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Teaching young kids about winning/losing and judging

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  • Teaching young kids about winning/losing and judging

    Hi all, just looking for advice from the moms and trainers of young kids. My 7 yr old daughter just started showing in pre-short stirrup. She went to her first show two weeks ago and did very well, got a 1st, 2nd and a 3rd out of 4 kids and was reserve champion in the division and just thrilled with herself and the experience. Begged to go to the next show.

    Fast forward to yesterday, which was her 2nd show with again 4 kids in her division. She was 4th and last in the walk class, 3rd in the walk/trot and 3rd in the walk/trot/jumping position. She didn't make any "mistakes" i.e. picked up all her diagonals or changed them promply, didn't break gait, didn't do anything that I can point to which would tell her "well that's why you didn't win". It was truly a case of the other kids having better positions and also not making mistakes (or actually one of them did, but the judge didn't see it).

    Unfortunately my daughter is used to being the best at everything and this really hit her hard. She was completely fine and happy at the show but last night when she was going to bed she was crying and upset and really struggling to understand. I think she would have been fine if we could say, "well you missed that diagonal" or well you were 4th out of 12! but the net net is that clearly the judge didn't like her as much as the other two she placed consistently ahead, and how do you explain that to a 7 yr old? She wasn't as "cute" as the other two? It's just a tough thing to explain to her in a way that doesn't make her hate the whole horse show idea.

    She is not a "spoiled brat" but she is just not used to being judged and has never had a "losing" experience before at a competitive event. She said last night she wanted to quit riding, or quit showing and everytime I said, that was fine, she would cry harder saying she really wants to ride and she wants to show. And then she said "I just wish that there didn't have to be winners and losers".

    I know this must be a situation that every horse show mom has to deal with at some point, so looking for advice on how to deal with losing, when you can't point to anything they could have done differently (other than of course, more heels down and sitting up straighter )

  • #2
    First of all, your child doesn't need to compete to enjoy riding. IMO, the competition aspect of the sport isn't for everyone.

    Secondly, as her parent, you need to begin to teach her about winning and losing. In school, in sports, in life. It has to be okay with you, too, for her to fail. I see lots of parents that just cannot accept anything less than A's in school, championships at shows, etc. It's normal for a child to be good in Math, but poor in English. She may have nice equitation, but her pony is a poor mover.

    Let her sit and watch a class and pick her favorites. Ask her if the "last" child is a bad rider? Losing is a part of life. It doesn't make her a bad person. Teach her that. Please.
    http://patchworkfarmga.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Well, she's SEVEN. A whole lot of what you would like to say is not going to soak in right now like it will in another year or so. I am in a barn with a beginner program plus an extensive Pony contingent and this comes up with all of them as they come out of the cutsey stage and start having to really compete. It's pretty normal.

      Best results seem to be obtained by just saying something like "Suzy, you were wonderful, and so were the other kids. They just did it a little better then you did. Last time, you did it better then they did. I am very proud of you either way".

      Going to come right out and say she may not be ready quite yet for actual judging and accepting she may not do well one week and win the next. It's OK. She can wait. Let her tell you when she is ready to go horse show again, then ask her of she is willing to accept the judges opinion even if she does not like it. She is a little young yet to really understand why this happened.

      I also think you got some hurt feelings going on she is too young to seperate from the show ring.

      Maytag? Are you trying to train your own kid? This is one very common reason it's not a good idea. A trainer not emotionally involved is a better choice to teach her about constructive correction and analysing her ride against the others-she needs a Mom for the hurt feelings.
      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

      Comment


      • #4
        That's going to be part of showing. When all things are equal then it's only natural for the judges eye to go to the fanciest pony and the kid with the nicest turnout. That's all part of the game. I just make sure I give my kid the best opportunity, I turn her out to the nines, and we scrub tack and ponies until they shine, that way we know if she doesn't pin at least we know it wasn't because the kid who rode as well as her had a better "look". Some judges are going to like you and some aren't. At that level where there is so little to judge on, you're bound to have off days. My daughter is usually the top of her division, but she also has friends that are her neck and neck competition. When they pin higher than her she claps, gets excited and gives them a hug! Showing has made her such a gracious looser and well balanced child, and that is mostly because of the white and pink ribbons she's one, not the blues reds and tri's!

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Jsalem View Post
          First of all, your child doesn't need to compete to enjoy riding. IMO, the competition aspect of the sport isn't for everyone.

