Aha! So you see, Curmudgeon - it really is all about temperament. I have said it a million times on bulletin boards. Ms. V's overachiever attitude made her a natural to succeed in dressage.
Oh surrre it did.
As a barren spinster, I get to witness the exploits of my friends and their children as an impartial observer. I have determined that nothing is a bigger pain in the ass than an overachiever as a child. As a dressage rider, I have learned that this is true for both humans and horses.
It brings to mind a dinner gathering a few years back which included a friend - let's call her Mrs. Momzilla. M'zilla happened to be the proud mother of an overachiever, and on this particular night, she recounted the horrifying tale to us that has now gone down in Curmudgeon folklore as "Ottawa - it is not worth two points".
I forget all of the fine details of this story, but the crux of it was.. this woman's overachieving 4th grader or whatever she was had to write a test on the capitals of Canadian provinces, and the bonus question - the Capital of Canada - was worth *TWO POINTS*.
Well, Princess blew the Ottawa question.. losing two marks in the process, due to Ottawa being worth *TWO POINTS*..whereas any other error would have only dinged her one.
Being an overachiever she was, of course, distraught. M'zilla only had two choices. She could have told Princess to turn the frown upside down, suck it up, buttercup, or some similar catchy phrase that an irritating mother might say, and that would have been the end of that.
Or - alternatively, she could have gone to the school and gotten into it with the teacher regarding the framework of the test, and the total idiocy of making Ottawa worth..*TWO POINTS*. Which is of course what she did. Eventually teacher saw the error of her ways (aka - wanted M'zilla the hell out of her office), made Ottawa worth the one measly point it rightfully deserved, and Princess gained a mark. Thank goodness, justice was served. Take that and shove it up your beaver tail, you stupid canal skating, MP pocked city.
M'zilla then went on to explain to us that if the Canadian education system insisted on hiring only people with Master's degrees to teach our children, this sort of travesty could be avoided.
Having had just enough wine to be open with my opinions, but unfortunately not quite enough to be oblivious to the annoying conversations around me, I told her that as someone with a Master's degree, I would rather burn in hell than have to have some bitch of a mom come in and cry the blues to me regarding Ottawa being worth *TWO POINTS*. Forget summers off. I would have driven a letter opener into my heart right in plain view of her and princess, just to end the pain of listening to her whiny voice. I almost wanted to do it right there, and then. At the restaurant.
(I guess I actually should have said that the topic of overachievers brings to mind a dinner gathering a few years back which included a former friend).
Anyway, the reason I bring this up is not just to firmly cement the "former friends" bit, on the off chance that M'zilla happens to read my blog, but also to stress that overachievers do not make for easy times for either parents or horse owners. It is instead very likely that child and parent, or horse and rider, will feed off each other and both will eventually morph into balls of hard-core irritating whiner who have such amazing power they can even suck the joy out of a dinner that includes both red wine and Tiramisu.
To succeed as the parent of an overachiever....it takes a delicate balance of allowing them to indulge in just the right number of drama fits, when they are trying to achieve and failing (which will happen many times in dressage) while at the same time, still gently pushing them enough to someday help them to understand the right course of action. If you don't indulge them at all and only punish the drama - you will cause their brains to explode and they will give up trying.
But overindulge - and you become the horse owner we all know, with the talented youngster (who is only 14, still just developing), who can't canter on both leads without some gorgeous version of unscripted Cavalia type leaps and spins as a prelude. Sure, he can't do a through transition to save his life, but look at how athletic he is! He is a genius!
These overindulgers and their overprotected babies typically wind up in classical barns, where they do things "correctly", never push their horses past (or even anywhere within eyesight) of their limits, and never, ever show - why bother, when the judges just won't understand their delicate, sensitive horses.
I think this is possibly the equine equivalent of having a 30+ year old musical genius child living in your basement "creating sounds" or whatever until they are finally "discovered" (possibly by the police, after being notified by the neighbours about a strange smell coming from the backyard, where the children have buried the parental bodies so they can continue collecting their social security cheques). But unfortunately, whining to Linda Zang and friends that stretchy circle and free walk should not be worth *DOUBLE COEFFICIENTS* probably won't get you as far as harassing an Ontario civil servant. However, should anyone decide to try, let me know. I think it will be fun to watch.