Kids and horses together are many many things. They are cute. They are brave. They have bonds. They teach life lessons. They give responsibility. All of those things are great reasons to have my kids grow up with horses. But my mind often wanders far far into the future. I think that just happens as a parent. I don't plan to or want to push my children in any one direction in their interests and passions. I try to keep an open mind and if at some point any of my children say they do not want to do the horse thing any more. Though I will be saddened some for my loss of my riding buddies I will give them freedom to pursue their own interests.
Though young, my now 8 year old daughters life goal is to become a trainer. Idealistically I love this for her but realisitcally I know how hard it is to make any money in the horse industry. So I wonder about how will she afford to not only keep up with her passion but also make a living off of it. I cannot help but think about how hard it is for me to make it work in my 30's and wonder how she will do it. These are all things I cannot control. I cannot make her future all sushine and roses. But I do feel it is our responsibilty as her parents to spend these years preparing her the absolute best we can. To make her future better.
My mind goes to college equestrian teams and barn managment courses and those things will hopefully come some day if that is what she chooses. It also goes to The college prep invitaional horse show! Oh would this be fun and exciting to do with my girls. But today, right now what are the steps I need to take now to keep her on the right track of some day fullfilling her dreams and goals. Day to day they seem like baby steps but in the big picture they are stepping stones to her next phase in life. Up until now I have taught her all of her riding skills. I am her instructor and at this point I am still confident I can continue to do so at the level she is at. So I feel no tug to put her into private lessons. She started riding at age 5 and for the first 3 years we have worked on mostly confidence, balanced seat, treatment of the horse, safety and all the basics in grooming, care and horsemanship. And her foundation is incredibly strong. She can tend to be on the shy side but if you give her a horse she comes flying out of her shell and is a safe, confident and independent horseman. We have been in 4-h for 3 years just to add a little expereince in 'show' type atmosphere. But truely 4-h can only take you so far. It is a great program but always stays at the very basic level of horse expereince. I feel she has 'outgrown' it. Not to mention there are MANY things that have gone on within our 4-h that I disagree with on so many levels.
I feel now our next step would either be private lessons or pony club. If I were rich I think I could go a little on the crazy Mom side and have her in with the best trainers on the best horses and pushing her as high and as far and as fast as she could. But then I wake up and remember there must be a very good reason that I am not rich. Sometimes I think about the fact that I want to encourage her but at the same time do not feel I should push her too much. But then I see Eventing Nation posts like this. About a 10 year old girl riding in her first AEC and I think "oh crap I am running out of time!" But then I come back to my senses and remember it is about the baby steps and if some day that is where she gets then great but until then, chill out!
So the only obvious next step for her is pony club. I have never heard a bad word uttered about pony club and it sounds like an amazingly educational program for the young equestrian. It is very well rounded in teaching horse care, riding and even anatomy. I want these things for my girls. I want them to be as educated as they possibly can and this seems a fantastic way to do it. So I am doing my research on the local clubs have even attended a meeting of one of them. I ask any pony clubber I ever come in contact with what they think about pony club. I have been holding off on actually joining for a while now because I wasn't sure it was the right time. But now I am confident that this is the right time and I cannot help but be excited for her. Well and the fact that I will also be joining horsemasters ;)