The pony rides were her favourite rides at every country fair, my sister with the horses was her favourite place to visit because she could hang out with her cousins and the horses all day. We started going to the Royal Winter Fair just for the horse shows.
The riding lessons started when she was about 10 or 11.
We stayed with a stable until things started to go sour for one reason or another, and then searched for something new. Each stable fulfilled a need for a while, so I never felt I wasted time and money at any of them.
She learned a lot from each individual horse too, not just the instructors. Not every lesson was an easy one. Some days were not all smiles ... and some days I could barely watch when she was on a difficult horse.
She's had her share of spills and bruises.
There've been other heartbreaks along the way. Two of the horses that she had become very close to were lost. One (below) to a head injury when he fell on ice ...
... the other lost to blindness (who could not, understandably, be kept on at a jumping stable). How I wish I had a place in the country at the time they had to say goodbye to him. He was a real sweetheart and very young (below). But as with any business, especially with animals, sentiment very often has to take a back seat. But it was most difficult to learn his fate when there was nothing we could do to help ... a heartbreaking day.
With all the riding lessons, horse shows became the next natural step.
And with horse shows come the ribbons. Now horse show ribbons are so gosh-darned fancy.
Any kid could come in dead last, but with a fancy ribbon for fifth place, they would feel they'd won the championship. The smiles on the kids faces when presented with a fancy ribbon is priceless and worth every ride.
My daughter has never really been one for all the horse trinkets like some girls. Her room was never decorated with a horse theme, she never wore clothes or had a blanket with horses printed on them ... she just likes the real horses and the riding. She'd rather buy horse gear, and she does have quite a collection of trendy saddle pads and she likes a good expensive riding boot. I'm actually glad that this is her way, because then we don't have a room cluttered with junk. But the ribbons! What to do with a tote full of ribbons?!
|trust me, this ain't all of 'em|
She displayed a few of the really nice ones on her bulletin board, but they're great dust catchers, and start to look tacky real fast. So she's been checking on-line to see how other people display their ribbons. She came across a very cool display in a shadow box frame. The girl who had it (and sorry I don't have a link for it on my computer), had actually purchased the framed ribbons at auction for $100. My daughter just had a birthday last week, and when she came home for Reading Week, she and I went shopping for her birthday present. Michael's Craft Store has a great selection of shadow box frames, and with a 40% off coupon (yay!!) we picked up a nice big frame (16" x 31"). She got to work on it as soon as we got home, and this is what she put together ...
As I told her, "Once you frame something it becomes art", and so it has. I think it looks really cool. The memories encased behind glass are many. A lot of good times, but there are also memories of when things went sideways on us. Some show days the horses wouldn't cooperate ...
Some shows it was the weather ...
The most difficult shows were the ones when my daughter wasn't cooperating :[
But we had a lot of laughs too. What's not to love when you have to get up at 3 a.m. to drive to the stable ... load horses & tack onto trailers and all drive off to the shows to stand out in an unprotected field all day long holding onto horses (the sweet Newfoundland Pony above tried to bite my arm all day long and finally succeeded). But the excitement of getting first & second place ribbons! ... the thrill of a championship! ... well, those memories are all timeless in this frame.
One of my best friend's mother passed away a couple of years ago. I had a chance to speak with her mother just a few months previous, and we talked about horse show ribbons. She didn't believe in packing them away, she felt they should all be displayed with pride. She told me "Every ribbon you see there (and they are displayed throughout my friend's house) represents every hour of hard work that you went through to get that ribbon." She was talking about the hard work of both the rider and the mom. She'd been a "horse mom" to my friend for probably 45 years, so she knew what she was talking about ;)
I quite agree with her, and am very happy that my daughter has found a great way to display all her hard-earned ribbons. Although it seems the shows may be finished (for now), she still continues with jumping lessons with the horse club at university. I'm so glad she's able to keep up the riding and hang out with the horses that she loves so much!
|Sleepy horse after a long show day|
|Ah! that's better ... Champions that day :)|
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