Horsemanship 101: Get back on that horse!

Overcoming adversity and showing true courage = walking away Winners!

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of joining the Brady Bunch at a major dressage event (translation for all the non-horsey people = a horse show). It was so, so, so much fun! Kevin even came along for the ride too, (ha ‘ride’, horses, get it?) Ok not funny. Anyways.

This was the first competition that all of the kids had ever been in, so it was brand new and super exciting. The promise of what was to come was infecting! The Twins were entered into a few horse and rider categories and Miss Charlie was entered into a lead category, whilst Mumma was out riding in the big leagues. The girls all share a pony called Marley; he’s 3 years old, about 12 hands tall and dappled grey. Like a typical pony, he’s 90% cheeky, 5% greedy, 5% oomph and 100% bomb proof. Wait, the maths, oh well, you get it. He’s also kind and loving to the kids whilst being the boss of the paddock. Yep, as strange as it sounds, it often turns out that ponies (the littlest in the paddock) often become the leader over all of the other horses that they’re stabled with. Marley is no exception.

When we arrived on Sunday morning, I spotted Marley tied to his hook along side the horse truck – we luckily have the use of the Polo club’s horse mover so that we can transport our large clan of horses all over the place for various shows. I could barely see him squashed in between two really big Arabian warm bloods, except for the fact that he had his ears plastered back and his “angry face” on. It seems he was in the process of commandeering the two other gelding’s bales of hay. Cheeky, cheeky, pony. I guess that was a tell-tale sign of the way the day was to go.

Half way through The Twins first event of the morning, we discovered a very unfortunate problem with the chosen location of the event. It seems the equestrian grounds was right next to the RAAF base. Yep, that sucks. Although why they felt the need to take off in their noisy planes on a Sunday, I don’t know. It baffles me. But they did. And all hell broke loose. Also, their complete lack of understanding and naivety shown when they felt it absolutely necessary to tow a glider only so many feet above ground over the top of the fields, displays a complete lack of professionalism. Frankly, as Air Force people, they should no better. It doesn’t matter how “bomb-proof” your horse is, by the time you’ve got hundreds of horses in an arena, separated from their mates, filled up on oats (like giving Red Bull to people) and running on the emotions of the children riding them, they’re not going to be so calm headed when loud planes fly over head.

Sadly, one of The Twins was disqualified from her event as cheeky Marley spooked and galloped away from her across the fields. She panicked and tried to hold him, which resulted in a bang to the head (the helmet banged her head as Marley rushed by) and a bruised ego. It turned out that Marley was only trying to get back to the safety of his truck where his half eaten bale of hay was waiting for him (yep, horses are comfort eaters too)!

After quite a few tears and many heart to hearts with the girls, who were scared and had decided to pull out of the rest of the days competitions, we finally managed to convince them to get back on and give it another go. Of course we assessed the situation and made sure it was safe to do so – the girls’ horse instructor got on Marley and gave him a strong talking too, rode out all of his cheeky-ness and turned him back into a placid little, sleepy pony.

By the end of the day the girls had learnt one of the most valuable lessons in life: Never, ever give up! Yes they were scared, yes their egos had been bruised and their pride a little hurt, yes the morning had not gone as planned. But they got over that and got back up on that pony and gave it another go.

 Horseman ship 101: if you come off, you dust yourself off and get right back on!

The kids over came some serious challenges, took a gamble and came out on top. They took away multiple blue, red and green ribbons! Even better were the smiles. It didn’t matter to them that they walked away with fewer ribbons than they had anticipated, because they showed true courage in the face of adversity and strength when it counted. Most of all, they had fun!

 P.S. How cute is little Miss Charlie all dressed up for her event!

Charlie NSW Dressage

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