Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
I pretty sure that I cried at every show I went to from the ages of probably 10 - 14. It was sometimes just crying in the bathroom but it was the stress, and the expectations, the fear of not being good enough, of people watching, of not doing my best.
Your cousin is a child. Of course she's not the best at handling horses! She's a kid, she's never done all this stuff before. She is still learning how to not just handle horses, but how to write properly, do math, be responsible, make decisions.
If you want to be the adult it doesn't just mean standing there telling her what to do - it means teaching her. At her age she is not the responsible party, you are, or her parents are or whoever has gone there with her. People aren't born understanding horses or horse behaviour, they are taught it. When you saw she didn't know how to free lunge you should go in there, explain to her how body language works and show her what she can do to be in charge. When your horse acted excited make it sound fun, tell her it's just like he's been kept in school all day and it's finally recess and he just wants to run around or something. Horses are big and scary, and I've seen grown adults run away from a horse just because it slowly meandered up to them. Horses only become not scary when we understand them, and understand how to handle them.
From what I read in your post, it doesn't really sound like you're "mad" or "angry", more frustrated. You thought you were doing your cousin a favour and instead she's just been crying all week. It's hard sometimes to put yourself in someone else's shoes, but instead of being angry, be kind. Talk to her, watch her, tell her when she does well, and teach her things along the way. No one comes all prepared for a new experience, they learn along the way, there will be stress, and tears and everything, but take it as a challenge, an opportunity to teach your cousin, to help her succeed. Look at yourself not as an "adult" or a "cousin" but a mentor. You have the opportunity to help shape the life and future of your cousin, teach her the right way to do things, help her grow confident and brave.
Maybe set up a weekly time where you can start teaching more about horsemanship so for the next show she'll be really ready!