In the horse world, probably like any sport, you grow your friends and “family” around those people you spend most of your time, in this case, those at your barn. At most training barns, the skill levels of the students match the various divisions in-which they compete. So, starting at the Leadline and walk/trot levels to the high jumpers, the little kids watch and learn from the older riders.
We will celebrate 13 years in Texas this month. Lauren has, in essence, grown up here. And she has grown up wanting to emulate other riders she has seen. In the early years at Whipple Tree, it was Chelsie and Kirsten, that she eagerly watched. Lauren did her first Texas show doing walk-trot on Mickey. She has come along way as well, jumping her way to 3’6″ division. But it has just been like a long, twisting road. One day you are not trotting along and the next day winning over the big fences. There is a lot of times you feel you are not getting anywhere at all. Now, it is starting low again on Feather and moving her along. We do not often stop and think about the progress she has made.
Yesterday, instead of making the long drive up to Dev’s in the heat we agreed to meet at Caroline’s Compound. Several riders who keep their horses at home (instead of a boarding barn) trailered
in with their horses. Dev set us up in a schedule, so that he could have time to work with each rider
Individually. Lauren had a good ride on Feather. She schooled 3’9″ and 4 foot fences for the first time.
While Lauren and Feather were working in the ring, another trailer pulled in. A rider, Alex, that we had last seen ride at least three or four years ago was next in the ring with her new horse. Now 13, she had ridden at the barn with us when she was just a youngster. It was great to see her and her dad. Alex stood and watched Lauren and Feather work through the jumps. I asked Alex what she thought of Lauren’s new horse. Alex said Feather was nice but it is what she said next that made our day. “Lauren was my idol when we all used to ride together!”
Certainly, no one had told Lauren that before! But it is how kids grow, develop and mature, through positive role models. Lauren and I were both very pleased to hear Alex say such a nice thing. I hope Lauren always did the right things. But I guess that’s part of learning as well. Nothing is perfect and sometimes things are harder than they look.
Like most sports, a lot of lessons are learned, in and out of the arena. I bet there are young ones that will look up to this next group of riders as Alex did Lauren. It made for a pretty special day.