It Happens! Devon Edition

Louise Serio. Photo by The Book, LLC

By Rennie Dyball

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 mistakes really do happen to the best of us!

Louise Serio

“I think Devon is my all-time favorite horse show and has been forever … I’ve been leading lady rider a couple times. My horses seem to rise to the occasion there. When I was a kid, it was a local show and you didn’t even have to qualify. I was reserve champion one year, but I didn’t make the presentation because I ate too much cotton candy and was throwing up in my car.”

John French

John French

“First time I went to Devon in the Leadline, my mom got the pony ready. It was a big deal: Going to Devon, driving up there, and having the pony polished and ready for me. I go in the ring … and I got a fly in my eye. I was just screaming the whole time. My mom wanted to kill me. The whole time I’m yelling, ‘I got a fly in my eye! I got a fly in my eye!’ I wouldn’t do anything in the ring but scream about the fly. Didn’t really start off that first time so great. It got better from there.”

Emily Elek

Emily Elek

“We leased a medium pony for a 10-year-old rider. I know him well, super safe and reliable. Rider meets him at their first horse show and they are champion, everyone is happy. The pony happens to be qualified and entered for Devon so … why not? You never know when you will get the opportunity again. 

We ship him from the horse show in Iowa to Pennsylvania. Kid is totally star struck, taking pictures of all the famous ponies, so excited to be there. The pony schools perfectly and everything seems great. Until it drops 30 degrees during the medium pony model. I figure: Get the kid on early, he will be fine, just give the good old boy a little extra warm up. 

He is not fine. He is WILD. The pony schooling ring is a zoo on a good day, now it is cold and occupied by lots of fresh ponies. Child cannot find a track to canter and I can see her getting scared. The pony is getting his back up …
I know him, he just needs a lap and he will settle.

We are about five trips out, so I pull the kid off the pony, grab her helmet, (which is probably 3 sizes too small) and climb on the medium pony. In my rain suit, shorts, and Sperry’s. I gallop the whole schooling ring, weaving in and out of junior hunters and ponies, looking like an absolute maniac. Feel pony take a breath. His back comes down. 

Put kid back on, she jumps a couple of warm up jumps and goes in the ring. Pony is his perfect self and they end up getting a jog! Kid goes on to do several more Devons. 

I now pack riding gear.” 

Kristen Bumpus. Photo by Phelps Media Group

Kristen Bumpus

“At my first Devon, I started without a groom, so I was there by myself taking care of my horse. When I came out to do the High Performance the first time, she caught sight of the carriage horses and she was not a big fan of. She grew to about 27 hands and started spinning circles around me with her tail straight up, snorting so loud she started spooking the carriage horses. I was about ten out in the order. 

Needless to say, all I could think about was having a halfway decent round in that particular class because I was a little freaked out. 

She turned out to be pretty good in the ring, though, and we went on to win the derby that year. That was an unbelievable experience.”

*This story was originally published in the May 2021 issue of The Plaid Horse. Click here to read it now and subscribe for issues delivered straight to your door!