Breeder of Registered Miniature                 Donkeys, Quality Breeding Stock, and Lovable Pets

STORY: How I Survive The Show Season

BY Carolyn Christian

Let me begin this expose with a disclaimer. I LOVE MY HUSBAND. Did you hear that Pete? I LOVE YOU. Now! With that behind me, let me tell you how I plan to kill him. I haven't decided between hiring a housekeeper to follow him around tidying up everything he touches including his truck and tool shed (a sure cause to give him a heart attack), or to just buy 20 more donkeys and really put him under. In either case, the end will be long, agonizing, and full of dread, much like the way I feel when I know we have to start thinking about the next season's donkey shows. It's not that I don't want to go to the shows. I do. We have so many wonderful friends with whom we enjoy showing and visiting. Also, I look at it as something Pete and I can do together. But something happens that transforms this tender, happy, bearded man I married into the brother of Satan. Let me explain.


A month before the first show of the season, Pete and I decide which donkeys we're going to take. Things are pretty smooth at this point. Usually, it's the donkeys who let you know which ones go and which ones stay. Let me explain. If we can have a laying on of hands to cure the 6-inch boo-boo in Barney's chest that Muffin caused in her attempt to show Barney her disgust at his wanting to do the "nasty" with her, then Barney gets to go. Mariah definitely has a spot because she's no trouble whatsoever. She suffers from narcolepsy upon entering the show ring. Her favorite pastime is sleeping while the judge is looking at her. Elsie has to go because she won a National title and we want everyone to see her so they don't think we made it up.


Sophie has to go with Elsie because the two of them haven't been separated since birth, and Elsie acts like a hummingbird on No-Doze without Sophie near. Then we decide to take Emily just for fun because she's so well-behaved, a concept that is proven false once we leave the ranch. We determine when we need to body clip, and it's at this point that trouble begins. Deciding on the perfect weekend is the ingredient for insuring that a massive hailstorm will occur beginning Friday afternoon of the designated weekend. The donkeys think the rain is a precursor to Armageddon and are wild. Sometimes, the most horrible thing of all happens that weekend… comes. They always have that ever so familiar look of hunger and "entertain me" in their eyes.


These events succeed in putting us so far behind that we're body clipping donkeys an hour before we leave for the show. As Pete is relaying his desire to stay home and skip the show, I'm telling him we can't back out now because I took out a loan the size of the national debt just to enter all of them. We continue loading the donkeys who decide that today is the day to refresh our memories on loading techniques for equine. Even a seasoned show veteran like Barney, alias Skidmore, shows his unwillingness to cooperate by leaving skid marks in the ground going up to the trailer. The good news is that the furrows confirm that he's definitely not cow-hocked because the lines are perfectly parallel. That's reassuring, and keeps him from being tied over the hood of the truck like common road kill. With Coggins and Health Certificates in hand, we're off, that is until Pete forgets he left his show clothes. That's OK, because I need to go back to the house anyway to get either Valium, the telephone number of a good divorce attorney, or my .38 Smith & Wesson. I have the feeling I may need one or all before the weekend is through.


Things temporarily improve when we get on the road, so much so that Pete and I indulge in our favorite traveling pastime…..singing. We both like to sing. Of course, since I'm a music major and was trained in the classics, and since Pete was trained in the shower, we sound like Maria Callas and Willie Nelson with one of us off key! These are wonderful moments though. We talk about how much we love the donkeys, each other, living in the country, when suddenly I notice that I'm the only one talking. Uh-oh! That's a sure sign we've entered….. The Twilight Zone. The Twilight Zone usually happens about 20 miles outside the town in which the show is held. Pete gets quiet and the wonderful, gentle man I married starts acting like he's been breathing glue fumes. No sooner do I realize that we've entered the Twilight Zone than the questions start coming. Do you have the Coggins? Did you bring the bag with the clippers in it? Did you get enough stalls? Are you my wife? What's my name? Why am I here? You know, all those questions one asks when you're totally freaking out. It's not that Pete is nervous, it's just that he's…..well, you know, a husband!!! I immediately go into my understanding, submissive, supportive wife role and tell him, "Get a grip, fella!"


