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.
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.
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.
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.
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?