          Secondly, as her parent, you need to begin to teach her about winning and losing. In school, in sports, in life. It has to be okay with you, too, for her to fail. I see lots of parents that just cannot accept anything less than A's in school, championships at shows, etc. It's normal for a child to be good in Math, but poor in English. She may have nice equitation, but her pony is a poor mover.

          Let her sit and watch a class and pick her favorites. Ask her if the "last" child is a bad rider? Losing is a part of life. It doesn't make her a bad person. Teach her that. Please.
          Well of course I am trying to teach her how to lose, that's the point but I was looking for input from experienced moms who have been through this without souring her on the experience of showing. I told her in no uncertain terms that she doesn't have to show, she doesn't even have to ride if she doesn't want to, which only made her cry harder. I also told her I was extremely proud of the fact that she rode so well, even though she didn't win. But hello, she's 7 S-E-V-E-N. This is her first losing exp and I was to make sure she doesn't get soured on the whole process.

          Comment


          • #6
            I wouldn't personally make a big deal out of it.

            When my SS rode and didn't place well, we simply said "the other kids had better positions; better work on getting those heels down and looking up and ahead," and left it at that. On the *one* occasion that he persisted, he was told, "that's part of showing; better get used to it.," and the matter was dropped.

            I would choose your words carefully; no offense but your own description in the OP suggests you are nearly as disappointed as your DD.

            the net net is that clearly the judge didn't like her as much as the other two she placed consistently ahead
            ...

            She wasn't as "cute" as the other two...
            Also, your comments about the judge missing another rider's mistake, and how your daughter didn't make any mistakes (although you allow she might have corrected a wrong diagonal promptly, it's still a mistake...) and your DD being "used to being the best of everything," gives the impression that you are feeding the monster here.

            I know you understand the other kids had better positions and I also totally understand that as moms, we are always our kids' biggest cheerleaders and are disappointed for them in situations like this. That said, I think it's also our job to mirror reality for our kids. They are not always going to be the winner and if they want to win more often, they simply have to train harder.

            I personally would be very concerned about a seven year old that is THAT focused on the ribbons.

            Sorry, I know that isn't what you wanted to hear.
            **********
            We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
            -PaulaEdwina

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm not only a trainer, but a mom of a rider as well. When my little one was little, she bawled at one show because she got a blue ribbon when she wanted the pink one! Your daughter will be fine.
              http://patchworkfarmga.com

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by findeight View Post
                Well, she's SEVEN. A whole lot of what you would like to say is not going to soak in right now like it will in another year or so. I am in a barn with a beginner program plus an extensive Pony contingent and this comes up with all of them as they come out of the cutsey stage and start having to really compete. It's pretty normal.

                Best results seem to be obtained by just saying something like "Suzy, you were wonderful, and so were the other kids. They just did it a little better then you did. Last time, you did it better then they did. I am very proud of you either way".

                Going to come right out and say she may not be ready quite yet for actual judging and accepting she may not do well one week and win the next. It's OK. She can wait. Let her tell you when she is ready to go horse show again, then ask her of she is willing to accept the judges opinion even if she does not like it. She is a little young yet to really understand why this happened.

                I also think you got some hurt feelings going on she is too young to seperate from the show ring.

                Maytag? Are you trying to train your own kid? This is one very common reason it's not a good idea. A trainer not emotionally involved is a better choice-she needs a Mom for the hurt feelings.

                No I am not her trainer, just the mom who has to pick up the pieces at 8 PM when she's crying herself to sleep. yes my feelings are hurt, not that she didn't win, but that my daughter is upset. Its natural don't you think? I grew up showing and I absolutely know about winning and losing.

                Both daughter and pony were adorable and turned out perfectly. The two that placed ahead of my daughter were really good and they deserved to win, I am not taking anything away from them. Just not sure how to explain it all to my daughter to have her understand and not feel down on herself.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'm with Lucassb. I worry about the adult who may not be interested about the kid winning, but is worried about *optimizing*-- the experience of riding and showing, but maybe on the way to winning?

                  Don't make a big deal about it. Sometimes you have the best day, sometimes the other guy does. And in a subjective sport, and for pre-short stirrup, there's only so much post-game analysis to be done.

                  As an adult, I like to compete.... especially when I'm not afraid of losing. Someone needs to tell or show kids that it's ok to do that, even if the point of competing was winning. I think my parents did all right because I don't remember the first time I lost at something. And I'm quite sure I did.

