It was an assumed part of having a child with my husbands background that said child would need to, at minimum, be able to handle horses, or sit quietly enough in a saddle to get drug along with a group. His family still actively use their horses for work on the ranch, and we always planned on any kids we have being able to contribute as well. From my perspective, though, I dreamed of cross rail classes and braids and bows.
That was until recently. A friend of mine, whose teenage daughter had caught the horse bug from her Mom early on… she had trained relentlessly for her first Grand Prix with the horse of a lifetime. The girl is an amazing rider and she was more than ready.
Yet, just weeks before their big moment, her handsome gelding started acting off. Fast forward to an intensive vet appointment that left the young rider, her coaches, her mother, and even the vets in tears. Her gelding was done, they weren’t sure if he’d come back to be riding sound, let alone jumped again.
Everything in my soul ached for her. All those years of dreaming and suddenly it was all over. I watched her mother experience it all right with her; the heartbreak was palpable. Obviously her gelding is living out his days as a very attractive lawn ornament, but where does it leave his rider?
My point here is that the night I learned about all of this, I swore up and down that I could never let my daughter get into sport horses. The highest of the highs could not be worth the lows, right? I didn’t know if I could support the heartbreak, the one you know will come. They are horses after all.
I want to know, would you pass down you love of horses? But risk watching and experiencing the heartbreak with them?
Every day I bring my daughter to the barn it becomes more of what she knows. She’s happy there, and people are constantly offering me lead line mounts. I’m pretty sure my trainer has a pony in mind for her (shh don’t tell my husband) down the line. But I’m terrified for her. Not just of her being trampled on, or falling off, but of having her heart crushed by these beautiful animals. I know all sports can be brutal, but there is something so deeply emotional about horses. They really become a part of you; which is wonderful until the moment it’s not. I can barely handle it for myself, I cannot imagine watching your child go through it.
Yet right now, it’s safe to dream and allow her to love horses as much as an one year old can. And I’m trying not to stress about the future, whether it holds cross rails or soccer practice (or God forbid both). We’ve got a long ways to go until she has Grand Prix dreams, and that is a huge relief. For now we’ll continue celebrating days that she stays in the saddle for more than a few seconds.