Structure Sunday: The Structure of a Hobby

Who could have imagined that the love of horses could lead to so many good things. 

When I was a child, I was enamored of horses. I always asked my parents to let me have a pony ride at the fair. When my family moved into the beautiful Palos Verdes Peninsula in Southern California, horses became a major part of my world. You see, all the homes were situated around a network of riding trails and riding rings that were maintained by the city. Every house had a stable, and every family a rider or two. I got some riding lessons locally and really liked it. My parents and I decided this would be my sport and that we would pursue it as a family. 

I was accepted by an established trainer and he obtained a proper quarter horse. We trained until we were ready to show. It required about an hour and half drive out of town each way, and we did it at least four days per week. I did my homework in the car. When I arrived, I would train for several hours each time. It was dusty, intense and stressful, but I liked it nonetheless. Eventually I showed with my stable, all up and down the Pacific Coast in what was then called the Pacific Coast Hunter Jumper Stock Horse Association circuit.  It required a lot of time away from school which was hard. 

Riding has a way of building you up, no matter how hard it is. You learn tolerance: tolerance for your trainer, tolerance for your parents, and tolerance for your horse. You learn tolerance for the invariably bad weather, like intractable rain making muddy arenas, or broiling dusty heat in the Indio sun. You learn to control your fear and steel yourself as you wait to enter the competitors ring. Nowadays we call this distress tolerance. 

You learn to win, and you learn to lose. You are being trained, but at the same time you are training yourself. You have a chance to meet a great goal by meeting lesser ones along the way and you learn right away the winning takes a long long time and more work than you imagined.

I truly believe everybody should have a chance to pursue something seriously. I think all children especially should be raised knowing that they will be taught many things, and that when they find one that is special to them that they will be encouraged and even expected to learn it well. When young children attend classes for hobbies like ballet, music, riding or marital arts, or when they play sports like soccer or football, they learn that success requires practice over time. 

These traits of distress tolerance, perseverance, courage, and ability to work on a goal are key for success in life. I believe hobbies right from childhood foster these priceless traits. 

When I attended the horse show at Rebecca Farm today, I thought a lot about my horse show days. I was full of pride for all the riders and all they had accomplished. I hope you will go out and attend such sporting and arts events in your community. More than that, I hope parents will introduce their children to something inspiring they can pursue. 

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