                  If you don't make this a big deal, it will blow over.
                  The armchair saddler
                  Politically Pro-Cat

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Ribbons are just icing on the cake if one is happy with the ride or trip. If things went really well - cake, a ribbon on top of that - icing. Sometimes you just get cake. There will be times that you only get icing and didn't deserve the ribbon, but cake is always best with or without icing.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      oh well I should have known not to post anything here, sorry just needed to vent I guess. Should have known I'd be branded the next horse show mom monster.

                      I have already told her exactly what you've all told me to say so I guess there's nothing more to say, but give her time to decide what she wants to do.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Lucassb View Post
                        I would choose your words carefully; no offense but your own description in the OP suggests you are nearly as disappointed as your DD.

                        Also, your comments about the judge missing another rider's mistake, and how your daughter didn't make any mistakes (although you allow she might have corrected a wrong diagonal promptly, it's still a mistake...) and your DD being "used to being the best of everything," gives the impression that you are feeding the monster here.

                        See, that is what I mean about needing an emotionally uninvolved person to teach her and coach her at the shows.

                        That is what Mom's do, that is their job. Telling the kid she is the best and letting her cry on your shoulder. For 2 minutes-then tell her to go talk to her instructor about how she can improve for next time. And hang all those pretty pink ribbons on the wall as proudly as the primary color ones. Let the trainer worry about the riding.

                        You ever wonder what the real BNT's do with their kidlets? They swap them-you teach mine and I'll teach yours. They know trying to play both roles is a fight followed by a meltdown. They also know they might miss the fact the kid really does not want to show or is not competitive by nature and just wants a Pony to love on.

                        Back off. Breathe. Get somebody else to teach her.
                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Lucassb View Post
                          I wouldn't personally make a big deal out of it.

                          When my SS rode and didn't place well, we simply said "the other kids had better positions; better work on getting those heels down and looking up and ahead," and left it at that. On the *one* occasion that he persisted, he was told, "that's part of showing; better get used to it.," and the matter was dropped.

                          I would choose your words carefully; no offense but your own description in the OP suggests you are nearly as disappointed as your DD.

                          ...



                          Also, your comments about the judge missing another rider's mistake, and how your daughter didn't make any mistakes (although you allow she might have corrected a wrong diagonal promptly, it's still a mistake...) and your DD being "used to being the best of everything," gives the impression that you are feeding the monster here.

                          I know you understand the other kids had better positions and I also totally understand that as moms, we are always our kids' biggest cheerleaders and are disappointed for them in situations like this. That said, I think it's also our job to mirror reality for our kids. They are not always going to be the winner and if they want to win more often, they simply have to train harder.

                          I personally would be very concerned about a seven year old that is THAT focused on the ribbons.

                          Sorry, I know that isn't what you wanted to hear.
                          Clearly I shouldn't have posted on here because you all don't know the people involved...i just wanted some help, but oh well.

                          Haven't you ever known a child who just inherently has to he best in everything they do? She just does, didn't come from me, didn't come from her dad, she is just like that. She's a twin and it may be an inherently ingrained attribute since she's always had to compete for attention with her brother. Not at all saying it's a good thing or that I like that she's like this, its just how she is. Read into my post however enterains you but I know the truth.

                          I've already told her about all the times I didn't win, all the times I fell off or made a mistake. I've shown her videos where I made mistakes and I've told her how some of my best rides and those that I'm most proud of came in classes where I didn't get a ribbon.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mayaty02 View Post
                            (snip)

                            Both daughter and pony were adorable and turned out perfectly. The two that placed ahead of my daughter were really good and they deserved to win, I am not taking anything away from them. Just not sure how to explain it all to my daughter to have her understand and not feel down on herself.
                            Your DD is 7, not 2. If she can't understand, "the other kids rode better this time and deserved to win," it is high time she learned that concept. And if losing = down on herself, you have some work to do on that front as well.

                            I have to admit the comment you made in the OP about your DD "being used to being the best at everything," made me cringe. Methinks there is way too much emphasis on the prizes in this equation. As parents, it is our job to teach our kids that their native inclinations (whether to winning or whatever else) may not always be the correct approach. And that much emphasis on winning, IMO, is neither healthy nor productive.
                            **********
                            We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                            -PaulaEdwina

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by findeight View Post
                              See, that is what I mean about needing an emotionally uninvolved person to teach her and coach her at the shows.

