Our family’s foray into the horse world began two years ago when we moved to our new town. It was first me to succumb to the smell of horse, but Jack was quick to ask to take lessons. Now that he home schools he is able to go to the barn with me every morning to ride the horse he leases, Biggie. The owner of Retama Equestrian Center, Renee Lopez trains both of us. Jack has been far more interested in showing than I am, not that I won’t, it’s just not high on my list of what to do with my available time. I feel like every time I get on my horse it is our test day. I devour learning and stretching myself to be a better rider for the benefit of my sweet Bear. Jack and I are both learning dressage from Renee. It is considered the ballet of riding. I can relate for sure and it stokes up a passion in me that’s fierce.
We bought a used horse trailer a month ago, and I was quick to break the crank this week as I leaned into my own independence with hauling and riding. Tomorrow I will get it fixed, but for the show Renee came to our rescue and hauled Jack and Biggie to his first schooling show at Liberty Hill Farm. Jack spent all day Saturday preparing his things for the show. It included polishing his boots, cleaning all his leather tack, and bathing one stubborn pony who preferred grazing grass than being scrubbed. Biggie has a gorgeous tail, which I volunteered to comb out. Biggie is a blog all of his own. This cool “bomb-diggity” pony wasn’t hard won for Jack. Every little thing Jack can get Biggie to do under saddle required sweat, blood and tears. There were days where he would walk away from him forever, and there were days when he couldn’t hug his neck enough and declare the best friendship of his life. And so it is with ponies.
Let’s be fair to Biggie for a moment. He is one inch horse, and then all pony. He has a big personality to go with his name. He is a paint, and under his saddle is a big brown heart on his white spot. His official name is “Big Heart”. Erin is his owner and she left our barn to apprentice with a professional trainer and judge on a 10,000 acre ranch where she rides top level horses. She’s so happy Jack and Biggie have created a good partnership.
We traipsed off to the horse show this morning at 7:30 following a twelve year old boy who prepared his horse and loaded him onto the trailer. At the show ground he tacked him up, warmed him up and was ready for his first test in front of judges. Dad, Kevin and Kira arrived to cheer him on with his first big try. He rode two tests for the judges. Renee coached him and Jack seemed relaxed and eager to be in the spotlight. Though he memorized his test, the moment he entered the arena he admitted he forgot the whole thing! It was a good thing Renee called the test for him. Show nerves.
In dressage it is more an evaluation than a contest. You get a score of your own and every transition is given comment. It doesn’t matter so much how one compares to another rider because each partnership is unique. We approached this thinking how would Jack and Biggie do together in their first test and hardly considered how they would compared to any other rider. It was a ‘biggie’ surprise when he took first in both classes and overall champion for his division. It was quite a boost for his confidence, which took a nose dive two weeks ago when his pony cantered out of the arena with him along for the ride. Oh Biggie. We say that a lot.
I was so relieved I didn’t try to be rider and mom simultaneously. It was far more important for me to be mom today. It was the first time in our family when I could participate in a sport I really understood! I used to photograph football for the freshman high school team when Donny played but I needed Craig to direct where I should shoot. It didn’t light my fire. Kevin is on the tennis team but I don’t swing a racquet either. But this! Oh, it was fantastic to share a passion for riding and watch my son score high. Renee and I agreed he can keep his head in the clouds for a couple days until his next lesson when she shows him what he needs to do next. Good enough, he asked her right after he received his ribbons, “what’s on the next test?” Vintage Jack. Ok, I admit, we had so much fun with the whole event I came home and signed him up for another show two weeks from now where he will perform the same test at a different venue in front of new judges among other competitors. That’s when I’ll do the hauling myself for the first time. I’m sure there will be a story in that since it only took me one week to break the crank on my trailer. I need an angel who smiles down on horse activities to have pity on me. I need a “break” of my own that translates into blessing.