Years ago Grace used to skate at the International Skating Center in Simsbury, Connecticut. She was a good little skater. Determined. Fearless. Strong. Her happy place was on the ice. Simsbury is about 80 minutes from my house and we during shows or during competition preparation we were commuting up to 4 days a week. It was hard, especially on her sister. It was also hard on Grace. She missed Greg desperately. She missed her Dad enough to give up a sport she loved with her whole being. It was then that Greg and I decided that no sport will take the place of family togetherness. To us, no sport is worth dividing up a family, taking up weekends, negatively affecting the family budget, and giving one child a seemingly disproportionate amount of time and attention. This is why we passed on soccer, even though Grace really wanted to play. This is why Grace passed on trying out for travel basketball and swim team, even though she would make a team. These sports are seasonal, unlike skating that was year-round but still, weekend time is family time. It is sacred in our family.
Horseback riding is perfect for us. It takes up one afternoon, possibly two here and there. Already we have made the choice that we will not lease a horse and we will not do competition after competition. She is riding for the pure pleasure of being on a horse. Like when she was stepping onto the ice, there is something about her that comes alive when Grace steps into the barn.
Lilah does not share the same passion for athletics as Grace and sometimes struggles with putting aside her projects for the trip to the farm, but once she is there, she lights up sitting on her horse Logan.
When the girls were asked if they wanted to participate in a local horse show, Lilah passed and Grace accepted. We gave her an extra lesson to prepare, bought her jacket and her Gram loaned her a white button down shirt. The farm lets the girls ride the horse they ride in lessons, which is wonderful, since otherwise she could not compete.
Grace rode in three beginner class events; all pleasure class. The field of riders was around 10 in each class. She took third and fourth in two of the three classes, an accomplishment for her first show.
Riding reminds me of skating in many ways. Because it is an individual sport, you are competing against girls who have invested more time and more money into perfecting their skills and their horse's showmanship. Many of the girls she was riding with own horses. The live in the country, we live in the city. They can ride before and after school, we can ride once or twice a week. They have invested thousands into their animal and their sport, we choose not to. That said, this is such a wonderful sport/activity for my girls and worth every penny we have spent. The confidence the girls demonstrate while in control of a huge animal amazes me. The physical and emotional energy expended in a lesson can be exhausting. The multi-step directions and the multitudes of things to remember while riding is a great mental workout for the girls. Their trainer does not rush them to do things they are not ready to do, and puts the best interest of her horses first. She chooses horses that fit with riders, even if it means that girls can be disappointed at times.
I look forward to Tuesdays as much as the girls. Barn time is good for the soul.