With Brave Wings She Flies 1

When you’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave. Neil Gaiman

Recently my daughter participated in the Special Olympics North Carolina Equestrian competition. She loves working with horses and while not much in life comes easily for her if there is a horse involved she is willing to work a little harder and dig a little deeper. This semester she has been focusing on becoming more independent with her horse. At this year’s competition she ended the weekend with one gold medal, one silver medal, and one fifth place pink ribbon. While I was proud of everything she did I have to admit I may be the most proud of that fifth place ribbon. Watching her equitation class where she clearly was the top rider, earning a gold medal, was awesome, but while watching her showmanship class where she earned fifth place I saw something beyond skills that have been practiced, I saw a true brave girl.

Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience. Paulo Coelho

Showmanship is new to her, she had worked on it for four weeks, but a big difference between this skill and the others she competed in is that in Showmanship – as she and I found out just that morning – she would head into the arena with just her horse in hand. I remember thinking she looked so small next to Ruby, that big horse! You see in Equitation and Trails while the horse was completely under her control she was in a division called assisted which means she has a teacher, coach, or volunteer walking along with the horse on lead, mostly for safety, but to Lina its also a comfort – if something goes wrong someone is right there. In her weekly classes back at NCTRC her horse is not on lead its just her on her horse and her teacher giving her directions and instruction – because she is working on becoming a more independent rider. But she is not alone in the arena with her horse, her teacher is there, and the arena is probably a quarter of the size of the one for the SONCE competition. So, that day, in she walks to the arena leading her horse all by herself; walking Ruby over and lining her up with the other competitors and their horses.

The key to success is to start before you’re ready. Marie Forleo

Once it was her turn, she looked so calm I was amazed. She started out with Ruby and walked through that course from one end to the other. The problem being she was supposed to stop at a series of cones and pause before moving on. She was so nervous that all of that left her thinking. BUT, she stayed with it, stopped for the judge to circle her horse for inspection and then when told she could move on she took Ruby and lined up at the proper spot. I didn’t even care that she had completely blown the course, because the big accomplishment that day was going in all alone with her horse. That was a huge step and really signaled growth for her both as a horsewoman and as a young woman. Over the last couple years I have seen the things she learns in her therapeutic riding carry over to her everyday life. Normally when she is confronted with a new situation that makes her nervous she just shuts down and says “I’m not doing it” and no amount of talking will change her mind. But here she was in a very new situation, and not really sure of herself, but she had her horse and she didn’t quit or give up, she gave it her best shot – and next time it will be that much easier!

In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can. Nikos Kazantzakis

Being brave is a lesson that I have learned over and over the past few years. Taking the steps to put my art ‘out there’ for the public, offering it for sale, creating my website, starting this blog, publishing my first picture book, the list goes on but you get the idea. Next week I have another new opportunity, I’ve been invited to visit two elementary schools in Charlotte and give author/illustrator talks to the students. I have never done this before and it is SO exciting. It blends my passion for art, writing, and teaching! Thinking back a few years I would not have felt so excited, but rather nervous, and in fact may have turned down this opportunity. The more risks I take the less difficult the next one is. Watching my daughter in that showmanship class I recognized she was being brave stepping into a new experience – and I was full of pride and joy for her, because I know how much that experience is going to help her grow. Too often we allow fear to hold us back from something we desire to accomplish. I know in the past I have. Putting my art and myself ‘out there’ has brought so many opportunities my way – whatever your passion, dream, or desire is, its time to go for it. Whats the worse that can happen – you aren’t successful? Its all in how you measure success – to me that fifth place ribbon was definitely a success. Be brave. Even if your not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.

What if I fail? Oh but my darling, what if you fly?” Erin Hanson

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