Embarrassing Dressage Moments

What’s the worst, most mortifying thing that ever happened to you in the dressage ring? Lila Gendal bares her soul.

From Lila:

At times, dressage gives off the illusion of being effortless, peaceful and harmonious. Other times, there are disastrous moments just waiting to happen, like a ticking bomb with an uncertain detonating time. Many eventers and dressage riders can reminisce about some unfortunate times in the dressage ring. We can look back and laugh, or maybe even joke about our embarrassing dressage moments. Some are horrific, and some just downright comical.

So without further ado, I would like to dig up some unfortunate and hilarious dressage moments that I have experienced in my 20 years of riding.

When I was a little girl, I remember one of my first dressage tests. I was at Hitching Post Farm, in South Royalton, Vermont. I was riding a Morgan gelding named “Roty.” He was a great school horse and I was determined to ride through my test without any bumps or hiccups. Well, that was wishful thinking. The bell rang three, maybe four times. Each time the judge stopped me, I became even more confused about where I was supposed to be. It was just a schooling show, so she let me finish my test. I remember bawling my eyes out, to the point where I could barely see where I was going. Ah… good times!

Then there was the test where I took my mare to Hitching Post. This was one of her first events. I went down centerline, turned right and attempted a 20-meter circle at A. Instead of making a circle, my horse trotted out at A. In doing so, she also took half of the ring with her. I stopped and asked the judge if I could keep riding, and she gave me the thumbs up. I trotted back in while my friend awkwardly tried to repair the ring. It was hilarious.

My last funny dressage moment was at GMHA several years ago, again, on my mare. She was young and green. I recall going to pick up the right lead canter which was not her favorite item on the menu, and she kicked out and said, ‘no thanks, I’m good with just trotting,’ so I kept asking. I finally got her into the right lead, and as soon as we got into the canter she lurched to a halt and took a giant crap. It took several seconds of kicking, and a few encouraging taps with the whip before I got her going again. This was definitely humiliating. Horses are not meant to come to a halt when they need to relieve themselves, especially in a dressage test!

In each embarrassing dressage moment, I was undoubtedly ticked off, but looking back on these episodes just makes me smile. There’s nothing I can do about those situations now, except laugh. Everyone has a funny dressage story to tell…. so what’s yours?!

My name is Lila Gendal and I am 27 years old. I am from Vermont and have been riding horses since I was 6 years old. I have been eventing since I was 10. I have been riding and training with Denny Emerson for the last 7 years. My goal is to compete at the upper levels someday. I currently have a 2005 Holsteiner mare, “Valonia” (Contester X Parlona), who is currently going training level, and I am riding one of Denny Emerson’s horses, a 2005 Selle Luxemburg gelding, “Beaulieu’s Cool Skybreaker” (Beaulieu’s Coolman X Une Beaute by Heartbreaker) who will be moving up to training soon! When I am not on a horse or in the barn I am likely working in my office on what I like to call Equine Media… or social media for equestrians and equestrian websites.

V aug jump school!


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