I’ve trained short stirrup kids, small pony riders, tons of big equitation finalists and Grand Prix students. I have traveled all over the country showing at every major show you can think of, I’ve shown on both coasts, I’ve traveled to Europe and purchased dozens of horses for both myself and clients. I’ve been Chef d’ equipe for my zone teams and served on USEF committees that mess with all the rule changes. Last week, however, I did something I had never done before.
My youngest son, Tanner Korotkin, showed for the first time at a real, USEF rated, horse show.
I now know why a great deal of my students’ parents are crazy.
Its a completely different experience watching your own flesh and blood ride a pony around a 2′ course than any other experience I have ever had. It felt like he was doing the Olympics! He might as well have been. My wife and I were very much like any other parents that watch their children show. We had video cameras running, we had telescopic Nikon lenses, we had the grandparents, we had the bottled water waiting at the ingate. We whooped when he chipped and cheered when he won a “first place ribbon!” Who the hell were we? Certainly not the experienced horse show trainers that have done this their whole lives?
Now I understand. I understand why parents are the way they are, and I can now empathize with them, because for the first time in my life I am now one of them. Parents are amazed that their own children can do anything. They are shocked that their little person is able to guide that horse around the ring, or hit a baseball, or catch a touchdown pass, or remember their lines in a school play. We can’t believe this thing that we watched pop into the world can do anything without us! That’s why we are so nuts when our kids show. We can’t believe our child has had enough lessons to do this course or handle that pony. We look at our kids differently than our students, because we assume other parents did something miraculous to make their children special, when we know in our hearts that we didn’t really do anything, they just sort of, do it.
When it’s not your child, you are very confident that the student can handle the high junior jumpers at WEF. When it is your child, you are not sure the flower boxes should really be in his class.
When it’s not your child, we have plenty of shows to qualify for the finals. When it is your child, we better do the hack so he can be champion.
When it’s your student that has four faults it was very unfortunate, when it’s your child, that horse better shape up or he’s out of here.
When it’s your student, you tell them to dust themselves off , get back on and hit that bad horse with a crop, when it’s your kid you clean them up, get on yourself and beat that jerk with a stick.
When it’s your student the horse is a little fresh, when it’s your kid, that pony is freaking wild!
I decided not to train Tanner myself and asked a friend and fellow trainer to help him, Linda Smith Faver has graciously accepted the assignment, and puts up with his parents that proably know a little too much for their own good. I would also like to thank our working student/rider Morgane Qualls who owns the 21 year old pony, RH Sparkle, the medium pony Tanner showed. Morgane told me she was perfect and now I agree, and when you are the parent of the rider, when its your own flesh and blood in the irons, that’s all you want to hear, and all you need to know. I get it now, my fellow parents, I have seen it from your perspective.