I was 17yrs old in Germany on a summer trip of a lifetime. (I’m on the left.)
Several of us had gone to the local beer garden…..
& being teenagers….
at a beer garden
the libations were a bit extreme.
We were stumbling up the road to the youth hostel yelling, “Ich bin sehr blau!”
That means I’m very drunk.
We were yelling, “I’m very drunk.”
at night in the street
Clever. I Know.
20 years later…….
I was at a horse show & the sun was coming up.
Squinting into the sunrise was the moment when I realized I had literally stayed up all night drinking with new found friends after the competitors’ party.
I had to be on a horse in…….
about an hour.
I could barely walk.
I got back to my trailer (I’m not sure how) & the show moms that had parked next to me took pity on me.
“Oh honey you look terrible. Here have some breakfast.”
One of them fed my horse. Another helped me tack up.
They treated me like I had the flu.
And not that I was in fact sweating out straight vodka.
It was a rough morning.
In the warm up when I accidentally cut off another rider heading to a jump & a top trainer yelled at me to be more careful….
I decided warmups were for sissies & I didn’t need one.
I trudged over to the start gate to avoid the warm-up entirely. I still remember the in-gate volunteer, while she was tightening my girth & wiping off my boots (bless her) saying something like, “Sweetie, it’s not that bad! This is a horse show it’s supposed to be fun!”
I didn’t tell her I was just trying not to puke on my horse.
In spite of my incapacitation & complete lack of warm up I stayed on my horse & even jumped around clear.
That mare was pretty special.
I tell this story occasionally at parties to great laughter. I mean, in hind sight, it really is hilarious.
But a few years later….
the night I bought the wrong international plane ticket (potentially a very expensive mistake) after my 3rd (or maybe 4th) glass of wine…….. it gave me some pause.
Way back in college I took one of those required “core” classes. I remember this interesting lecture where they gave a pretty broad definition of alcoholism. They said if drinking alcohol negatively affects your family, friends or job……
You are an alcoholic.
They gave an extreme example of the employee who only drinks once a year at the company Christmas party. But every year at that party, he gets sloshed, tells off the boss & gets fired. They claimed even though he only drinks once a year, that fit their definition.
While I’m not sure their example is an alcoholic & not just someone with poor judgement, that definition has always stuck with me.
The plane ticket, which after multiple phone calls & no small amount of groveling did get corrected, was a bit of an eye opener for me.
I started taking a closer look at my relationship with riding & alcohol.
It’s not like I haven’t had an entire string of horses named after alcohol………
The Evil Twin aka TequilaPersuasion
Baby Seabiscuit aka Intoxicated , The Serial Killer aka Attitude Adjustment……….
Then in my journey of self reflection I discovered that I’m not the only one.
And here is where The BadEventer introduces a special guest blogger who is joining the Tales for this installment…… I’m happy to introduce.
The first dressage show I ever went to, every time I turned around someone was handing me a drink. I rode all three of my tests sloshed. My “relaxation” must have been amazing (or the judges were drunk too) because I ended up overall high point for the entire show on my downhill western pleasure bred Appaloosa.
We left with less friends than we started with. All of the fancy import owning DQs were not pleased.
The first event I went to sober truly terrified me. I had always been up for a drink
or six and the impromptu parties at the stalls or trailer.
I made it through the event, but as expected, it wasn’t fun anymore. I felt like I needed to hide if I wasn’t on a horse. After all when was the last time you read a horse show blog that didn’t involve having a glass of wine?
I finished. I packed my trailer, not sure when I’d be brave enough to try again, and I left.
The drive home and the next month were full of introspection and facing some old fears.
How do I say no and not get laughed at?
After all, I was usually the center of the party.
What are people going to say?
If nobody gets it, who will I hang out with?
Why isn’t there someone who has started a way to not feel like this?
And then it occurred to me…
I can be that.
I can start a platform for anyone feeling alone at a show. Whether it’s because they are in recovery, sobriety, or just used to being bullied. I want to start a movement to connect us all.
I jumped into action. Ordering a banner, stickers, bracelets, hats. I wanted to get Sober Eventer support everywhere.
I sent bracelets and stickers to the west coast, east coast, and all stops in between. A few have even gone overseas! Eventually I want this system of support to be at every event in every state, so that no matter where you are if you see a sticker on a truck or a bracelet on a wrist, you know that if you start feeling alone or overwhelmed, you can go ask them to walk into the competition party…..
past the parties at the trailers, or just to hang out.
There has been so much support for me in this endeavor, nearly everyone has been awesome. I’ve had friends from all over purchase bracelets and stickers to support the cause.
And then someone I never expected sent me a message wanting to know about what I’ve done. To talk about her experience with alcohol. Agreeing with how prevalent alcohol is in not only the equestrian community, but in the real world as well.
The revolution starts.
Sober Eventer & her supporters are here to help.
A very special thank you to SoberEventer for joining BadEventer to discuss this difficult topic.
Read more about the amazing SoberEventer at SoberEventer.com.