It Happens! Nicole Motes, Catie Staszak, Kirstie Dobbs, and Jessi Lohman

Nicole Motes. Photo by Shawn McMillen.

From the magazine

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!

Hear more It Happens moments at

Nicole Motes

“I was showing a young horse in Florida and she finally took a deep breath on course. Then, as I was coming to the outside line, a huge tree branch snapped and fell behind her. She spooked and ran—understandable. I circled back to the jump and there was a large bird sitting on the standard. Then it flew alongside us for the rest of the course!

It was a string of bad luck that kept getting worse. A squirrel ran out from a jump while we jumped it in that round, too. It was like all of nature ganged up on us!

Luckily, the horse doesn’t have a fear of birds in the show ring today. I’m not sure I can say the same.”

Catie Staszak

“In 2019, I spent nine straight weeks on the road working in four different countries, from the U.S. to Canada, Mexico, and Switzerland. When I returned home to Castlewood Farm, there were at least a half-dozen horses I didn’t know.

Susan Tuccinardi and Alan Korotkin were at the show, and a note was left for me that I could ride Magic. I had never met Magic, but I understood that he was a tall dark bay gelding that had just returned to the barn off a lease. I located a horse that met the description, tacked him up and had a lovely ride. I brought him back to the barn, and the veterinarian arrived, looking for another new horse named Kelli. ‘There he is,’ she said, pointing to the horse I had just ridden. Oh no. ‘Are you certain this is Kelli?’ I asked. Unfortunately, her answer was yes.

So, I proceeded to ride Magic again—this time, the real Magic. I was the brunt of barn jokes for the next week.”

Catie Staszak. Photo by Anne Gittens.

Kirstie Dobbs

“As a working amateur rider who lives in Massachusetts—but whose barn is in Indiana—time in the ring with my horse is very precious. This past summer, I was showing at the Traverse City Horse Show. I rarely get to see my parents, so they made the six-hour drive to watch!

The horse I was showing was semi-retired at the time, and she only showed in one class the entire horse show—the National Derby. My mare was beautifully turned out, thanks to our amazing grooms Jose and Will Castillo. We have been showing together for about six years in the jumpers, equitation, and hunters and we absolutely love each other.

I remember galloping to the last jump and feeling a sense of joy and accomplishment as we came into our finishing circle…but there was no score. And why did my trainer have a pained look on her face? Turns out that in my excitement to head into the ring, I completely forgot the first jump of the course and confidently headed straight to jump two.

The judges were kind enough to let me finish without saying a word. About 20 horses had gone ahead of me, and I had watched plenty of rounds. There was no excuse, just brutal acceptance of the fact that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it happens.”

Kirstie Dobbs. Photo by Kate at The In Gate.

Jessi Lohman

“Addison is the ‘family horse’ for my husband Alan and myself. In 2022, Washington started off great for Addison, winning the High Performance Conformation Stake with Alan, and I got a third over fences in the Older 3’6” Amateurs and a good hack prize.

The second day for the Amateurs started with the handy. Things were going just fine, then I pop chipped into the two-stride right in front of the judges so badly that I had to circle out. I was mortified.

I typically ride with Chris Wynne, but he wasn’t able to be there that day, so he handed training duties over to Jack Towell. Poor Jack. We warmed up well for the Stake class, but I still wasn’t really speaking. As we walked down the ramp, I just nodded my head respectively as Jack would ask me questions or give instruction. And then Addison and I walked in the ring and had our best trip to date, resulting in another third. Jack breathed a gigantic sign of relief and was still whooping and clapping as we walked out of the ring.

So, Washington will go down as an 87-40-88 for me. But as my father has always said, ‘Horse showing is all about peaks and valleys.’ Those were extreme peaks and valleys at Washington last year!

Jessi Lohman. Photo by Shawn McMillen.

This Post is Brought to You by:

America Cryo

Subzero equine therapy uses pressurized CO2 to target very specific areas such as joints, including the hock, stifle, pastern and fetlock, resulting in optimized range of motion and reduced pain.

  • Initial results visible within just 60 seconds
  • Infrared temperature and distance sensors for real-time control
  • Rapid attachment systems for faster setup and storage
  • Long-lasting battery and 15’ polyurethane-shielded cord
  • Backlit, interactive LCD screen shows treatment data
  • Treatment protocols for different conditions

Vets, trainers and physiotherapists report rapid pain relief and overall faster recovery from equine injuries through targeted cold therapy. This versatile and easy-to-use device treats numerous regions of the sports horse’s body for effective maintenance and injury prevention.