Thursday, December 18, 2008

September Flashback.... The joys of motherhood

While we try to teach our children all about life, Our children teach us what life is all about.~Angela Schwindt

I have been meaning to post about this for quite some time, just never really got around to it and never actually made the time.

When the my doctor delivered Morgan 12 years ago and announced to Jeff and I that she was indeed a girl, thoughts started rolling through my head of all the things raising a girl would bring. For me, one of the things it meant was someone to share my love of all thing horses. For Jeff on the other hand, I believe shotguns are in his thoughts. My son, Zared has a love of horses for his own reasons, but since the loss of my Arabian, Avalon 5 years ago, his love to ride has seriously waned. Both my children have learned a lot through the horses in our lives. I believe animals in a child’s life can teach a them so much about how to live through life. Call it life lessons if you will. Children learn by doing and their brains are like sponges. A child can learn to work through problems with a horse that will carry over into their everyday life. They learn that with hard work comes success, usually, and when it does not end in success, it does not mean you just give up, you learn what’s needed to be successful and you keep trying and learning. That little diatribe is now leading me to what I meant to post… I’m easily sidetracked.

Morgan started out on her equestrian life with her first pony at the age of 3 ½. His name was Jiggs and he was a snot. Still is on some days.

Jiggs taught her to not give up though. He came to us unbroken to ride, but he was trained to pull. How hard could it be? Let me tell you, there is a reason I tell clients and friends not to buy their young children ponies under 12 hands. They are contemptuous, snotty and hardly ever do they want to even remotely participate in the same activity as you.
I am forever thankful for Jiggs though, he helped mold my daughter into what she will become. And he is darn cute, you have to admit.

Fortunately though children grow, and Morgan needed something that would work for a while. My own horses were too young for an 8 year old, so the hunt began. Enter Moonlight.

Moonlight is a lovely little mare who as a registered quarter horse, measured in at 14.2, perfect right? Well yes, for a while. Moonlight was a fantastic upgrade to Jiggs. She learned very quickly and was more than willing to oblige Morgan. I and a few boarders drug Morgan to some shows where the pair did fantastic. I still clearly remember one of my past boarders and I at the rail, pretty much holding onto each other as Morgan entered her first riding class with Moonlight. I’m not sure who was more nervous, her or I. The judges gave Morgan and Moonlight good nods that weekend and all was well. Every time the two went into the ring, they placed well for their experience level. Morgan worked hard to learn and to teach Moonlight what she needed to know. Several months later though some things fell apart, Moonlight began behaving erratically, and Morgan was getting frustrated. I offered advice, but I’m Mom, what do I know? So, I took her to someone I knew she would respect. This trainer fell in love with Moonlight and Morgan. Moonlight and Morgan fell back into their groove at lessons, but quickly fell apart at home. We went for trail rides and Moonlight would relax. We came to realize Moonlight was seriously affected by my 3 stallions in the barn. We talked to the vet and she inserted a marble to see if that would balance her out. Nope. I came to the painful decision after watching my daughter getting slammed into the wall of my arena that Moonlight needed to be in a home with no stallions around. She was great around them at the shows and no problems at lessons, but she was not comfortable at home and my daughter was thinking she did not need to practice in-between shows or lessons. We found Moonlight a good home with no stallions and she is thrilled.