I should be used to this behavior because he does the same thing when he has to be in the hospital for something major and life threatening like TESTS. He no sooner gets into his room than the nurses come in and yank the call button out of the wall because Pete likes to summon them to ask for everything from Kleenex to whether or not they know the capacity of the visitor parking lot. But back to the story. We pull into the parking lot designated for exhibitors and the parking crisis begins. If left up to Pete, we'd park the truck and horse trailer in Oklahoma and commute to the arena. I suggest he park in this spot, but the rules in the husband book prevent you from complying with your wife's suggestion of parking places. With that crisis behind us, we're ready to unload at which point Pete turns into an accomplished thespian. He launches into a soliloquy that puts Sir Lawrence Olivier to shame. I almost know it by heart now. It goes something like this. "Why are there so many boxes? When we get home, I'm going to throw half of this stuff away. What's this? When did you buy this? I'm leaving this in the trailer. We don't need any of this stuff." I just say "Yes, dear." and keep handing him everything I want to take inside while he purges his soul and loads it all onto the dolly.


We really do enjoy those next few hours. The donkeys are settled and all's right with the world. We enjoy visiting with our friends and going to dinner that night together. Everyone has their donkeys groomed in preparation for the next day. They look so handsome. All the donkeys can think about that night is how soon it will be until they can roll in good old terra firma rather than shavings. All Pete can think about is how much work he's done to get to this point. All I can think about is if our marriage will hold together one more day! Then, the big day arrives. Pete dresses into his show clothes, while I organize the numbers he wears on his back. It's about now that he gets really intense. Where is the lead rope to the black show halter? What time is it? Get me a drink of water. Let's go, let's go! Jeepers, a marine drill sergeant couldn't bark orders as well. But somehow, he manages to get through his classes without a problem. He looks so handsome in the ring and I'm so proud of him and our donkeys. 


Heaven only knows how, but he manages to do well in spite of my coaching from the bleachers. I'm sure every wife of a husband who shows knows about the "constructive criticism" that comes from the wives in the bleachers. We try desperately to get our husband's attention in order to inform them of the things they are doing that will improve their showing even if it's unwanted and even if it's WHILE THEY'RE IN THE RING DOING THEM!!!!! This is our job and we take it seriously. I discreetly get Pete's attention by yelling "Pete" as loudly as I can so that everyone in the town in which the show is held can hear EXCEPT the judge. That takes talent and experience! Then I try to communicate with him through hand motions that cause me to look like the manager of a major league baseball team giving instructions to his pitcher. I can't understand why Pete doesn't know that touching my left shoulder means that Barney's left leg is one millimeter too far to the left. Or that rubbing my eyes means to wake Mariah up because the judge is only two donkeys away from her and she's snoring. Or that pointing to the ground informs Pete that Barney's manhood is getting the attention of all the young people in the stands, and people are taking pictures of him in disbelief. All of this is important information that I feel Pete would surely want to know, and will love me all the more for pointing it out. When I do get his attention (as he's leaving the arena), I get that oh so familiar look that says, "If you think you can do better, just come down here and try!"


The show is over, the judge was either an idiot because we didn't win or the most insightful and experienced donkey judge in North America if we did. Everyone begins to pack up, say our good-byes, and load our trailers. The donkeys are ready. They always know we're going home. They walk straight through the water puddle that only yesterday held acid that if touched, dissolved donkeys whole in less than 30 seconds. They walk past shadows where only yesterday donkey eaters lived. We're exhausted as we drive home, but we enjoy reliving the great time we just had and the memories we made. We talk about our donkeys and how proud we are of them whether they won a ribbon or not. We cherish these moments of togetherness, Pete and I, until my bliss is broken when Pete turns to me and asks, "Isn't the Waco show in two weeks?" "Yes, dear, and I can hardly wait"!


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Pete and Carolyn Christian
Quarter Moon Ranch
4674 Bucksnort Road
Franklin, TX  77856
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