To say the least the last couple of years have been tough in the Loots household ………. financially I mean.

We have had to cut back and really live within our means just to keep the whole show on the ground.

So, a couple of weeks ago when Rosie came home and asked if she could take part in the Winter Show my heart just dropped ………. we couldn’t afford it and I had to tell my 12 year old that we couldn’t.

There was no easy way around this.

“Sorry Rosie, we just cant do it – we don’t have the money”

“What if I pay for it myself?”.  The reply came, the look of hopeful expectation all over her face.

Now horse shows at the best of times are a tad expensive, there is getting your horse to the show, grooms, accommodation, stabling, entry fees, ground fees and goodness knows what else fees.

“And how are you going to do that?”

“I am going to bake cupcakes!”

“RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!”,  Now she has hit on the one area where I simply cannot help her.  I have made cupcakes once in my life and yes they were ok, but my kitchen simply hasn’t been the same since.

Once I do a quick calculation, this is very quick because I know nothing about the profit margin on a cupcake, I realise that Rosie has to make about 1 000 cupcakes to realise her dream.  At 24 batches in a cupcake this means she has to bake 42 batches.

Long story short, she baked, she sold, she learnt about stock, gross and nett profit, profit margins, baking, burning and under baking.  She learnt a spar packet doesn’t make a good piping bag.  And having the best ingredients guaranteed better sales.  The whole community rallied around and bought cupcakes – even those who didn’t eat them.  We were grateful to each and every person that brought her closer to her goal.  From St Francis Connect who designed and ran advertising for her, to Dee who gave her cupcake tips, to the morning market, to each person who paid R5 for a cupcake and everyone      in-between.

Right, so now you all think this story is about determination and achieving your goals ……… nope – its not.  The real story comes later …….

Off we go to the show.  For those who are not horsey (like me).  To organize a horse show is nothing short of organizing a political summit.  You have to deal with riders (many of them under 15 year old girls, and with the girls comes their mothers, horses, trainers, grooms, grandmothers, fathers, photographers, judges, helpers etc etc.  Each with their own agenda an needs and wants.  Your average show has jumping, dressage, equitation and showing.

Jumping is the easy one for a competitor.  You get on your horse and jump the course – its pretty cool to watch and fun to enter.

Dressage is more difficult where you have to know a certain routine and you and your horse have to look good, you need to do dressage to be able to master the rest of the disciplines.

Equitation is a mixture of jumping and showing …….. I dont really know the ins and outs of the rules for equitation.  It is really a great group of classes to watch.

Showing is the real breaker.  You AND your horse have to be perfect.  The horses mane has to  be plaited, rolled and sewn, its tail has to be plaited (big stress point here), the horse has to be brushed and preened to perfection, the horses toenails have to be polished and makeup put on the horses face (???????????????), the horse must wear “bling”.  Apart from the toenail painting the same applies to the rider as well as the saddle and other confusing leather bits and pieces you need to ride a horse.  By some cruel twist of fate we always seem to draw the 8.00 am showing classes which means you must be in the stables at 6.00 am (in the dark) to do all these crazy things to a horse and rider.

Add to this the Showing is stressful to a rider.

One of the big things in showing is that the horse has to be on the correct leg.  I think this means that the inside leg must be sort of striding more than the outside leg or vice versa.  I have yet to recognise this in action.  But it is BIG!

When Rosie gets nervous at a show the first thing that goes is this leg thing.  During her weekly training session the leg will be 100%, during shows it is not.

Rosie and Lezaar make it into the Open Showing Championships for ponies (again, at shows this is a BIG deal), off her and Lezaar go and I hear a collective groan from the spectators, Rosie is on the wrong leg and she is mincing straight towards the crowd, at number 99 she turns right where everyone else has gone left.  The crowd lets out a collective yay (I dont understand),  well done Rosie! I hear.  In a nutshell, turning right (instead of left which the others did), her horse was now on the correct leg.  It didnt matter which direction she turned, what mattered was the darned leg.

No Rosie didn’t win that particular Championship, but loads of people commented to her about her “clever” flatwork,  it did however me think.

In life it is very easy to be on the wrong path, and making a decision about whether to turn left or right, to stop or to go, to do or not to do can be a major catalyst in making what is wrong into something that is right.  A bit of clever thinking can change small things in your life.

Nobody, but the ones that judge you will notice if you are on the right leg or not, BUT, if you turn the correct way at number 99, the majority of people will just see a person doing the right thing ………. its all quite easy isn’t it?