It has been a year in the making, but we finally did it. Lou (Lasting Freedom) and I were back in the show ring.
Last Tuesday my surgeon cleared me to horse show. He agreed that horseback riding has helped my recovery, and getting back into competition would not hurt (might even help, mentally). I had to promise that I would not lift anything heavy, and that I would not fall off.
Wednesday we taped up my ankle and attempted to jump a course. Lou was amazing. He is so smooth that there is little impact on my body when we jump small fences. Since the jump school was so successful we decided to show him in the .75 meter jumpers at the Joker’s Hill Hunter Jumper Trillium Horse Show on Saturday. It is the lowest level we could enter.
I only entered in the first clear round class – and figured we would let my ankle dictate how much we could do. I was also being cautious, while this would be my first horse show in over a year, it has also been that long since Lou has been at a horse show.
We got there early to warm up in the ring before anyone else arrived. Lou was tense, but didn’t dare put a foot wrong. I could tell he was nervous, however he never spooked or acted up. He just wanted to make sure I was safe. The first round he jumped around like a seasoned pro. We were clean. I decided to do the whole division.
This is where having a Thoroughbred came in handy. We were not going for speed; our only goal was safe, steady controlled rounds. Lou is so naturally fast we ended up 7th in the first class and 5th in the second out of 20 riders. The ankle, despite being taped up (and iced), got sore in the last round, so I ended up dropping my stirrup after the third fence and finished the course up with only one.
Lou has always been there for me during my recovery, pushing me to keep moving forward. Thanks to his exceptional performance at the horse show, he has now given me the confidence to know I can still do the jumpers, despite my disability.
I also have to thank my huge support team. It took an army to make sure the horse show was safe and smooth for me. Pete had to lift me on and off of Lou, and walked him after my classes so I could sit down. Steph Palmer drove up from her home (in a land far, far away) to help me and walk the courses. Sasha came along to do all the heavy lifting and extra work I can’t do, since I am not allowed to weight load my ankle yet. A huge thank you to my father who was there for moral support.
The next horse show is May 5th – S2 will be competing in the hack division!