                              That is what Mom's do, that is their job. Telling the kid she is the best and letting her cry on your shoulder. For 2 minutes-then tell her to go talk to her instructor about how she can improve for next time. And hang all those pretty pink ribbons on the wall as proudly as the primary color ones. Let the trainer worry about the riding.

                              You ever wonder what the real BNT's do with their kidlets? They swap them-you teach mine and I'll teach yours. They know trying to play both roles is a fight followed by a meltdown. They also know they might miss the fact the kid really does not want to show or is not competitive by nature and just wants a Pony to love on.

                              Back off. Breathe. Get somebody else to teach her.

                              I would never teach her for these reasons and I don't need to "back off". She came to me....I am not making a big deal of it, I just wanted advice from been there done that moms.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by Lucassb View Post
                                Your DD is 7, not 2. If she can't understand, "the other kids rode better this time and deserved to win," it is high time she learned that concept. And if losing = down on herself, you have some work to do on that front as well.

                                I have to admit the comment you made in the OP about your DD "being used to being the best at everything," made me cringe. Methinks there is way too much emphasis on the prizes in this equation.
                                well you're wrong, there is in no way too much emphasis on prizes. In fact, i write her notes before she has a big event at school or before a horse show and specificaly what i wrote her the night before this show was that the point is to have fun, and not win ribbons. I have never told her its important to win in anyway. It's always important to try your best, and then sometimes you win. The problem is that she did so well the first time, it's hard to follow it up.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Not to add fuel to the fire, but Mayaty, see how you respond here? You don't take constructive criticism so well yourself. Being defensive is kind of the grown up version of the 7 year old tears. You asked for help, to see how you were doing in this situation. You didn't get the parenting blue ribbon. Could you just take a breath and take in the suggestions instead of being defensive?
                                  http://patchworkfarmga.com

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Mayaty02 View Post
                                    I would never teach her for these reasons and I don't need to "back off". She came to me....I am not making a big deal of it, I just wanted advice from been there done that moms.
                                    Yeah. You need to back off if the kid is crying herself to sleep and even you don't want to accept the judge's opinion that others were better.

                                    Sorry...no I'm not. Post on here and get what you asked for.
                                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Glad to hear that your DD's two shows have gone well and safely... that's certainly the first step toward having a good show experience. The way I've approached my disappointed up-downers has been to tell them they did a great job riding the pony that they rode and point out that they rode especially well considering their pony was a little different than it usually is at home and in a crowded ring with lots of people watching. So positive reinforcement first. Once they've got themselves and the pony settled after the class I ask what they thought they did really well and what they think they could have done better and I provide input. Sometimes it is something as simple as forgetting to get their heels down as much as they do at home, or maybe their hands were bouncy, or maybe it's traffic avoidance. Ok, so this is the "negative" part but must be very constructive criticism. Immediately after we've talked through what needs improvement I was sure to point out a few really good highlights, especially when it was something they've been working on at home... more positive reinforcement. I'm sure much of the same pattern can be used at 8PM when picking up the pieces of a DD who is used to being the best. But I also agree with the others that the attitude of must be THE best at everything needs to be curbed quickly. Rather than THE best channel her energy to being HER best. So I would take her discussions of "failure" in the show ring and point out that while her ride may not have been what the judge considered THE best of everyone, but does she feel like her ride was HER best for her abilities. If you can get her focus off of being THE best and back to being HER best you'll be shaping a wonderful young person who can have a great impact on her circle of friends both now and in the future.
                                      "Beware the hobby that eats."
                                      Benjamin Franklin

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I think that it's really helpful if, before shows, you help her come up with some goals ...ie: today I'm really going to concentrate on riding deep into my corners and keeping my chin up etc. Then at the end of the day, there are more ways to measure the success of the show than ribbons alone. That method has served my children well for years, and it works in other areas of life too - it's all about doing their personal best. Just last weekend I was driving home from a show with my now teenaged daughter and she was on top of the world - not because of her placings, but because she'd really accomplished what she'd set out to do in going to the show. Little things like looking to her fences earlier or remembering to sit up and wait, or figuring out how she was going to get down a forward uphill line without adding and pulling it off ... those were the triumphs for her, and I really give her trainer a lot of credit for instilling in her the goals thing.
                                        You have to say to your daughter, "Did you win first place? No. But did you keep your heels down through the turns? YES! And for that, my dear, you win and ice cream cone. I'm so proud of you." And that's it! Good luck :-)

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