Creative Dismounts: Jane’s Story

I thought I’d go first, to lower the mortification bar, so no one is too embarrassed to send in their Creative Dismount story.

It was the dead of winter.  Here that means rain and mud.  Lots and lots of mud.  The kind of mud that might suck a limb off along with your boot if you step in the wrong place.  I’d already ruined a very expensive pair of tall boots out of sheer stubborness, so I bought my first (and last) pair of rubber tall boots.  I thought I could slog through the muck and ride without changing footwear. It seemed the ideal solution: slog and ride. I was too lazy to switch muck boots for riding boots and vice versa after the trek from barn to arena.

It was 40 days and 40 nights mucky.  This was thoroughly unacceptable to the fancy schmancy barn at which I was boarding.  They were horribly embarrassed to have muck anywhere, let alone from barn to arena.  A ton of gravel and a bobcat were waiting for a cease and desist in precipitation to fix the situation.

My gorgeous 16.3 OTTB (Jasper John) and I arrived super early to work in the indoor arena.  A limo was scheduled to arrive in two hours bearing an Uber Famous Name Dressage Trainer (UFNDT) who had been flown in from Germany, all expenses paid, after much wheedling and a first class ticket, to hold court at $500 a pop.

Jasper and I were not participating in the clinic.  We were still working out the OTT part of the OTTB.  Stop was still a questionable concept in his brain.  I didn’t want to miss a day of his off-the-track imprinting, so we were taking advantage of the covered arena before UFNDT arrived. The grandstands (fancy schmancy barn) were already filling with auditors jostling for position to endure the freezing rain at $125 a pop, no questions allowed.

Suddenly, a small child ran around the blind corner of the arena, screaming in delight, happily waving ribbon flags in the blustery rain and stomping in huge puddles of water.  To Jasper, this five year old was roughly the equivalent of a a hockey masked, chainsaw wielding predator.  Unfortunately, by this time we’d been joined (I was just about to dismount out of politeness) by participants starting to warm up.  Real dressage riders.  Who could do fancy things like…halt.  At will.

Jasper’s epic starting-gate bolt did not increase my popularity with the upper level riders who could not only halt, but could also ride in a straight line.  We careened a few furlongs around the arena, scattering the real riders.  There was some sort of commotion in the stands, but I had to focus on remaining on this side of the veil, so no idea what that was about.  Finally, I get Jasper to halt, literally at X, heaving…but square!  (We get our victories where we can take them).  Well.  That’s a relief.  He’s square.  We’ll end on a good(ish) note. (We also take our crappy justifications where we can find them.) I look up, ready to dismount.

UFNDT is standing inside the arena at A, tapping a riding crop irritably on one perfectly polished boot, a look of utter disgust on his face.  No one else is in the arena.


I turn every imaginable shade of red.  I’m so mortified I’m shaking.  I hurriedly go to dismount, swinging my stiff rubber leg over the cantle.  Well, almost.  My boot caught, nearly ricocheting me off the far side with the force of it’s resistance.  I’d never ridden in rubber boots.  How was I supposed to know they didn’t flex?

I jerked at it trying to free myself.  Victory! I freed myself all right.  Like a shot.  I fell off, whumping flat on my back with the reins still in my fist, directly under Jasper’s muzzle.  How did the reins get over his head? I stare up at Jasper for a second, not sure what happened.  Wasn’t I just up there?  Jasper stood like a bored school horse, no trace of the abject terror that rocketed us into hyperspace.  I do the unthinkable.  I can’t help it.

I laugh.  It’s SO horrific, it’s just FUNNY.

I giggle on my back and flail my arms on the ground like a crazy person.  My helmet has come off (days of decorative helmets) and I’m laughing hard enough to grind my hair into the elegantly groomed FiBar footing, making a nice dumped rider angel with a FiBar halo.

Dead silence from the stands, from the UFNDT.

Clearly I’m the only one who thinks my utter humiliation has even a modicum of humor with which I might partially redeem my unacceptable behavior.

My trainer fired me for embarrassing her in front of her idol, the UFNDT.  SPOOKING is simply not allowed.  But if it does happen, then we do NOT simply FALL off our horses at a dead halt while they are standing meekly and squarely at X.

I can’t exactly disagree with any of this.

I go quietly.  (If a choking a bit on stifled laughter.)

11 thoughts on “Creative Dismounts: Jane’s Story

    1. Oh oh oh OH. Me Too! (Thank you for not leaving me alone in the falling off while getting on department. It was lonely in there.)

      You just reminded me of another, um, creative…uh…dismount whose intended result was not to dismount, but to get on board. I’m sure we’ll be hearing about that one soon!

  1. I feel compelled to say, even though I’m not naming him, UFNDT was an amazing rider…totally astounding. Obviously, since I wasn’t auditing, I didn’t see his teaching ability. I hate to slam even an anonymous trainer/barn. It was just a bad fit. I needed a barn more suited to the OTT working through than competitively serious training. At the time, I could afford fancy schmancy and wanted the amenities!

    The right fit, another topic for discussion…

  2. Good one! Hehehehe and I thought I was bad falling off at a walk (didn’t share that one). Glad that you can laugh about it and that you weren’t hurt. Who needs stuffy barns and trainers anyway?

  3. I’m so glad I FINALLY have people to laugh with about this. And who appreciate the talent it takes to fall off a horse that is not currently moving.

    It was a really nice barn…excellent horse care. Top notch facilities. I had to leave not long after The Great Rubber Boot Fall. The aisle way shunning was more than I could take.

    Oddly, the place that would have made sense to shun us, the arena, (who wants to risk their horse around one who can bolt like THAT?) didn’t seem to be an issue.

    Thankfully, new barn had a lot more laughter!

  4. Laughing so hard my eyes are welled up with tears. THAT is priceless. I’m not sure what other creative dismount stories are coming, but I’m pretty sure you win. And… welcome back!

  5. Hilarious! Glad you laughed about it, without a sense of humor there is no fun in riding horses. Boot tapper should have thanked you for your pre-clinic show and lightening the mood. It’s not everyone who can actually fall off a horse at the halt standing square, and when you find that special person a round of applause is in order!

  6. Oh dear…horrible and funny – a laugh or cry moment. I’m so glad you could laugh/can laugh because life is too short to worry about stuffy, highly paid boot tappers and their followers.

    …must make a mental note about riding in rubber boots… 😉

  7. OMG, that is hysterical! I think they should have invented an AWARD to give you – and a share of the clinic proceedings, since you started it off with such a bang.

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