Horse Show Toilet Etiquette

In Opinion

Please put the toilet seat down. Women, I’m talking to you.

In general, there’s something unsightly about an uncovered toilette. And there is no more equitable toilet seat policy than to require that all people, regardless of gender or orientation, replace the toilet seat cover once they have finished their business. Men often get a bad rap for their toilet-seat insensitivity. And ladies, I am the first to agree with you that us men should put the seat down when we have finished. But I’d like to further insist that we all abide by the same practices, habits, and sense of decorum by kindly covering the hole into which we deposit our waste so that the next person to enter the water closet is left entirely in the dark when it comes to what may or may not have just taken place.

Horse show toilets (aka porto-potties) are the worst. I have never encountered a horse show toilet that wasn’t gaping wide open, and that didn’t clearly display its recent history. To be fair to these maneuverable crappers, the technology has advanced significantly in recent years. In contrast to the memories I formed as a child, they now smell of potpourri and are usually very well maintained at large events. The biggest problem is not the vessels, but what goes on inside of them. True, they are used by men an women alike, but the demographics at horse shows, and the fact that men are not required to lift the seat nearly as frequently as women, give me reason to think that, to the extent to which there is a toilet seat problem, women are to blame.

I don’t have any insight into why women don’t make it a habit to put the toilet lid down. But I do have several reasons why they should.

1. Gender equality – I have already mentioned this, but it is an important point worth restating. Rather than quibble about whether it’s better to leave the toilet seat up or down (a major point of contention in many households, and especially among newlyweds), let’s just all agree to put down the lid when we are finished. Same habit. Same amount of effort.
2. The pit of dispair – I refuse to believe that anyone enjoys stepping into a portable toilet and being accosted by what it contains. Just as I don’t appreciate being forced to see some of the graphic scenes shown in movie trailers on television, I don’t appreciate being forced to see this horror show. I would far rather be able to walk in peacefully, and muster up the courage to lift the lid on my own. Or better yet, in the vast majority of cases I am in the glorious position of not having to squat at all. Urinal troughs are the best, but the glorious moments they invite are mildly ruined by the lack of mystery about what the verdant outhouse otherwise contains. How splendid would it be if one could walk in, pee in peace, and gleefully pretend as if they were the first in the world to do so?!
3. Technology problems – our phones are with us all the time. As a horse husband, I typically also have at least a camera in addition. Upon entering a porta-jon, I am in constant fear of losing a valuable piece of technology to the lucid green darkness below. Phones have a way of escaping pockets and phone clips at the most inopportune times, especially while bodies are trying to negotiated small confined spaces.

On closing, I should like to mention that the English have worked to solve this problem. Their preferred out-door waste disposal unit has a smaller ‘point of entry’ than those in America. The English are better able to ‘hide their shame’ thanks to an ingenious flushing mechanism. But these are not perfect either. It’s beyond the scope of this post to explore the ins and outs of outdoor toilet design, but those who have experienced a horse show in the U.K. Will know all too well the experience of having to navigate the dual peril — the Scylla and Charybdis — of getting either a ‘smurf butt’ or a Hershey’s kiss.

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  • I set this rule in my household from the start – ALL toilets must be closed! I NEVER understand why, in home tours or real estate listings, they so OFTEN show the lid up -Aaaaaaaaagggggggggggggghhhhhhh! WTH?! Port-o-potties should be the same – all lids down, please.

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