Mean Girls at the Stable - The Making of a Mean Girl
 By Winniefield Park   •   15th Mar 2014   •   3,394 views   •   2 comments
The Making of a Mean Girl

When my daughter and I first met Jessica, she was quite a normal little horse crazy girl. Actually, horse crazy doesn't quite describe the enormity of her love for horses. So when she joined the Pony Club my daughter belonged to, and started taking riding lessons, she seemed as happy as a little girl could be. She started showing a bit, riding her coach's ponies at local shows, and competing in Pony Club events like PPGs and rally. She participated in meetings, had fun at Quiz and pulled her weight, never complaining when there were barn chores to do or cleaning up after meetings. She made a lot of friends at Pony Club. We all liked her, and everyone got along with her.

Jessica wanted a pony of her own of course, and her coach suggested to her parents that she was ready. Her coach helped her parents search high and low to find just the right one. Eventually, the right pony was found, and Jessica was so excited. The day the pony hopped off the trailer and became Jessica's was a very exciting day, and we all were thrilled for her.

Visiting and riding Cloudy was the highlight of Jessica's week, and she could hardly wait to get to the barn to spend time with him. She took good care of him and was very proud. She boarded him a few miles from her home, so her mom or dad had to drive her over, and she'd either spend the day or evening after school with the other kids at the stable, or they'd wait for her lesson to be over. Her parents seemed like nice people and seemed to enjoy watching Jessica have fun with her pony, and new friends.

However, it wasn't long before we started to feel bad for Jessica. Her mother could be quite hard on her. She became angry if Jessica's riding clothes got a bit dirty. She'd become annoyed if Jessica's tack wasn't hung up perfectly arranged. Jessica was upset one time, because she got in big trouble for not cleaning off her riding boots, and standing them up neatly when she got home. Then one time, her parents brought her grandparents to see her new pony. Jessica was riding Cloudy and wanted to show her grandparents how the pony jumped. But, on this day, as so often happens when we want to show off a bit, the pony wasn't cooperating. Jessica struggled, and the pony refused, being as bratty as a little pony can be. Jessica's mother started to get angry. Finally, she left the family group watching by the fence, walked into the ring and grabbed the pony's reins. She pulled Jessica and her pony a short way off.

“Don't embarrass me,” she hissed.

Those of us who heard the comment felt very uncomfortable. After that incident, we all started noticing other little comments and acts by her mother that left us feeling uncomfortable for Jessica. At horse shows, her mother would become one of those 'horse show moms', that everyone feels embarrassed for, yelling instructions from the sidelines, and berating her for mistakes or not pinning high. But, Jessica seemed to be coping.

Jessica was enjoying her pony, and seemed to be coping with her mother during the summer. But summer ended and it was back to school time. Everything seemed to be okay until her first school report card came. Her math grade was very low. Her older brother was a math wiz, and they expected Jessica to get the same high marks as he. For Jessica, it was a struggle. Despite trying hard, she just couldn't get better marks. Trying hard wasn't enough for her mother. She told Jessica that if her math mark didn't improve, Cloudy would be sold. Jessica worked as hard as she could. But, she just couldn't be the math wiz her brother was. The coach tried to talk her parents out of selling the pony. Within a few weeks, Cloudy was loaded onto a trailer and out of Jessica's life. She was devastated, and we were all devastated for her. It seemed so unfair, especially to my daughter and I, neither of whom are math wizzes either, and truly sympathized with her struggle.

Jessica continued to come to Pony Club for a while after her pony was sold. But, we all noticed a difference in her manner. She seemed quieter and less enthusiastic about the meetings. Soon, we heard through the coach that she was having problems at school. All of her marks fell. She was being a problem in class. She became catty, disruptive and rude. The teachers were frequently in touch with her parents because of her bad behavior. What we were hearing was so out of character with what we knew of Jessica. Worst of all, she had become a terrible bully and the leader of a small group of girls who were picking on other kids.

You can only guess at how hurt and powerless she must have felt, and why she may have taken her anger and hurt out on her schoolmates. I felt selling her pony was a very cruel thing to do. I think Jessica might have had it harder than we realized at home, and her pony was a very important part of helping her feel happy and in control of some small part of her life.

We think bullies and mean girls do what they do because they feel powerful, but in fact, the opposite is true. Mean girls might get that way because they are often in situations where they feel very powerless. A University of Michigan Health System press release states:

“Often children who are dealing with difficult situations at home, such as divorce, or in school will bully others as a way to feel more important or in control of things happening in their lives.”

So, the way Jessica responded to her parent's demands and the selling of Cloudy isn't that surprising. It all came together to turn her into a mean girl.

Related: How to Fight Back Mean Girls at the Barn
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Winniefield Park
Pink Fox Equestrian   
I would never condemn bullying, but maybe Jessica was doing it in retaliation of her parents selling her pony. Selling her pony maybe made her feel like she had nothing to really try to work towards so why try at all?
  Mar 23, 2014  •  3,705 views
Dark Side  
I agree with Browntown EQ .
  Apr 26, 2014  •  2,846 views
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