It was fall of 2007. I had finally gotten enough courage to canter Chewie in a few lessons, and I was absolutely 100% convinced I could do it in a show.
I warmed him up on a Friday, at the show grounds, without incident or injury. His leads were right, and although he was faster at the show than at home, I chalked it up to nerves, and realized it'd be just as quick on show-Saturday. The old instructor was even nearby, commenting that "if I'd just relax, Chewie would slow down." I was satisfied I could at least canter, no matter if it was perfect posture.
Saturday came, and he warmed up good, again. Well, that was until the warm-up arena was taken over by a working cow show. The pleasure show staff apologized, but that made no matter. All I could see were the 50+ horses, with varying rider & horse ability scrambling around the show pen during the warmup time. Every which direction, near-collisions all around. Again, I was satisfied that, if I could relax enough, we could warmup a little trot, and a tiny canter, and call it "good".
I went in the show pen. Chewie's mind wasn't on me, so I tried getting it there, plenty of walk, transitions to trot, changes of direction, anything I could think of. All while I was trying to navigate the arena. I saw a few faces I knew, and staying near them was impossible - they were riding western pleasure jogs... and Chewie sure as snot wasn't jogging.
I decided his attention was as good as it was going to get. I asked him for walk, and then asked for canter. He took off, lightening flash around the arena. I almost slammed into two horses. Just as I was thinking, "That's enough of this crap.. I'm getting out of here", I asked him to slow to trot. Another horse nearly ran right into us. Chewie decided he'd had enough.
He reared, and I came off. Splat, again, right in the show pen middle. Chewie took off into a corner, eyes wide & terrified. I had to wait on three other riders to clear the path between he and I just to get to him. I hand-walked him out of the arena, terrified.
One WP friend held a lunge line while I cantered him a little while later. I was absolutely convinced I could do it. So, with a little convincing, and a lot of begging, I got permission to scratch all but one canter class, and exhibition a walk-trot class. The walk/trot was me, and one other rider. The crew must've explained my situation to the judge, because he let us trot both ways quite a while. We were asked to walk our horses, he walked right up to me, and said, "Do you feel better?" I responded, "Yes sir, thank you." I went out of the arena, thanked the crew, and put my show jacket back on to ride my walk/trot/canter novice rider class.
I have video of the class. He did great, considering how terrified I was. I remember bouncing about on his back during canter-right, and that old trainer saying, "Just relax". o O ( Bite me, I was thinking.. I'm up here, and he hasn't killed me, so shut your pie hole) O o
We took dead-last in the class, and I was okay with that. I cantered him, left lead, right lead, one bad lead picked up, but corrected. His head was in the clouds, I was scared to death, but dangit, I did it. I was sore as death for nearly two weeks after that incident. Les the Cowboy did all kinds of massage-magic on my sore hips after that fall... To this day, he checks my one right hip muscle, and it tickles like the bandits when he does. Tickles are better than the firey pain I felt those few weeks.