For 20 plus years, I told my family and friends that as soon as the kids were out of the house, I’d focus on my riding again. Being a mother of two highly active children, as well as a coach, trainer, servant, chauffeur and more for them and a ton of other kids we collected along the way, there was never enough time or money left over for me to compete myself.
When our son, the youngest, graduated high school and informed me he was taking my dressage horse to college with him, it hit me “I’m going to be alone.”
My husband knew first, that this would not be a good situation for me. I have been on a dead run with our kids for so long there was sure to be a big crash. The family campaigned to let our son take my horse with him and that I had to get a new horse. The last part is easier said than done, but before my son left for college, we were able to find me a new horse.
After two years of training… more the horse training me, than me training the horse, I declare we are ready for our first show and the event I had chosen was a schooling show with an unaffiliated club in Northwestern Michigan their slogan states “We are committed to having fun while advancing proficiency in dressage and jumping.” Sounds like a place to start. More importantly, it’s the closest to home I can find and no one knows me there!!
New jacket, new saddle pads, new boots, new stock tie, gloves and helmet…. All the tack clean and loaded, horse washed and loaded. Coffee in hand, we are off for a 189 mile one way drive.
Back in the day when I hauled the kids all over it was piece of cake. I had this show stuff down. My magic totes of everything they might need from clothing, to tack, to food all stowed and labeled and ready at a moment’s notice, a work of art. I believed none of the kids ever suspected just how much work I did to make their day special, relaxed and fun.
My son, an assistant barn manager and trainer, took the weekend off to come “help me.” I was more concerned about his desire to “coach” me into tears and add more stress, than I was happy about him coming along. But my husband is not horse savvy and has no idea how to read a test, I felt needed some help.
My son was there to greet us upon arrival at the show barn; an equestrian center located at a winery, yeah!! Who could plan a better place for a first show? Horses and wine, definitely a perk.
While I checked us in my son handled everything, unloading, hand walked every inch of the grounds and arenas. By the time I got dressed to ride, my horse was relaxed, groomed and saddled; all I had to do was get on.
This is an odd feeling to not be the one doing everything, it truly was messing with my control issues but I went with it.
The outdoor arena was huge and placed in the most breath taking setting imaginable The ride was awesome, my son walked along side us until I felt comfortable to trot away, he offended only slight suggestions never over coached me or trying to drastically change everything. For quite some time now I’ve been doing most of the training alone and am kind of proud of that. Several times I fought back tears; I have waited so long to do this.
My son and husband handled everything, after my ride the groomed and fed my horse, settled her for the night in the stall and organized my stuff. Not really sure who they are but again I went with it.
The next morning, I arrived at the barn to find my horse fed groomed and half braided by my son. I was told to get coffee and relax.
I’ll be honest with you my goals for the weekend were to live though it, hopefully actually make it into the arena and that was it. Never did I dream I would get a 69 on my first test. I know I did not breathe the entire ride.
It was an amazing weekend.
I meet some wonderful, fun people and in all the years I’ve taken the kids to barns for shows we have never been made to feel as welcome as this group of people made me feel.
I was surprised to find out my kids did understand and appreciate all I did for them and I still tear up at my son’s effort to take care of me, as he said “like you took care of me.”