Tuesday, October 9, 2007

For the Love of a Horse (Part 1)

Megan's horseback riding hobby had been relatively under control with weekly lessons and a few weeks of summer camp, until we were recently invited to participate in her first horse show. Anyone who says Skiing and Golf are expensive hobbies have not yet purchased English equestrian riding clothes!! The funny thing is how quickly you forget the expense when you see her standing there so proud, determined and independent!

On Sunday, October 7th, Megan participated in the Winterbrook Fall Series Horse Show. She was in four events. The first class was Trail, although they should have called in "obstacle course" because that is basically what it is. She had to go to a pole and take the hanging jacket and put it on, empty a mailbox, step over water (horses tend to be scared of water since they have no depth perception to tell how deep it is), walk into small spaces and back out, etc. She was delighted to have placed 6th in this event.

The other three classes were the Maiden walk/trot series (Maiden meaning beginner). She is judged on her poise, control of the horse and riding ability. She ribboned 5th in one of these classes. Because this was a schooling show, meaning that the judge will give you pointers and advice, she was told that she needed to pay attention to her diagonals. I was told diagonals are the rhythm by which your behind rises and falls on the horse as it trots. It should be in sync with the movement of the horse's shoulder.

By the end of the 7 hour day, she was beaming and my head was spinning with unsought after knowledge of all that is horses! She has really found her passion, and although she may one day leave it behind for other things, I'm glad she has found something to love so deeply.

If we thought Megan was obsessive about horses before, then we've gone over the edge now! Every other word out of her mouth is either about the care and keeping of her riding clothes or regarding the next free moment we might have to take her to the barn to practice!! After all, she has a second show on October 21st that she really wants to do well at.

As in most sports, we came across many a girl in tears and self hatred over not winning a ribbon. In fact one girl from our barn came out of the arena, jumped off her horse and told her mother she was never going to ride again.

It was good for Megan to see and learn from. I spent a good amount of time discussing the fact that this should be fun for her and when it no longer is then it would be time to step back. Being a good loser is a hard lesson for this age group, but I think Megan is just so happy to be able to take part. I will continually remind her that it's not all about the ribbons and to set her expectations at a reasonable height.

Dan and I consider our ability to offer our daughters these opportunities as one of biggest joys of parenting.


Tara said...

Just you wait. It only gets worse cost wise. Wait until she wants you to "lease" a horse. That's what Mikes younger sister did. She did shows for many years until college then went to pursue something else.

But at 28, she went back to a great equestrian school and graduated. She now works in Florida for some rich people training and grooming and is looking to work her way up.

She loves it as I'm sure Megan will love it too.

Laurie said...

Hey, i have a degree in 'horse' (equestrian science) and in education, and can tell you that horses are the best thing you can do for a child. She will learn responsibility, compassion, hard work, sportsmanship, trust, undying devotion, and so much more. Her horse will be there no matter what. Her horse will learn as much as she teaches it. Her horse will listen to her complain her way through her teenage years of unfair parents, unfair teachers, lost loves, crappy friends, and all the other trials of our teens. Megan will learn that hard work usually pays off, and that patience will get her horse to perform much better than anger. She will learn that sometimes timing is everything, and that one missed lead, or delayed post happens at the exact time the judge is looking. She will learn that sometimes her best, her very best, is not good enough to win but is good enough to feel proudly about her performance and hold her head high. You will cry with her wins and her losses, and you will be amazed at her growth. She will get hurt, and may not be truthful about how badly at the time, for fear of losing her riding time. It will be the wonderful...just wait and see!!! If you have any questions, call me... i taught adult ed as well as kids in 'horse.'