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Thursday, May 1, 2014

My movie moment

Fun story I wanted to share with a friend.  1985 - wow, I'm old! :)
This is a true story that should really be a sappy TV movie, so sit back with some popcorn and enjoy.

It was the summer of 1985 at the Pike County Fair and I was riding Sugarfoot English-style in the 4-H horse show. Flashback to my mom who had always loved horses and bought Sugar one day on a whim. Half Quarter Horse, half Tennessee Walker, she had always been shown Western, as almost every horse is in this area. So one day as we were supposed to be trotting, someone pointed out that Sugar was racking instead and should be shown English instead of Western.
Flash forward a little to me joyriding without the saddle attached as I often did to practice balance. We ran through fields, around trees, over ditches, then walked back to the barn where I noticed Sugar’s feet hitting together. I leaned down to look, forgetting the unattachted saddle, and slipped off her back, saddle and all, breaking my wrist.
Move forward a few weeks as my arm was healing, but still in a cast, and we were preparing for the fair. Since English riding outfits weren’t available, my mom made mine, carefully designing the left arm wide enough to hide the cast. It was a black jacket with a white shirt underneath and if I was careful, the white cast would be our secret.
Back to the present time now and it was show time. Out of view, Mom helped me into the saddle from the back of her truck since I couldn’t pull myself up, and we were off. I was in an English class with only two other riders. Sugar and I did well, the coat covered the cast, my mom watched nervously, and I placed first! This qualified me for the championship class for the winners of each class. Unfortunately that meant competing against Western riders which judges obviously favored. But we’d worked hard and I was determined to do my best anyway. I entered the ring trying hard to remember all the anatomy, health, care, and technique facts that judges might be asking for, since they would be tough in a championship class.
Flashback again to mom and I studying hard to prepare for the questions judges ask before they make their decisions. Since I was already at a disadvantage riding a different style, not to mention the broken arm, I had to be able to answer questions.
Back to the fair again and the championship class began. We did so well! Sugar was perfect, my posture was great, and my mom was beaming from the sidelines. We lined up and prepared for the judge’s inspection and questions. Others had their turn and I hoped they weren’t as prepared as me. My turn came and I nailed the first question! Then came the unexpected. She asked me to dismount and my heart sank. Of all the facts, the knowledge, the studying, she was going to test my dismounting/mounting technique. Did she know about my arm? Was she picking on the English rider? Why did she choose me? I glanced at my mom and saw fear. She knew it too, I couldn’t do it. My hopes of winning dashed, I dropped the reins and clumsily dismounted as my left arm couldn’t support the weight necessary to do it properly. As my arms extended fully, the cast was revealed. I don’t know if the crowd gasped or not, but they would in the movie. My mom cried. The judge hesitated then said mount please. Getting off was much easier, Sugar was a very tall horse. I was supposed to reach up with my left hand, put my left foot in the stirrup, and gracefully step up and swing my right leg over. All I could manage was to put my left foot up, take three awkward hops, and jump with all my might, landing on my belly. I swung around into the saddle, took up the reins, and wished it was over.
The judge moved on and I wondered if it would be rude if I just left then. When places are announced, they start with sixth place and go up. So as they called the first name, it was official, I wouldn’t even get a ribbon. What did I expect? No English riders ever place anyway, but at least I did my best. I waited through the usual winners then what? My name? Third place? In a championship class and with that pathetic mount? I had placed! I couldn’t believe it. In the movie there would be a large cheer, I think there really was one from the crowd, I know there was one from my mom. I went forward to accept that third place white ribbon with a huge smile.
I didn’t win that class, and it didn’t qualify me for state, but that ribbon meant more than any first place blue ribbon ever would. We walked over to Mom, who stood there blubbering away, as any mom should at the end of a good made for TV movie.

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