Sep 18, 2015

A Letter to My Daughter Before the Finals

By Jennifer Stiller

It's Finals time once again.  Because I'm a well-trained horse show mom I'll be appropriately stationed in the stands as you venture to the in-gate.  As I watch you enter the ring, I won't be able to help thinking back to all those other trips to the in-gate you've made over the years.  

I'll remember the short stirrup years when nine times out of ten you picked up the wrong lead but got a ribbon anyway (probably for cuteness).  

I'll remember the time you got dumped into a lake of a mud puddle in the small ponies and when we went back to the hotel we even found mud in your undies.  

Jordan in the ponies

I'll remember all those lessons in 90+ degrees and below zero and the hours brushing and bathing your horses, cleaning tack, and cuddling them in the stall.  

The movie in my head will run in a loop of the hundreds of rounds on those reliable (and sometimes not) horses and ponies who worked tirelessly to teach you what you needed to know to get here.    

If I could risk violating the "50 foot rule" and whisper in your ear as you enter the ring, this is what I would say to you...

Just being here is the accomplishment.  If the equitation gods are smiling on you this fall and you flat at Maclay finals or make it to the second round at Harrisburg, it will be amazing.  But if there's a leaper, one a little too deep, or you lose count in a line (or, perish the thought, go off course), there is one thing you must know...   

I will love you as much after any one of those unfortunate occurrences, as I did when you were standing at the in-gate, and so will your horse.  

Jordan in the big eq

Whether today goes well, or is one of those unfortunate days when things don't go your way, I hope you'll remember why you're doing this.  I hope you will hug your horse and remember that you love to ride, you love your horse, and love the challenge even when there are no ribbons at the end of the day.

Since I can't whisper to you as you walk in the ring, I'll sit in the stands (a respectable distance from the in-gate), and marvel at how proud I am of you.  Then I'll head out to the vendor booths and horde free mints for your horse!

Love, Mom

Jennifer Stiller is a former junior and amateur rider who has retired from the show ring to become an (almost) full time horse show mom.  Her daughter, Jordan, rides with Timmy Kees, Chris Cawley and Molly Ashe-Cawley at Norfield Stables in Conn. and shows in the big eq.