Stronger Than You Think

My mom is new to the world of hunter jumper shows. She rode horses her entire life, but never set foot into the world of A and AA shows until I started moving up and we wanted to ride together. She was my trainer, my mentor, my coach. She was my biggest supporter and my hardest teacher, and she made sure I took care of my ponies and, most importantly, always had fun riding them.
I have always been competitive though, so it was over the course of many years that I grew to love the show world. My mom was now my cheerleader and biggest fan, the best horse show mom you could ever find. And I will never be able to tell her how much I appreciate it, for words don’t even come close to acknowledging such selflessness.
But as I grew older and jumped my way from C shows to B shows to A shows to AA shows, my mom became more and more invested in my progress and the horse show world. When she started riding my horses when I went to college, our trainer thought it would be good for our new, young addition, Bravo, to show under her, as they had trained together. One class and my mom was hooked. The woman I had known who scolded me for crying over not taking home the blue ribbon had that all too familiar gleam in her eye, that craved a good ride and preferably a prize afterwards.
But it wasn’t until she was riding her second jumper, Sparks, that I realized just how dedicated she was to this sport. Sparks is an incredible horse, with a quick mind and an energetic disposition that is positively catching. With my mom’s tendency to doubt her abilities, they made a fantastic pair. With an air of cockiness, he dutifully carried her around the 1.05 meter classes in the Jumper ring, in order to give her some experience. However, one show day the lowest height class was a 1.15 meter division, a full 10 cm higher than what she was used to jumping. Our trainer left the decision up to her- go for it? Or simply take a schooling lesson and try again next week?
Imagine our surprise when my mom, who had been so unsure at the start of her showing career, rolled back her shoulders, narrowed her eyes and said “Let’s do it. If you think we can do it, then we will.” I hovered around her, our roles reversed as rider and horse show daughter, offering water, words of encouragement, and boot polishing services. She remained cool as a cucumber, simply going over her course in her head. Sparks tossed his nose excitedly- he was born ready.
I am always nervous when my mom rides. I worry like crazy. And on this day, on this ride, I almost couldn’t stand to watch. But she went in there and rode like a champion. Our trainer, her and I all shared the same beaming smile when she finished that last jump, and imagine our surprise and excitement when the announcer declared that my mom and Sparks had won the class! They finished with the cleanest round in the shortest amount of time. I was so proud of her that day, and looking back on it, I still am so impressed that she went in there confident and calm and faced the odds yet still came out on top. It just goes to show, that when you have others believe in you, and most importantly, when you believe in yourself, you can accomplish some new and exciting things.

Sparks

My mom and Sparks, going over their course