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!
“In one of the first Grand Prix that Saluut had done, we had a fast time and we were clean, and I was galloping through the timers. Then he sighted in on the first jump… and jumped it again. Even the judges didn’t know what the rule was when that happened! I learned the hard way that you can fall off after the timers, you can jump out of the ring, but you can’t jump any extra jumps after the timers. Instead of winning the class, we were disqualified and ended up tenth. It was televised, live, there was a huge group of people there, so it wasn’t like I could live it down. I had to hear about that for a long time afterwards. It was a hard thing to learn but I can look back at it and laugh. And luckily, Saluut went on to win many more Grand Prix.” ~ Margie Engle
“At Harrisburg in the ‘90s, I had five first year green horses. I went off course on the fifth horse that I rode. Yikes. I felt so dumb and still do. It was one of those courses that had an option of two different lines when you came out of the turn. Ever since then I am very concerned about where I am going.” ~ Louise Serio
“In March 2016, during the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Thermal, I was still a fairly new professional and had purchased Skyhawk two weeks prior. He was only seven at the time. Buff (Skyhawk) took me around the course like it was the easiest thing he’d ever done —and jumped insane. All of a sudden, I found myself sitting in fourth behind Kelley Farmer and the three horses she had flown out specifically for the class. The handy was under the lights and the last jump was a very long gallop off the left lead to the final oxer. The crowd was silent. I thought I saw the right distance but then I panicked and ended up missing so badly that Buff couldn’t even get to the other side. I’m pretty sure I heard people gasp. My “green-ness” showed as I froze under the pressure. I think I apologized to everyone from the course designer to the show manager. I always learn the most from mistakes and tell my riders not to be afraid to make them … just aim to not make the same ones again!” ~ Alexis Taylor
“At the World Cup Finals in Sweden in 1981 or ’82, I had Livius, this lovely chestnut Trakehner. He was a fabulous horse who’d won at the European Championships with Emile Hendrix. I’m young, in my early 20s, and the whole syndicate that bought the horse were there, and so was my family. I ride in, it’s packed, they announce that it’s my birthday… and I proceed to stop and fall off at the liverpool. I had to lead Livious out of the ring and I thought I would never ride again. It was my first time at World Cup Finals, a west coast girl with all these famous east coast riders. I really thought that was the end of my career!” ~ Anne Kursinski
Originally published in the January 2021 issue.
Photos Ramsay, Erin Gilmore, ESI, & Anne Gittens