Sunday, August 14, 2011
Follow in My Footsteps
Kidlette Takes A Big Step
My daughter is a talented, kind, intelligent, young woman. That being said she is also a willful, stubborn, opinionated, little flower child, determined to find her own path in this world and to pick the rockiest, hilliest path she can possibly try to conquer.
Not that I wanted her to dive into a career based on a reliable, solid income, health benefits and retirement, I just hoped the one she chose would have those things. Sigh.
It is beginning to look like she's heading into the world of horse training. As she grew up riding and helping in our little training business I never thought she would end up deciding to take it on.
You'd think lying on a cot in the tack room, in flu induced misery, with a space heater and sleeping bag to ward off her chills because I still had to work no matter how sick she was, would have been enough. Or napping on a saddle blanket in the corner of our very dusty indoor late at night while I rode, "...just one more."
"I will never do this for a living," she would proclaim as she loaded horses at 4 am.
"This totally sucks," she would mutter as she hauled manure out of stall after stall.
She worked and rode hard and grew up in an odd world of wealth and poverty. Her friends were well-to-do kids, either clients, children of clients or the kids she ran with at the horse shows. they had money, often lots of it, and had access to a caliber of horse she could only dream of.
Being the daughter of a cow horse trainer who only reached the middle of the pack at the height of her career, she dealt with years of sleeping in a rusty rattle trap trailer, competing against highly trained kids on highly trained bridle horses on her little foundation snaffle bitter. It was hard on her in a lot of ways, but good for her too. She became tough and detailed oriented and one heck of a hand.
When she faded out of horses and began to grow into a new life invested in social awareness and good times, I worried about her, but not as much as I would have if she decided to apprentice with a trainer and head off to the pro circuit.
She kept the first colt she trained herself from nose to tail and enjoyed him as a saddle horse. I was glad she still loved her horse and happy she still liked to come ride with me. I envisioned a life for her filled with travel and adventure, college, children and health insurance.
Not too many months ago she burst my little mommy bubble into so many soap suds.
"Mom, I miss riding colts."
"Yeah, I miss it too," I muttered, acting for all the world like I didn't know where this was heading.
"I'd love to lope a few for somebody."
I stayed quiet, hoping the whole line of conversation would simply evaporate. If you know the kidlette you would understand she is not one easily swayed when she grabs onto an idea.
"Can you think of somebody I could lope for? Mom?"
"You'll lose your non-pro status."
"I don't care. It's not like I can afford to show. I'm just like you, the only way I'm going to get back into showing is if I'm riding somebody else's horse."
So off she went. She began riding colts for Jay, the man who owns my barn. Things went all right. I hate to say it, but they went too all right.
"Man, that little girl of yours can ride," Jay told me.
"Yes she can."
Didn't she remember when she actually got chill blains on her skinny little legs working during a particularly brutal winter? How about working your heart out for a client or their horse only to be dismissed without a thought when somebody newer, better or selling the latest snake oil swept them away?
Was she forgetting the late nights figuring and refiguring how to pay the rent and buy groceries AFTER the hay bill was paid? The years of never knowing from month to month what our income would be? What about trying to squeeze in just one more rank, sorry, bullet headed piece of junk backyard stud colt in order to pay for fuel to the next big show?
What part of, if you get hurt you will have no job, therefore, no income, a huge hospital and HEY! NO BENEFITS did she not understand?
Was I a little freaked? Yeah, a little.
When I poured out my fears to a very wise woman I know I was surprised at her reaction.
"What a great legacy to have her choose to follow in your footsteps!"
"My crookedy broke down and broke bowlegged footsteps..." I grumbled.
"She grew up watching you fight to follow your passion, you've made her want to try to do the same."
"But it didn't work, I didn't succeed."
"Maybe that isn't how Kidlette sees it."
Then my daughter tells me about a horse she was asked to work. It's a filly who has been tied out, tied down, thrown to the ground, tarped, you name it, it's been done to her. Nobody has gotten through to this horse.
Jay recommended her to the filly's owner because of the quiet way she has with a youngster.
He told her he likes the way her colts work for her because what she wants makes the most sense for everybody and the horses try so hard for her.
"I've been thinking about the word 'horsemanship,'" she said. "It's like the word relationship. Except with man and horses. Until you establish a relationship with each horse you can't trust them and they can't trust you.
I think that's why you need groundwork. to begin a working relationship between me and my colt that will last through the training period."
Oh my God, she can do "trainerspeak."
"But you can't do it all on the ground," I replied, "horses who do tricks on the ground but can't be ridden, they're only relationship is a bad one."
"Duh mom. I'm talking about just enough groundwork to establish myself and get a rhythm going. Give me a break."
Aha, there's my kid. I have to admit, I love talking horses with my daughter. I love watching her mind whirr and click as she sorts out the different possibilities of each horse. I'm impressed with her solid hands, amazing seat and bravery.
I don't know if she'll stay with horse training. It's a big world out there and its calling Kidlette.While training I learned patience, the logic of sequential thinking, and the value of a rock solid core. I gained and lost incredible friends, learned more about people than I wanted to, and was able to raise my daughter and still work.
I learned about braggarts and witnessed extreme humility. I have watched incredible acts of cruelty and amazing kindness. I was able to spend time on the road with my daughter and forced her to listen to "Samba Mia" for countless miles.
So I guess I wish her well. I hope she finds her passion. I wish to hell she'd get some health insurance.