It’s late July as I write this column and I’m preparing to make the eight-hour drive down to the Oregon Horse Center to judge a Working Equitation show. Hurray! It’s the first horse show I’ve been to in 2020. I’m excited to see horses and people in the flesh. I’ll also admit I’m looking forward to beating it down the highway and seeing something other than my own place.
A friend of mine has just tested positive for the coronavirus, so I’m also feeling worried about risking my health. The virus is still circulating, without a doubt, but I plan on taking all the necessary precautions and hoping for the best.
Since all this started in March, I’ve participated in online judge’s training sessions, photography classes, riding lessons, a writer’s conference, multiple meetings, and judged a Working Equitation “show” — all while sitting at my kitchen table.
The horse show was conceived and organized by a smart woman who regularly participates in Working Equitation. When she asked me if I was willing to be a judge, I said yes but was a little skeptical about the process. It turned out to be a wonderful experience. I judged YouTube videos of riders from all around the world (even Australia) riding the same test and judged it the same way I would a regular show. I then scanned the paper copies of the tests with my scores and comments and emailed them to the competitors and the organizer who placed them in order.
Watching all those riders and their horses performing the same test made me feel not so isolated. I take comfort in knowing people are still riding and enjoying their horses. I loved seeing people in their home arenas in Georgia, California, Alberta, Oregon, and so on. The riders got to compete and get valuable input on their riding for a fraction of the cost of a show and the horses didn’t have to get in the trailer. And it ended up being a nice financial bonus for me when my lesson program is taking a hit.
I’m grateful for all the technical wizards who’ve helped us learn and conduct business while we isolate physically. I’m also grateful for my little laptop computer (current right-hand man) and that I have access to a decent Wi-Fi connection.
Technology has meant that learning in the time of COVID-19 is quite possible. Much of what is offered is free or very inexpensive. But still, I can hardly wait to be physically present at the show this weekend—smelling the horses, dust in my eyes, sun on my head, dirty boots and all.
Published in the September 2020 Issue:
Kim Roe grew up riding on the family ranch and competed in Western rail classes, trail horse, reining, working cow, and hunter/jumper. She trained her first horse for money at 12 years old, starting a pony for a neighbor.
Kim has been a professional dressage instructor in Washington state for over 30 years, training hundreds of horses and students through the levels. In recent years Kim has become involved in Working Equitation and is a small ‘r’ Working Equitation judge with WE United.
Kim is the editor of the Northwest Horse Source Magazine, and also a writer, photographer, and poet. She owns and manages Blue Gate Farm in Deming, Washington where she continues to be passionate about helping horses and riders in many disciplines.