The night before the horse show, I couldn’t sleep. I was running through all the lists in my head.
Tack was loaded into cars/trailers? ✓
Athena’s breads? ✓
Grooming supplies? ✓
Athena’s tail extensions? ✓
Pressed, clean show outfits? ✓
Polished boots? ✓
And the list goes on, and on, and on. I was so excited and nervous. It was my first show in YEARS. I was confident in Athena, but I was afraid I would mess everything up. What if Athena was super hot the morning of? What if a horse crashes into her? What if she spooks really bad and is traumatized from showing? What if I fall off in the corner I seem to *always* fall off in?
Yup, my mind was racing 100mph a minute.
The morning of the show it was COLD. I rushed to the barn all bundled up, lunged Athena really well, finished grooming Athena, packed away last minute things, and got her loaded into the trailer. The day before we had a bad day and it was 100% my fault. I quickly learned that Athena is truly my mirror, and whatever I am feeling she feels. I realized I needed to be cool, collected, happy, and just put my faith in her and have fun! We had to take a detour because some roads were still closed from the hurricane making us late. We arrived and started the millions of things that needed to be done the morning of a horse show.
I lunged her really good before we even left the barn, so she didn’t need much when we got there. She was very calm, but alert, taking in everything that was going on. I reminded myself to have fun, be positive, and as long as Athena doesn’t freak out its a win in our book. I really had no other expectations other than to gain some much needed experience for Athena. I got on, worked her a bit, and before I knew it, it was time to put on my show clothes and get ready for our first class.
I got ready as quickly as possible. Athena had done so amazing in the warm up pen. Horses were EVERYWHERE, in every which direction, and she handled it like a seasoned champ. Not to mention she look GOOD. In my mind we were already winners. I was already beaming with pride!
Our first class was adult huntseat go as you please. They called out our class and we got on the rail.
For the first time showing, I was 110% focused on me and my horse. I had to protect her from others, set her up to shine, and watch out and prevent any boogers from popping out at her. The world kind of melted around us and I just relaxed and let her do her thing. We lined up and I remember just beaming with pride on how well Athena did. I was so proud of her! They called the class. Then something absolutely crazy happened.
WE FREAKING WON!!!
(Athena is all like, I won! Nener nener!)
We won the first class we ever entered! As soon as he called our number, tears started streaming down my face. Friends from all over the arena cheered for us and met us at the gate. I couldn’t believe it! All the hundreds upon hundreds of hours of work paid off. We did it! I was in complete disbelief. It truly felt like a dream!
I had to quickly wipe away my tears because we entered our next class. It was another walk/trot class. I felt like we flew around the area. People would stop to stare at Athena as she glided across in the arena. People would stop to tell me I had such a beautiful horse, that she was incredible. To say I was beaming was an understatement! The class was called and we lined up. My heart leaped into my chest when our number was called AGAIN for 1st place. The announcer stopped to tell everyone that Athena was a rescue horse and this was her first show. I was bawling.😂
We stopped to take some pictures. First off, I couldn’t have done any of this without Sherry (pictured left!). Athena and I wouldn’t have been there without this woman. She has put so many hours into our lessons, has been patient as Athena and I were both learning, and believed in us when so many didn’t. There aren’t enough words to describe how grateful I am to have Sherry in my life and helping me with my mare! She made me a better horsewoman and took the time to help me and this crazy mare out. I am so honored to be able to call her my trainer! My husband (pictured right) has been sooooooooooo supportive of Athena and I. When I came home and told him I wanted to show Athena, he said “That’s great, let me know how we can make it happen!”. He has been so patient as I bought all of my show tack and clothing. I would come home on cloud nine about my lessons with Sherry, and how great Athena was doing and he would let me talk hours without breathing about her. He came to the show, took some amazing pictures, and helped me get ready with every class. I am so blessed to have such a supportive husband!
