A Day in the Horse Show Life as an Amateur Upper Level Rider, New Mom and Business Owner

Frankie Theriot Stutes is all smiles on the Chatwin Group's Chatwin to lead the CIC2*. Photo by Anita Nardine. Frankie Theriot Stutes is all smiles on the Chatwin Group's Chatwin to lead the CIC2*. Photo by Anita Nardine.

It is 5 am. The sound of your alarm will go off. You think to yourself, “there is no way it is already time to get my carcass out of bed.” Your tiny human is asleep but now he is too big to leave in bed unattended because if he does wake up while you are peeing he can crawl off the bed in a matter of seconds. You think about going and risking it because you really have to pee, but then you think, nope no time to go to the ER if he lands on the hardwood floor of the house you are staying at.

So you wait. You get out of bed despite having slept only a few hours because somehow the tiny human you are sharing the bed with at the show takes up the majority of the bed and you sleep in an awkward position to avoid waking him. You realize your shirt is up around your neck because you have nursed while sleeping the majority of the night. You pull your shirt down and with the light off, again trying to keep your tiny human asleep for a bit longer, find your attire for the day and put it on. You never tuck your shirt in because you know you have to feed your human before you leave for the show that morning anyways.

You go into the bathroom as fast as you can to grab your toothbrush, all while looking around the corner, until your good friend surfaces from the next room over to brush her teeth and you are relieved to see her because she can now watch the tiny human while you pee. You brush your teeth and wash your face as fast as you can. Next you grab his clothes and start undressing him while he makes such cute stretches and faces and you remember how special it is to be a mom.

He is awake enough to nurse now so you lie back next to him and feed him and start checking emails on your phone. Only 15 emails since last night you think . . . WIN! Once those are taken care of and you have attended to your work needs while still nursing, you start thinking of your course over and over in your head trying to visualize the other part of your day besides being a mom and business owner.

You head out to the truck, strap in the child who has come to hate car seats due to excessive time driving to shows and as he arches his back say, “it’s okay, go back to sleep, love.” You are relieved when he does and you consider calling a client on the east coast to address some of their needs on your way to the show ground. You weigh the issue that the phone over your truck speaker may wake the human but decide to risk it.

You put on your breast pump while driving at a red light hoping the guy next to you didn’t see all of your boobs and proceed to go through the Starbucks drive thru like that because YOU NEED COFFEE! You get your horse a croissant, order yourself a Venti and wonder what the man at the drive thru window must think of the weird sound coming from under your shirt…but the truth is you don’t really care because you are more than comfortable by now with the fact that you are a milk cow and in order to ride, your son needs milk.

You have committed to breastfeeding for at least a year because of the health benefits for your son, and despite feedback from even strangers about your choice, you are sticking to it! You respect people who do not make the same choice, but this is the one you have made.

You arrive at the barn, and the child is asleep. You park the truck, hustle to get the wheel barrel, leave the truck on and the window down. Luckily by now all of your friends are used to your new way of life, as it has also by default become theirs, so you know that if anyone hears him cry when he wakes up, they will get him out of his seat or let you know right away.

You open the stall door, kiss your horse good morning and speed-clean his stall. As you are emptying the wheelbarrow you hear someone talking in your truck . . . he is awake. You quickly put the wheelbarrow back and go get him from his seat. You carry him in one arm and return back to the stall where your horse is now banging on the door wanting your attention. As you approach the door, your half-awake kid starts screaming with excitement. You put him on the horse that kindly turns around to see his small rider and stands very nicely as your kid kicks him with his tiny feet and smiles ear to ear. You think we are a trio, this horse, small human and I and we all have to work together for this to work.

You take the kid back into one arm and with the other put on a halter (harder to do one-handed than you would think). You take the horse for a walk with the kid in one arm and the lead rope in the other. The kid helps too by holding one end of the rope. You don’t have much control over the horse, but he somehow knows that his little friend requires that he behave better than usual on walks and not pull you to every single patch of grass, just some.

