I was teaching at a Pony Club rally this morning and it occurred to me that it must be hard work being twins who ride.
Today I was teaching eleven year old twin girls. Both of whom seem fairly confident and of a similar level. However, through the lesson I realised that one wasn`t as confident as the other, and gets worried easily, although she tries to hide it. The other one has more natural talent and also a scopier pony.
Everyone knows that being a twin is hard. You are compartmentalised as a pair; as kids you are dressed in matching outfits, and presents are usually very similar. If they are like a family I know one twin has red things, the other has blue. But what if you don`t like the colour blue? Or you fancy wearing something red today?
Anyway, I digress. Twins are put together and rarely seen as individuals, which means they compete for attention, and rarely get the chance to be independent and let their personalities come through. I`m sure some of you can remember the Jacqueline Wilson book about twins (Ruby and Garnet?) in which one twin is very dominant and the other particularly submissive. The story ends with them being sent to separate schools so that they can develop as individuals.
So if as a parent you have twins who are both interested in a sport, it can be easy to provide equally. Or is it? With BMX biking you may go out and purchase two identical bikes with identical tyres and identical gears. The twins can now embark on lessons, either individually or as a group, depending on your finances. You can then enter them in competitions knowing that, as a parent, you have been unbiased.
Can you imagine trying to be fair as a horsey parent? You can kit your children out in identical protective clothing (I dread to think of the cost!) but how do you provide two identical ponies for them? Yes, I know they are individuals and will suit different ponies (in terms of personality and traits) but when they start learning you, as a parent, need to be able to source not one, but two, angelic ponies for the twins to learn to ride. This takes me back to a camp I did at the beginning of August which had two twin boys, who had just come off the leading rein. They both had two lovely ponies, but their Mum told me that they`d bought one pony for the quieter, less confident twin, who had turned out to be a minx off the lead rein, which hindered his progress. When the more confident twin started to ride a couple of months later they bought another pony, who just happens to be a gem. They soon sold the minx of a pony and got an ex-riding school mare, who has really helped the nervous twin come off the lead rein, but you can quite easily see how he may have felt unfairly treated, in that his original pony wasn`t a well mannered as his brothers. This reflects in their progress and subsequent relationship. I guess here you can only hope that one of them chooses to take up showjumping and the other opts for dressage so that they compete as individuals, as opposed to one half of a twin.
Today`s twins have another two great ponies, but the more confident twin definitely has the more talented pony, who incidently has a bit more attitude. I could see today how the different ponies lead to competition between the twins – “my pony won`t do that! … He always jumps that first time…”
I`ve come to the conclusion that if I should ever have children, and end up with twins, that providing for them in the equine world would be my worst nightmare. Not only do you have to find two similar ponies, you have to ensure that they have similar quality tack and equipment. Then to make it worse, when they outgrow their pony you don`t just have to cough up for one upgrade, but two upgrades! And that`s before you start looking at riding lessons, rallies, competitions…
I think I would split them up in terms of their riding, so that they have separate lessons and can develop at their own speed, and they put them into different groups at Pony Club, and encourage them to enter different disciplines or competitions. After all, horse riding is an individual sport. Individual in terms of the human, but very much a team with the horse. By dividing the twins up, you can only hope to draw their focus on their relationship and development with their horse, and not their sibling`s.