Unfortunately, it wasn’t smooth sailing to the point I am at now in my riding career. In fact, it was quite difficult. After Shaq and I had our first in-farm show together, we did a few more before deciding to try a show away from home. I remember like it was yesterday… I had just come home from vacation in June 2010 when I was told there was a schooling show at Oakview Stables. Shaq and I took a try at the 2′-2’3″ jumpers and did pretty well despite being beyond nervous. We took home a second and a third (out of 4 mind you).

We then moved on to the first MegFord show they ever offered in March 2011. Tiny North Arena and a big horse with a very nervous rider don’t mix FYI. That being said, it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good. I’m pretty sure I cried before going in the arena. Pretty sure. I was 14 at the time too.

Then came A show time. Our first rated show together was Springtime in Dixie in April of 2012. I’ve never seen a horse so excited in his life before to be at a show. He loved it, but I was on the struggle bus once again. I wasn’t as nervous as usual because of the previous shows, but they were still there. We showed in the .95 meter jumpers and the Low ch/ad jumpers. All I remember was going clear in my first .95m round and dropping one of my reins and almost going off course in one of the later classes later in the week… not proud of that but stuff happens. It’s part of it.

After a leg injury, Shaq had a little over a month off. Getting him back to his fit self was pretty difficult, but we made it work. We, all of a sudden, started getting more consistent in our rides and results. Granted none were first places, which at that point I was used to it.

My first blue ribbon was in 2013… and it was one of two blue ribbons of 2013. We went to St.Louis and Kentucky and did pretty well for big out of town shows. We did however have a really good High ch/ad class in Kentucky and made Poppy cry in a good way :). I went to my first Germantown Charity Horse Show that year and won my first class in the Lows. The rest of the week didn’t go so great but for winning that on the first day I was pretty happy.

Near the end of the year, we made our way to Georgia, which is where some big-ish fears arose. I was showing in a High ch/ad class. We were going around our course and naturally knocked down some lumber. We cantered our way up to a 2 stride and didn’t get two strides. It was more like 1 1/4 strides. Needless to say, Shaq crashed through the second jump of the combination. I ended up under him, and the poor horse desperately tried not to step on me. He did though. Apparently my helmet wasn’t tight enough and I hit my forehead on the ground, got kicked in the back of my head (thanks Charles Owen), stepped on my leg, and got kicked on the back. Of course all of this happened in like 5 seconds. I didn’t black out, but I just laid there. My dad ran out to he arena since I wasn’t getting up, and Poppy was close behind. Shaq, of course, finds the one opening out of the arena and takes it back to the barn by himself (he’s so smart) and parked himself there and waited to be caught by his stall. I didn’t cry until I heard someone scream “Where’s Shaq?” I thought my horse was gone forever in the rolling hills of Georgia. Luckily, he wasn’t and we showed the rest of the weekend despite the medic’s advice to go to the hospital.

It’s times like those that really remind me that I could’ve easily died. Just a few inches off, and I could’ve had a broken neck or back and be done for. But it didn’t happen like that. It’s cool to think you can have such a good bond with a horse to know that they’ll do absolutely anything for you… and Shaq sure did anything for me, even if he knew it wouldn’t be safe. I know it’d be better if I said he refused to save us both, but he trusted me.

The next day I got on and was terrified when I approached the two stride on the course that I got 3 strides in it. Quite the opposite end of the spectrum. But he trusted me even though I was so scared. It was the only jump we had down in that course too, the second jump in the combination. It was like he wanted to show me that it was okay, he’d take care of me (I’m getting emotional talking about him).

Two weeks later we made our way to Brownland. The week before I was riding Chip in the field when he decided to spook at nonexistent deer and make me flip off and bruise my tailbone. (He’s still one of my faves and also when I met started talking to my boyfriend…thanks Chip). It was even harder to ride the next week, but we survived. I almost crashed us into a jump again, but like always, Shaq took care of me. We ended the year at Harvest Time in the Children’s hunters (I know…) and didn’t do well but he was so cute braided.

Now in 2014…

I’ll admit that it was very frustrating to be putting in so much work on a horse and not getting the results you want consistently. Many shows and poles on the ground later, we finally got into a groove. However, it didn’t last. We started in St.Louis for January and February and then moved to Gulfport in March. In April of 2014, we had a pretty good show. I started getting fewer rails, between 0-2 rails per class. Coming off of 3-4 rails per class, I was pretty darn excited (it’s the little things that made me happy).

Then came Memphis in May, which is where the picture was taken. We had won a few and came in 2nd and 3rd in a few class and ended up getting champion in the Low ch/ad jumpers. We ended up reserve champion in the High ch/ad jumpers. I was sooooooooooo happy you would not believe.

Come the Charity again we didn’t do as well, but it wasn’t terrible. We destroyed a FedEx jump (how appropriate). We didn’t go anywhere that summer but did finish strong. We we went to Brownland again in October and did the best we’ve ever done together. We went double clear in both of our classes on Friday, one rail in each on Saturday and one rail in the highs and in the Classic. That’s the best we’ve ever done in any classic. We ended up in last since we were the only ones with faults but I didn’t care. I was so so happy. (Special thanks to Mary for riding him earlier in the week :)).

We had Harvest Time about 2 weeks later and did really well in that too. I think we ended up double reserve champion and 2nd in the classic we did and actually made it to the jump off. Out of the many things I had learned, it was don’t expect too much. I honestly never expected to be in a jump off. It was just a treat when we did, and we would have fun doing it. It makes you humble in a way. I’ve never been one to celebrate excessively, but I sure did have a big smile on my face when we placed and did well in a class.

That was kind of where our run ended in a way. I was always happy we did well, but I honestly didn’t expect it. I know that’s not a good thing to say, but it’s the truth. Considering our track record, I wasn’t expecting first places left and right and neither did my parents. We’re the same in our views on that. Be happy when you win but don’t be too disappointed if you don’t. And I was okay with that. I was used to it after years of soccer and being disappointed and being happy and being yelled at for mistakes. It was okay. It really was. Had I always won when all of this happened I wouldn’t be the way I am today. I’d be much worse.

Since this one is much longer, I’ll save the rest for later. Trust me there’s more. At this point, it’s where everything kinda changes. I’ll get to life lessons eventually. Promise.