One of the last times I ever rode with my childhood instructor I remember her complimenting a woman on the East side of the state who I’d be clinicing with in the upcoming month. It was a weird compliment, along the lines of “Oh she’s a REAL equestrian and not one of those women who wear makeup to the barn”.
This interaction has been burned into my brain because at the time it felt like a punch to the gut. When I was 18 I was splitting my time between lessons at a nice heated indoor H/J barn and lessons in someone’s backyard’s grass field. I already felt like I was straddling two worlds in the equestrian community, but I always thought I was accepted at the latter place.
Yet there I was untacking after a lesson feeling like I didn’t belong and all because I AM one of those women who “wear makeup to the barn”.
You see, people also complain about how judgemental more affluent barns, Hunter barns, dressage barns, etc. etc. are but don’t realize it goes both ways.
What you wear to the barn, what you care about doing with your horse, and what the fuck you do with your horse aren’t real bearings on who is and isn’t a “real equestrian”. You are the only one who can give yourself that title.
So trail ride with a smokey eye if you want, no one should give a shit.