It’s about 5 o’ clock in the morning and I’m dragging myself from bed still reminiscing about the homecoming dance the night before. So I finally get the energy to get up and start rushing around, brushing the 10 pounds of hair spray out of my hair from my up do and ironing my show attire. Before I know it everything for the day is loaded into the car and my mom and I start our long hall to Fields and Fences in Roscoe, IL the location of the 2005 Northern Illinois horseback riding finals. Since I spent most of the car ride there sleeping next thing I know we’re at the show grounds and unloading everything we had just put into the car. After we get all settled my nerves kick in.

I had only been invited to compete in Mini Medals for my division, which means that I hadn’t actually qualified by winning, but had scored well enough to be considered. This put a lot of extra pressure on me because I would be competing against the best in my division and a girl on my own team who was leading everyone in points. It was only my second year on this circuit and I had no idea what to expect. I finally meet up with my trainer who was equally tired and reluctantly decides to walk the course with me and the other girl on my team. Now since my teammate, was currently winning the division the whole time we’re walking my trainer pays most attention to her giving her extra tips and telling me to just try and get through the course. Now as if I wasn’t nervous enough I’m told the order of go will be reversed so the person with the least points, me, will go first and the person with the most will go last. On top of this they need someone to sing the national anthem, so my friend knowing that I sing volunteers me. After I sing the national anthem in the announcer’s booth I run back downstairs to hop on my horse and ride into the arena scared out of my mind with tons of people watching. I’m thinking to myself I don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell to not embarrass myself, but I finish my course anyway and it’s not half bad. I listen for my score, 76, and as I keep listening I realize I’m beating girls who have been doing this since they could walk and are riding horses ten times the expense of mine. By the end of all the trips I’m in fifth place and who would have guessed it, my trainer’s prodigy is trailing me in sixth. We are both called back with five other riders to compete in the call back test. After all is said and done I wound up in fourth place year end and the previous team leader in sixth. It was supposed to be, her year to win it,  everyone on the team had said. To them I hadn’t even been an option. I didn’t even expect to place. I just wanted to leave without making a fool of myself. Fourth felt like first to me, but to my teammate being sixth and below her inexperienced teammate made her furious. It taught me a lot about myself and other people. You should never underestimate people or yourself and even when others don’t believe in you it is okay to go for what you want.  Who knows you might just surprise everyone, even yourself.