9 top riders share their funniest moments

  • There are some moments that top riders across the disciplines will never forget…

    1. Pippa Funnell, eventer
    On Easter Monday 2009  — the day after I broke my ribs at Burnham Market — we went on a boat to the Isle of Wight with friends. After a boozy lunch, William had to answer the call of nature, so he went around to the back of the boat and managed to fall in. We were laughing so much that it took us about 5 minutes before we turned around for him. Thankfully, he thought it was funny, but my ribs were agony.

    2. Vere Phillipps, showjumper
    I asked a showjumping friend whether he was 50 — as I was about to celebrate my own 50th. He took a step back and said, “You’ve hit me below the belt; I’m only 34!” I did apologise, but this guy has been around for ages, so I just assumed we were the same age.

    4. Emile Faurie, dressage rider
    One Christmas, quite ridiculously, I decided to ride bareback with just a headcollar on Rascher Hopes. He had been on box-rest for a couple of weeks after he got cast and had to be walked. I got a leg-up, the groom had hardly let go when the horse began broncing. He threw me off and I landed on the kickboards, which was jolly painful. But my pride was hurt a lot more.

    5. Maria Eilberg, dressage rider
    I was riding Manitu at the pony European Championships at Hagen in Germany in 2000. He was on top form — we won the team silver and were on line for an individual medal, but, as I was going up to the main arena, we passed a parade of Shetland ponies. Manitu was a pony stallion and mares and little ponies wound him up. He bronced up the centreline and was explosive throughout the test. It was my first big disaster in a competition.

    6. Helen Tredwell, showjumper
    I went to Valerie Redbart’s, who I ride for, for a late Christmas meal — we were using her antique crockery. I was passed a bowl of sprouts and, as I was holding it, the bottom fell out and my plate was covered in them. Everyone was in hysterics and kept making jokes at shows afterwards — calling me the sprout farmer.

    7. Billy Twomey, showjumper
    On holiday in Barbados [a few years ago], Joanne (Billy’s wife) and I bumped into Geoff Billington and Robert Whitaker. We were all having quite a big night — it only takes me three drinks — and I was dancing on chairs and tables. We don’t get to go out much, so it was handcuffs off and a very funny evening!

    8. William Fox-Pitt, eventer
    A couple of years ago, I came off a young horse at a water complex, wearing a Point Two jacket. It did its job and inflated, but left me stranded on my back like a turtle.

    9. Tony Holdsworth, kennel-huntsman
    I regularly make a fool of myself, but in May 2008, I took part in a Beaufort vs VWH hunt Strictly Drag night, modelled on Strictly Come Dancing. I was put into a dress for the first time in my life — and had to dance the tango.

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