My Most Amaz­ing 24 Hours

From Wis­con­sin to North Carolina to show a horse—and back again nearly the same day. Could she pos­si­bly do it?

Horse & Rider - - Your Stories - By Nyssa Sheri­dan

It was four in the morn­ing. I was anx­ious and couldn’t sleep. Had I packed ev­ery­thing I needed? What if I miss my flight? What if I don’t do well? What if I ran­domly slip and fall in the ring?

I was to travel from Wis­con­sin to Raleigh, North Carolina, to show my friend’s Morab stal­lion in the 2015 Ara­bian Sport Horse Na­tion­als. The lo­gis­tics were daunt­ing. I’d re­cently started a job as a med­i­cal lab­o­ra­tory tech­ni­cian. But be­cause I’d been in­jured four weeks prior while show­ing in a year­ling hal­ter class, I’d spent a week with my arm in a sling, rest­ing my sprained shoul­der while I tried to learn my new job one-handed.

Then, just days af­ter I was freed from the sling, my friend Wendy Konichek sent me an email that ren­dered me al­most speech­less.

“How would you like to show Thun­der at the Na­tion­als?”

‘ Would I Ever!’

Mon­tego’s Thun­der, her dark bay Ara­bian/Mor­gan, was one of the first stal­lions I’d ever fallen in love with, af­ter watch­ing him in a lib­erty pre­sen­ta­tion at an equine expo 10 years be­fore. Now 20 years old, he was still lovely and en­thu­si­as­tic. I said yes, of course. Then re­al­ity set in. I had an in­jured shoul­der and only a few ac­crued hours of time off from work. I’d have to fly to Raleigh, show Thun­der, and re­turn within a day.

Work flew by the morn­ing of my flight. Nearly sprint­ing, I clocked out at the end of the day and bolted to my car for the drive to the air­port. A de­tour had me ar­riv­ing barely in time, look­ing so pa­thetic that se­cu­rity didn’t even bother to slow me down.

It was al­most 10 p.m. when I landed in Raleigh. Ex­hausted, I strug­gled through the empty air­port, head down. Some­one touched my shoul­der. It was my hus­band! He’d caught an ear­lier flight to cheer me on. What a won­der­ful sur­prise!

The next morn­ing came early. Again I was anx­ious. It was the big­gest event I’d ever com­peted in, and I felt a crush­ing obli­ga­tion to do jus­tice to my friend’s un­wa­ver­ing faith in me. I watched other horses be­ing shown in sport horse in hand. It was sim­ple, re­ally. Stand the horse up for in­spec­tion at the apex of the tri­an­gle, then lead him at a walk, then trot, around the tri­an­gle so judges could see the qual­ity of the gait, elas­tic­ity of move­ment, and man­ners.

How Could I Leave?

When our time came, Thun­der strut­ted like a colt. The two judges glanced at me while scru­ti­niz­ing Thun­der’s con­for­ma­tion. I tried to hide my wor­ried ex­pres­sion. Then, as Thun­der and I walked the small tri­an­gle, he pranced and jigged. I sighed. He stuck his tongue out and shook his head. I tried not to shake mine.

Fi­nally, it was time to trot. He floated! I ran faster, try­ing not to look lame. He nearly pulled me off my feet with his pow­er­house mov­ment. Then it was over and the wait be­gan. Af­ter all the in­di­vid­ual pre­sen­ta­tions, scores had to be tab­u­lated and ver­i­fied.

Time dragged. And I was in a time crunch! I had to catch that flight home to re­turn to my job…but how could I leave with­out know­ing the ver­dict?

We were all called back into the arena for the top 10, as it was a small class. We showed our stal­lions off proudly and posed with our top-10 rib­bons and plaques. At the pho­tog­ra­pher’s cor­ner, Thun­der’s mag­nif­i­cence and my beam­ing smile were duly doc­u­mented. Yet still we waited to learn who would be cham­pion and re­serve. And then: “Mon­tego’s Thun­der.” Re­ally?, I thought. Re­serve na­tional cham­pion? It was in­cred­i­ble but true. We took a ju­bi­lant vic­tory lap. Thun­der strut­ted for the au­di­ence. In a typ­i­cal klutz move, I dropped the rib­bon, but I didn’t even care. We’d done it!

Team Ef­fort

Within 24 hours, I’d cut out from my new job, trav­eled to an event a thou­sand miles away, and shown a stal­lion to a re­serve na­tional cham­pi­onship. Those hours were some of the most mem­o­rable of my life, made pos­si­ble by peo­ple com­ing to­gether to help me achieve a dream. Thank you to all.

And thank you, Mon­tego’s Thun­der.

Nyssa Sheri­dan and hus­band Dustin live in Stoughton, Wis­con­sin, with their two Ara­bian horses, Danc­ing Gdy­nia and No Greater Honor. When Nyssa isn’t busy work­ing in the hospi­tal lab­o­ra­tory or with her own horses, she can be found vol­un­teer­ing as a di­rec­tor with the Wis­con­sin Ara­bian Horse As­so­ci­a­tion and Horse Power Heal­ing Cen­ter.

AAMANDA REERS, Pennsylvania

thor­ough ve­teri­nary exam is al­ways war­ranted in cases of a horse’s sud­den be­hav­ior change.

Wis­con­sin reader Nyssa Sheri­dan with Morab sport horse stal­lion Mon­tego’s Thun­der.

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