Since the outset my daughter has been my wing woman, and a huge support at all my outings. Although too small at the start to be of any great practical help, even just having someone there to chat to on the way home can be nice. She has now become my harshest critic and in some ways my biggest fan. She knows Tag and he knows her and she is able to reassure him when I’m not on hand. She is great at saying everyone else was rubbish and I was the best, or Tag was an idiot and what was I doing. Either way, it puts it all into a child’s perspective which I often find to be the most realistic, and it makes sure you don’t get carried away with yourself for bad or good. Doodles is her cheeky, coloured pony that she loves but in all honesty gives her a bit of a hard time. He is not a plod and she has struggled to get a handle on him, but I think she’ll appreciate it in the long run as she doesn’t expect to push a button and it all to happen for her. Doodles and Tag are friends of sorts and Tag likes him to go onto the trailer first before he’ll chance it. Doodles is then promptly removed and put back in his stable, but nevertheless it seems to work.
So I have started the horsey cycle again with my own family. My decision to integrate horses into my children’s life was not one I took lightly, and through friends who are mothers of horsey girls that have gone on to pursue it as a full time career, I know that it is not an easy spectator sport as a mum. But the only thing I really know is horses. Ok, I have an equine degree which has incorporated business management, economics and marketing, but it all points back to the horse. So when I started riding again and then had another child I realised that getting out and about to do horsey things was going to be difficult. But as difficult and as tiring as it was, I always felt better afterwards – a bit more like myself again. The comfort of horses in difficult times cannot be underestimated and although every morning and every evening the thought of going home, going into the house making the tea and sitting down are quite enticing, the therapy that comes from mucking out, and setting everything just right is invaluable in making sure I function a bit better as a mum. It was that exact feeling that I wanted for my children, the feeling of completeness when the horse is ridden, the stables are mucked out, the hay nets are filled and your best mate is having a good old roll in the field. I’m still not sure my daughter has embraced it completely and is a much more nervous character than I ever was, so her confidence is something of a constant battle of wills. All I do know is that for the meantime, the look of pure joy on her face when she goes over trotting poles well, or has a canter where I’m not holding onto Doodles’s reins, makes my heart swell beyond my expectations. She has seen my progress at dressage on Tag to where we won our first prelim test, she has seen us attempt arena eventing and she has been at almost every show. As far as leading by example goes, her and my son’s perspective on the rewards from hard work and perseverance must be on the money. Only time will tell if that’s been the case.