Let’s Discuss: Humble Pie

It’s no secret that eventing is a sport that honors humility. But the collective equestrian world is also a community that knows what it’s like to experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and champions those that can admit mistakes and come back stronger. I like to think that humor has a place in such a world, but maybe that’s just my own coping device for dealing with my own embarrassing moments.

We’ve discussed here on this blog plenty of times that I’ve done stupid things. Hell, if there’s visual proof, I’ll even make a gif out of it. But there’s plenty of stories in the archives that are worth sharing too. Today I’ll share with you my most embarrassing dressage story. Because, you know, it’s Tuesday and I haven’t made a fool of myself yet this week.

Fine, fine, I'll share it again.

Fine, fine, I’ll share it again.

Let’s just run through some of the better dressage moments, and not even touch on those missed leads, or jigging through the free walk, or being told flying changes were not required in a Training level test (bonus points for flair and pizzazz? no?). I’ve been eliminated for not being able to get down centerline. I’ve almost gone off course in a test, with a reader. I’ve ridden a horse that literally screamed every 10 seconds through the entire test, and I’ve ridden a different horse to be told by the judge that I shouldn’t be riding that horse. And let’s not even talk about my ride at the National Intercollegiate Dressage competition. There are some things you just can’t forget.

Judge's Comment: Movements not required at this level

Judge’s Comment: Movements not required at this level

No, my most embarrassing moment in a dressage court took place when I was a teenager. And I fell off. In a dressage ring. Off a pony.

If you don’t remember him from here or here, Mac was a young Haflinger stallion that I evented in high school. While he had a bit of snarkiness in him (pony + stallion – watch out!), dressage judges loved him. I remember, at a little schooling dressage show down the road, I was in the middle of a great Training (dressage) level ride on Mac when out of my peripheral vision I noticed a horse’s head bouncing along the top a hill. Funnily enough, Mac noticed it too, and threw a buck in his surprise and excitement.


Yup, pretty much like this

It must have caught me off guard, because the next thing I knew I was on the ground. And adding insult to injury (wait, reverse that), I had landed on one of the metal stakes holding the chain link dressage fence, which must have caused a temporary blackout because when I came to, my then-trainer was leaning over me, trying to straighten the stake which was now bent at a 90 degree angle from its encounter with my backside. While she was doing her best to fix the situation, she was hastily whispering to me to get back on the damned pony, and finish my test (remember this was a schooling show). I remounted, and then had to wait with my head hung in shame as my trainer and other volunteers attempted to mend the perimeter fencing. You know what’s worse than embarrassing and hurting yourself in front of strangers? Sitting in an arena waiting while those strangers can fix the thing your butt/back broke before you can recover from the incident.

Luckily I was not impaled

Luckily I was not impaled

In the end I did finish my test, but mortification is about the only way I can describe my emotions. This just about beat out the moment I realized I had spent the afternoon walking around the mall with a 7 inch long rent up the backside of my pants. Well, just about. I’m told that as a teenager your humor gland isn’t always fully developed, so humor as a coping device didn’t happen until much later. But to this day, it is still my most embarrassing moment in a dressage ring. Thankfully, I like to think that means that there’s not much else I can do worse than fall off, which kind of takes the pressure off of being a DQ. Silver linings and all that.

What is your most embarrassing moment? How did you handle your slice of humble pie?

21 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss: Humble Pie

  1. I wasn’t riding, but Copper was in a youth class with a 16 year old girl and bucked TWICE when the judge wasn’t looking. The judge gave him third out of like 8-10 entries. These were big, obnoxious, shouldn’t be anywhere near a child bucks. lol. And everyone knew he belonged to me.

  2. Pretty much every time I go to a lesson and my pony will. not. go. I spend 75% of the time whacking him with a crop or doing the pony-club kick and saying, “He never does this at home!” Other riders are always there to watch. When I bring him over to my trainer’s to school in the indoor by myself? Perfect angel. Or when I went off-course in a dressage test. Twice. At two separate shows. In front of the same judge. WHAT ARE THE ODDS?! Being able to laugh at yourself is essential!

    • Haha how many times have we all said “He never does this at home!” I definitely said something along those lines to Will Faudree when Foster decided rooting for the reins was a fun new trick to try out in our test! Not cool dude, not cool.

  3. lol your use of gifs is unparalleled – that xc one is solid gold!!! i agree completely about using humor to relieve pressure too. like the time i fell off at a hunter show right in front of the judge while warming up… oops!

  4. Oh gosh, there’s even video of my most embarrassing moment. In 2012 I was eventing Quincy, the five year old ottb I was leasing at the time (and now our barn’s tried-and-true lesson packer, he’s amazing) and I had never, ever, ever, had a clear jump or XC round on him. I always incurred some kind of run out, refusal, or rail on him. Often multiple refusals. I wasn’t very good at riding. Anyway, at the last event I did before I left for Kenya, I got through XC with only one steering-related run out (Quincy didn’t turn right at the time) and when we got into stadium I felt myself miraculously jumping around clear. As we approached the last fence on course I could feel myself relishing the moment — I HAD FINALLY JUMPED CLEAR!!! And then Quincy slowly ran out to the right, and as the jump drifted past me I yelled at the top of my voice “DICKHEAD.” Dickhead is not even an insult I USE, yet somehow it emerged from my angered little mouth. Of course, the run out was entirely my fault, and it brought much joy to many people. And if you want the video, here it is:

    I ride around minute 4.

  5. I was showing off a bit once and tried to jump bareback (I’ve done it before when people weren’t watching). My horse tripped and I flew off and landed at the feet of my audience….gold.

  6. My first day at the new barn at college. A group of the older girls taking us new girls out on the trail to show us around. The mounting block was much larger than I was used to. I was a little overzealous mounting in my excitement I guess because I launched myself up and over my horse and landed in a heap next to him. In front of everyone. >.<

  7. Wilbur is terrified to jump anything other than a plain pole. My trainer had set a fence with two faux rocks on either side and was slowly moving them towards the center of the fence with each jump. We had finally reached the point where the rocks were directly under the center of the fence, and we’d had such great jumps up to that point, that when I spotted my friend on the rail I said “watch us jump Jen!!” No. Wilbur realized the exactness of the rock placement and spun out of the fence dumping me on the ground. I know better than saying “hey watch me” now!

  8. Oh wow…. most embarrassing? How do I even narrow it down…

    Current most embarrassing moment ON THIS HORSE (not including things that happened from the ground) would probably be taking him to a crossrails derby last year and never even able to get around because I did the exact opposite of every single thing I’ve ever been told to do. It made for some funny blog posts, I guess. Fun fact: pulling on a green horse’s mouth while taking leg off is not actually a cue to jump. Who knew?

    • Haha, gotta love that. Like Karen O’Connor says, experience is something you get right after you need it. And your second crossrail derby was a success!

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