Watching the dappled grey horse canter around the course, I thought to myself,”I can’t believe they’re making me ride against my own trainer, and these other fabulous trainers and their horses.” I was interrupted by Bay, my trainer, “Tell me where you are going…” I replied confidently “Single coming towards home, up over the single oxer with the blue flowers, down over the inside line in 5, up over the outside line in 6, and down over the line against the white fenced rail in 6. Before I knew it, the trainer on the grey horse was exiting the ring and it was my time. “Good luck, and have fun!” said my trainer, who was wearing an oversized pink shirt due to recent weight loss and a white hat she had won earlier on in the week at Pin Oak Charity Horseshow, where if your anyone you were there. I entered and trotted across the diagnal and prayed I would pick up the correct lead. Got it, on to the first single. It had red and yellow flowers, which made it distracting to find the correct distance. 1,2,3,4,1,2,3, and perfect distance, I didn’t glance out of the ring to see my trainers reaction, instead I just kept going onto the oxer. It had large, blue flowers and a white and blue panel, I knew my horse would back up and look. So I kept squeezing, 1,2,3,4, Good Boy. This is when I heard, “Now in the ring, Number 67, Geneva Bay and Alexis Shankle.” I was taken off a bit, but soon got back on track as I turned the corner to the in of the 5 stride line. It was birch, we didn’t have a jump like this back at the barn, so I relied on G.B. that he would remember his earlier years with Deitra. I shouldn’t have been worrying about that, I needed the distance to make it out of the line in the correct number of strides because I knew with his short step, this inlongated line would be hard for any horse to get out of. Right leg, left rein, over the birch, landing, one two, three, press four, squeeze five, and over the beautifully placed birch oxer. I cantered up for the lead change, inside rein, outside leg. I could see my trainer smiling, along with other trainers standing at the in gate waiting for their students turn in the ring. The in to the outside line was big, and red, G.B. didn’t care, he tucked his knees and landed with grace, landing one, two, three, four, press five, squeeze six. I could feel the impulsion of his back legs pushing off of the soft sand, tucking his front legs into his chest, he had never jumped with me like this before. “Alright, stay on focus, don’t let that chesnut horse grazing in the field distract you, or the huge bay stallion being lunged, you have one more line to make it a perfect trip.” My heart pumped, it helped me carry my rhythm to the outside line near the white fence you would only see in farms in Virigina. I had never been so nervous in my life, I took a deep breath and directed G.B. to the last line. It was decorated with green and tan colored flowers and wood, this was it. I squeezed with both legs to keep him from fading right over the in. Landing, one, two, three, and this is when I quit breathing. If I just stayed still, didn’t let my body tip, and kept squeezing, everything would be okay. Four, press five, squeeze six. His front legs left the ground, my hands followed the arch of his neck, then his back legs pushed off. That was it. We had a perfect round. I trotted by the in gate smiling on the way to do my courtesy circle, and when I looked down, I could see nothing else but Bay’s eyes filled with tears. The audience clapped, other trainers clapped, as well as the paddock master. It was for sure that no other horse could possibly win the class of 32 including professionals. When I got out of the ring, I gave G.B. the biggest hug and had the largest smile that any 12 year old could maintain. “I am speechless, that was beautiful…You have never ridden like that before and you couldn’t ask for more…”Bay said as she wiped the tears away, giving me chills. The owner of the old barn Bay trained at , who she hadn’t spoken to since she left, came up to me and said, “I haven’t seen anyone in my 45 years of training ride that well, you did good beautiful…” I couldn’t help but start crying. We had done it, I beat my own trainer, other trainers, and the best of the best horses.
October 13, 2008