It has been years since Grace and I rose before the sun, grabbed coffee and breakfast to go and drove over an hour to get to a sporting event. This used to be our Saturday routine when she would spend the day skating at the ISCC in Simsbury. She gave that lifestyle up in favor of her family and since then we have not had many occasions to watch the sun rise as we traveled along a country road.
This weekend gave us that opportunity, although she slept through most of the sunrise! Grace competed in one more show for this season, a benefit for breast cancer research at a farm in the Litchfield hills.
In some ways this show was a better experience than the last one. Grace felt part of a team now that she knows the other girls better and has a stronger relationship with her trainers. There was more camaraderie at this show since the girls all competed back to back and hours of time did not separate each class. There was more time for warming up and an indoor ring to stand in when the 49 degree temperature chilled your bones.
In some ways this was not as good of an experience. We learned the difference between larger shows with independent judges not hosted at a farm and smaller shows held at local farms. We prefer independent judging. Grace walked away with the reminder that ribbons are pretty and she loves to hang them on her shelf, but ribbons are not the sole reason for competition. This is an individual sport. If you have a good ride you have done well. If your horse does what you ask of it, you have done well. If you can line up waiting for results and know in your heart that you have grown as a rider and this event was stronger than the last, then no matter what color ribbon you are given, you have already won.