Just about every amateur rider can recall a best and a worst moment that stand out from their riding careers. Here are a few from riders just like you.
Lori Snetsinger, Aurora, Ohio, has been showing hunters since she was 4. Now 23, she graduated from college last spring with a degree in business management. Throughout her riding career, she has braided and worked to be able to show. She rides Cashmere in the amateur-owner hunter, 18-35, division.
She recalled her favorite moment was during the 2006 Merrill Lynch Hunter Jumper Classic (Ohio). “I won the junior/amateur-owner hunter classic there [on Cashmere],” she said. “I’ve shown there since I was 10 years old and never won a big class like that. I finally got my moment of glory.
“It was hot that day, and we didn’t show until 3 p.m. The year before, for that class, he’d gotten really excited because there was a marching band playing in the other ring. He took off. I was thinking about that because I could hear that the grand prix was going on at the same time. I was having flashbacks! But he was absolutely wonderful. He got an 84 in both rounds and was amazing that day.”
Snetsinger laughed and said, “There’ve been a lot of those! One year, in Kentucky, I was showing in the juniors, and my horse took off. He knocked over a jump and then kept running around the ring, bucking. Then, he jumped the jump that he’d knocked over. He ran around for 5 minutes. It was pretty embarrassing to just stand there and watch my crazy horse run around the ring. But we’ve all had our moments.”
Sue Church, 45, San Dimas, Calif., began eventing eight years ago and joined the Santa Fe Hunt in Temecula, Calif., shortly thereafter. She’s currently the vice president for Santa Fe Hunt and has earned her colors there. She also works in insurance and employee benefits.
The name One Trick Pony doesn’t quite seem fitting now. Church bought “Butch,” as a 5-year-old of unknown breeding. His first owner purchased him as a 3-year-old unbroken Montana ranch horse. After Church’s husband hunted him for a couple of seasons, she started taking him to events.
A few years ago, Church and Butch earned the open preliminary division’s lowest dressage score (31.0) at an event at Galway Downs (Calif.) and finished on that score to win the Area VI Amateur Preliminary Championship. Now 17, Butch still foxhunts and competes occasionally. But more notably, he was dubbed this year’s Foxhunter of the Year for the Santa Fe Hunt.
It’s easier now for Sue Church to laugh about the “Skip incident.”
It was her first outing eight years ago with new friend Linda Paine and her husband Terrel Paine, MFH of Santa Fe Hunt. Church’s mount, Roxy, pulled a shoe so she decided to return to the trailers. But she lost her way.
“In Southern California, we hunt in the most rural areas,” she continued. “And the people who live in those rural areas live there for a reason.”
A surly shotgun-wielding man guarded the porch of the first property they passed. “I decided he didn’t want me there so we moved on, quickly,” Church recalled.
Then she met Skip. “He had maybe five teeth,” she remembered. Outside of Skip’s boarded up
trailer with tie-dye curtains sat a 1960s Volkswagen.
“It didn’t have any doors. But it looked like it would run,” Church said. “Did you know you can start a car by putting two wires together?”
Skip agreed to drive Church back to her truck and trailer at the hunt club (for $20) while the ever-stoic Roxy relaxed, tied to a tree nearby.
“Just as we turned in to where the trailers were parked, every single member of the club came driving out. So there I was, a new member, sitting with Skip in a car with no doors.”
“In 2006, I was co-grand champion on Mombo [at the Pennsylvania National], which at the time was a very new partnership,” she said. “Winning there was definitely more than I ever thought I could do.
It’s ended up being the beginning of a wonderful partnership. That’s been my high as far as being an
In addition, Takacs said beyond her own showing she’s experienced the joy of watching her children enjoy riding.
“This summer my 2-year-old daughter showed in the leadline at Lake Placid (N.Y.),” said Takacs. “She rode a pinto pony named Rosie that we borrowed. As much fun as I have showing myself, that was really special to share it with my child. Richard Feldman [show chairman] was handing out ribbons, and Samantha asked for a pink ribbon instead of blue because pink is her favorite color.”
Takacs recalled an embarrassing moment with her horse Full Circle during the Monmouth County Horse Show (N.J.) in the late ’90s that ranks as one of her worst memories.
“He was a hot Thoroughbred, and it was always an issue trying to get him quiet,” she said. “I
was doing the amateurs, and we showed late in the day. He definitely got a bee in his bonnet. We
had jumped the whole course, and as I did my closing circle, he bolted and galloped full-speed out the in-gate. He went through and under the starter’s tent and nearly decapitated me. It was quite dramatic, but, fortunately, we were both unscathed.”
Takacs also recalled one other memorable moment when she was pregnant and not riding but was in Wellington, Fla., to watch her horse show.
“My mother was supposed to be watching my son Scott, who was 2 at the time. She was sitting on the back of the golf cart, and he was playing on the golf cart. Somehow, my son managed to drive the golf cart through the fence of the grand hunter ring. He broke the fence, and they had to stop the class,” she recalled shaking her head. “I was watching from across the ring, and fortunately no one was hurt.”
