse, we both eye each other warily, but with the utmost respect.
My fellow Barn Moms no doubt have some similar stories; horses, Moms, kids and stories just seem to go together. So the next time you see a Barn Mom armed with a can of 1970s hairspray, Kleenex, four back numbers, electrical tape with a dog on a leash and a phone in her ear saying, “Please consider a donation to our auction basket,” don’t wonder if she realizes how crazy she looks. She does, and she wouldn’t be anywhere else.