There Really Are The Only Six Words A Parent Needs to Say to Their Kids…at a Horse Show Too


The purpose of a blog is, at minimum, to share your thoughts and opinions about something that presumably, you are passionate about. Sometimes, you might also respond to the thoughts and opinions of others in your blog, which is what I’m doing here.

I can honestly say that there isn’t very much I am more passionate about than kids, horses, and what sometimes happens when kids and horses get together. It’s life changing…not to be overly dramatic. Usually, it’s life changing in a good way, but sometimes sadly, it has the opposite effect. Anyway, today, I read one of the most thought provoking blog posts I’ve ever read. Brad M. Griffin of the Fuller Youth Institute wrote a post called The Only Six Words Parents Need to Say to Their Kids About Sports-Or Any Performance.   Spoiler alert: the six words are “I love to watch you play”. Or in this case, “I love to watch you show (or ride)”.

In mulling this over, I tried to find the holes in the argument. But I couldn’t. These really are the only six words a parent needs to say to their kids at a horse show, when they are truly acting as a parent, at least.

There is no need for a parent to coach, especially if there is a trainer, coach or 4-H leader already involved. A parent might say…”But we spend so much money at this. They need to focus and work hard.” That is true. And they (probably) will if you say “I love to watch you show (or ride).” If they don’t, talk to them about it at home, away from the horse show, when emotions aren’t running high. Maybe even make it part of the expectations in practice. Help them set up (and stick to) a schedule of ride and practice times, for example, if they indicate that they want to improve. These six words came from research conducted by Bruce Brown and Rob Miller, supporting the fact that all many elite athletes ever wanted from their parents in a sporting environment was just this kind of emotional support.

A parent might also say “I need to stand up for my child when they aren’t treated fairly, the judging is poor, etc. etc.”. Well, unless you are a horse judge yourself that is not really a call you are in a position to make. If you are a judge yourself, you (should) know better. You should handle it one on one with the judge in question. If you can’t handle the matter in a professional conversation, then evidently it doesn’t really mean that much to you so have an iced tea and forget it.

So give it a whirl next time you’re being a horse show parent. What is the worst thing that could happen when you honestly express the six words to your child? I suppose they might laugh, but even if they don’t say thank you and simply return to texting their friends, I’ll bet it’s a comment they’ll remember forever.

Like the tagline of this blog says…”if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

7 Comments on “There Really Are The Only Six Words A Parent Needs to Say to Their Kids…at a Horse Show Too

    • I like the 6 words However I think you might wanna get out and talk to some parents!!!!

      • I’m curious why you think I haven’t spoken to parents? I actually do pretty regularly when judging, in my day job, etc.

  1. Great post. I can think of more than a few kids who would have greatly benefited had this approach been taken. Thanks for writing it.

  2. So true. Thanks for another great post. Reblogging with a link to it in this month’s newsletter!

  3. I am a novice parent with a novice rider who is just starting to show this year. I just LOVED this article. Thanks. I think I really needed to read it. It is tough not to “encourage” my daughter in those non-productive ways you mention. I am going to use those six words more often and as my ONLY method of encouragement at shows. She has an awesome trainer that can take care of the rest.

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