Let’s rewind to the summer of 2000.
I was 16 years old and competing my first show season (think horseback riding) on a big horse. After years riding/competing with ponies, I was finally ready to progress on a horse. The horse I was working with that season went by the name of Henry. He was a very large thoroughbred/clydesdale cross who stood around 16.3 hands high. I’m telling you, he was BIG and I looked like a little peanut on top of him. I learned pretty early on that my partnership with Henry wasn’t exactly meant to be. You see, I LOVED competing – Henry unfortunately did NOT.
I’ll never forget the day that our short partnership ended. We were at a show near Ottawa and it just so happened to be pouring rain. As long as there is no thunder and lightning, horse shows go on as planned, so Henry and I headed to the ring to do our first round over fences. For some reason, Henry never willingly wanted to enter the ring to jump the round. Once we got in the ring, we always seemed to manage to get around, but that day especially, he really did not want to go in. We were soaking wet and the rain was pounding down, but I was determined to compete. My coach led us into the ring and off I went with Henry to start our course. We took the first jump with ease and then headed around the corner to an outside line of two jumps. Henry wasn’t liking the rain too much, and neither was I for that matter and he began to pull me in between those two jumps. As we landed that 3rd jump on course, he then pulled me even harder through a corner. Unfortunately, that particular corner was completely covered in slick mud. Being that he was so big, he turned out to be too much horse for me and I simply couldn’t balance him properly as he pulled me through that corner.
Henry slipped that day and we both went down – me first, and Henry right on top of me. That large, 1200lb+ horse was only on me for a second or two, but it was enough to put me in shock and keep me still. What happened next should have probably been a blur, but it all seems so clear as I think back. The paramedics were at my side immediately telling me to stay as still as possible. They carefully put me on a board and strapped me down tightly so that I couldn’t even move if I wanted to. I don’t remember the pain and I don’t even remember crying… Probably 20 minutes or so later, I was being hoisted up into an ambulance and on my way to CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario). When it was all said and done, I had some internal bruising, but overall was very lucky and managed to walk out of the hospital.
Just like that, my short show season was over.
I never rode Henry again.
Weeks went by and I spent my time riding another horse in the barn. I even took her to one show, but then she was sold. After about 6 summers of solid competing, for the first time, I found myself without a horse to ride and felt a little lost. And that was when my parents told me something that I never in a million years expected to hear. We sat down in my coach’s basement one afternoon and they announced that they wanted to buy me a horse. I couldn’t believe my ears!!!
My coach and I went on a few little road trips to see and try out some horses in attempt to find ‘the one’ for me. Next thing I know, negotiations are being made and papers are being signed.
July 27, 2000 the 4-year-old, dark bay thoroughbred mare – My Lady Chelsea – was mine.
I actually had MY OWN HORSE!!
..stay tuned for Part II on Thursday! 😉