Roles: They Are A-Changin’…

Hello and thank you for honoring me with your attention for a few minutes. The idea for this first blog came to me as I sat and thought back about the past 6+ years our family has spent in this sport we all love. I desire to add something to the Eventing blogosphere that is fresh and unique.

With that in mind, Eventing Dad was born. A fresh new perspective from that guy who can be seen standing silently next to the trainer, intently watching a rider warm up, usually with a camera in hand. The guy you see walking around the start box, staring at a stop watch, poised to hit start at the words, “Have a great ride”. In a sport where male riders are outnumbered by female riders 200 to 1 (probably a low estimate), the Eventing Dad is certainly a very rare commodity. With this in mind, I hope this blog will bring a new and enjoyable perspective to the conversation.

Today, I thought I would share a little bit about changing roles. As a father, it is hard to let go. I look back over the past six years and I remember the first time my daughter, Bailey, trotted around her first green as grass course and she was immediately hooked. Watching Bailey jump (okay, the pony stepped over) what was not much more than branches on the ground not only captured her heart, but the family was hooked as well.

My perceived role was to ensure that Bailey was ready for that next ride. It can be argued that it is better to let the rider take on all the responsibility much in the same way many people say let your children learn by their own mistakes. And I would agree there is a time and place for that. But for many reasons that I expect I will discuss in future blogs (costs involved and who’s paying, protection of rider, wanting your child to excel) I feel it is my place to help her out as much as possible.

The changing role that I am referring to is when do you start to shift those responsibilities? When do you start to take a step back and let the rider make the big decisions? And maybe the hardest, when do you sit down and accept that the rider has grown into an accomplished rider and knows a lot more than you do about this sport?

The best way I have determined for me to deal with these changing roles is to treat them as I have all things Eventing, they are accomplishments. And if I truly take a step back, it may be the biggest accomplishment.

As I reflect on some of Bailey’s accomplishments; being named the 2012 USEA Rising Star, winning the 2012 Junior Training division at the American Eventing Championships, most recently being on the Silver Medal winning 2* Young Rider Team at the 2014 NAJYRC, there have been some huge achievements. But, I would say that her growth is bigger than all of those wins.

Do you get a ribbon for maturing as a rider? No. Do you get an award for learning to take disappointment in stride? Not very often. But to be able to stand on the outside and look in and see the respect she is getting from trainers and advanced level riders is awesome. To see younger riders look up to her and want to be like her is a thrill.  And knowing that she wants to be a good example for those coming up the levels behind her makes me proud to be her dad.

Change is hard. Change is scary. And letting go of things can sometimes be the most difficult thing of all. So I will work at being content in her success of developing herself to positively represent this sport we all love so much.

I will be proud of my wife Kim’s and my achievement of raising a fine young woman. I will sit in my lawn chair hitting refresh on my phone trying to get the latest score update before Bailey does. I will stand ready to capture on video that next dressage test or stadium round.

My role really hasn’t changed that much. I am sure there are going to be more studs that need to be put in soon and I will continue to fulfill my role as long as she wants me around.

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