Now what do I do? My oldest riding horses were 3 years old and definitely still learning; well we acquired Ripley from the woman who now has Moonlight. Ripley was not my first choice by any means. She is a registered paint measuring in at 14.2 and a whole lot of white. I have really grown to appreciate a good sorrel when it comes to show prep. Morgan liked Ripley though and that’s what mattered. She had been used as a barrel horse, but just did not have the speed, or the want to run. Perfect. Ripley needed work and Morgan felt she was up for the task so for a year and a half now Morgan and Ripley have practiced at home, practiced at lessons, have gone to clinics and they have learned together and they appreciate each other. They actually are a lot like each other, very opinionated. Ripley offers just enough fuss, so that Morgan actually has to think about what she is doing. She cannot just sit at look pretty; she has to ride the mare. This has led to a few Drama Queen Moments. Several people have asked why I let Morgan struggle with Ripley, why I don’t just fix the mare and ride her for Morgan so it’s easier. Good question. I have ridden Ripley all of 4 times. I don’t particularly care for her; furthermore it will not help Morgan if I do her homework for her. I’m not going to be able to do the test for her. Morgan is now enjoying the learning process. Yes, it’s been hard, yes, it is work, but anything worth doing is hard work. No, she doesn’t place every time she goes into the ring, but she measures each ride as to whether or not she and Ripley improved from the last ride. That folks is what it is all about. It is not about the ribbons or what the judge thinks. It is knowing for yourself whether or not you improved yourself and your horse. It is really nice though when you are rewarded with the ribbons. It is the icing on the cake, as was the case at the District 4-H show back in September. Morgan had to teach Ripley showmanship, it is not one of my favorite classes, and thankfully several years ago, a couple boarders took pity on Morgan and gave her very good instruction in showmanship.

Morgan had qualified in all 4 of her classes for the District show. I had placed her in the Walk/Trot division for her first year of 4-H. Showmanship, English Equitation, English pleasure and Trail class. The trail class really was a fluke that she qualified to move on to Districts, but because she did, she practiced daily on maneuvers to prepare for the trail class. There were 20 children in each class and the competition was very good. In her showmanship class she placed 8th. Her Equitation class she placed 1st. Her pleasure class she did not place. Not a surprise, she is still working on Ripley coming on to the bit consistently. Finally, her trail class she DQ’ed on the second to last obstacle going the wrong direction in the box and poles. Now, some parents and kids would have been furious for the pleasure class placing after she came out 1st in the Equitation class. Not Morgan or me. The judge was a very good and judged the Equitation class accordingly and his placings in the pleasure were spot on. The mare does not always look like she is a pleasure to ride, but Morgan’s Equitation is very good. It had to be to be able to survive on her previous two mounts. LOL As for the Trail class, she came out smiling even knowing she DQ’ed, because she did better than she had before at her practices at home. She performed all the obstacles very well and even the obstacle where she DQ’ed. Her only mistake was doing the 360 turn the wrong direction. Ripley and Morgan were struggling with that at home. Ripley would step out of the box, not at Districts though, she performed it beautifully and Morgan knew it, so the lack of a ribbon didn’t matter, she knew she did her personal best. So here I am bragging, the proud Mommy. I was inspired that day by my daughter as to how well she performed and how well she did with the unfortunate comments that were made later in the day by parents. She let the negative comments roll off her back. She worked hard and she succeeded even if they did not all end up in a ribbon.

Morgan waiting to go into her Showmanship class.

Morgan and Ripley with their 8th place win.

Waiting for the placings in the Equitation class.

Posing after their first place win in English Equitation.

I will give Morgan a lot of the credit on getting Ripley ready for this show and most of the shows she goes to. Ripley requires 3 baths to get her white and Morgan did the bulk of the bathing as soon as she got home from school.

I am extremely proud of Morgan and what she has accomplished with herself and with her highly opinionated mare. She is a great kid and is learning the value of hard work.


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Grey Horse Matters said...

Those ponies were and are adorable. I love paints. I have to say I agree with you completely with everything you said about kids and responsibility.
You're whole post is a replay of my life and my daughter's. She started when she was 5, she's now in her early 30's and has turned out to be a talented, caring horse person, trainer and rider. I remember her mucking 50 stalls after school for 50 cents each stall to help pay for lessons and board. Responsibility for something other than yourself is a great way for kids to learn the value of things.
We also agree that it's not about the ribbons but what you have learned and how far you have come in your training.

SkyBar Farm said...

Thank you for your very kind words. I hope my daughter is all of those things you state when she is your daughter's age.