I am no stranger to failure. Patrick and I have lost more classes than we can count. I showed Patrick for six whole years at our state fair before we won a blue ribbon. There have been plenty of times where we, and other horses, were unfairly looked over for the sake of politics in the show ring. Of course it makes everyone angry, especially when they spend so much time preparing, driving all the way to a show, and paying extravagant entry fees. Unfortunately, there isn't much anyone can do about it. Then, of course, there are always other who will be better and more experienced. The most important thing you can do is learn from it. When Patrick and I first started showing, the only ribbons we ever got were in leadline (where they almost always give everyone a first place ribbon) and costume. Even in the costume class, which we were most famous for, we often came in last. When I was little, it didn't matter how cute you were, the BEST costume won! Losing teaches you to be humble. It also teaches you to work hard- work harder than everyone else spend more time than everyone else. Patrick wasn't born to be a world champion with flashy coloring and a fiery temperament. So we had to work to get him in shape and make him more of a competitor. This meant hours of training on end, for both of us. Losing shouldn't crush your hopes and dreams, it should fuel them. Every time you fail, you learn something and it makes you even more passionate. Failing and losing are the most important things you will ever do. Being a good loser is the most important skill you will ever have. Patrick still isn't a fiery champion. We didn't win a SINGLE blue ribbon last year (granted we only got to go to the 3 shows that are left), but he is a passionate competitor who puts his heart into what he does. It still hurts to hear your name called last, or not at all. It's even worse when a judge doesn't even look at you. But we never stop learning, and we never stop improving. That's why losing is so important.
Almost 22 years ago, a little chestnut horse was born in North Carolina. He didn't have great bloodlines, he wasn't flashy, he wasn't a "champion". So, he was sold to someone else who soon realized the same thing, and cast him aside to be a petting zoo animal. Eventually, though, he was sold to a small family, with a little girl, who wasn't quite two. He was supposed to be a pet, and a friend. And the two grew up together. The little girl rode the little horse, she tried to keep up with him as he would trot ahead of her, and pushed and shoved her so he could eat his grass. After four years, the girl's parents asked her if she wanted to take the little horse to a show- somewhere that they could have fun together, and meet other little girls and little horses. Of course, she agreed, and had great fun. They won their first class together- the costume class. With the little girl as Mrs. Clause, and the little horse as Rudolph, the pair won over the judges, and received a blue ribbon!
The two continued to show for many years, and the little girl grew into a young woman- but the little horse did not grow. No, he was still as little as ever. After the shows they used to attend were not longer popular enough to run, the two had to move onto other things. First, they started to visit patients in hospitals! The little horse was so kind and friendly, that he was able to go anywhere and visit anyone! He would go and lay his head on the beds of the sick, and comfort them in their times of trouble, as the girl watched with pride. The little horse was so little, in fact, that his hooves fit into tiny shoes, made for teddy bears, and he was able to ride in elevators! The little horse loved to make the people he visited, but not nearly as much as the girl.
The little horse was also very good at jumping. He would jump over anything he could- trees, poles, flowers. He could leap over two times his own height! The girl and the little horse would practice for hours and hours together on jumping and other tricks. Sometimes the little horse could still outrun the girl, even though his legs were much shorter than hers!The little horse was so good at jumping, that he was invited to jump where no other little horse had gone before! Suddenly, the little horse was among the world's best champions- even Olympians! The little horse and girl performed in front of hundreds of people, and were invited to many events all summer long. The little horse also made friends from all over the world- most of whom had never even met him. Thousands and thousands of friends who loved the little horse dearly, but still not as much as the girl.
The little horse and the girl were still friends- best friends. The girl would sit with the little horse for hours, braid his long hair, give him carrots when he wanted and, of course, practiced lots, just like when she was little, too. The little horse knew all of her secrets and troubles, but never told a soul. The girl would talk about the little horse wherever she went, and tell everyone how wonderful he was. About how, after 18 years, their friendship was stronger than any between two people. About how he changed her life, and the lives of others. About how, despite being so little, he still managed to jump higher than big horses, and give more love than many people. About how Patrick is the little horse that could.
Whether you are having fun in the back yard, training for the World Show, or using them in the show ring, safe, professional quality jump standards are key. Although they can be built elaborately, as seen in many “big” horse competitions, simple jumps serve the same purpose. Standards made from PVC are cost effective, easy to transport, safe and easy to build.
To begin building your jump standards, you will need the following materials and tools:
2- 1 ½ inch 10 foot PVC ($5.89 each)
2- 1 ½ inch 5 foot PVC ($3.42 each)
12 (or more)- 2 inch J-hook Pipe Hangers ($.60 each)
6-1 ½ inch PVC caps ($.97 each)
2- 1 ½ inch Tee-Joints ($1.72 each)
4- 90 degree Elbow Joints ($1.72 each)
3/32 Drill Bit
To begin, first take your two 10- foot pieces of PVC and lay them parallel on your saw horses. These two pieces will make up the entirety of your jump, so be careful when you are cutting- you will need every inch! On each pole measure 4 feet and mark your measurements, then begin to cut with your hacksaw . Set your two four foot poles aside.
Using the remaining 6 feet of PVC, measure another Four feet, two inches, mark and cut. When finished, you should have two- 4’2” poles, two 4’ poles and two 1’10” poles. Cut the 1’10” poles in half.