Editor's note: The following monthly perspective was written by National Horseman's publisher, Allison Lambert, appearing in the April 2017 issue.
Coming Full Circle
By Allison Lambert
I like to think of myself as a fairly “together” type of a girl. Sure, I cry during movies, but when it comes to preschool graduations and first days of school, I usually save the waterworks for my husband, Scott. Although he’d be hard-pressed to admit it, he usually tears up enough for the both of us. Not a single Academy class went by last year where Scott wasn’t overcome with emotion while watching Ava ride. A man who didn’t shed a single tear at our own wedding now gets misty-eyed every time our daughter rides a horse. “Maybe I’m desensitized because I’m around it so much,” I used to tell myself regarding my lack of emotion during Academy classes. That was until last Saturday morning at the Carousel Charity Horse Show, when all of that changed for good.
As Ava prepared for her “full suit” debut on The Princess Dianna, emotions were already running high. The stress, pressure and excitement, were enough to send me whirling to the edge of normalcy, right into “crazy dance mom.” As I put the last bobby pin in for (might I add) the most amazing bun I have ever created, cool, calm and collected Allison exited stage left the minute I saw Ava in her derby for the first time. It wasn’t until placing the derby on her head and taking a step back that it hit me: she is no longer my little helmet-wearing Academy rider. Suddenly it was like I was looking into a mirror at myself 30 years ago, watching my own mom fuss at me before my show ring debut.
Overwhelmed by the realization that I was coming full circle, and the similarities between that moment (which effectively changed the rest of my life), and this one (nearly three decades later), was enough to send me into a full-fledged sobfest. From getting her dressed and show ring ready to watching her give a pep talk to her horse before their class, all these little moments transported me back in time, and I felt like I was watching myself through my mother’s eyes the day it all started for me.
As Ava confidently followed her horse to the warm-up, nervousness, excitement and pride overcame me. Wanting nothing more than for her to have a fun, safe experience in her post-Academy debut, I took a deep breath and tried to hide the fact that I was freaking out inside. However, the minute Ava mounted her horse in the warm-up, and I saw the whole package in its entirety, I was no longer capable of watching without crying or hurling.
While I peered behind the wall trying not to watch, I immediately thought of my dear friend Julie Bosworth, and how, after nearly 10 years of watching her pace outside the arena every time her daughter, McGee, was in the ring, I finally understood her completely.
Watching my daughter begin her love affair with this industry, the same way I began mine so many years ago, was a day that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Continuing our passion into the third generation and coming full circle makes me feel as though I’ve done my small part to ensure the future of our sport. It got me thinking about the day 30 years from now when Ava will hopefully be doing the same for her own daughter, and it won’t be until then that she’ll truly understand the pride I felt at that moment.
As I stood there overcome with emotion (as if the universe was trying to push me over the edge), my childhood trainer, Tom Volz, just happened to walk by. The man who coincidentally was there the day I took my first lesson, and the one who put me in the ring for my debut 30 years ago, took one look at me and started shaking his head and laughing.
“Full circle,” he said with a smile and walked away.