The Five Hardest Things for an Equestrian Parent (and What to do About Them) June 08 2016

The hardest things for equestrian parents

Young riders should (hopefully) love and appreciate our parents to the ends of this earth for giving us the opportunity to study the art and sport of equestrianism. While as riders, we're always aware of our own hard work, it's often easy to forget their struggles as an equestrian parent!

From watching helplessly as kids miss out on (seemingly) well-earned ribbons to pushing a little too hard, here's a few things equestrian parents struggle the most to overcome, and what to do about them.

Watching their kids go through a slump

While anyone can understand wanting to get involved in the learning process when your children are clearly struggling to improve/understand, you actually do your little equestrian more harm by inserting yourself into their learning process. Bad lesson after bad lesson is a difficult thing to sit through and picking up the emotional pieces in the car on the way home from the barn is an even MORE difficult thing to deal with, but the lessons your child learns about riding and life by getting through it with their instructor are empowering ones that carry through to their high school, college, and adult years.

Watching their kids get dissed in the show ring

We all know how hard our kids work to get the job done.  We are very close to where they started and how far they have come.  We appreciate their abilities more than anyone so it is heartbreaking to watch them absolutely kill it in the show ring and get totally dissed for no apparent reason, but as we mentioned before, sportsmanship is important and sometimes when we deserve to win, we don’t.  And sometimes when we don’t deserve to win, we do, so help your little equestrian understand that the most important thing is what their trainer thought of their ride and try to save those disappointment feelings for when your little equestrian has headed off to bed.

Not “getting it”

Sometimes equestrianism is hard to understand.  It’s not a timed event (always) that has a “clear winner.”  Judgements that result in a win or a loss are often subjective, which--for parents that are more used to team sports--can be a hard pill to swallow.  While it may make absolutely no sense, it is so important that we support our little equestrians because that is actually one of the biggest life lessons equestrianism teaches; life is not always fair.

Pushing their kids too hard

Just like in any sport, motivating your little one to do their best is a great thing, but setting your personal sights to high will not only lead to disappointment for you, but for your little equestrian.  It’s also likely that those unachievable standards will put a great deal of pressure on them to the point that they don’t even enjoy it anymore.  Emphasizing the importance of commitment and practice to succeed are great things equestrian parents can do, but telling your little equestrian that it’s make or break, do or die, and sentiments of that nature, will just make them feel the opposite of supported!

Watching their children get hurt

While it is entirely understandable to watch your baby fall off and SCREAM like a banshee, running into the ring is actually one of the worst ideas.  Rushing to your little equestrian’s aid is your natural instinct, but getting in the middle of a situation involving horses and potential for serious medical assistance when you can provide, neither medical assistance norhorse assistance, is not the best course of action.  That’s not to say you shouldn’t be involved and head to their aid if you are needed, but taking cues from doctors and trainers is best as your frantic presence will likely only worry your child more.  Keeping calm and following the advice of the professionals who have seen it, done it, and handled it before is always best.  Besides, if you are lucky enough to watch your kid fall off and get up completely unharmed, they will have the opportunity to learn the age old adage “get back in the saddle” with their trainer; something that every rider must learn at some point or another.

Are you an Equestrian Parent that’s struggled with any of these things?  Let us know in the comments below how you overcame them!