imageLast week a friend sent us a link to a Trail Challenge that was being run only an hour away from us. They offered lots of classes, including a youth class. I asked Barret if she would like to take Velvet and I bet you can guess the answer. That’s right, I got an enthusiastic “YES PLEASE!” As I went through the entry form, I could find classes for over 8 years old, in hand classes for ponies under 38″, in hand costume classes and lead-line classes, but nothing that Barret could ride Velvet in.

Thinking I was missing something and had blond moment, I contacted the organizers. They responded very promptly and in a very business like manner, however, I was truly surprised and disappointed by what they had to say. “Although she is able to ride “independently” at 4 at home, insurance ( and likely some of the neigh-Sayers) won’t be able to make her be “independent” at this event.” Hmmmmmmm, I was a good mum and didn’t come back with a knee jerk reaction, I told them that we were disappointed but perhaps in another 4 years they may feel that her skill level was suitable for their event.

This whole thing really got me thinking  in 3 years of showing Barret has never been penalized because of her age or because of the size of Velvet. Every event and class that they have shown in they have been encouraged, supported and sometimes even adapted to by organizers, competitors and bystanders. We have had lighter logs brought in for drags, gate hooks lowered, fellow competitors giving them extra room for lineups when their steering wasn’t too good. People of all ages stepped in to help dust her bum off and help her back on after falls, on-lookers encouragement screamed from the arena fences by both strangers and friends. We have had people wait patiently behind her while she fills in her entry form, concession workers help her make purchases on her own and even had people donate their volunteer hours so that I didn’t have to leave her unattended at shows.

At every event we have ever been to, every effort has been made to make sure Barret and Velvet succeeded in competing, not winning, but competing. So many people have put themselves out so that a little person could have a go and feel confident in a big persons world.

So rather than spend any more time being disappointed at being unable to attend one competition, we will keep going where Barret is supported, encouraged and where she can show other little kids that they can do it too!


  1. I have a daughter with a physical disability. We battle certain show committees and mostly judges. We show where we feel she is welcomed and disregard those who choose to miss the genuine spirit of our sport. However, she loves horses and is a testament that do what your heart desires. Many people are in awe of her as she shows our horses (and yes, from her wheelchair). Because of her will, she also rides. The support from onlookers has been overwhelming and proof that anyone can do what they dream.

  2. My daughter with our 1 yr. old filly.

  3. Filly was only 14 weeks in this photo. She understood and trusted my daughter and the wheelchair.

  4. I am posting photos to show it isn’t only age that can be a hurdle, but for handicap people and showing as well. Anything is possible…especially if the desire to do is there.

  5. Maybe you guys have to organise your own events with the classes you want in them 🙂

  6. I think it depends on the event trail class , any child over 4 should be allowed solo.. and lead line for any child able to sit on a horse unassisted.. for anything like dressage or eventing.. i think min age should be 8-9 for flat , and for anything over fences no one under 10.. since flat work foundation takes a few years to practice, too many american instructors are pushing young kids to show over fencing after they only sat on a horse for 6mons to a year and that is NOT long enough to be balanced .. seen one to many accidents every year of young kids getting popped out of the saddle and falling.. Parents are equal to blame wanting to rush..

  7. It is a matter of maturity not age …… it sounds like this young person can handle it… shame on organizers

  8. should be judged on experience not age…..if horse and rider qualify,then they should compete!

  9. Safety should be that main concern. An overhorsed 8 year old is going to be much more of a liability than an appropriately mounted 4 year old.

    I was 1 year and 6 weeks old in my first lead-line class and was showing walk and trot shortly after my third birthday. Age doesn’t necessarily mean maturity, skill, or experience.

  10. Probably just an insurance issue. When we apply for insurance we lay out the ages, offerings, etc. Based on that we get a quote. We negotiate age and offerings to get a quote that fits our business model.
    Possibly the event organizers had negotiated a policy for the event that they thought would cover the majority of classes/riders and still pay for itself, and that rider was not within those requirements. It’s not really a bash against the rider or horse. Maybe they could’ve offered a greater selection of classes/ages, but would have had to increase the entry fee to cover their costs. And then there’d be a different article complaining about the high costs of the event.

    • also, if it was a new event, then it’s likely the event organizers were trying to do the cheapest insurance while still pleasing the most attendees. And if the event was a newer one, then the insurance is more expensive than those events that have been going for several years.

  11. I think it depends on what insurance company you have for the event. Insurance dictates our lives.

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