By April Ray-Peterson
I don’t think it matters how old you are, you still want your parents to be proud of you. While my parents are not “horsey” people at all, they have been truly supportive of my love for the sport from the get-go, putting me in lessons as a child and driving me to and from the barn countless times over the years.
They have been there for me through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
When I told Mom I was going to buy a horse of my own, she wasn’t 100 percent on board, knowing the cost, commitment, and risks of doing so. Unfortunately for Mom, if I’m told not to do something it usually makes me just want to do it more.
Since my horse Fire has been home, my parents have visited a few times but had yet to see me ride since I backed her last December. I had shown them videos and shared some of her antics, but this past weekend they made a plan to come out and watch me ride. Considering we had just had a ride that rivaled a rodeo performance I was a little nervous, to say the least.
The last time my parents had watched me ride my only other owned horse, it could not have gone worse. Charles was a big Warmblood who turned out to have some pretty bad health issues that likely contributed to his wild performance the day my parents came to watch my lesson. I am pretty sure there was a lot of looking away on their part as he ran around the ring dragging me into anything in his way, including other horses and riders, fences, and jumps. So I kept thinking of that day, and the feeling of disappointment I had in not being able to share that part of my life with my parents. I wanted them to see that all the hard work and money I put into this sport is in fact actually worth it all and so much more.
The morning of their visit I made sure Fire was groomed to the nines. If nothing else, at least she would look good, right? My parents came and had a cuddle with her – I do think Fire believes she is meant to be a lap dog. Once tacked up we made our way down to the ring, only to find people powerwashing the fences in the barn opposite the ring. With a spooky and slightly dramatic four-year-old horse, I had a “Why me?” moment but got over myself when she waltzed right down to the ring as though that wasn’t regularly the hardest and most challenging thing we do in a day. She was so incredibly quiet and relaxed that I finally started to relax as well. We managed to use the whole ring for walk, trot, canter without putting a single hoof wrong. That’s when I figured it would be safe to pop over a fence and really show off. And for a non-horse person, I think watching someone ride flat can be about as exciting as watching paint dry. I got Dad to set a fence for me, despite the fact that he was wearing sandals, and off we went.
Fire loves to jump and having something to focus on really grounds her. We jumped a small cross and then a small vertical a few times, and then decided she could be done for the day. Walking back up to the barn is another activity that can cause problems with Fire, but this day she walked up like a perfect superstar. I snapped a few more pictures with my parents, and as Dad called her “Our seventh grandchild” I put her away.
This time I got to show my parents what it’s all about. I got to share how special this horse is to me and how rewarding it’s all been. I got to look at my mare after an amazing ride and proudly say “I did this!” in front of my parents. To me, that made all of the blood, sweat, tears, self-doubt, and frustration totally worth it.
I look forward to sharing our next milestones with my parents – horse shows and trail rides and anything else that we manage to do together in the coming years.
“The most beautiful thing in this world is to see your parents smiling and knowing that you are the reason behind that smile.”
― Fatima Nacana