My first show was when I was 13. I was on my backyard horse trucked in from Wyoming. I was so proud of my chunky lil' pinto and having read hundreds of horse books, I was certain we'd win first place at my first show. The judge would take one look at my flashy boy (who was actually a bit funny looking, but I thought he was gorgeous) and put me right up at the top. I had on my brother's white shirt, my mother's gray blazer, some riding breeches from Goodwill that were too short for me, and riding boots that didn't fit. Not to mention my first attempt at a braid job.
I had to ride 1 1/2 hours to get to the showgrounds and when I arrived, there was only one class I could ride in--Children's Hunter Under Saddle. There were 40 horses in my class. The judge never even gave me a glance. My little Western chunk did everything right, but I could never get clear of the sea of swaying rumps around me. Of course the horses that pinned were dainty children's show hunters, done up in tight elegant braids, and their riders were turned out perfectly. I never stood a chance. It was a long hot disappointing hour and a half ride home.
Years later, I did right well at shows and look back at that experience and laugh at myself. I was so naive, and so devastated when it turned out so badly. It gets better--much much better. It's all a learning experience.