Left of center line
I took my daughter to her first gymnastics class yesterday, knowing almost 100% nothing about gymnastics except for what I've seen on the Olympics over the years... flippy jumping, hopping around on beams, sparkly leotards and the like. The instructor could have been telling us absolute crap (I know she wasn't, she was wonderful, and she used to ride horses, so we're obviously BFF's now).
It occurred to me that this is what new lesson mom's (or dads) probably feel like walking into the barn for the first time. They know what they've seen on TV... dancy-prancy horses, horses flying over huge jumps, fuzzy hats and outdated looking blazers/horses chasing cows, fringe, silver plated saddles, cowboy hats. The instructor could be telling the kid to ride on their head and the parent wouldn't know the difference.
This is why good early instruction is so important; whether it's gymnastics, horseback riding, track, soccer, whatever. The parents rely so much on us to give their children the building blocks so that maybe one day they might be flippy jumping all over those beams or dancy-prancing that horse all over that arena.
So shout-out to all you instructors who conscientiously start young riders out on their horse journey. It is because of you that we get to wear the blazers.
I used to think that success in this industry meant whomever's students had the most ribbons. Starting out as a young instructor, seeing a trainer's lineup of horses and riders all posed with their results of the day proudly displayed used to make me envious.
Going way back to when I first began showing, like many children, ribbons = success. As a "lesson kid" you really don't see the work that goes in before those blue ribbons become a reality.
This skewed view of equestrianism can be carried by many people throughout their riding careers.
I was lucky in the way that I received my ribbon chasing awakening relatively early in my teens, then again as an instructor a few years later... that *poof* moment that summed up my sentiments perfectly, when I told a student something to the effect that "I don't care if you got first or last, you rode like a champion!"
In the age of participation trophies, it seems that so much weight is put on attaining or earning a "thing" whether it be a ribbon, a trophy, etc rather than accomplishing a goal for the sake of the goal itself.
Earning the thing is a great representation of attainment of a goal, if winning was your goal, but if your goal is something that has no thing attached to its completion, know that the pot o' gold at the end of your rainbow is a personal one; the feeling of accomplishment and self satisfaction that you feel when you and your horse surpass your goals. And that is no less valid!