As a kid my parents bought me my first horse, an off-the-track Thoroughbred gelding named George. He taught me many, many lessons and ended up being a great first horse. There was nothing particularly fancy about him, plain bay who wasn't a particularly fancy mover.
I spent years getting him to respond to my aids and learn to be a riding horse. I fed horses in exchange for my lessons, since my parent's horse budget was only enough for George's board and shoes.
We fumbled our way through 4-H local shows. Typically ending up towards the bottom of the ribbons, while the other kids with push button ponies pinned first time and time again. Every once and awhile a judge would really like him other days I could hear the parents of the other kids in my classes telling them to get as much space from me and George as they could.
Now...I really hope I'm not sounding bitter, I was so lucky that my parents bought me a horse and let me ride, there are a lot of young horse crazy kids that never get the chance to take lessons. But I've always really enjoyed showing and always craved success in the show ring.
Like most adult amateurs, my budget and schedule limit me in my riding and showing endeavors but my current horse, Lilly, although she may not be A show hunter quality has become a great show partner for me. But self-confidence is something that I think all riders fight with...I know I have my entire riding career.
I'll admit I get self conscious about my horse, worried about what other's could be saying about her movement (she's 1/4 Friesian...) and size (she's 15.2 on a really good day). She doesn't fit in with the other hunters, and I know that. When we go to a horse show I feel like I'm back in high school, feeling like I don't fit in with the other kids.
That is the thing about showing the hunters, you are asking for the judge's opinion. Whether you and your trainer (and your mom) don't agree - it is purely based on opinion. But there is a different kind of judgement that can run rampant at horse shows, one that only we as exhibitors can stop.
I'm talking about is the judgement that happens outside the ring, the whispers behind your back, the stares of trainers and competitors, and the judging eyes of the show secretaries. Just because a rider isn't wearing the newest of the new, or doesn't have a pair of custom boots - if they are turned out professionally and have put in the work to get to this point we should be celebrating their successes.
I want us to bring sportsmanship back into the sport, even at the local show level. Offer a smile and a compliment for a fellow competitor, it'll make for a much more pleasant community. If you don't want to do it for yourself do it for me, because I'll be that girl who needs a smile.
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Meet the Bloggers
Miranda and Julia bringing over 20 years of experience in the horse industry in a wide variety of experiences and disciplines. Here on this equestrian blog we'll share our horse experiences, tips, plus advice on surviving as an adult amateur rider.