Tamie Smith: NAJYRC Molds the Next Generation

We’re so grateful to EN guest blogger Tamie Smith for taking us on the journey as a parent with a child competing at NAJYRC. Her daughter, Kaylawna, represented Area VI in the CH-J* and had one rail down in show jumping to finish in 9th individually. Check out Samantha Clark’s photo gallery from show jumping over on the PRO Facebook Page.

Area VI coach Hawley Bennett-Awad with Tamie Smith, center, and Kaylawna, right. Photo by Samantha Clark for PRO.

Area VI coach Hawley Bennett-Awad with Tamie Smith, center, and Kaylawna, right. Photo by Samantha Clark for PRO.

From Tamie:

Kaylawna made me more proud than I could ever have dreamt. She conquered and succeeded this weekend! Not only this weekend but the crazy goal of going from water polo the last four years to qualifying and competing at North American Young Rider Championships without riding before the middle of March!

Her show jumping round was absolutely beautiful. Metro was a bit fatigued after that eight-minute course and had the front rail of the last combination, and Kaylawna really couldn’t have ridden any better. She finished as the only Area VI one-star kid, and her teammates dressed up in their show jumping clothes and walked the course with us. They supported her until the end, and that is truly a wonderful thing.

The grooms worked so hard all weekend, and they equally were amazing. It made the entire experience fantastic, and Lauren, Hawley, and Kim made this all a great experience.

But let’s face it — as a parent, this entire Young Rider experience is complete torture! Why would anyone ever want to put themselves through this much torture voluntarily — because the entire Young Rider experience is like having a child!

You’re excited when you find out they want to go to NAJYRC, then you have the lead up to the competition, which is the duration of your pregnancy, and then you arrive to NAJYRC, and the torture begins! This would be the labor pains … without pain medication! But just when you think “why would anyone ever want to go to NAJYRC?” you finish show jumping and watch what a wonderful growing experience it has been for both yourself as a parent and your child, and you can’t wait to do it again.

That part is in the same category as giving birth. You feel like you’re getting ripped in half, and all of a sudden this little miracle comes out, and you completely forget about any pain you ever had. Now, I do speak from personal experience because I did have Kaylawna by natural child birth, and it feels almost the same — not by choice for the record!

But on a more serious note, if any of the trainers or parents in this country want their kids to learn what real life is about, Young Riders is a good stepping stone. Whether you plan to ride as a professional some day or just want to ride for fun, if your child can qualify and be “ready” to compete with the top riders in our sport, then “we” should do all we can to get them there.

What other weekend can you learn about teamwork, hard work, to be selfless, caring, emotionally and psychically tough, how to dance, meet people from all over North America, and in every shape, size and personality? It’s truly a life-changing experience, and no matter what the outcome, you come away from the week with a new outlook on life.

As Kaylawna’s mom and not her coach — because I honestly think coaching your kid is way too stressful, and thank you Hawley for all your help this weekend — it truly was such a wonderful week!

So the whirlwind continues — as for most of us riders and trainers. I gave my kid a hug a kiss and Metro one too, hugged Team Area VI and ran like crazy to the car where Dave drove very fast to get me to the airport on time. I can’t wait to see my ponies in Kalispell this evening. I miss them all so much. I’m looking forward to a wonderful week competing at one of the best competitions in the country.

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