A few years ago, I was sat in the stands at Hickstead watching the Nursery Stakes class. I am always amazed how plucky these young children are to attack the tough course in the big grass ring at Hickstead. A young boy came in on a stunning bay pony who I knew had been very successful over the years, the pressure was on. He was jumping a brilliant round but came to a spread on the wrong stride and to everyone’s surprise the pony stopped. Gasps escaped from the audience and then the saddest noise was heard from the little boy, “No” he said with such pain in his voice and then his gaze went straight to the entrance and to his Dad. Utter terror was in the boys face and utter fury in the Dad’s. It absolutely broke my heart.
I hadn’t really thought about this until we were at Hickstead this year, I was jumping in the Newcomers and made a mistake. (Well, I made a few but I will focus on one!) I landed over fence 8, if you are clear you continue, but as I landed the bell of the ring next door went off, I thought it was in my ring and I pulled up. Suddenly, I hear “Why are you stopping?” from the Mother, realising my mistake I circled and continued. Jumping clear but ending on 16 faults because of the circle and time delay.
Talking about this with someone, the Mother was asked “Weren’t you utterly furious?”
Now, the Mothership is by no means a softie. I would even go as far as to say she is pretty intimidating at times. However, as a coach/supporter/cheerleader, these traits of fire are not helpful and simply not present.
When I am in the ring, I am never concerned by the reaction of my supporters. Of course, I want it to go well and I want to impress them but I know if it doesn’t there will be no fury.
Joey had his first sport’s day recently and I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t get weirdly competitive about it and have him training in the garden. (I definitely live by the “If you are going to do something, do it properly.” expression.) I would love him to win things, I know the joyous feeling it is to win, but when he doesn’t I never want him to look at me with the fear that the little boy did.
The lesson I wanted to share with this blog is simply: The little boy stopped riding “due to GCSE exams”, I am still competing aged 33 with GCSEs, A-Levels, University, Marriage, Babies…. The only place for Fury is in the boxing ring or on Love Island! So, if there is someone who makes you feel the little boy, leave them at home.