Over mounting. After this weekend I would be foolish to not at least question whether or not my daughter is over mounted. I am going to be vulnerable here and open this up for debate. You may be honest but be kind. Know that while I value you, as my readers, opinions greatly. I also will always do what I need to or what I think is best in the end. I also have the best vantage point since I spend hundreds of hours with this pair and know them better than anyone could. But also outside eyes can often see things what those who are too close cannot. Also know, I am not an idiot and will seek a local professional opinion on the matter also. Someone who will have the opportunity to visually see the pair together. These are just some thoughts that I need to kick around in my head, aka, my blog.
The day after: That is when the guilt sets in. On one hand I think, well I was so nervous about what could go wrong and now that one of the biggest no, no's did, I feel like I can relax a bit more. I mean the worst that can happen is my daughter getting hurt but I really don't fear that. I feel that safety wise they are a matched pair. My daughter has always been able to handle anything the pony throws at her and the pony has never offered to be dangerous in any way. There are SO many angles one could look at this from though.
Having a made horse? Is that is what is best for kids? An old schooly that will pack them around no matter what? Is it OK for them to have to work for it some as long as they are not in any danger? Or is it more about getting out there and getting it all right?
In reality I am putting a very young child on a very young pony. Something that I would NEVER recommend for anyone else. Is that hypocritical? Lily is young. I knew she was young. Though recently I found out that she is actually even younger than I had thought. She was a rescue from a very bad situation. At three months old starving because the owners were starving the mother who in turn had nothing to feed Lily. She was standing in manure up to her belly. I acquired her at some point after that from a friend who did not have the experience to raise a baby. I thought I got her as a two year old or what I though. Come to find out she was actually not yet two years old. I had her for a year and did all the ground work with her that I could. I sent her to my dads for a year who did nothing with her at all. Then last year I got her back at what I thought was 4 almost 5. So this year I thought she was 5 years old and going to turn 6 in September. My friend that I aquired her from recently moved and we were going through old pictures and looking at the dates it appears that Lily will only be turning 5 years old in Sepetember. Only one year difference but the idea of a 9 year old riding a 4 year old does seem a bit crazy. I didn't plan for my daughter to ride her for some time but last year when I got her back to my place it was a very short period of time before her temperment proved that she would be safe for Elaina. Elaina is a tenatious, and good rider. I do not just say that because she is my daughter those are things other instructors have repeatedly said to me about her. You got to see how well she handled herself even through and after the trouble the pony gave her. She keeps it together, makes the adjustments and does what she needs to.
BUT should she have to? Would she be better off with a more expereinced mount? Would Lily be better off with a more seasoned rider? What is your opinion?
I am torn on the subject. I lean more toward the "give this particular kid a tough mount and she will only be the better for it"(albeit safe of course) side of the coin. Than the "give her a schooly so they can excell farther, quicker and easier" side. Most people in the situation of a kids first horse do not have parents who have the ability to instruct their child and work the pony when needed so this is more of an exception not the rule. I personally had both growing up. I rode and competed in and for a Hunter barn. I rode well trained and fairly experienced horses. I did well and enjoyed it. Though even those mounts had their quirks. One was spooky at the same things all the time. One would take off bucking if you sat on his back incorrectly. So still anything can happen people they are horses. Then at home I had my very little training or experience arab that was mine. I rode him everywhere and did everything with him. The stories if told would take many many pages. I was bucked off, thrown off and ran into trees more times than I can remember. I have scars to this day from some of those stories I could tell. Now if he were my horse today I would NEVER make him my daughters mount. Especially in the situations I put him in on a regular basis. Hey I was a kid with a horse and very little supervision what would you expect? It is a wonder we both survived though many times we did not escape unscated. Each situation had their benefits and disadvantages. Through my instructors and trained horses I learned how to show and compete something I love dearly. I learned how to ride correctly and to look nice doing it. But with my Arab I learned how to connect with a horse. How to bond so deeply with an animal that they become your best friend. I learned how to keep my ass in the saddle and to stick up for myself with a horse who is taking advantage of me. I learned that I actually have something to offer the horse and something to teach him and that I could not teach it by force. I learned how to gallop bareback and bridless through a feild, how to dismount and mount a moving horse, how to handle myself if many different experiences and how to help a horse through them also. And quite honestly I learned how to fall off well, which I believe really is an invaluable tool. So I had both worlds, the elite trained and the back yard adventures. I also went on to, in my early teen years, train my Arab to jump, do contesting and anything else that tickled my fancy at the moment. We did great in the hunter/jumper ring together. One of my proudest moments was taking my (back yard, looked down upon in the hunter barn I was at) Arabian into a show ring with them and walk out with the blue ribbon. It was huge for me and taught me invaluable lessons. I have a box of ribbons from when I was a kid and none mean more to me than the ones I took home with my Arab.
I do not feel my daughter and Lily are an unsafe pair. Its more of the fact that I cannot say that this won't happen again. Lily will take a couple more years before she is the consitently reliable, steady mount I know she can be.
If I look at the bad, Lily had trouble with gates. If I look at the good. This was Lily's first time in a dressage arena, first time doing a dressage test, Elaina's first time for both of those also. Lily was mannerly and safe. Elaina rode awesome! Lily has never really jumped any jumps with color and none of that was an issue at all for her. Lily is turning into an adorable jumper and my daughter has done almost all of that work with her. Lily handled the big show environment like it was no big deal. So much good and only one big issue.
It is tough because I ask myself if it was almost anyone else I would strongly oppose the idea. But then in our situation I look at that my daughter lives with her "trainer". Every single ride she rides with her "trainer". I feel like I am essencially training Lily through my daughter. Yes she is riding her but I am teaching her every single ride every single time. She works hard and doesn't mind having to work her pony. Keep in mind this was their first combined test but not their first show. They did the week at fair last year bringing home trophies and ribbons galore amongst some good competition. They also showed an open show last fall that they did very well in. Also against older and good competition. This was the first real issue we have run into. I also have to keep in mind that it is April this is their first show of the year and that can be taken into account right? If you are a mom I know you understand 'mom guilt' just add onto that 'trainer guilt' and that is why I am driving myself bananas over this. P.S. I have asked my daughter if she would rather have an easier horse and she looked at me like I had 3 eyeballs and said, "ah NO". She thinks her pony is perfect even on her worst day. She understands that she is young and still learning and quickly admits that when Lily does something wrong it is usually because of the way she rode. Gawd I love that kid! So what do you think?