I was five the first time I stepped foot in the show ring – on my aunt’s horse, Daisy, who had three legs in the grave and one on a banana peel. All jokes aside, my job was to get behind my aunt in the ring and Daisy took care of the rest. I survived, and was happy as all get out!
But I can still remember my “mildly” competitive dad working with five-year-old me behind the trailer to lope poor Daisy who was quite over any bursts of speed at that point in her life. Dad was frustrated because I wasn’t “ready”, and I was too excited to care;) I was five and in a HORSE SHOW!!! I was practically old enough to drive the truck!
To dad’s point: why put a kid in the ring that isn’t ready to compete?
To my aunt’s point: because she’ll have fun and learn.
And now I’m trying to fall in the middle as parent to our munchkin.
So off we go to our first “real” horse show with a saint of a pony named, Clyde! Munchkin’s not “ready”, but he is ready to learn, and he is ready to have fun. I worked with him on leading his pony. We put out buckets in the barn aisle, like a pony-leading obstacle course haha, but he’s not been comfortable enough to trot his pony in-hand.
But who the hell cares? He just turned four and he’s happy and having a ball!
So we get to the show. The pony is bathed. Twice because he’s white and rolled in poop. He’s braided. And him and the kid look cute as hell. (Munchkin picked out his own neck tie to match his navy coat!)
And what do you know….
Munchkin is in the first halter class, and he’s the first called into the ring. No ability to watch others and he’s got a show mom in the background giving him directions but trying to let him figure it out.
Did he walk straight to the judge? No. It was a little more drunken sailor-ish.
Did he set his pony up correctly? No. He doesn’t even know what that is. He STOPPED his pony, which was a win;)
He let the judge inspect, and when the pony moved he didn’t freak out, he just rolled with it.
Did he trot away from the judge? Not a chance. He hasn’t been confident enough to try it. And I’m ok with that. What I was more ok with was the big grin on his face and the look of accomplishment!
He lined his pony up for further inspection and because it was a small local show, I could be with him to help. But I tried my best to let him have his moment, to let him learn, and to figure things out on his own. I didn’t set his pony up. We didn’t even talk about how to do it. We’ll get there….
When he came out with a second place ribbon, he was stoked…. I mean, red is his favorite color!!! How cool was that?! He has no clue that blue is what he should’ve wanted, but he’s four so again…who the hell cares?!
His daddy was waiting on him on the outside… ready to intercept the pony and high-five the kid.
His daddy has never horse showed. But he suggested Munchkin go stand at the rail and watch the next few classes to learn. But again, he’s four…. I legit wasn’t worried about him watching other classes. I was just happy it was a good experience and he got his favorite color ribbon!
But dang if he didn’t listen to that daddy of his and learn.
He watched, just as his daddy asked, not for too long. But he watched. Neither of us said much to him. We asked if he was having fun. He was. He wanted his cousin to come hang out by the in-gate with us. So I went to grab her.
And oh geez, it’s time to go back in the ring for his 12 and Under Best Turned Out class. Before I can hand over my two year old niece to Hubs, Munchkin has grabbed the pony and is heading into the ring at a trot!
1. He’s NEVER trotted his pony in hand
2. He left me in the dust
3. It was not necessary to trot the pony and I was definitely not telling him otherwise!
He had watched the other “big kids” and adults trot their horses and decided he could do it too. Well, ok little man! Go on with your big, bad self!
So he wins his class, which is slightly LESS exciting because it came with a blue ribbon. Duh, red is his favorite color…. Meanwhile, Grandaddy is happy because to directly quote him: “If you don’t win best turned out, you’re just plain trifling!”
Kudos for honesty from the munchkin too…
Judge: Young man, did you braid your pony?
Munchkin: No, my momma did!
In his defense, he did help me wash his pony;) BOTH times! And he picked up all the hair when I pulled Clyde’s mane. And he watched intently as I clipped his pony. Soaking it in…
Next came the stick horse class. He romped around the ring and his “horse” somehow managed to maul his cousin’s head…
And then lead line. Riding proud as peacock:) and without me actually leading him, because clearly he’s too big for that…
And then it’s over. An hour later. After all that work…
We take some pictures. Untack the pony. Mimi helps undress the munchkin. We load up. Drive home. Unload. Unbraid. Put Clyde back in his stall.
I’m exhausted. And also 7 months pregnant.
But my heart was happy.
Munchkin had a great experience. He learned. He had fun. He got all sorts of cool ribbons. He wants to know when he can go to another show:) The local show made it fun and enjoyable, while allowing me to help and stay with my kiddo so everyone was safe and happy!
Thank goodness…. Grandaddy was quite pleased with Munchkin’s blue ribbon in the one class, but clearly thinks he should’ve won every class;) In fact all the men in his life do.
But we did win. We won in every category as far as I’m concerned. And as a momma, I couldn’t have been prouder.
My hubs doesn’t get the enjoyment out of horse showing. But watching Hub’s face light up at seeing his son do something he so clearly enjoyed….well that helps me know that even if Hubs doesn’t understand all of it, he trusts me when I have these crazy ideas. He was so damn proud of his son. Proud of the independence Munchkin showed, proud that he listened and learned, proud that at four he’s already picking up some of the traits we hope he carries with him all his life.
At the end of the day…. that folks, is why we horse showed this weekend.
And while I missed not being on a horse in the ring yesterday, I can tell you nothing compares to watching your little one love something you do too…