Monday, August 23, 2010

Training Day...

I am so proud of my kids I could just bust with it.  We had a horse show this past weekend, and wait...I know you're ready for me to provide a list of their accomplishments.  Well, I can't, at least not in the sense of blue ribbons and championships.  Sophie did get a 6th, but that wasn't what made the day a special one.

The kids were showing Betty, a ridiculously adorable Norwegian Fjord pony that my trainer and her partners own.  Betty is young, and pretty green, usually quite sensible, but occasionally apt to get up to the kind of naughtiness ponies are known to.  Betty is learning to be a hunter pony; although her personal inclination is to be a pony jumper, her
abilities lie more towards the hunter ring. 
The kids have been riding Betty for a month or so, and showed her at the Sussex County Horse Show in Augusta, NJ.  There they shared the ride on her in the Pony Pleasure division, and were Reserve Champion.  They were excited to show her again at Monmouth County, even though they know it's not reasonable to expect the same kind of success they had at Sussex.

Good thing they didn't have those expectations, because Betty's age, or lack thereof, showed.  So did the kids' inexperience.  Things started off well, with Sophie doing well in both flat classes.  The wheels started to fall off in her over fences class -- Betty picked up speed and by the time they came around the top of the ring towards the diagonal they were going Mach 1.  Betty did a "drive by" on the in element, and the two of them hurtled around the ring as Soph brought her back for a second attempt at the combination. 

The rest of the course went by in a blur, perhaps because I had my hands over my eyes. The two rollbacks at the end of the course (in a short stirrup class???) were pulled off only by the grace of God, and both contestants were winded as they trotted (still quite briskly) out of the ring to meet the by now gray-haired trainer and mom.  A year ago my daughter would have been in tears.  This year she smiled down at us as she patted her pony enthusiastically, exclaiming, "Did you see how fast we went??? Can we do another one?" 

My son, normally the cool one, had his knickers in a complete twist.  He was so worried that Betty would attempt a "drive by" with him, that of course it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I think he and the pony did about 5 laps around the ring before he finally got her over the combination. My usually unflappable trainer was reaching the upper limits of her voice as she kept exhorting him to "WHOA!"  Sometime around his 5th swing around the ring she gave up on whoa and told him to just "slow down come out of the ring!"  Noah didn't hear her, maybe because he was in a trance or because the wind was roaring in his ears.  He finished the course, careening around the rest of the course at a pace a Formula One driver would be comfortable at, and managed to bring the pony to a trot after about 6 ending circles.

By the time he came out of the ring, Annabel and I were in shock.  At least I thought we were.  Apparently only I was.  Annabel, in her inimitable style, sidled alongside Betty and got a firm grip on her reins, saying, "I really liked your ride to the first fence; two and three were really good too, and then she got a bit quick...." I goggled as she calmly dissected the debacle for him, then worked with him to assemble a plan for the next trip.  Next trip?  Before we recover from this one??? It was necessary at this point, as I knew he needed to get back out there, to walk my momma nerves far away from their little conclave.

Noah went back out there and, for the most part, kept to the plan and kept Betty to the trot.  I don't think I breathed the whole time he was in there; I know Annabel did because she kept reminding him to "TROOOOTTTTT!"  Out of the ring the boy came with a huge smile on his face; Annabel and I deflated like pin-poked balloons.  As Annabel pointed out, had we been smokers, we'd have gone through a whole carton!

Although neither child was successful in the conventional way we define success at these things, they were thrilled with their outings.  They'd gotten a young pony around the course, and provided her with what Annabel called "training moments" when she veered off plan.  Both never lost their patience or their temper with the pony, and fussed over her as much at the end of the day as they had at the beginning. 

That's what this is supposed to be about, right?  The experience and the learning?  Yeah, the winning is nice, but we all know that training moments tend to happen a heck of a lot more often than wins do.  That's why I'm so proud of my kids.  Because they made the most of some difficult moments, and handled themselves with maturity and their pony with compassion.

1 comment:

  1. cute kids and ponies! who WOULDN'T love this blog?! not to mention moms proud of kids- everyone loves that, too!!

    xoxo and NICE WORK on your cool blog! ;)