I changed and got ready for my next class, mares at halter. I was pretty nervous because I had never entered a halter class before, so Athena and I went railside to watch the geldings and take notes. I seriously went into that class just hoping not to mess up! People came up to me and said that Athena looked so high end, and they were shocked when I told them that she was a rescue horse and had only been under saddle since June. Someone even made an offer on her (and I of course politely declined)! Not bad for the horse that no one wanted.
Although I had no expectations for this class, I went into it beaming. How could I not want to show off my amazing mare?! She was stunning and perfect, and I wanted the whole world to know!
Well, we won that class too! I was pretty shocked! Next up was showmanship. I am not going to lie, I had a moment of self doubt before I entered the ring. Sherry calmed me down and shoved my butt into the class.
I didn’t mess up the pattern at all! We had a few shaky moments but we won that class too!
I was on cloud nine! We were done for the day, so I went to take some pictures (pictures of me were done by my husband, pictures of Athena were done by me)!
Can’t believe that one year ago I pulled a terrified, skinny horse out of a pasture with a horse skeleton in it, no food, downed barbed wire everywhere. One year ago she was so injured and so many people told me to just put her down and that she would never be sound again. One year later, this amazing, sweet mare stole the show and kicked butt!
I know I talk about Sherry Stewart in like all my posts, but she really is an amazing person who I am so grateful for. I have learned SO much from her over these past few months, from how to start groundwork, from how to start a horse under saddle, from how to do prettier breads, to how to get a horse breed show ready. I have grown SO much because of her. She has been so kind and patient towards us little underdogs with big dreams and has encouraged us along the way. We honestly couldn’t have done any of it without her. I am so insanely blessed to have her in my life not only as a trainer, but as a friend. I look up to her so very much!
Here is a little before and after! The first picture was when I first got her. She was skinny, pretty aggressive, and seemed so sad all the time. The right was taken at the horse show. I can’t believe this is MY horse. MY Athena. She looks like she was made to show! Talk about a transformation! Since we decided Athena is talented enough for breed level shows, we went ahead and took her pictures for her Pinto Horse Association registration paperwork! Goodness gracious isn’t this unbelieveable?!
One year ago I picked up a mare that no one wanted. She was starved, abused, and neglected. She was aggressive and scared. When she got hurt, so many people told me to put her down, that she would never be sound, that she was too aggressive, and she would never amount to anything. So many told us we couldn’t.
One year later this horse has become my once in a lifetime horse. My dream horse. She has unlocked the opportunity to pursue my WILDEST dreams and has given me her all. She is truly something special. The growth we have achieved together is nothing short of miraculous.
This horse has unlocked the opportunity to pursue my wildest dreams. I never, ever thought that any of this would happen when I rescued her, I just wanted to give her a good home. In return she has blossomed into the most amazing horse I could have ever asked for! I like to think that Athena knew that she won that day. She carried herself a little prouder. It was the most amazing feeling to have people stop what they were doing to watch your horse pass by. I never had experienced that before, and considering where we came from it was pretty amazing!
At the end of the day I was emotionally drained. My eyes were puffy from big, joyous tears. It felt so amazing to prove all the people who said she would never amount to anything wrong. It felt so amazing to have the most talented and beautiful horse at the show. It felt amazing to see your hard work pay off. I had so many great friends cheering us on that day and I am so grateful to have been able to share it with them. I know that every show will not be like this one, but it gave me so much hope and made me feel like my dreams are actually attainable.
They say that the worst of them sense our fears and take advantage of us, and that the best of them sense our dreams and take us there. I have learned this to be so true. This red mare gives me her heart time and time again, and I am forever blessed to have her in my life. She is proof to take a chance on rescue horses. They have limitless potential.
As we closed with this show, we turned towards one of the bigger open shows in North Carolina coming up in just three short weeks!
Thank you for reading and being so supportive of Athena and I! Stay tuned for our next update with Athena!
Read more about our journey together by CLICKING HERE! You can read how I found her, how we overcame an injury that most said she wouldn’t recover from, and how she went from an aggressive and scared rescue to a stunning and loving friend and show horse!
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