My second year as part of the Midnight Ryders 4-H group was shaping up great. At the second meeting of the season (or just the one in October), my 4-H leader approached me.
"Shaunie, you have a horse to ride next year yet?" she asked. I shook my head. "Well, then come with me." She led me to the barn. Honestly I was nervous. She has a lot of Arabians who are great and a couple cute ponies. I'd become close with Chris, her son, and we're still friends. He was in the barn holding Tramp (I'd met him the year before when a girl named Brittany had rode him). "He needs a rider. I don't think he's ready to retire this year."
"Really?" I went over and petted him. Compared to the Arab I had used this past season, Tramp seemed small.
"Let's try him out for a couple weeks and then you can decide if you want to ride him."
The next two weeks were brutal. That pony fought me tooth and nail but for some reason, by the end we were one. I think he realized I was just as stubborn as he was. We were dynamite. Spring came and our rides became an every day but Sunday thing. May rolled around and I was ready for the first competition.
4 a.m. seems early, but I had to go help load Tramp in their trailer and follow them. We went in our first class, Halter. We didn't even place. There were 10 in our class, so I didn't care. Showmanship was next no change. I rode in Western Equatation and it was not exactly what I was expecting and we didn't place. Pleasure was no difference.
But man did we shine in speed. Flags...not so much. Too fast and no aim. We were nicknamed the "Torpedo Team" only because as soon as I squeezed him he farted and took off. I didn't find out until after the class that he had pooped and some landed on the judge. My whole 4-H group just laughed. I found it fun to.
Our summer and show season was off and kicking. Sadly a practice in late June (to be precise the last Monday), ended badly. I was riding him no problem like always. We got boxed practicing at a canter. Fence on side, rider to the other. We slid and went down. I flew a few feet and landed. I sat up worried about him. He's not exactly a young pony. He's 27 years old. He stood and shook it off then walked over. My trainer/4-H leader ran over to me. She helped me stand (even though I was almost up on my own). I walked over to the bench and sat taking my helmet off and watching a friend ride him around to make sure he was fine. He was perfectly alright. Me however....not so much. My coach came over and shook his head.
"Take her to the hospital," he sighed.
"Why?" I asked confused.
"You broke your collarbone," he added. "We will deal with Tramp and your saddle. You just worry about that shoulder."
I cried the entire way to the hospital. I was so close to riding at fair. It was what we worked so hard to get close to. We were already registered for a stall. 5 weeks at least the doctor told me. I waited not even four. I went to see him regularly but missed riding. I went out the last Monday of July and saddled him up. I had help mounting and I was a tad nervous. He walked like a cat for me. He took baby steps (if that). For the next week, all we did was rebuild my confidence riding him and their mare Sabrina.
Fair turned out great. We won ribbons. I rested a lot since the pain medicine the doctor put me on made me exhausted. I don't think I went out on the midway much. I do remember going out on the midway with no money for tickets with Kristin and Tonya. We were let on the Scrambler 12 times without paying.
After fair, Tramp was retired. He had gotten a bad cough and he was no longer in any shape to be ridden.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.