Yesterday was the Pony Jockey's first horse show of the season, the Four Seasons show at Duncraven Stables in Titusville, NJ. We spent Saturday primping and polishing the pony, making a last minute run to Dover (how is it possible for a child to grow so quickly and to lose so dang many gloves??) and then on Sunday morning we got up at o' dark hundred to make the hour-long drive to the show. Luckily the impending rain was holding off, so we considered that a good sign.
Silly us. Cookie, normally the most reliable of ponies, a pony who considers herself a Very Important Horse Show Pony, was apparently not in the mood to horse show yesterday. She's entitled to not be in the mood. We all get that way sometimes.
Here's what happened: We were entered in Pre-Children's Hunter and Equitation: My trainer had Soph and Cookie school for only a little while as the footing in the schooling ring wasn't optimal. Since Cookie is older and had broken her splint bone, my trainer likes be conservative and save her legs for the classes. No arguments there. The footing in the outdoor ring was a bit sticky from some earlier rain, and my trainer told Sophie she'd need to ride with some real impulsion to help Cookie get over the fences. Soph rode in, and promptly forgot her instructions. They got to fence number 2, an oxer with yellow flowers, and the pony, realizing her pilot was asleep at the wheel, said, "No, thank you very much" and ducked out left. She did that twice more and they retired. The good news was the child didn't seem upset or mad at the pony -- which made me quite happy.
|Re-evaluating the strategy|
By now I'm a bit worried that there's something wrong with the pony. My mare is not a stopper, but if she does, it's usually a sign that something hurts. So while they schooled I prayed to the Horse Show gods that the pony wasn't hurting somewhere. I'm a natural worrier, so I was envisioning catastrophic breakdowns, MRIs, career ending injuries. My husband took one look at me and told me to stop, that the pony was just testing Soph. (Not inconcievable, as Cookie's a very smart pony and does not see why she should be doing all the work if her pilot is daydreaming away up there.)
|Finally! Over the bogey fence.|
So in terms of ribbons won, it was not the best of days (although we did get a few ribbons). In terms of lessons learned, though, it was definitely a banner experience. A year or two ago a day like that would have sent the child fetal. Now she grins through it and tells her pony she's a good girl. She learned to gut out a difficult round, make the best out of some lousy spots and get over them and move on to the next fence. She learned she could stick with a pony that was being less than perfect, and if that isn't a confidence builder, I don't know what is. Most importantly, to my way of thinking, she clearly showed that the ribbon was not what mattered, rather it was the time spent with one's pony and the experience of learning together that was.
Way to go, kiddo. Momma's proud of you.
|The humans are happy, but Cookie's |
still wondering where her hay is.