Thank goodness this is the last "bad big one".
With my confidence back up, and having met Sam, Chewie had been under her training & care for a month. I climbed on the day he was to come home, walk, trot, canter. I felt free as a little birdy atop a train locomotive. He was a controllable force, and though a little hesitant, I felt like the "air brakes" were just what my confidence needed.
Sam and I chose a show I'd been to before, but this time, I was going in all the hunter eq flat classes. There were three total. Flat equitation, equitation on the rail, and equitation pattern showmanship. I figured we'd do ok in eq, pattern would blow on a flying lead change we didn't know, and rail would require turns on fore & haunches I didn't know how to ask for. It was worth it anyways.
The warmup arena was a mud hole. Plain as that.. Again, hindsight, 20/20, I shouldn't have been doing what we were doing. But Sam and I decided, if I stayed on the rail, I could do it. Walk, trot, canter, and a few extra transitions for good measure. All movements to the left were stellar. We reversed, to the right, and I can still hear her shouting towards me, "Heels down, Jennifer! You're leaning forward again! Heels down!!!"
One of the crew members had opened the gate at the end of the longside of the arena. Chewie didn't see it, and neither did I. Until it was too late. I was leaning forward, toes pointed down, no sense of inner balance. I leaned into the turn away from the gate more than Chewie did, as I slid right off his right shoulder. Splat!
We hobbled off to the trailer, Sam and I fuming hot mad that the idjit couldn't have told us he needed in the warmup pen. See, he wanted to take the tractor in there to drag it, again, to try & even out the muddy center. I do wish he would have just said something first. If Chewie had the rail, if the gate were closed, maybe I could've corrected my balance in enough time to avoid the fall. But anyways, my right shoulder was on fire. We scratched all the canter classes, and signed me up for walk/trot. It was a decent showing. I don't even remember how I placed, but I was satisfied to be back on my horse, competing.
Found out nearly three weeks later, I broke my shoulder in that fall. Funny, the next week, Sam and I took Chewie to a higher-class hunter show. We entered in one class, walk/trot/canter eq on the flat. Me & my broke shoulder took third of eleven. I remember that day. I couldn't lift my right arm above about 50degrees. But I was more confident that show day. Even in the warmup the day before I felt better about my rides. We weren't a team yet, but Chewie was letting me screw-up a little more, and it felt like he was compensating for my bad balance.
So those are my "Big Three" Splats of my short riding life. Those little loping sessions, whether in the round pen, or out in the pasture, they're huge. Cantering Romeo with all the cowboys watching, that's gigantic. Even bigger will be cantering Chewie for that audience.
My dream? To take Chewie into a Training Level test, warm up clean, and score high 50s. That's a 2009 goal. I don't know how we'll get there, but I'm sure as horse-snot going to try my butt off...
What's your obstacle? Got a "Worst Ride Ever" story?