We Ask the Industry: Have You Ever Blown a Big Class at a Major Show and Came Back Later to Redeem Yourself?
Nothing is ever sweeter than coming back from failure to prove to yourself and everyone else that you can overcome disappointments and challenges.
Often, horse showing is a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. One day you can be on top of the world and the next day be completely humbled with thoughts that you can never get it quite right.
We talked to some top exhibitors and trainers about an instance when they thought they may have won big but blew it. However, hours, days or even years later, they came back and redeemed themselves.
Natalia DeVencenty (pictured above) – Last year in the horsemanship finals at Youth World, I pushed Chex too much in the fast circle and he threw in a little hop that looked like a buck. It was entirely my fault, and we were sixth that year. We went home and worked on knowing our limits. Two months later at the Congress, we got redemption and won the 15-18 Horsemanship. I’m also blessed to come back this year at the Youth World and win the horsemanship.
Ashley Hadlock – At the 2016 Congress, I made it to the finals of the Amateur Showmanship with my current horse, Touched N Moonlite (Regis). Since they had posted the scores in the prelims, I knew I had tied to win. So, I went into the finals with high hopes and got a little too gutsy. The pattern had a big extended trot and I decided I wanted to try for a little more pace than my previous go. As Regis and I came around the top of the circle, a lope step was taken. I was let down but went into last year’s 2017 Congress with confidence trying to not dwell on the previous year’s mistake. It all came together and I was beyond thrilled when Regis and I were named the 2017 Congress Amateur Showmanship Champions.
Hilary Roberts – At the 2014 Youth World, I showed in the horsemanship finals the day before the trail finals. My horsemanship pattern was one of my best until I overspun. I was disappointed but decided not to let it ruin my mindset for the following day. I’m glad I did because I ended up winning the trail on the same horse, Chrome On My Zipper. In a way, I think it made me realize that no matter how much pressure you put on yourself, anything can happen, good or bad.
Kamiah McGrath – I was fortunate enough to make it back in the western riding finals at the Youth World for three years in a row. In this situation, the fourth time was the charm and the year I won the western riding. Also, I was at the Congress one year, and it started off poorly, and I wanted to go home. My mom said, “when you are on the bottom, there is only one way to go and that is up.” She was pretty frustrated with my attitude, so I picked myself up and dusted myself off, and we ended up winning the 12-14 All-Around. I have learned how to recover from mistakes and move on.
Cathy Corrigan Frank – The opposite happened to me. It was horrible. I won the Congress in Select Trail on Hank, and one week later, I drew up first in prelims at the World Show and scored like a 205. Next show was Sun Circuit in January, and we got gated just about every day. I was waiting for the Congress show management to take our trophy away for being frauds and sucking at the trail. (laughs)
Kathy Tobin – I did have one of those goes. It was in Select World Finals in Trail with New Lark In Town. We were clean going into the last obstacle, just a simple turn around box with a walkout and I’d been done. I turned too quickly in the box and hit an elevated pole, and it fell off the riser. Next year, I turned more slowly in the box, and we won that next year. Ever since then, I’ve been a slower turner in the boxes.
Libby Rinder – This kind of actually just happened at the NSBA World Show. Our first class Monday morning was the Amateur Trail which is usually our strongest. We went in and Sonny spooked throughout the whole pattern, which is very unlike him. We were able to get through and finish, but it was by the skin of my teeth. I was pretty frustrated because I felt like we blew our strongest class in the show. Then, our last day at the show, Saturday, we had the Novice Amateur Horsemanship. I usually show this on my other horse, but she wasn’t able to come to NSBA, so we figured I might as well give it a shot on Sonny. I haven’t shown this class on him in years, and only just started showing the horsemanship again this year since I was a youth kid. We went in and Sonny was fantastic, and we ended up being reserve world champion out of around 50 exhibitors. The show started rough, but we ended it on a high note.
Emma Brown – I had this happen to me at both the world show and Congress. For the last two years at the Congress and the world show, I had something happen, such as double stepping a walk or loping off, or breaking gait, or just hitting and getting penalties that kept me off the big stage. When I came out my last year of youth, I was determined to eliminate those mistakes. Before the Congress and the World Show, I just said to myself “don’t mess this up; you can do it, this pattern is yours, own it.” That worked for me, and I was fortunate enough to win the 15-18 Trail at the Congress and the 14-18 Trail at the AQHYA World Show. I also set arena records both times, so to do that well and to have that high of scores was something I had only dreamed of, and now I can say it’s true and I’m the happiest girl in the world.
Elizabeth Knabenshue – I will never forget the “ahhh” that went through the crowd when I loped off in the last step of the trot in the finals of the horsemanship at the Congress with Rip City Zip. It was devastating. The next year, I was determined not to do that. It was a lope to stop, so I took my feet out and sat there. I broke to a trot because I stopped riding and the “ahhh” went through the stands as well. I cried through the entire rail work; I was so frustrated. So, third time was a charm, the Briggs and I horsemanshiped and horsemanshiped that year. They didn’t call individual placings out for the class they just started at 10th, so when they got to first I was sure I would have to try again next year. But, we had won. Zippy was a fantastic horsemanship horse, and looking back now, I am so proud to have put that on his record.
