It Happens! Phoebe Weseley, Ryder Richardson, and Leah Matanky

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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Phoebe Weseley

The stakes were high for me one day at Harrisburg in 2010. I had spent the last five years competing feverishly in Adult Hunter Classics, and at year’s end in the finals for NAL at Harrisburg and WIHS. That day I had gotten an 87 in the first round with my wonderful horse Just Ask Me, and went back last in the second round as that was the high score. I really wanted to win. 

My trainer at the time, Patty Foster, told me to go into the ring on the diagonal towards the ring crew who were hanging over the rail waiting to take the course down, so that my horse Justin would see them at the rail and not be startled. I told her adamantly no, and that my horse wasn’t spooky—he never had been—and that I would go in left and head directly to the rail. 

When I got to the rail and picked up my canter, Justin spooked big time. Never spooked before or ever again, but needless to say, I didn’t win that day. I was very sheepish and crestfallen when I had to walk out of the ring and over to Patty. But we did win the WIHS Adult Hunter Finals two weeks later.”

Ryder Richardson

Picture by Captured Moments Photography

I came to the horse show after one of my lacrosse games. As usual, I was running late and thought I was very organized. I had packed my show attire and picked a colorful tie. Cory, the most efficient starter in the history of horse shows, had sped through the rounds and my class was going earlier than expected. 

I got dressed and realized that I had packed one of my “little kid” ties (the ones that I wore when I was seven years old). It was about 8 inches long and had a zipper that was unbearably tight on my neck. 
It looked ridiculous. I stressed for 2.5 minutes than realized it was go-time. 

When I was in the ring, the tie kept flying into my mouth and choking me. It had a mind of its own. The pictures from that day are hilarious, too—the little ridiculous tie and the lacrosse paint on my face made me look like a little clown.”

Leah Matanky

When it happened!

I had the honor and privilege to get to ride my trainer’s fancy derby horse at a show at a time when I was just getting back into the show ring.  I was so excited to have this opportunity!  We totally nailed our warm up round and finished in first place, so we were going in with lots of confidence for our first round in the division. 

We had a perfect first fence and were then coming around the corner in this lovely big green grass hunter field, approaching the diagonal line going away from the in gate. I look up into the line and spot a large DEER standing between the two fences of the line! Just chilling there, right in our track. The mare’s ears pricked up but she hadn’t fully seen it yet. I had to circle away from the line and come down to a walk while a bunch of spectators and ring crew ran into the ring to chase the deer away. It went bounding into the trees on the far end. 

The judge called me over and told me I could start over, and I proceeded to pretty much bomb the round. I was totally thrown off. Not a lot of competitors have been in the ring at the same time as a deer!”