It Happens! Sarah Duhon, Margie Engle, Vanessa Brown and Jen Ritucci

Vanessa Brown. Photo by Catherin Cammett

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!

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Sarah Duhon

When I was a working student, I was in charge of my trainer’s horses at Harrisburg. We only had one small pony showing and our amateur horses were at a layover barn. Pretty light week, really. Except I got caught up reading a book at the layover and barely made it back in time to braid the pony!

Margie Engle

I was showing Saluut in the Grand Prix at Tampa Stadium and the last jump was the open water. I was one of the only Floridians, and the crowd loved Saluut, so they went wild, cheering so loud, when he jumped the open water and was clean. He didn’t spook, but he did veer to the right. The timers were pretty far away from the last jump, and I missed them. I wiggled my way back—I never crossed my line, so I went back through the timers. 

I ended up with three faults because the rule was if your back is to the timers, that counts as a stop—this was before it was four faults. I still ended up third, but that was a pretty tough lesson to learn. Unfortunately, I learned most all of them the hard way!

Vanessa Brown

We were showing some years back at the Kentucky National Horse Show in the Alltech Arena. I had a rather green horse to show in the Green Conformation division. Neither his lead changes nor his steering were quite yet Americanized. The first jump went away from the gate on the diagonal and the first line came home, jumping pretty much directly at the gate. I was given the instructions to land off that line, stay in my two-point, and step to my outside stirrup if I needed the change. I pride myself on following directions to the letter, so I did just that. 

Rather than picking up on the lead change, the youngster picked up on the out gate and as I stepped to my outside stirrup. He handily slipped right out of the arena, knocking over Larry Glefke, our customer, the ribbon lady, the ribbon table, and scattering horses, grooms, and other riders in the holding area. We made it halfway up the ramp out of the Alltech before I finally got him turned around.

Larry suggested perhaps I keep a bit of a directional rein and a whole lot more outside leg in the following trip. And of course, the horse jumped right around.”

Jen Ritucci

I decided to wear a shadbelly on my new six-year-old for the second round of the $200,000 finals at Saugerties this year. As luck would have it, he wasn’t a fan of the tails, and proceeded to rodeo buck the entire round every time the tails hit his back. It was embarrassing!” 

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