In the horse world, shows are a motivator for many riders. And understandably so. People like to show off, same as horse people. Believe it or not, some horses enjoy the spotlight and when on center stage, they will strut their stuff.
To close the year with a bang, I asked my five-year-old student if he would like to be in a horse show. Together, we started dreaming what our show would look like. After some discussion, we decided to call our show, “Super Heroes for Super Horses.” My student loves Spiderman and the Hulk. We both agreed Tully is a super pony. With a month to prepare, we decided on a costume, a routine and who to invite. We practiced every week.
The big day finally arrived. Family and friends arrived. All the hard work paid off. My student led Tully without me, mounted on his own, and did his warm-up exercises. With my assistance, he did a full 360 around the saddle while at a walk, he steered around cones and he trotted in both directions. He accomplished all that he practiced with style and grace.
Before the show, I sent out an announcement asking if other riders would like to participate. Since it was the holidays, I did not receive any replies. To all our surprise, when we finished our routine, another horse and rider appeared!
Morgan, who is a barn staff and a boarder, and her horse, Timber rode up from the barn. On a gray winter day, they both lit up the scenery. Timber was wearing a Superman equine costume with red leg wraps. Morgan was riding bareback. My student and Tully watched in awe. We had no idea.
At the end of the show, Morgan and my student rode side by side in front of the spectors. The two horses knew this was a special moment. From an idea something much bigger happened.
We created a show that could not be replicated. It was our show. It did not have loud speakers, food carts, displays, expensive outfits and trailers. It was simple and authentic. There were no losers. The participants and spectators all won. My student asked me later the meaning of “surprise.” My answer was simple: something we did not know.
Life is a show. Be surprised.