By Judy Berman
Dark. It is pitch black. What induces me to throw the covers off my bed long before the sun rises?
The smell of a cinnamon bagel? No. Our granddaughter, Kaitlyn, will take part in a horse riding competition in Sumterville, Florida, and we are eager to see her perform on Kidd, a brown Arabian.
Breakfast is on the go. Our eldest daughter, Danielle, hands me the bagel as we dash out to the van. It’s 5:30 a.m. and we have a 1½ hour ride to meet other like-minded people.
The darkness gives way to a misty haze as we follow a car off the exit for about 10 miles. A picture of a horse on the other car’s license plate convinces us that we’re heading to the same location.
The sun slowly emerges on the horizon, revealing lush, green rolling hills as we cruise through the countryside.
At last, we pull in and greet Kaitlyn’s horse trainer, Michele. Three horses – Kidd, Hannah and Delilah – stare back at us from their stalls.
Kaitlyn brushes down Kidd and readies for a practice run before the competition.
The van door’s wide open. Inviting. I climb in. As I drift back to sleep in the air’s slight chill, I recall growing up in farm country and longing to ride a neighbor’s horse.
Then, a soft whinny disturbs my reverie. I join our family to watch the horse riders compete.
Kaitlyn rides English style, posting (rising out of the saddle on one beat, and sitting on the next) as Kidd trots around the ring. “Posting is done to avoid being jostled around in the saddle during a particularly bumpy gait – the trot.”*
Her waist-length hair is pulled back into a tidy bun and tucked under her helmet.
She’s every inch the horsewoman, dressed in a dark blue suit jacket, tan breeches and long leather boots.
Before the day is done, Kaitlyn has won four ribbons – the last one a blue ribbon for first place in a class showing walk-trot-canter.
With a modest blush, she accepts the awards and then rides back to the stable.
What’s more amazing is the horse she rode in on. Kidd is 28 years old and out performs many of the younger horses – even on 1½-foot jumps.
Kaitlyn and Kidd. They make a great team.
The weekend was packed. The day before we watched our grandson, Connor, play baseball.
This game is a family affair. Dad (Keith) coaches. Mom (Danielle) is both photographer and score keeper. Kaitlyn also takes photos and videos of the game.
Dave and I missed Connor’s first game when he scored the winning run. His team won 11 to 3. The second game, however, is a nail-biter.
The grounds, neatly trimmed grass and red clay, is lovely to look at. But I can’t help but wonder if the Moms are gnashing their teeth after the game as they try to get their sons’ uniforms clean again.
Connor plays center field and is the lead-off batter. His focus is intense and might rattle less skilled pitchers.
But the pitcher in their second game has all of Connor’s teammates unsure of what will come their way. He has an unusual windup and delivery. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. And, any pitch in between.
With a player already on base, Connor’s hit helps score the winning run. They won 3 to 2.
I love both sports our grands take part in, but my favorite part comes after the awards are given out.
That would include a stop at the 407 Café for a Panini and a gelato. Victory – or even a loss – is made much sweeter by these get-togethers.
Photo: Kaitlyn riding Kidd at the horse show in Sumterville, Florida.
Photo: Kaitlyn, Kidd and their ribbons.
Photo: Connor playing baseball in St. Cloud, Florida.
Photo: Connor also is the pitcher in many of his baseball games.
What activities would you get up early and out the door for?