It Happens! Indoors Edition

John French. Photo by Shawn McMillen 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

Alan Korotkin with his daughter, Carsyn. Photo Courtesy Alan Korotkin

Alan Korotkin

I’ve had several embarrassing moments in my riding career, but the one that seems to stick out the most was during the 1982 Medal Finals. I had gone fairly early in the first round and had an amazing trip; I was called on top and ended up leading the entire class. There was a huge field that day of 260 riders and the class seemed to take forever. I sat in the stands the entire day with my fellow riders and friends; everyone was congratulating me and patting me on the back. It was awesome. 

By the end of the day I was fairly exhausted and the class had run from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Suddenly, it was time for the second round, and I had to do it again! 

I entered the ring to complete silence, because that’s what happens when you’re called on top in that class, and I remember thinking how cool that was. I ended up doing 75 percent of the course perfectly, but in the second to last turn, my stirrup slipped ever so slightly on my foot and I panicked. I went off course by jumping the triple combination backward! The crowd moaned very loudly and I walked out of the ring. 

Needless to say, it was quite embarrassing, and even after all this time, people bring it up virtually everyday.” 

John French

One year at Washington International I was tied for champion in a couple divisions where I had to do the hack-off for champion. The first horse I had to hack off was Scout, and I couldn’t get him to trot. All he wanted to do was canter and go sideways. He was just over it. I was just going sideways down the rail at the canter and obviously lost the hack off…to a horse I shouldn’t have lost to in the hack off to, but I couldn’t even make my horse trot! 

And then I had another horse in a hack-off, and they had put the poles leaning up against the jumps. I couldn’t get him to go in between two fences. The space was kind of narrow and with the poles up in the air, he wouldn’t go through the space. So, I couldn’t even get him to trot [either]. 

I lost two hack-offs because I couldn’t even make my horses trot! So, it happens.”

Ellie Ferrigno. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Ellie Ferrigno

At Medal Finals when I was 13, I drew the 33rd spot in the order. The class started at 7 a.m., so I had to get on at 3:30 in the morning to prepare. After our late-night ride, my best friend Grace [McEneaney] and I arrived back to the hotel at 12:30 a.m. and I got right in bed for my 3 hours of sleep ahead of me. 

Grace and I are known for being able to sleep through ANYTHING. Three a.m. rolls around, when I’m supposed to wake up, and neither Grace nor I wake up for my alarm. My dad, who was waiting in the lobby to drive me to the show, begins frantically calling us and still can’t get ahold of anyone. He runs to the front desk and calls up to the room. Grace answers the phone, practically still asleep. My dad proceeds to ask if I’m there, to which Grace answers, “no,” and drops the phone the phone. Since she never hung the phone back up, now they are unable to call from the front desk. 

As my dad is running out of options, he finally goes to my room, and I wake up to him throwing his body against the door. Thankfully, I slept in my riding clothes so I jumped out of bed and ran out the door. The miraculous part was I still got on Remy on time!”

Dominic Gibbs. Photo by Georgie Hammond/Phelps Media Group

Dominic Gibbs

I was late to the Maclay Finals walk. In fact, I missed most of it. I was 20 minutes away, watching the timing online. But the online show time and real time were not in sync. When I arrived to the show grounds, I discovered my section for the 10-minute course walk was almost complete. I didn’t get to walk the whole course‚ I had to race through instead with the time running out! 

Stacia Madden was calling on the radio for me back to the barn, wondering where I was. They radioed back that I just pulled up in my car at the barn. Stacia later told me that she thought to herself, ‘Thank God for live stream and that he goes late.’ 

Later that day, after more than 260 rounds, I won!”

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