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Friday, April 8, 2011

What Parents Do For Their Kids

(Note: I apologize for my extended absence. I was gone last week on a hellish trip, and have spent this week trying to recuperate. It's also been hard to post given the fact that many photographic subjects I want to use are at home and I keep forgetting to take necessary pictures. I'll try to do better!)

You might recall me saying that my dad decided early on that all equines were "out to get him." The Shetland stepping on his foot in FL sealed the deal (good thing it wasn't a Clydesdale!). So how to explain this?

Ca. 1971/age 8 (Dad would have been 38, a mere chicken).
Yup, that's Dad on board good old Stormy, looking right at home. Well, not exactly... :-) At every Tricorne schooling show, they held a very popular class called "Adult Leadline." We students had to convince a long-suffering family member to mount up on a suitable horse and be led around the ring a couple times at a walk, while being judged. On what, I'm not quite sure. I bet if someone had put their blonde 36 DD mother up she would have won going away, but that's besides the point.

At any rate, I roped my father into doing this. How/why HE was nominated I cannot fathom: after all, it was my mother who had been the first equestrian in the family, and I must have thought she'd be a ringer. "Lookee here, MY mommy used to have her own horse, SHE knows how to ride!" Maybe it was because my father, for reasons I never determined, actually owned a pair of genuine leather jodphur boots. Maybe they were a fashion statement at some time? It certainly wasn't because he secretly played polo when I wasn't looking! For whatever reason I was only too happy to get him and his boots in the class.

The poor man must have really enjoyed my constant litany of correction. I can just hear my little know-it-all 8-year-old self:

"Now, be sure to keep your heels down. No, no, more. More than that! They need to be WAY down!"

"Sit up straight."

"Here's how you hold the reins. Keep your thumbs up. Hold your hands just over the withers here. Not that high!"

"Look ahead."

"Shorten your reins. Keep going... keep going... no, that's too short. You can't pull on his mouth!"

And so on. He must have wanted to scream.

But he/we must have done something right, because here was the result:

Go, Daddy! A nice shiny white 4th place ribbon. It took its place on my wall with all the rest of my ribbons, but I'm sure he was very proud of this highlight of his equestrian career.

I also convinced my grandfather to go in the Leadline class on another occasion:

This photo appeared in the "Red Bank Register" newspaper, a moment of fame for yours truly!
This is the whole version of the photo I showed you earlier of me and Grey. My dad's dad "Grandfather Pa" is riding here, and the proud onlooker is the owner of Tricorne Farm, Ginger Bush/Busch (not sure of spelling). I don't know if Ginger was her real first name of if it was a nickname bestowed on her due to the flaming red hair color (impressive bouffant here, no?). She was a nice lady if not a bit intimidating. I don't recall what color ribbon Pa earned, but judging from the light color it must have been 4th or 5th. Not bad for someone, who to my knowledge, had never been on a horse before.

Little aside: my grandmother thought this photo was absolutely hysterical. "He looks like "Big Chief Onatonwa up there!" I have to admit she's right - Pa did have a very aristocratic appearance and seemed to be taking it all in stride (pardon the pun). All he needed was a top hat and he could have trotted right on to the hunt field, looking like he belonged.

I'm trying to think of a time when I was persuaded to do some activity with/for my kids that could have resulted in accident or humiliation. Maybe the snorkeling in Florida? Anyway, I am still grateful to Dad and Pa for consenting to ride in these classes. Thank you for being so nice to horse-crazy me!

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