You finish your walk, put your horse back, sit down and feed the kid on your tack trunk while finishing your coffee. Again you go over your course in your head for later in the day, and then look back at your phone to again respond to some work emails.

An hour or so passes and you are grateful that you have such amazing friends and a mom and husband who are so helpful! Your mom arrives and you think HORRAY! She takes your kid and now it is time to focus. You start to tack up and once the saddle is on before you get dressed, you know that you either need to pump again or find that kid. Your mom appears with him again and you nurse once more, while of course checking email again. Your assistant has texted you about a marketing matter for a client that needs to be addressed immediately. You call her and sort it out then hand your kid back to your mom and get back to the horse to put on his bridle.

You give the kid a kiss and tell him you love him and kiss your mom, too. You throw one leg over the saddle and the horse is full of run today, you can already tell. From that moment you are not a mom, you are not a business owner, you are a an upper level rider moving a horse up to Advanced, fully focused on the task at hand. You are excited, nervous and all the emotions that come with leaving that box. For a moment in warm up you think about how lucky you are.

You leave the box and pure thrill and excitement run through your veins. About half way around you think about how much fun you are having. You see some friends screaming for you out of the corner of your eye. You get to the end of the course and think, just get him home only 3 more fences. You do and you can’t believe you have an Advanced horse!

Your friends are again there to help you cool the horse down and the second the kid sees you he starts crying . . . he wants his momma. So in one hand you walk the horse and in the other you hold him. Everyone is happy and your mom is relieved that it all went well, because of course just like you worry about him, she worries about you!

The horse cools out and before you rinse him off a final time and begin icing, you quickly feed the kid. You check the phone to see the marketing issue has been laid to rest and that you have 33 new emails that have surfaced since you started tacking up this morning. You will address those after the horse has been completely cared for . . . After all it is Saturday.

The kid wants his mommy so you hose off the horse a final time with the kid in hand. Luckily the horse is a saint and you remind him that you appreciate him being such a good boy.

The horse stands in ice, you play with the kid and the kid sits on his horse again screaming with enthusiasm. You think maybe you should like baseball like your dad rather than ride horses, because it will be much more cost efficient. You give the horse that croissant you bought this morning because he has earned it and he thinks it is better than any food intended for a horse to eat.

One of the kid’s “aunties” comes around the corner in her full riding gear about to get on one of the five horses she will compete that day and she takes the kid for a second and loves on him. You think, “wow, he is lucky to have so many amazing people who love him.” You also wonder how the heck she competes five or more horses in a single day!

You get the horse out of ice and wrapped while the kid screams for you until your mom puts him in his stroller to take him for a walk so he can take a nap. You feel a quick sense of relief and realize you are tired! You take a photo for a client to post on their social media and finally go get some lunch. The horse is sleeping now and so is the kid.

You reflect on what a great day you had. You get a sandwich and sit in the grass addressing your 33 emails that have some how turned into 60. You think, “don’t people know it is Saturday?” You get through them all before the kid wakes up.

You take the horse for a walk and kiss him. He is a good horse! You say to a friend that in order for this to all work, the kid, the horse and you must all work together. The reality of it all is that in order to do this, it takes a full village of people to help you, but that you wouldn’t trade any of it. You wonder for a brief second why you do this, and then look over to see one of your friends laughing with your mom and kid and think to yourself, “I do this because of how wonderful all the people in this sport are.” You worry about how you will ever thank them enough.

You drive home and again reflect on the people who support you . . . your cousin who believed in you enough to get the horse, your friends, coaches, family, husband and the kid. Wow, are you lucky. As you drive down the road with your breast pump on, you think being a milk cow is hard work, but as you glance in your rear view mirror at the kid you think that if it is beneficial to him, you will do it. You wonder what people with twins do, and you realize that somehow because of all the people you are blessed to be surrounded by, even though you are an amateur with just one horse, a full time business and a kid, it all works in madness together somehow.

Again you wonder how you can ever thank those around you enough. You are grateful even though you are tired and you have baby food in your hair, horse slobber on your pants, and milk on your shirt. You are an eventer, you are a mom and you are a business owner who is blessed to be all three simultaneously.