We all make mistakes. But horse people, as a group, aren’t always the best at handling them. So TPH reached out to some top riders to share their own show ring bloopers to prove, once and for all, that these mistakes really do happen to the best of us!
“Sometimes we all get so caught up in the moment when we are in the ring that we forget the little things. The first time I went to Europe for the summer to show, we were at a beautiful 3* show in the Netherlands. I was very nervous and just trying not to make any major mistakes. I finished my round and I was actually pretty pleased. As I started to walk out I heard a lot of people shouting and screaming at me. Not knowing why, I just stopped—and the shouting got louder! I then realized I had walked and then stopped right in front of the first jump where Gerco Schröder was trying to jump, and he had to circle because I was in the way. They had to reset the entire round for him. I was SO embarrassed! But after I went up and apologized to him, and he was lovely and very understanding. But I couldn’t believe I did that!” ~ Kelli Cruciotti
“I was showing a horse named Sleepwalk for a new owner in Harrisburg back in 2001. Since it was around Halloween, they had a lot of pumpkins lined up on the rail as decorations. The ring at Harrisburg also has those big leaderboards where they list the leading hunter and jumper riders over the years. We finished our course and it was good, a lot of people were clapping, and I went to make my circle. We got to those pumpkins, the horse spooked, and I fell off and hit the wall—right where I was listed as the leading hunter rider from 1996. I slid down that wall like the coyote in the old Road Runner cartoons. The judge told me he had me on top before that, too. I laugh about that story every year now.” ~ Carleton Brooks
“Ernie and I were showing a young horse that carried its head a little high. So, in our infinite wisdom, we decided to shorten his martingale just a little before going in. At that time, many years ago, Don Stewart was helping us when we were down in Ocala. He probably wondered why we were doing this, but he just watched. I started on course and was doing okay until I headed down the second line—a four to an in and out. My horse felt that martingale and immediately just tried to get away. He almost demolished the jump and me and there was the in and out looming in the very short distance. I screamed loudly “Whoa!” and managed not to jump and excused myself, vowing to not try that adjustment again. As I came out, Don, without a moment’s hesitation, said, “Well I guess that horse is off your Christmas list!” Needless to say, we lived to see another day and did not do that again! And that horse turned out to be one of our best—he forgave me for that day somehow!” ~ Betty Oare
“I was showing at the Kentucky Horse Park at their big August show. I had a Pre-Green Hunter, as we called them at that time, on trial. He was a very big, very pretty bay gelding with a lot of white. He was a very good mover and jumper. He was by the same sire as a horse named Over Dressed, who was winning everything at the time. He came from New Hampshire and I had just picked him up on the way to Kentucky. I was SURE I had found the next one. After a nice warm up in the schooling area, it was time to show. Because he was so pretty and such a great mover— and more importantly, because I was sure I was going to knock everybody’s socks off with my find—I made a very elaborate opening circle. After a big trotting circle my plan was to walk by the front side of the first jump and pick up my canter to begin my fabulous round. As I asked him to canter he bucked and kicked out as hard as a horse possibly could. In the process he connected with the rail over the first jump and knocked it across the ring. I was so surprised I landed in front of the saddle. So, there we stood, rail down, rider in front of the saddle, horse not budging, and Frank Willard (who was judging) and myself laughing so hard we were crying. The 90 round I was hoping for had quickly become about a 41 and we hadn’t even picked up the canter yet. Another great lesson in humility supplied by the sport of showing horses.” ~ Geoff Teall
Photos: Budd, Hillary Oswald, ESI, & Erin Gilmore Photography
Originally from the October 2020 issue.