It Happens! Michael Tokaruk, Don Stewart, Allison Kroff and Catherine Tyree

Michael Tokaruk. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

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!

By Rennie Dyball

Michael Tokaruk

My first time ever doing Medal Finals at Harrisburg, I catch-rode this really big, tall equitation horse of Missy Clark’s. I was having an amazing round until the last bending line which was a 6 or a 7-stride option line. 

Stupid me on the giant horse should have just done 6, but instead I chocolate chipped the last jump in 6 and a half! It was one of those skinny riviera gates they have at Harrisburg, so the whole gate fell down and I mowed one of the standards down, too! 

The crowd moaned when they saw me chip because I was so close to having such a great round … but boy, did I screw that last jump up. What a mess! It still bugs me to this day. But—it happens!” 

Without A Doubt and Don Stewart at Upperville Colt & Horse Show in 1986

Don Stewart

It was the mid ’70s and I was riding an outside course in the field at Bramblewood Horse Show in Aiken, South Carolina. The horse stopped and I flopped off. When I was getting up I yelled, “Call for the forklift!”

Photo Courtesy Allison Kroff

Allison Kroff

My most embarrassing memory in the ring was when I was 15 or 16 years old. It was one of my first times competing in Chicago so I put together a very lengthy bio for the Grand Prix, listing all my recent Grand Prix wins and placings. 

The first jump was a triple bar. As I approached it my horse spooked and stopped at it, resulting in me falling off. I picked myself up and walked out of the ring with my horse in hand, and the whole time the announcer was reading my bio. Finally, as I was almost out of the ring, he looked up and said, “Oh.” Since then, I never use more than a one sentence bio. 

Pictured is my horse Atlantis and I jumping a very similar triple bar jump. Clearly she didn’t care about it this day.”

Catherine Tyree

I was competing in the Medium Ponies in Tampa in 2004. Back then, side-zipped tailored sportsman breeches were the pants to wear. Turns out, I put the pants on backwards one day, with the pockets in the back, and no one thought to tell me all day!

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