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Did you miss Part 1? Be sure and read it here.
Along for the Ride – Are You Afraid?
Emily, my 17-year-old eventer, has been competing since she was 10-years-old. If you’re a mother mucker like me, do you remember those first years? The pit at the bottom of your stomach each time your child left the start box? Have you ever been asked “are you afraid?”
(Above Left: Debbie’s daughter, Emily, in the dressage phase. Hoof Pix® Sport Horse Photography, LLC)
When I meet Eventer Moms who are new to the sport, or if I bring a friend to watch an event for the first time, inevitably that question is asked. My answer these days is “dressage scares me more”.
At that point, I usually get a funny, puzzled look as if to say “are you crazy?!”
Yes, perhaps I am a bit crazy, but here’s where I’m coming from: I don’t ride. What happens in the jumping phases is easy to tell whether it was “good” – go around the jumps in the allotted amount of time. For a non-rider, that is fairly black and white. However, the movements and subtle differences in the dressage ring are enough to boggle any non-riders mind. I feel lucky that I know the letters of the small dressage ring when helping my daughter go over her test … and that’s only because one of my Emily’s first coaches gave us a phrase to remember them by:
All – King – Edwards – Horses – Can – Make – Big – Farts
Any other knowledge I have about dressage and what results in a good test is based on three factors:
1) Osmosis – all those years I spent sitting through lessons with my daughter (since she was 5-1/2 years old).
2) Scribing for the dressage judge – I’m one of those people that volunteers at nearly every show we attend. Dressage scribing is just one of the many jobs I’ve performed.
3) My daughter’s face and body language just after the “ halt, salute”.
Anyone who has been to a show with me knows that #3 is the true source of my fear during dressage. The minute that halt and salute is completed and Emily thanks the judge, I feel my heart pound in anticipation of the look she will give when she turns around. Will I be able to talk to her or should I run and hide? Here are my clues:
· Giving the horse a pat and holding back tears – don’t approach for the rest of the day and let the coach deal with it. Never bring it up again.
· Horse gets a nice pat, but the rider has a grimace – give it 30 minutes and then talk about the next phase. She’ll talk about it when she’s ready.
· Nice strong pat for the horse, rider nods with acceptance – ask what she thought and just agree to whatever she says.
· Pats the horse with both hands and smiles – tell her what a great ride she had and breath a sigh that it’s going to be a good day.
At this point, I can relax. The “perfection” phase is complete and now my mind can move forward to the fun ahead: JUMPING!