Lessons Learned, Ribbons Earned July 20 2010, 0 Comments

We’re back from the summer GMHA hunter/jumperhorse show. You’ll remember that our first outing of the season to the lovely grounds in Woodstock, Vt., was deemed an “estrogen nightmare” by my husband. He didn’t make out too much better at this horse show. When our StoneHaven group gathered for dinner on Saturday night, we numbered 15: 13 women, plus Paul and the boy. When the other dads finally showed up on Sunday, they got an earful from Paul. (They were accused of spending the rest of their weekend home alone and pants-free.)

The show was very well attended, and the weather was hot, but no rain. We were stabled in the recently renovated Upwey Barn. Even with temporary stalling placed throughout the grounds, there was a waiting list to get a stall for the show. What a great turnout!

Samantha and Mondavi did warm-ups on Friday, but the place to be on Friday was the Upwey wing, where the Team Jumper Challenge was underway. Teams of three or four riders competed against the clock for the fastest combined score.  There were three divisions (2’6”, 3’ and 3’6”), and one professional rider was permitted per teamThere was prize money and more importantly, barn pride on the line. The students and trainers loved competing together as part of a team. I was impressed by the riding, as well as the coordinated fashions. Our barn wasn’t in contention this year but stay tuned for 2011. The event was followed by a lobster bake. Now that’s the way to horse show!

Saturday’s show day found Samantha and Mondavi in the equitation ring for the Novice division. When Samantha had finished warming up and came to the ring, she was (discreetly) in tears. I checked in, then left her alone. Why the tears? Her beloved trainer asked her for more. More effort. More focus. More hustle. Samantha thought she was giving all she had. She learned she had more to give.

As parents, you have to stand back and let the trainer push. So many parents can’t do this. There are many reasons, but they include the phenomenon known as “helicopter parenting.” In some cases, the parents may second guess the trainer. We trust Tara.

Later, I did soothe Samantha and reassured her that this was not personal; it was because Tara knew Samantha had it in her to do better. That’s a hard concept for a 12-year-old, but one that good coaches and trainers have always taught kids in many different sports.

Samantha went in the ring and had a beautiful course. She returned for the equitation on the flat, where she came out of the ring with a blue ribbon. She was second over fences. Fortunately for Samantha, this time there were blue and red ribbons to help her understand the link between the push and the results. Often, the result is just a better ride, with or without the ribbons. But we’ll save that lesson for another day.

We came home late Sunday, exhausted, dirty and happy.

This article was originally published on The Chronicle of the Horse website.