Monday, September 8, 2014

IT'S THE HEART THAT MATTERS

Used with permission
www.connecticutphoto.com
My niece just completed her very first Horse Trial this weekend.  From the scores, it was a tough day.  You mothers of Eventers know this moment when someone asks you, “How was the show?”  Do you answer like the Mom, the Cheerleader or the Non-Rider-Eventer-Observer-Parent?  And how do you address that child with tears in her eyes and disappointment in her heart?  You want to do so much to make it better because you know how much effort went into the day…

If you’re a Non-Rider-Eventer-Observer-Parent, I must warn you.  Your child has chosen a sport where the work is hard, prizes are rare, ribbons are elusive and the potential for mistakes are many.  If it’s prizes and accolades you want, sign them up for the Hunter/Jumper world, where classes are a plenty and if you time it right or go to the right show, ribbons and championships can be had.

Used with permission
www.flatlandsfoto.com
We ride three times, doing very different tasks for one chance to place… once chance for a ribbon… And, one spook at the judge can end the quest no sooner than you start.

A mom wants them to feel better and to make it all right.  How do you make it ok?

First piece of advice from an Eventer (non-mom), you can’t make it ok.  There is not one of us out there that hasn’t had a tough day or been disappointed.  Some of us come out of the ring frowning, upset at what we should have done, wanted to have done something better or even been pissed at our precious ponies (yes, admit it… you have at least once).  


Used with permission
www.dexterpix.com
As the Bestest Eventing Buddy and I used to say, “Sometimes the best thing about Eventing is the ride home!”  The horses are munching hay in the trailer, you have a nice iced coffee (Dunkin) in your hand, munching on a little snack and the stories get told again and again.  Sometimes it’s a little bit of a…  “wish I had just kicked instead of pulled”, “she was great over the oxer and then I leaned”, “we were having a great run, he was awesome and we blew by the trakener” , “God I love my horse!  Next time, I will ______” and sometimes, we ride the most glorious ride over and over again…

I’m sure my niece’s ride home with her trainer contained the same stories and I’m sure as they traveled further away from the show grounds, her disappointment lightened until the plans for the next one got better, the excitement grew bigger and the desire to do it again was stronger than any tears...

Let the trainer teach the child our ways…  For you?  How do you deal with it?  Ahhh, take it from one Eventer:

Clueless and contented on the ride home
Don’t tell your child that they shouldn’t be upset.  You see, he or she won’t get another chance to make the mistake right until the next one.  And, that Event is going to be different than this one riding the same horse who might have different issues (or not). 

Instead, ask them why they are upset, you may be surprised at what caused those tears...  Listen to the rant (cause I think eventers are all somewhat masochistic perfectionists).  When it’s done, ask to hear the story of XC - what was her favorite jump, did she have galloping space, how did you handle the water, the ditch, the bank, table?  If you know what her scary jump is (and she did not have a stop at it), ask her how it rode.  (That will be at least a 15 minute talk with smiles.)

And when she’s done, ask her when the next one is… even though your heart might hope that she’ll be a basketball player instead!

Enjoy the ride!   It’s a doozy!

4 comments:

Hawk said...

Ah if only I had parents that tried to understand eventing. Instead all they see is me and my green horse come home time and time again without a ribbon. My father especially doesn't understand it - he thinks I'm wasting my time :( I guess I can't expect too much from them - they rode western their whole lives :)

Suzanne said...

Me too! Mine were non-horsey who really never understood the passion!

Sarah K said...

LOVE the first pic of you two!

And yes, completely agree it's the "why" are you upset that needs to be expressed. That's where we learn!

Jodi said...

Such great advice! Though I do think it other types of equestrian moms could definitely benefit from this :)