The Smells of Eventing

The middle of a field in fall. Photo by Holly Covey.

You open the tack room door on the horse trailer – and the smell hits you. Or the truck door. Or the car door. Pe-euwww.

It’s that smell of sweat and horse manure. It is the thing that makes people turn around and look at you in the store. Push their grocery cart past you quickly. Wrinkle their noses and pull out a tissue to cover their mouth.

We get so we don’t even notice it, and sometimes, that’s a good thing. Horse smell is an odor I don’t ever want to feel badly about.

There are so many smells that remind me of eventing – the poopy/sweaty one, of course, but also the early morning smell in the fall of dewy, cut grass. That’s the smell of fall events to me, and it stirs my soul, because it means cooler weather and big galloping and big jumps.

Fall has a definite odor of promise, of dreams coming true, of strength and purpose. You can stand in the middle of a field at Fair Hill and smell it coming.

The smells of eventing include that wonderful smell of fresh horse breath when you put the bridle on your favorite. The smell of leather, well cared for, and fresh boot polish. The smell of a musty, opened-once-a-year secretary’s booth for the event everyone can’t wait to attend.

There are other smells too. The smell of freshly cooked hamburgers and hotdogs, the smell of french fries and ketchup, the smell of carrots and apples and horse treats once you open the package you got for your horse at the trade fair.

How about the smell of the good Wawa food you finally get to wolf down in the truck driving home from the event, or the smell of the strong coffee you just had time to carry to the truck and stick in the cupholder before leaving in the morning?

Or the acrid smell as you walk your course of freshly-stained cross-country jumps. The sharp and clean smell of newly-painted show jumps, gleaming in the morning light and shadows. The gentle perfume smell of the nicely-dressed officials who are the only clean people you run into all day.

The only place I couldn’t really think of a smell was dressage — which probably is OK, since most of the time dressage sort of has its own smell, if you know what I mean. Unless the volunteers are eating something really delicious, like chili, or freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

Our eventing world is full of odors, some we love and some not so much. Yesterday, I checked the winter blanket stack, and opened up a container that alas was not washed before being packed away for the summer. I’ll let you all just close your eyes and imagine that smell. Darn. Nothing a little soap and water can’t fix, though.

Instead, I’ll leave you with these thoughts: think of the smell of your horse’s breath, and the wet grass this morning. What smells of eventing to you?

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