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!
“When the derbies first started, the second or third Derby Finals ever, I was on a horse named Posse. He was a very solid citizen and it was a bloodbath of a class, but I felt really confident. I’d won derbies on him and placed at Derby Finals on him—it was set up to be a great class. It all fell apart so fast, with the whole country watching online.
He spooked at the screen as we came around the corner. I ended up chair in the air and going off course and I walked out of the ring and went home. I don’t think they even announced I went off course, I walked out so fast. I went from hero to zero really fast.”
“I have a really bad habit of not riding with a very tight girth, so I’m sure you can see where this is going. I’m riding a young horse that I just got, five years old, and I go to do the horse in a young jumper class.
I always tighten my girth, but sometimes I only tighten it by one or two holes instead of more than that. So I go in and the horse jumps the first couple of jumps and jumps this oxer so great. I land and I’m like, oh my gosh, I’m going off the side. I was able to save it, and the horse was a complete gem as a 5-year-old and helps get right back underneath me.
She definitely helped keep me in the middle. But I came out of the ring that day and said, ‘Okay, okay, I’ve got to do a better job of tightening my girth. That’s just silly. I wouldn’t let my Short Stirrup kids do that!’”
“A few years ago in the Junior Hunters, the courses that Sunday were harder than many of us realized. I had seen everything from people crashing through jumps, refusals, and even people falling off. The jumps seemed to all be set on a half-step through the corners and the singles were set up in a way that the horses could easily get distracted as they head to the first jump.
I had one more horse to do in the Junior Hunter class that was a catch ride. I had been riding her for the past month and was starting to figure her out. Going into my first hunter round, the high was an 82, and in the back of my head, I knew that if I rode everything correctly, I could possibly beat that. You had to work the hardest at the first two or three jumps on this horse, but once you got those out of the way you would be set and she would be in the zone.
The course started with a single and then a single oxer. Next was an outside line which she stepped in and out of perfectly, but next was the diagonal line, which was giving the majority of the class issues. As I turned the corner to it, I saw that it was long but knew that we could make it work. As I put my leg on her, I realized that our step got faster but it never grew. This was the moment I knew that things were about to go south.
The turn only gave you four strides to the diagonal line. On stride two through the turn, I was squeezing with all my might in hopes that we would make it. When I got to the stride that I believed we could leave from, I put my spur in her side and hoped and prayed she would leave from that spot for me. All that did was give us more momentum for the chip. We added in a step that I did not even think was there. She was very careful and a very good jumper…I was about to get flung. As she exploded off the ground, I was able to keep my right foot in the stirrup, but my left foot and leg could not do the same. For about four strides off the jump, I was surfing on her and debating if I should try to stay on or bail. Stride four was when I decided to accept my fate.
As I hit the ground, I ended up rolling about five times on my side before I was able to stop—that’s how fast we were going at that point. Lesson learned: Be patient, and then you won’t have to surf on a horse.
*This story was originally published in the September 2022 issue of The Plaid Horse. Click here to read it now and subscribe for issues delivered straight to your door!
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