How Show Moms Can Survive the Horse Show ExperienceMy years of being a horse show mom has provided me with some interesting insights. Below I've compiled my best tips for surviving the show experience and making the most of the time with your child. I find that these three tips make the most of my parenting time at horse shows, whether they're local shows or A circuit shows..
1. Use teachable moments. Teens hate being given "the big talk", so most experts say it is far better to use teachable moments, or those times when something occurs and provides an opportunity to do some on-site parenting. Perhaps you overhear a particular situation discussed over the temporary stalls, and you use use the opportunity to open discussion with your teen about how she might handle the same situation.
Your trainer can be helpful in this process as well, such as when your teen takes an attitude with you or talks back to you. The trainer can point out how the teen appears to others when she engages in this behavior. Our trainer does this with her riders with great effect. Most teens are appalled when they see another teen respond disrespectfully to parents, but are oblivious when they do it to their own parents. Hundreds of teachable moments and good parenting opportunities abound at horse shows, so choose your moments carefully and don't be content to be simply a spectator.
2. Build a partnership. Horse showing has given me the opportunity to build a partnership with my daughter. On weekends there is a period of time when we slip out of the "mother-teen daughter" relationship and into the "rider-adult partner" role. During a show my role becomes that of groom or assistant to the rider, so I have responsibility for hauling the horses, helping with setup, and providing show information. My daughter's role becomes that of rider, horse groom, and show person. We slip into each of these roles to make the show experience work.
During that time, I've found it ineffective for us to tell each other what to do, to criticize the other, or battle over what is best because we have to work together to get everything done in a very short period of time. The partnership has given me a special insight into my daughter that I might not otherwise have, and provides a break in the traditional mother-daughter relationship as well.
3. Be a role model. As a show mom, I am always trying to be a role model for my children because I know that they are always watching what I do. I want to act in ways that show them how adults can solve problems, handle difficult situations, and be professional about winning and losing. I have seen too many mothers stand at the gate and harass the gate person about points, rankings, prizes, and the order of entry. I have seen trainers and parents handle issues with each other and with others very unprofessionally, to the great embarrassment of their children.
We had one situation in which we were showing in a different zone and were doing something incorrect for that zone. Another parent got upset and told her trainer. The trainer, in turn, went to the steward, who pulled my child as she was about to enter the ring. I could hear all this from the next golf cart and was astonished that neither the parent nor the trainer, both of whom I knew, could not take my daughter aside, point out the problem, and get it resolved. The entire situation was handled very poorly and was unfair to the kids going into the ring. Even though we in violation of the rules because we were unaware of the different rules in this zone, the situation should have and could have been handled much more discreetly. We did not do a good job of being adult role models that day.
Teachable moments are all around us every single day in every activity that we do. As a parent, it's important to remember our responsibility as role models to our children, whatever the situation, so that they learn effective life lessons that will serve them always.
Copyright (c) 2007 Kathy Keeley
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About The Author: Veteran show mom Kathy Keeley is founder of ShowMom.com, the first online community created especially for horseshow mothers and daughters who want to learn how to successfully navigate the horseshow circuit and maintain a great mother-daughter relationship. Get our free horseshow packing list when you sign up for our free email newsletter, The Savvy Show Mom, at ShowMom.com.