TR and QT showed their horses "Cowboy" and "Cricket" today at the NENHA Show (you can learn more about them here). It is always so much fun to watch these little guys. I think there were 7 of them all together, all under 6 years old. The first class was the Stick Horse Showmanship. Talk about controlled chaos! They had a wonderful judge, and not that we have been to a lot of shows, but the best kids judge we have seen at a show. She was so good with these wild kids!
As you can tell, they hardly stood still long enough for a non blurry picture!
Then we waited for what felt like forever for the Lead Line class. In lead line, the little guys ride their real horses for a horsemanship class, just mom or dad has to be in the arena with them and their horse on a lead rope. We just use under bridles and neck ropes since we never ride with a halter under our bridles. I think we must have waited an hour, and it was too long for most of these little guys. They are pretty easy on these 6 and under kids when they do the horsemanship. All they had to do was walk in a big circle, then the judge came up and asked each kid if they could back their horse up. Cake really for our guys, as much riding as they do with us around the ranch. The highlight of the show was after TR finished backing up his horse, the judge told him something like good job, nice horse. TR piped up "But he isn't for sale!" The judge replied "Good thing! Don't let your dad trade him off either. There's a big guy [meaning her husband] standing out there who would like to have him!" We got a pretty good giggle out of that.
We are so proud of our boys for getting out there and showing their horses (neither the Cow Boss or I had the nerve or ambition to do it...maybe next show!). Riding into an arena with a bunch of people you don't really know and being asked to perform can be kind of daunting for an adult, let alone 4 and 6 year old boys. I'm also proud of the fact that they are not afraid to talk to other adults (I just wish they would avoid random strangers in WalMart, but that's a post for another day). When they were all said and done, TR placed first and QT placed second. Not too bad, if I do say so myself!
Here they are posing with their ribbons.
I know I've taken a bit to getting around to it, but I do have a lesson here I am getting to, honestly I didn't just pop on to brag on how wonderful I think my kids are! =) I know I am very (very!) biased when it comes to my little cowboys.
While we were waiting for their lead line class, we had to watch what felt like 100 English Equitation classes, which were really hard for us to get excited about. In the final class before our boys showed, there were 3 young girls. I believe it was a Hunter-Hack class? I don't know, I really don't know my English Equitation at all. The first girl made a flawless run (I assume anyway, she won the class). Everything looked great, she did all the jumps, didn't knock anything down, the horse didn't balk at anything, and she had a smile plastered across her face from the moment she entered the arena till she left it. She was in and out, and I thought great, this will go very fast.
Then came the next girl. She didn't look scared or frown or anything, but she just didn't have the same smile as the first girl. The first and second jumps looked alright, then came the third. She got right to it, all poised to leap over like the last 2 and her horse stopped, and refused to move ahead. So she backed off, trotted a little circle and tried again. Same thing. She tried 3 times before the judge told her to just go on to the next one. We went through this same little ritual for the next 2 jumps before she was able to find a jump her horse would go over. She never got mad, she definitely didn't cry in the arena. She was composed, and patient with her horse. She could have gone to whipping and spurring and throwing a fit, but instead every time she just regrouped, patted him on the neck and tried again. When she left the arena, she still had her little smile and gave the impression "We'll do better next time." I was more impressed with her run than the first girl.
A little while later, I went up to her mom and told her how impressed the Cow Boss and I were with her daughter (we had discussed it over lunch), and that she did a good job in the Hunter-Hack class. I explained how impressed I was with her for not getting frustrated or upset and that she just kept trying. I also told her that I hope when my boys get bigger they ride horses like the one her daughter was riding, horses that will challenge them and make them better riders. She thanked me and confided how much she appreciated it because someone else had kind of given her a hard time about putting her daughter in the class.
Too often we see kids "riding their parent's money." Their parents are wealthy, and can afford the well trained horses that all the kid has to do is sit on the horse and the horse does everything. Which is great. I wish I had the money to do that for my boys some days. Only some days. I know it would be awesome to be guaranteed a win every time you entered the arena. But wouldn't it feel better to take a horse you made yourself?
Imagine this: You have been working with a horse for a year or two. It is a horse you raised from a leppy colt you bottle fed for 4 months. You are the youngest kid in your age group and you are showing (or barrel racing, or roping, or whatever) against kids that are riding $15,000 horses that they bought, and you out ride them. Wouldn't that be awesome? I would rather have that experience for my boys instead of "Yeah, I won. We bought this horse at such and such sale 2 months ago."
I've been thinking about this all afternoon, and just wanted to share with you. I hope when my boys face the same situation some day (not that they will be riding Hunter-Hack or anything), but whether it is showing a horse, in the rodeo arena, or branding trap, that they show the same determination, calmness, and try that this girl had, and maybe a little bit of her grace as well.