Interestingly enough, the championship class also had 4 entries, but the only one entered in this class was the horse that beat us in the qualifier. The other 2 horses, who qualified in different classes were much more competitive than the ones we showed against in our qualifier.
The trumpet sounded and in came all 4 horses. Each was very animated, each having a beautiful upright neck and lovely drop at the pole. My eyes were obviously fixed on Sport. He looked so happy, each step as beautiful as the last. The walk was called and then the canter. One of the horses started to bobble, refusing to canter. The rider went to the center of the ring and asked to be excused. The class was called to a halt while this happened. Returning to the canter, Sport picked it right back up. I was so excited, I could hardly stand still. My Sport was keeping up with his competition, who were much more seasoned than he.
The walk was again called, direction changed and on with the trot. Sport was a bit more animated in this class and he did not bob his head as he had a few times before. He flat walked with ease and then the very last canter was called. I am not sure what happened - Sport picked up the trot. Tommy first tried to encourage him into the canter, but he refused. Next Tommy pulled him down and asked for the canter yet again. Sport whinnied loudly and again started to trot. Patiently, Tommy stopped him yet again and asked for the canter. This time, he took the cue and lifted off to complete the show. Sadly - all of this happened right in front of the judge and he was pinned correctly in 3rd place.
I was not discouraged. He has come so far in such a short time, I could never be disappointed in him. I went back to the stalling area to see him and he sniffed my hands looking for a treat. I had to run over to the office area to get a carrot for him out of the baskets of treats...and he well disserved a big treat!!
One thing we have learned about Sport - right now he is greatly offended if you take a hold and try to balance yourself in his mouth. He must be ridden with total balance. While I believe that Tommy thinks this cannot be done aside, and maybe thinks that the situation came about because of him being ridden aside, I disagree.
**What happened to Sport did not happen from me riding him once a week for 20 minutes in the sidesaddle. I have video of him flipping his head in objection to the full bridle with a trainer riding astride months before Sport ever saw a sidesaddle. I also know that 2 weeks before a show when I was riding him aside in a training bridle he was very good and I was excited to go to the show. The very next week, when bridled with the full bridle - he was almost unrideable and I scratched us from that event.
For now, that is fine. I want what is best for Sport and he needed a restart. We will go slow. He gets extremely nervous when asked to slow gait and rack as well, so I am not sure if we will go back in that direction. My dream to ride a 5 gaited horse sidesaddle in the world championship show is put on hold at least for now... which makes me a bit sad... but I will just give this to the Lord and see what He has to say about it all.