Throwback Thursday: No Hands, No Problem For Richard Spooner

Sep 23, 2015 - 4:54 PM

Back in July of 2002, Richard Spooner dominated the North American Tournament at Spruce Meadows, winning both the ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup and the Chrysler Classic Derby on his horse of a lifetime, Robinson.

But the round everyone was talking about, and has been shown by countless equitation teachers to their students—it has nearly 480,000 views on YouTube—was on Incento.

The Chronicle’s Molly Sorge was on the scene and reported on the incident for the July 19, 2002 issue:

“Incento left a stride out to the first element of the triple combination—a triple bar—and nose dived. Spooner, though, stayed in the back seat, let go of the reins, and kept riding. Incento picked himself up, took a stride and jumped the next two elements of the triple while Spooner sat in the middle with no reins and his arms out to the side. They finished 34th with 16 faults.”

See for yourself:

“It was my mistake that caused the problem,” recalled Spooner. “After that I was trying to be out of his way and let him find his way. I didn’t want to upset the apple cart. He was busy fighting for both of our survival.”

While he reacted on instinct at the moment, after the event Spooner can easily explain his reaction.

“Ian [Millar] always told me you don’t want to be the first person to the scene of an accident,” said Spooner. “If you get stuck forward, you go down in front of them, then you have a big problem coming behind you. If you can stay back and if unfortunately they do go down, in general you get tossed free. The cantle works as a jai alai paddle and you get thrown clear. If you roll over the pommel you have a tendency to go in front of their shoulder.

“Unfortunately I’ve had a lot of things happen to me—this one just happens to be on video,” he continued. “I hate to say that practice makes perfect, but I’d had a lot of things like this happen before.”

Incento went on to be a top equitation horse, finishing third at the USEF Talent Search Medal—West (Calif.) in 2003 with Niki Connor.

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