From Cancer to Congress: Elizabeth Christie’s Story

October 26th, 2012 10:35 AM | No Comments

Photo courtesy Jeff Kirkbride Photography

by Tracy Bidwell, OQHA
Photo courtesy Jeff Kirkbride Photography

Elizabeth Christie of Indiana has had a roller coaster of a year. After purchasing her first Quarter Horse from Chris and Melissa Jones in January, Christie was diagnosed with brain cancer just five months later in May.

At just 21 years old, it was news that was totally unexpected. Unfortunately, this put Christie on the sidelines and out of the saddle for a full three months as she underwent surgery to remove a tumor and then chemotherapy, which she is still receiving throughout the All American Quarter Horse Congress.

“I had been looking forward to showing at the Redbud Spectacular,” Christie said. “But I couldn’t go because of surgery. It was tough to stay behind, knowing that Chris and Melissa were at the show.”

Christie’s new horse, Blazed And Amazed, a 2006 gelding by Blazing Hot, had to stay home as well.

But this upbeat college student wasn’t going to give up. Christie had shown Appaloosas during her youth and first year as an amateur, but as the shows got smaller and she had to travel farther and farther to find competition, she decided to make the switch to show on the Quarter Horse Circuit.

“Horses have been my passion for my entire life,” Christie said. “My horse, Blueberry, was the one thing that really got me through. Showing is what makes me happy.”

Slowly but surely, Christie started to regain her strength after the surgery and began to ride again. At first, she just took short rides to build back up her stamina, but quickly she was working to get back into show shape.

Despite not showing most of the summer, the duo entered three classes at their very first showing at Congress, which are their best events: Novice Amateur Western Pleasure, Novice Amateur Western Horsemanship and Novice Amateur Western Riding.

On Saturday, October 20th, Christie and Blueberry showed in Western Horsemanship, the second to last class in the Celeste Center. With two splits, a semi-final and a final, it wasn’t until 9:30 pm that awards were announced.

“In between go’s Christie threw up,” said Melissa Jones, one of Christie’s trainers. “The evening is always more difficult for her, and the class showed pretty late.”

In the end, it was all worth it as Blazed and Amazed and Elizabeth Christie placed 3rd in a tough class with 119 shown.

“I didn’t have any expectations, especially since it is my first time showing at Congress,” Christie said. “But it was incredible to do so well. The teamwork I have experienced with Blueberry is amazing and so is all the support I’ve gotten from my trainers and everyone at the barn. I feel so validated – like life is getting back to normal and the hard part is finally over.”

Christie and Blueberry will compete in their final event, Novice Amateur Western Riding, on Saturday, October 27th. We would like to wish the pair the best of luck as they complete their Congress debut!

Editor’s note: On a personal note, I would like to say that Elizabeth Christie is one of the kindest, most genuine people I have had the pleasure of talking to at the Congress. Her story is simply inspiring.

Not only has she shown at Congress this year and done extremely well (something I could never hope to accomplish, even on my best day!), she has done so while still receiving chemotherapy treatments, as well as traveling back and forth to Indianapolis to continue her student teaching.

I cannot express my admiration for this young lady enough, and I want to extend a personal congratulations on all your success thus far, good luck in Western Riding, as well as in your student teaching and thank you so much for attending Congress this year and sharing your story with me.

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