By encouraging your child to be a champion, they have to first have a champion attitude, in and out of the show pen. Photo © IPHC

Parenting a Future Champion – Whether in Horses or Life

There’s something special about horses. They make the leeriest parent give them as gifts. At roughly 1,500lbs with the capability of turning into a wild beast, we hand them over to our beloved children as pets believing they will make something beautiful from that relationship.

The greater good is that the horse makes something far more admirable out of our children.

We want our kids to feel the thrill of winning, whether it’s in the World Show arena walking out with a trophy, or at a local show getting their first ribbon. Success is gratifying. It proves that hard work does pay off. And yet, there’s something far more worth acquiring than a wall of accomplishments, like encouraging our future champions to chose to represent themselves well. A positive reputation and good character is a cornerstone to any success.

When kids are given opportunities to live out their naturally-given gifts, it’s our job as their parent, not to press them, but rather help them tap into their talent. Here is a simple list of six truths to encourage your child to be a champion, both in and out of the show arena.

Do What Is Right

Whether it’s mucking stalls or making a bed, chores are repetitive and mundane, and it makes for an easy excuse to cut corners. Taking shortcuts may seem like no one will notice, but the subconscious does. If our kids are willing to skip out in working at the small stuff, their brain will remind them next time, that it must be okay since nothing happened last time continuing the cycle to slack off. Which leaves us parents, wondering how devoted are our kids to the long hours this sports demands?

Love What You Do

When you direct your child on their path toward becoming a champion, their love and knowledge makes them barn safe and a confident rider. Your young protégé will go from standing on the sidelines, unsure of their next instruction, to a dependable, seasoned horseman, qualified to serve others. And setting expectations of what comes next, in and out of the barn, will become second nature to them. Like everything in life, learning starts with the fundamentals. In the equine world, attaining a good seat builds body strength and endurance. It cuts the risk of injury as well as promoting a sense of accomplishment.

Model Humility

Making humility a reflection of their identity is just as important. There is nothing wrong with hard work and competition. The buckles and jackets your children wear are earned and should be worn. That’s what makes horsemanship a skilled sport. It’s also important to acknowledge and give where credit is due to your team of trainers, support and sponsors. Every student and trainer knows what it’s like to come away from a show ring empty-handed. Life is competitive, and each judge can either hail you a hero or knock you down to a zero. One of the greatest lessons our children can learn is how to accept winning and losing. Most importantly, how to appropriately respond to it. How they do in the show ring doesn’t define who they are, but how they express themselves is a reflection of their heart.

Have A Clear Conscience

We all make mistakes and test the waters, so to speak, when it comes to right and wrong. Some things in life are obvious no-nos. However, there are few grey areas when it comes to cheating, whether it’s doping a horse before a show or sale or stealing from others. What’s done in secret doesn’t make it okay, and that includes not paying club fees. Folks watch their competition, especially in the smaller horse clubs. Cheating affects everyone. Moreover, having a relationship with people while having a clear conscience is far better than always having to avoid them.

It’s A Privilege To Mentor

Taping into wiser minds sharpens skills and bridges the gap between generations in an anti-social, face-to-face culture. Conversations that spark our children’s interest outside of parents are especially powerful and bring particular strength to the future world around them. Mentoring encourages success that brings an edge of influence to friendly discussions that parents often cannot offer.

Finish Well & Leave A Legacy

Contentment is doing the right thing, even though it may not always be easy – do it anyway. Hard work reflects the convictions that are ingrained in us. Thomas Carlyle says, “Conviction is worthless until it can convert itself into daily conduct.” By our children discovering their strengths as well as their weaknesses, they will be able to overcome the pitfalls that cause them to question why self-discipline and honor are valuable traits.

Having a good name makes you trustworthy and someone who others can depend on. By encouraging your child to be a champion, they have to first have a champion attitude, in and out of the show pen.

About the Author: Teresa Coelho is a grateful wife to a loving husband, and the mom of four spunky daughters, plus one grafted-in girl. With so many females under one roof, they joke that they should have their own reality show, Catching Up With The Coelho’s. Also, a horse show mom, Teresa’s 16-year-old daughter Mariah shows on the ApHC show circuit.