The other day Madeleine competed in her first horse show: two flat work classes (walk, trot, canter) and two jumping classes. She did not win any of them. She competed in classes with kids who have experience far beyond what she does. She was assigned her least favorite school horse. I could continue to list excuses but, the bottom line is, at the end of the day, she did not do as well as she had hoped she might.
I have a hard time parenting disappointment. It's easy to mother a blue ribbon winner. Congratulations, Sweetie! I told you you're a fantastic rider! But a middle of the pack, or worse, a last place finisher? I said the same thing I would have said had she won: Congratulations, Sweetie! I told you you're a fantastic rider! Somehow though, to her, the words don't ring as true; she wants validation from someone other than the family and friends there cheering her on.
Madeleine was happy enough to participate. She believes her family when we tell her she's a good rider, and she should because she is, but her desire for independent validation mirrors my own; she has a competitive spirit. She's learning, though, that sometimes the competition you're participating in is with yourself, against your own nerves and insecurities. Before she rode her nervousness was on display for everyone present to see (see photo directly above this paragraph) and, despite those fears, she went out in front of family, friends, spectators and judges and let herself be judged.
For that, she is a blue ribbon winner in my book.