Where Sonnys Mona Lisa Earns Equine Sainthood

It was our Arabian Regional Championships back in oh, the late 90s, and I was getting ready to do my first dressage ride. I had to get in the Top Five to have a chance at Champion or Reserve. (I think these days it's just one ride, but back then you had to ride twice.)  I was all ready to go – white breeches, boots polished to a spit shine, coat just out of the dry cleaners’ bag. And top hat jammed painfully onto my moussed, sprayed and bobby-pinned head.

The warm up area had no mounting block so I mounted in the barn aisle. The aisles were very narrow so I shoved my half Arab pinto mare, Sonnys Mona Lisa +/ (Saint Lisa as she is now known) against her stall front and put my left leg in the stirrup and swung my right leg over, only to have it bump against the stall front. Not to worry. I settled the left into the saddle as best I could and asked her to move off, and I planned to unfold my leg and pick up my right stirrup when she moved far enough from the stall front.

Except when Lisa moved off,  I did not go with her! Too late, I realized that my right spur had gotten hung in the 1-inch woven metal grillwork of the stall front! Also too late to "whoa" the ever-obedient Lisa, who was walking calmly forward.

I helplessly slid, face first, over Lisa's back and ended up hanging upside down behind her, with my lips close enough to her fetlocks to kiss them. Really. I am Not Making This Stuff Up. Trust me, I am not nearly creative enough to make up a story like this.

I was quite helpless. My own weight kept my spur wedged in the mesh, and since I am vertically challenged, I could not push myself up off the ground high enough to dislodge it. Well, what a predicament, 20 minutes before the BIG RIDE. And not to mention potentially life-threatening. (But of course, you see in which order I place these concerns!)

 Lisa just stood there and turned her head around to look at me with the most disgusted expression on her face -- like “Quit playing around down there – we’ve got work to do!”  I finally spluttered a few strangled “Helps” and someone down the aisle came and rescued me by giving me an upturned bucket to get my elbows up on so I could get down. (But not before about laughing their a** off!) And of course when I did get my spur free, I landed with an unceremonious "plop" in the dusty, dirty aisle – white breeches, polished boots, and all.

A bit unnerved, I dusted myself off (no time for anything more – and I had no trainer or anyone else to help me at the show) and marched over to the warm up. By this time, I had about 10 minutes before my ride. To make a long story shorter, we barely made the Top 5, but came back in our second ride to win Reserve Champion. But it was really a moot point. Lisa did not have anything left to prove to me that day, after not kicking me in the face as I dangled behind her feet!

And, during the 16 years I've owned her, she's saved my butt too many times to count.

Sonnys Mona Lisa+/  ..equine saint..and the best $800 I ever spent!