SUE SPRINGSTEEN Sue Springsteen loved dressage from the time she watched her first dressage test at a local schooling show when she was 12. “I hadn’t been riding very long,” she said. “I evented for a while, but I got to preliminary and decided I wasn’t brave enough to go any further.”
Now this Downingtown, Pa., resident squeezes in her riding time between working a full-time job in wealth management for Morgan Stanley and doing radio broadcasts with stock market insights on KYW Newsradio.Best Moment Springsteen couldn’t pick just one best moment, but riding her first Grand Prix ranks right up there.
“You ride a Grand Prix, and it changes you,” she said. “It’s a huge accomplishment, even if it’s not a show-stopping Grand Prix. As a dressage rider, [you] dream of that for decades.”
Another thrilling moment was last year when Springsteen finally won a Great American/USDF Regional Championship with Fanale.
Springsteen’s worst horse-related moment didn’t come in the show ring but instead while on the way to Wellington, Fla., in 2003. Her Hanoverian mare Fanale got herself into trouble in the trailer while trying to remove a bandage.
“She bucked in the trailer and got her left hind leg over the center divider, and we couldn’t free her,” said Springsteen. “We were about an hour from Wellington, and the trailer started to go all over the road. I thought I was going to lose her.”
She pulled off into a parking lot and tried to help the mare, who was hanging from the divider by her left stifle. It took 45 minutes and help from the police to get the divider out of the trailer.
“There was blood everywhere,” recalled Springsteen. “But once she stood and was standing on all fours, I figured she hadn’t fractured any-thing.”
Fortunately, Fanale made a full recovery and was back in work five weeks later.
SUE MINTON-EDISON Sue Minton-Edison competed in hunters and jumpers until her mid-20s, but an accident caused her to re-evaluate, and she left riding behind for almost 20 years. She always missed horses though, so she returned to the sport at age 49 and discovered dressage. She and her 12-year-old, Dutch Warmblood gelding Nonesuch are preparing for Prix St. Georges. She and her husband Doug run Environmental Safety Products, a company that creates water filtration and purification devices in Sixes, Ore.
Minton-Edison said her favorite moments include the learning process of dressage.
“Nothing feels better than those moments when you get it,” she explained. “Not winning a class or a championship. There are moments, usually when I’m in a lesson, where I really can feel his withers come up underneath me, and his back gets soft. There are moments where it feels really right, where you think this is exactly how it should be.
“You go through the process of trying to get your body to learn something and really understand it,” she added. “You work so hard at it, and then you have that moment where you feel like you’ve had some kind of physical epiphany. You feel them come through, and you feel that your body is with them and everything is perfect. I have it!”
She said her most frustrating moments are at shows.
“We live in a serene, peaceful environment where [my horse] doesn’t have a lot of distraction around him,” she said. “When he gets to the show, every little noise startles him. He carries so much tension. For the first couple of years he’d bolt at the drop of the hat. That feeling of despair comes when I think he’s all better, and we’ve put that behind us, and then I go to a new environment and during the first two days there he feels like a rocket ready to launch.”
Betsy Wobus, 63, of Rough And Ready, Calif., has enjoyed trail riding and endurance since she
purchased her first Arabian in 1986. Eventing has since become her first love. She works part-time as a consulting doctor for a group of nurse practitioners and physicians assistants. She currently owns and events an Arabian, AE Psymmetry, at the novice level.
Wobus bought her 8-year-old, Arabian gelding, AE Psymmetry, or “Timi,” in 2003. They initially competed in endurance and competitive trail rides, and Wobus later taught Timi some dressage movements. But she’d not had any jumping experience.
Wobus had caught the eventing bug, however, so she and Timi went to some clinics with Yves Sauvignon and Bea di Grazia and later worked with Lesley Deutsch, a local hunter/jumper trainer.
“But Timi was still convinced that stadium jumps ate horses on a regular basis,” Wobus said.
But persistence in training and competition finally paid off at this year’s Twin Rivers Horse Trials (Calif.).
“Timi finally took me over thestadium course; double clear in the fastest time of the [Adult Team Challenge] division!” she said. “We had found balance and rhythm, but the rhythm was Timi’s choice, not mine,” she added.
Having an injured horse is heart-wrenching enough. But watching Timi suffer in the warm-up ring at the Woodside Horse Trials (Calif.) last fall definitely topped Wobus’ list of worst moments.
Timi tied-up after completing the stadium round. “Of course, I was in second place and was really looking forward to cross-country,” Wobus recalled. She hoped it was a minor cramp, but they had to withdraw from the final phase.
Timi healed quickly, but the initial experience hit Wobus hard. She and Timi made up for it in August, however, by finishing second at Woodside (Calif.) in the novice rider division.
Molly Sorge, Sara Lieser and Joshua A. Walker