I should start by saying, I’m not mad.

That’s not to say I wasn’t mad. I’m only human. A normal, human, female just trying to go about her day, find a distance to her jumps, maintain her position, keep her horse minimally straight, and clear her mind two fences out from her trip in the Adult jumper ring.

That is, until… BOOM! From the clouds, there you were. You seemed to have your hands full.

Your horse was big (17+ hands?), and, according to you, “A STALLION—HE’S A STALLION!” as you shouted repeatedly, careening by, your T-rex stallion’s canter thundering the ground. His ears were flat back, his head snaking left and right at anyone within spitting distance of his personage: other horses, trainers, that poor, Maltese mole rat that had the misfortune of darting into that hellscape (he was fine).

Frankly, why you or your trainer thought putting a giant, rank stallion in an Adult class under a clearly unprepared amateur rider, knowing you’d need to warm-up in one of the more notoriously challenging schooling areas on the grounds, is anyone’s guess. Really, aside from the fire-breathing, Daenerys Targaryen had nothing on you two.

But everyone has their own way of doing things, I suppose. That’s why there are so many great opportunities to learn in this sport!

Speaking of learning, I saw you’d also opted out of proper attire, despite it being a division class with a nomination fee and all that. Listen, don’t get the wrong idea; I know sh*t happens. Maybe your alarm went off too late, or you grabbed the wrong suitcase at the baggage claim.

Or maybe you just couldn’t be bothered.

Truth be known, part of me envies people who can pull off that devil-may-care attitude, especially when it comes to no-stakes issues like “proper attire.” Texas is burning! Democracy is under siege! There are children dying in multiple wars around the world right now!

Forgetting your collared shirt? Doesn’t even crack the top-10,000.

I also know we don’t always bring our best selves to the schooling ring. I once went nearly apoplectic myself in the warm-up ring in Ohio when, two strides out from a liverpool schooling jump on a horse with a known water issue, a lady darted in front of my oxer and tried to take the tarp underneath for herself. Talk about a bad morning!

I didn’t call her “moron,” though.

I wasn’t planning on it, but even if I’d want to, there wasn’t the time. I think I might have screamed “heads up!” and closed my eyes, prepared to die or commit negligible homicide on this hapless, situationally unaware tarp-snatcher who, with one, terrible decision, might have irrevocably changed the course of both of our lives forever.

Fortunately, my horse stopped on a dime and neither of those dreadful things happened. (Although, as you can imagine, our liverpool issues didn’t really improve much after that—ha!).

Suffice to say, today I can afford to be relatively magnanimous about middling faux-pas in the schooling ring. Things happen fast; Cortisol levels are at an absolute high.

I don’t know if they’ve ever studied it, but I doubt rats could survive for more than 48 hours in the kind of temple-pulsing, sweaty palm-leaking, adrenaline-racing fugue state the schooling ring induces in most people, let alone those in the 36+ class!

And just think—we choose to be there. Not only that, we beg for the opportunity, taking days off from work, leaving our kids, subjecting ourselves to multiple airport delays (wha’d up, Delta!), perpetual marital stress, and the constant threat of personal bankruptcy just for the “privilege” of being there, under the sun, doing what we love.

Because man, do we love it. I seriously think whoever could figure out how to bottle and sell blind horse girl devotion for some nefarious purpose (love potions, voodoo, cults) would have quite the racket going. But I digress…

If I’m being honest with you, what sticks a little bit in my craw is the fact that I saw you were in trouble, and I was doing my absolute best to be conscientious of you—despite the fact that I had just landed off a jump, had the left-to-left ‘right’ of way, and was on-deck to show next (while you were still many numbers away in the call).

My horse steers well and is an absolute angel in crowds, and we’d both identified you as a kind of 1.10m homing missile we needed to avoid at all costs. It was on you to pick your route and maintain your space and altitude.

But, that’s all water under the bridge… let’s not get bogged down in the details! Whatever our miscommunication was, I’m sorry it happened, and I’m sorry that we were forced to resort to name-calling.

It’s like I tell my toddler all the time, calling someone a ‘doddie-head’, or ‘stink-yucker,’ or a ‘moron,’ is never really the answer. No matter how much you think they deserve it, or how many big feelings you’re feeling in the present moment, there’s always a better option.

You can close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, for instance. Or hum a little jingle to distract yourself. I’ve heard beta-blockers are great, although I haven’t tried them myself.

You could even pull a McLain Ward in the schooling ring and dismount, go get some water, think about your course, mount back up, and then go win (probably).

All that is to say, no hard feelings. I’d hate to be judged as a rider or a person by my worst day in the schooling area, and I’m sure you wouldn’t like that either.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with this little Irish show jumping blessing:

May the ground (never) rise up to meet you,
May the wind leave all your rails in the cups,
May the sun shine always upon your classes,
And the rain hold-off until they are over for the weekend.
And until we meet again,
May the stewards keep your antics well in-check.  


The Benevolent Moron from Jumper Ring **Redacted**