Horses and horse people

I just got back this evening from the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championships in Massachusetts. It was a nice drive; well, as nice as it can be driving in and out of New York City. Spring is in the air (cue music). Ashton competed once again in the alumni division (alumnus of Virginia Intermont College), and one of his students from Princeton made it to the finals. They both did a great job, although neither won their divisions. The IHSA includes both Western and English (and by now I actually know what that means!).
I find it refreshing (familiar, satisfying) to re-enter collegiate environments. I miss it, a lot! It is where I want to be. Most of the student competitors are in their final weeks of classes and exam-weeks. I certainly respect their dedication and admire their determination and discipline.
This is a strange sport. Men and women compete against one another. It is very refined, but not at all precious. The horse world is a world in and of itself. They are people who love to compete, but they compete in a very mannered and sane way. And, well, they talk about horses all the time. All the time…
For the most part, it is a great, solid, grounded bunch of students, coaches, and people who just love the sport. The funny thing is that the stereotypic image of students that come from the backgrounds most of them come from does not match their dispositions. Most competitors come from money and privilege, with notable exceptions. They almost have to.
It is good for me to get out of my “world,” which, frankly, is just as obscure and quirky. More so, really. Frankly, I wish some of the people in my “world” were as solid and grounded and well disciplined as those in the IHSA world.
Update: This morning, another thought struck me concerning why these kinds of events feel so good. With the students, coaches, parents, and just interested people, all of us can’t help but be connected to that which is real – dirt/soil, animals, those things that at a foundational level connect us back to the earth, to creation. Despite how wealthy one may be, one can’t help but get dirty, can’t get beyond the smells. We can’t help but be connected to God’s glorious creation.
Living in the kind of city I do, it is very easy to be disconnected with the earth, the rhythms of the world, the seasons, living things.