Last weekend, I went to the Brown Equestrian (BEQ) team’s home show. After three wrong turns and an excursion through Massachusetts (I don’t understand New England), we made it to Windswept Farm, BEQ’s barn in Warren, RI. My first thought upon seeing the horses was that these 1500 pound beasts are nothing like my understanding of horse-creatures from Robot Unicorn Attack. They all were twice as tall as me, had big pieces of metal in their mouths, and looked like they wanted to bite my head off. But then my friend on the team introduced me to a horse named Momma, who seemed really sweet and calm and almost transformed me into a horse person, until I learned she was narcoleptic and was actually just falling asleep. This doesn’t seem safe when she’s about to be carrying someone on her back at 20 mph… I took some selfies with the sleepy horse and then went to watch the show.
Before the show, the only thing I knew about equestrian was that riders wear funny outfits and frolic around on horsies. I admit that my preconceptions probably formed from this Colbert Report segment on horse-dancing dressage (it’s really worth watching). The BEQ show didn’t seem that far from this on the outside: the competitors were wearing full-on English riding getups that looked like they hadn’t changed since the 18th century, with stiff white collars, tailored jackets, and hair nets under egg-shaped helmets.
Equestrian isn’t just frolicking around on horses—well, it kind of is, but it’s a lot harder than it looks, apparently. In the advanced classes, riders jumped their horses over hurdles, which were decorated with not-so-scary growling bears and flowers. They made it look easy, but they have to do just the right number of strides in order clear the jump. One horse was not having it and ran away from the jump, which I’m pretty sure isn’t what it’s supposed to do. A guy wearing a flannel and baseball cap sat in the back of a pick-up truck watching the show, and I learned he was not a farmer who wanted a better view, but the judge of the show. He judged riders on posture (“equitation”), control of the horse, and probably more things that I couldn’t tell were going on.
At this point, my friends and I weren’t sure how many more people we could watch jumping around on horses, so we naturally staged a farm-girl photo-shoot. We found a tractor and asked a passing rider (not on her horse) to take pictures of us while we posed as the Real Countrywives of Windswept Farm. She did not seem amused. Back at the show, we watched the lower classes, Walk Trot and Walk Trot Canter. It sounds super complicated, I know, but basically they walked, trotted and cantered around an arena. Don’t try this at home, though, folks: walking can be harder than it looks. During the show one of the horses refused to budge, despite the rider’s kicks; come on, it’s not like you’re stuck in an eight-inch gap.
Although I had no idea how Brown’s team was doing during the show, it turns out we made 4th place out of nine teams, with two first-place finishes and 12 top-three finishes (thanks, Brown Bares Brown Bears). At last weekend’s show, the team placed 2nd, boosting them up to the 2nd place slot in the region overall. This was BEQ’s only home show of the semester, but all of its shows are in the RI/MA/CT area, so go out and support Brown Equestrian! And keep ridin’ dirty, BEQ.