Sunday, June 22, 2014

KIC's first pony (show)

For some time, KIC has had the extreme privilege of dabbling in horseback riding.  I say dabbling, because we have truly been all over the place.  Her first real horseback ride came in the zillion degree heat on a horse affectionately named Hector Prince of Troy, courtesy of our wonderful friend Sarah.  It seemed as though KIC was a natural on horseback, so we've gone here and there, to and fro in search of the pursuit of equitation.  I say we, but really I mean NannyK, with me on the sidelines fretting and cheering, simultaneously.  I think I'm worn out more than KIC after a lesson and I'm now starting to get an understanding of why NannyK left!

Last week, KIC was able to attend a half day horse camp.  I found a great deal through our county recreation sign ups with the thought that this would be the catalyst we needed to go one way or the other - either she liked horses and wanted to continue to ride, or she liked them as the beautiful creatures that they are and didn't really need to ride them.  Only one of those outcomes would have terrifying consequences and I was pretty sure we were going to be safe after horse camp.

Except...KIC loved every minute of horse camp.  While it's true that she didn't always follow the pack during farm tours (horse jumps are fun for humans too, right??), apparently her equitation skills were impressive.  My usually close mouthed child told me that the instructors told her that her posting (the up and down motion) during the trot was awesome and that she was a "pro".  She never volunteers this information.  I started to think there may be something to this horse stuff for her.

On the last day of horse camp, I posted a picture of her on Facebook.  A friend of mine, having followed our journey closely, shocked me to the core when she offered to let KIC ride her solid as a rock pony in a local horse show.  After a brief consultation with KIC that ended with her dancing around the house, I jumped at the chance to let her ride in a show.  THIS!  This would be make or break.  If she couldn't keep it together during a show, then it was time to let go of the equitation thing altogether. 

We showed up to work with my friend Carla at her barn with her gorgeous pony, Gunnar.  According to Carla, Gunnar had a bad morning in dressage that morning, but none of that showed when he was with KIC.  KIC went through the motions of grooming like a pro, all the while learning everything Carla was teaching her in advance of quiz questions from the judges.

I'm going to take a side note here to say, I am not the best sideline mom.  I make vows to do better, but each time, I get frustrated with inattention on KIC's part and all my good intentions go out the window.  Carla kicked my butt in the best possible way when she told me to shut up after correcting KIC on her jumper form.  It has definitely helped me to see that my sideline hovering isn't always as helpful as I thought and if the experts are fine with it, then I gotta go with the flow.

After I stepped back into just MOM, I began to see some amazing things.  KIC knew most of what Carla was reinforcing with regards to form.  She knew "jump" position, something I had never seen before.  She was beyond confident in the saddle and was listening to Carla - something she could do easily without me in her head.  Her focus was phenomenal and she was in the zone.  Who was this kid?

The next morning, we showed up to Carla's not really sure what to expect from the day.  We loaded up into Carla's truck and headed to this totally nondescript arena.  My nerves were all over the place, but I shouldn't have been concerned.  Carla, with her many years of experience, had this, and more importantly, KIC did too.  In a big bad way.

I registered KIC and got her rider number.  392 would be indelibly burned in my brain that day and my ears would strain to hear her number after each of the three classes she was registered in closed.  In the time that it took for me to register KIC, Carla was able to complete the transformation from unsure little girl, to confident young lady.

KIC registered for three classes:  100% rider (where she would be the only one judged), 50% rider/50% horse (where she and Gunnar would be judged equally) and 100% horse (where only Gunnar would be judged).  They would be walked around the ring on a lead line by Carla whose unflagging energy only added to KIC's calm and comfort.  I repeat, who was this girl?

It would not be a runaway class.  There was another little girl in the class with KIC.  I'm sure they did well, but my eyes were only on the Black and White, 14 hand Welsh X pony and his rider.  When the first class, 100% rider was complete, I was disappointed when the number 1 rider was announced - 192.  Wait, 192 - Kaitlyn Shoup??  Did she just win a blue ribbon?????  HOLY CRAP!  Cooler heads prevailed, as well as the fear of another correction from Carla, so I didn't not do cartwheels ringside.  But wait, there's more??  They ride again??  KIC would go on to take blue ribbons in the next two classes as well, giving her "Class Champion" for the day.  I don't think I've ever seen her grin so wide.

June 22, 2014 Lead Line Class Champion
Kaitlyn Shoup riding Artwork, aka Gunnar
Owned by the incomparable Carla Rollins

Honestly, have you ever seen a kid who belonged on a horse more???  And truly, have you ever seen a more attractive horse?  And his owner is no slouch either!

I think that in four years, if you were to ask KIC what one of her favorite days ever was, she will list the birth of her brother first with her first pony show being a close second.  Carla has very generously offered to let KIC ride Gunnar again this show season and KIC has excitedly told anyone who will listen how much she wants to ride again, so I hope we can make it happen.  But if not, the fact that a shy little girl was given such an amazing opportunity to learn and to SHINE, thanks to so many people, will ALWAYS be my favorite memory.