Tuesday, March 8, 2011
There was no blame, no "why didn't he jump?" She knew the issues were hers and was nothing but thankful for the efforts her gallant old campaigner made to extricate them both from some sticky situations.
I hung around to watch the next round, mostly because the horse was named Sophie, which is my daughter's name. Sophie was a lovely bay mare, went like a true hunter, and was a touch too big for the diminutive pixie on top of her. Sophie clearly knew her primary job was to take care of the young'un, and she rolled around that course making sure the girl stayed in the middle of her back with nary a jostle.
The mare's butter-smooth heroics were a thing to behold, but what really caught my attention was the ear-to-ear grin on the be-ribboned girl as she jumped the course. That perma-grin stayed on through three rounds and a hack class, and through the lengthy waits in between classes, where she just perched on her mare, occasionally leaning down to hug her or feed her peppermints. At the end of the hack they announced that they won the class, AND the Championship, and if possible, that grin got even bigger. However, this time their were tears as well. She came out of the ring smiling and crying and the first person she approached was her mom, whom she leaned down to hug and thank profusely.
She and her trainer then went off to cool out Sophie the mare, feeding her peppermints the entire way back to the barn. I had to approach the Mom and tell her how touched I was by the child's obvious joy in and love for the horse, as well as her obvious appreciation for her Mom. Her Mom responded by saying this had been her dream, to have the chance to ride her Mom's mare in a big horse show. She'd literally had no expectations of success -- to her, the success was just being there with that particular horse and the happiness that comes with reaching a long awaited goal.
I'm not ashamed to admit I was so touched by that I teared up. You see a lot of things in the horse world, some beautiful, some not so pretty. I feel very privileged to have seen one of the beautiful moments, and am profoundly grateful for the creatures like Sophie that inspire those moments.