How Not to Get Noticed at a Horse Show
Have you ever been in a schooling ring at a show, preparing for your jumping round, when you realized those plain white poles just weren't preparing horse and rider for those bright, scary fences in the ring? Most trainers bring a cooler to drape over a schooling fence to give it a more solid or even 'spooky' look. But as a trainer, what do you do if your rider is on deck and you don't have a cooler? Go without? Borrow one? Nah... you improvise! And if the closest thing you have to a cooler is the shirt on your very back, you simply strip to the waist and hang your own t-shirt over the jump! If the shirt doesn't spook the horse, the sight of a glaringly white, flabby, forty-something, farmer-tanned physique should do the trick!
That was precisely what one of my early trainers did to me in the schooling ring at none other than the Hampton Classic (for those who don't know, one of the snobbiest hunter/jumper shows in the country, imo!) I was probably still in my teens at the time and needless to say I was mortified (these days I might actually be able to see the humor in it ;-) but we did manage to get a few good schooling jumps in right away (just to speed up getting the shirt back on the half-naked trainer) and through the in-gate in record time! And as I recall, we had a pretty good round!
And, lucky for me, that moment was immortalized forever in a photograph published in a major Long Island newspaper. It seems there was a reporter there covering this grand social event (ladies in ridiculous designer dresses and big stupid hats and whatnot) and apparently I was what caught this reporter’s attention (or possibly my, ahem, colorful trainer.)
The shirt had the desired effect of making the jump spookier to my already flighty jumper, Mellon, and upon landing he erupted in a series of spectacular twisting handstands as he galloped away. After I managed to stop him, the reporter approached me and asked if I could do that again! All I could blurt out was, “I hope not!!!” But apparently he got one good picture of us landing over the jump which was published in the newspaper. And, if you looked closely, you could see the t-shirt hanging over the top rail of the schooling fence....
I’m just glad it was a single fence and not an in-and-out, as he was running out of articles of clothing and I’d hate to see what came off next... That would have made for an entirely different kind of article in the newspaper :-\
If you're anything like me, you've had lots of embarrassing horse show memories. I’d love to hear your stories!