Equestrian Life

Lessons to be Learned

The hard truth is sometimes we don’t get what we want, or what we think we deserve. This weekend my daughter had a horse show at the Horse Park of New Jersey, competing against a number of therapeutic riding facilities.

In truth, Cameron is a horse show mentor for me in many ways. She puts a lot of focus and hard work into bettering her riding, and her confidence is astounding. More, she has very little show nerves.


So when we woke up the morning of Cameron’s 9th birthday and she readied for her competition, I thought- wow, she’s amazing. This thought continued on through the day as we made our way to the horse park, signed in with her trainer, and said hello to the horses. We brought friends with us to watch, because after all it was Cameron’s birthday and they wanted to cheer her on.


Young barn rats avoiding the manure!

She did amazing. Cameron advanced a level from the previous horse show and was the youngest competitor among 5 riders. Her posting trot, something that was difficult only 6 months before, was en pointe. She nailed the diagonal each direction. More, she made circles off lead and trotted off lead in a ring where only a few months before I photographed CCI 2* and 3* riders at Jersey Fresh International.

This was by far the biggest crowd she had competed in front of, and she was cool under pressure. Bravo!


Here’s the rub. Cameron is now used to winning blue ribbons at her small barn shows. She is extremely confident and this shows in her riding. Still, I’ve tried to instill in her that we can’t always win first place. Life doesn’t work like that. It’s a delicate balance because I want her to be confident as a young woman, regardless of her Cerebral Palsy.  But I don’t want her to be a bad sport or *gasp* obnoxious.

I’ve tried to instill in her that we can’t always win first place. Life doesn’t work like that. Share on X

Out of 5 riders, she placed 4th. Her trainer, leader, and all her friends and family were extremely proud. She did an amazing job! But her disappointment was written all over her face. She felt she deserved the 1st place ribbon, and was not thrilled with placing 4th. Cameron didn’t cry or throw a tantrum, but she did shut down.


In truth, I was disappointed in her. I had to step back and realize, she’s only 9. This is all part of learning that life doesn’t always work out the way you hope or think it will. This is preparation for the disappointments she will undoubtedly experience throughout her life. Yes, as her mother I want to shelter her. But I have to accept and acknowledge her feelings and help her move past this.

Confession time: this year I have been up for a few awards for my blog, my writing, and my first book (<- affiliate link) is a literary selection for the 2017 Equus Film Festival. I am extremely proud of all that I’ve accomplished this last year. Still there is always a sliver of hope that my hard work with be recognized by others even if I genuinely don’t have expectations of winning.

I didn’t win some of these awards and others are still being considered. Hopes and expectations are two very different things. After the initial disappointment it makes me try harder for next time. I have to ask myself, “what can I do better?” 

After the initial disappointment, it makes me try harder for next time. Share on X

The bottom line is there will always be disappointments. Seeing my daughter experience this makes me sad. However, I do believe you have to learn how to lose gracefully and how to have good sportsmanship. In the end, I’m proud she bounced back quickly and this didn’t color her entire day. But it’s a good reminder that there is always a lesson to be learned in everything you do.

What lesson have you learned recently?



  • nichole

    It sounds like she is surrounded by a wonderful support system, which is what really matters. We can all be disappointed in ourselves, and she will learn as she gets more experience and age. I get it – I was very disappointed at our first nosework trial earlier this year and I’m far older than she. 🙂

  • Lola The Rescued Cat

    I think you’re doing an amazing job instilling goid values in your children as they grow up. That is not always seen these days. I’m trying to rearrange my work schedule so I can make your book signing. Bloggers made to stick together!

  • Lori Hilliard

    You’re doing a great job of raising Cameron with the right values, bravo! You asked what lessons we’ve learned lately – I recently learned a valuable lesson while going through a difficult time with some medical issues. I was reminded that there is a difference between “real friends” and “casual friends.” You may go out with casual friends to a movie or to have a dinner after work, but the real friends are the ones you can call at 2:00 because you’re scared. They may not see you as often as co-workers do, but they will be there with a shoulder to cry on, chocolate to nosh on and wine to sip on when life seems overwhelming. If you have just a few real friends, you are far wealthier than if you have dozens of casual friends.

    • Heather Wallace

      Thanks Lori, I appreciate the comments and your candor. You are so correct. I think social media and the worry about how many “friends” you have put the wrong emphasis on things. What matters most is true friends. I’ve recently realized that I want to be a better friend to those I love most in the world. Good luck with your health.

    • Heather Wallace

      Thanks Mr. N and April! She has amazing confidence and has won quite a few blue ribbons. So I’m glad she realizes she doesn’t always have to come in first to have fun and be proud of herself. Raising children is a work in progress.

  • Happy-Go-Doodle

    This is such an important life lesson. Learning to be resilient and to bounce back from disappointment is key. Congratulations to your daughter for persevering. Congratulations to you on all your recent successes. What accomplishments!

  • Kia

    Go Cameron! I know you are so proud of her. As long as she did her absolute best…that’s all that matters! It can be hard for a young person to understand that they can’t always be the winner…heck it’s even hard for some older people. You’re doing a good job with her and helping her to understand important lessons in life. Congrats on all of your achievements too btw!

    • Heather Wallace

      Thanks Kia! She did great and I hope she knows it. Regardless of where she placed she is doing what she loves. I am quite anxious competing at horse shows, and the way she tackles each hurdle makes me incredibly proud.

  • Kamira Gayle

    Great life lessons post! You are spot on. As a dear friend used to tell me, “You try your best. Try everything. Some things may work and some may not. Forget what doesn’t work and focus on what’s working. ” As Gary Vaynerchuk says, ” Go all in on your strengths. Hard work pays off. PATIENCE” The most successful people became successful not because they never encountered failures or disappointments, it’s because they refused to let those disappointments be the end all be all. They kept going! You are making great strides. I have no doubt you (and your daughter) will accomplish your dreams.

  • Stephanie Seger

    I commend you for allowing your daughter to go through this as it will make her stronger and wiser in the long run. As a very competitive person, I find defeat really hard, but in elf the necessary facts of life that isn’t always a bad thing. Watching my kids go through it is a whole other thing. It’s so hard to see them in pain and I am constantly resisting the urge to fix it and make it better. My post yesterday was about how to push past defeat to see the bigger picture and the opportunity that exists in spite of it. Funny how you and I are going through similar struggles, but coming to the same conclusion. ????

    • Heather Wallace

      We are totally on the same page- funny how these things happen. I think you for your kind words. I try to lead by example as a mother but we can only try our best. Just like with anything, right? I am extremely hard on myself, and I don’t want to see that for Cameron.

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