competing with nine year olds
a horse show post script
I pressed her on this. “Afraid to ride, really?”
“It’s not so much the riding, more the fear of falling off in front of all of these people and being embarrassed,” she replied.
She had burgundy and green ribbons in her hair and an impish glint in her eyes. “Are you afraid of falling?” I asked.
“Kinda yes, kinda no. I’ve done it before. My mom makes a big deal out of it. I just want to have a good ride.” Squank seemed pretty smart despite her name. “Have a good ride,” she said as she walked her mount towards the arena.
She seemed so kind as she rode away. Once underway, riding the course, the kindness faded. Squank became a stone cold killer. She burned through trot poles and shredded corners all while maintaining perfectly balanced poise.
Her kindness? It must have been a ruse, a way of sizing up the competition. Perhaps she wanted to relax me, to get me off my game and make me lose focus ensuring an easy victory.
Squank cleaned up. She won all of the events we were in together. Me? I placed third and fifth in two events and was disqualified from the other one.2 No, I didn’t harm any nine year olds. The thought didn’t cross my mind until I saw Squank with her pretty ribbons.
“Congratulations! You did wonderful! Are you excited? asked Squank.
“Thank you. I am excited. You were magnificent. How did you learn to ride so well Squank?”
“I just keep trying. I’ve been at this for two years and I’m only starting to feel comfortable now.”
“Two years. Twice a week for two years. And I’ve fallen a bunch of times. I just keep on riding.”
It seems that nine year olds are not only brave, but humble and generous as well. 3
We don’t need to ride horses to try new and embarrassing things.
We don’t need to be nine to think like a nine year old.
The excitement offered by new learning is there.
What are you waiting for?
Names have been altered out of respect for privacy. And, I’m almost certain that some dumbass parent is going to use Squank as a name. If your name is Squank, I’m so very sorry that your parents were such assholes. The child in question did not have a stupid name. She had a very lovely name. And I would never name a pet sock Squank. Also, the word ‘Squank’ came from my head as a meaningless piece of drivel. If that name is a real word in the urban dictionary and is somehow ‘problematic’, I’m being nine and just playing with sounds.
You can be DQ’d / lose many points for wearing the wrong clothes. I was wearing blue jeans, not breeches. That was why I wasn’t even considered. Who knew eh?
That just felt like the end. But I wanted to expand on that ending with some unnecessary crap. That’s here: For kids, everything is new. Being bad a stuff comes with the territory. It’s called learning. They do it lots. As adults, we are cursed with the gift of competence. Sacrifice this whenever you can.