Emma Edwards – Last year at my final AQHA Youth World Show, I did not make it into the Western Riding finals with my horse, This Is Why Im Here. Honestly, I was incredibly disappointed. This was Jack and my favorite class, but as everyone knows, this is just how it goes in the horse show world. All the stars have to align, and it was just not my time. With a crazy college schedule, I was extremely fortunate to be able to fly to Ohio to show at the All American Congress for the Youth Western Riding. I was there for 24 hours. This was it, my final youth year and my goal was to be Top 5 in the Western Riding. The class was late at night and I was an early draw. Jack was terrific, but there were so many other incredibly talented riders that I was up against. Finally, the last rider went, and I realized that Jack and I had done it. My final class as a youth and we had won the Congress Youth 14-18 Western Riding. After such disappointment in August, this was such an incredibly special moment for me, my horse and my trainer, Nancy Renfro. We could not have done this without her.
Ellexxah Maxwell – In 2010, 2011 and 2012, I did the wrong horsemanship patterns at the Congress. When I say the wrong pattern, I don’t mean turned the wrong way or missed a transition. I went utterly freestyle doing something that didn’t even resemble the pattern. It was a massive blow to my confidence, and each year I’d say I’m going to do it right this time. Unfortunately, three consecutive years passed before that was true. In 2013, I told myself I was going to get through the pattern, and I did. From there on, everything else I did in that class was a bonus. Several hours later following another horsemanship pattern and rail work; I was named 2013 12-14 Horsemanship Congress Champion.
Lauren Graves – I would say my biggest failure, which turned into my redemption, was at Youth World this year but in two different events. Going into the prelims of western riding my horse and I were a little rusty from a lack of showing in that event. I didn’t have a horrible round, but I wasn’t happy leaving the arena because I didn’t feel it was the best we could have done. I missed the western riding finals by a point and a half. The next day was the trail finals, and I knew if I wanted to do well in that class, I needed to let go of my previous class and move on to the next one. It was my first year showing at Youth World, so I didn’t put any pressure on myself, I was just happy to make the finals. Later that day, we ended up getting third in the 14-18 Youth Trail finals out of a very tough group of riders and horses. In this sport, you can never count yourself out, because one moment you’ll be down and the next you’ll be on top.
Anne Wilson – I liked my prelim showmanship pattern at my first Select World Show in 2009 (ended up winning the prelims). However, I had a big mistake in the finals, and I was a Finalist. The next five years in a row, Visible Investment (Dudley) and I were World Champions. Very grateful!
Ariel Herrin – The first two years I showed my horse, Challaging Details, at the Youth World, we placed in the top ten in the equitation. The third year, I was early to go in the draw and had a great pattern, good enough to make it to the semi-finals. In that pattern, I blew the timing for the simple change and, ultimately, didn’t make the finals. The next year, it was a repeat performance. I had an excellent first pattern but made a costly error the second time. The following year, 2012, was my final youth year, and I lost sleep all summer thinking about how I just had to get it right that year. I sighed the biggest breath of relief when I heard my number called back to the finals that year. We finished fourth that year, our personal best in youth world placings. Though I was thrilled to have been so high at such a level, everyone knows that fourth place doesn’t get a trophy. I got to show at the Amateur AQHA World Show four times in the equitation and came home with four prizes, and one of them was gold. It is so easy to get focused on one lousy ride and forget all the good ones, but it’s a lot more fun to remember the good ones.
Lauren Stanley – Extremely Good Stuff (Rooster) is hands down the most talented trail horse I’ve ever ridden. All year, he’s been laying down one incredible ride after another with Bruce in the saddle. I had been struggling with finding distances but had recently figured it out. At this year’s NSBA World Show, I had the opportunity to show in two trail classes, with the Amateur Trail being first and the BCF 4-6 Non-Pro Trail going second. Rooster and Bruce won the Jr Trail, and I felt I needed to go out there and do Rooster justice. I rode into my Amateur Trail class with complete confidence in myself and my horse. We did our back up and gate beautifully and then trotted off to continue the pattern. Unfortunately, somewhere in the three strides, it took to get to the jog overs, I lost my groove. I missed every single mark I had set out and trotted over several poles that I was supposed to lope over (whoops!). I felt like I let Rooster down, but I was bound and determined to do a better job piloting in our second class. I had another horse at the show that I pulled out and rode over a pole at the jog and lope countless times until I felt like I knew what I was doing. We went out to show in our second trail class, showed tremendously and ended up Reserve Champion in the class. Never give up, keep practicing, and it will all come together.
Scott Reinartz – I’ve blown several patterns when it mattered. I don’t know If I would have won, but I have come back to redeem myself. I don’t let one bad go keep me from going forward. It usually gives me fuel to try harder. The best thing about doing the pattern wrong is your horse doesn’t know, so he still gets praised.
Beth Case – I’ve blown it a few times, but the only one I can think of where we came back and won was Look N Hott. We blew it a few times and then won quite a few classes with him, both with Laurel and me.
Have you blown a big class at a major show and came back later and redeemed yourself? Let us know.