When your test hasn't gone quite as planned, there are some comments from the judges that you have to laugh at (...in hindsight)
1. “Talented horse with an opinion!”
2. “Flying changes not required at prelim level.”
3. “Horse may be better suited to cross-country, or speed dressage.”
4. “Lacking activity behind”, shortly followed by a large buck and the comment, “Jolly to canter!”
5. “Nice plaits” — in a test when everything else was horrendous.
6. “Shame he was a bit saucy today!” — when the horse had spent the whole test looking like a giraffe and shouting his head off to his friend…
7. A comment about what a lovely young horse and how she’d be great as she got more experienced. She was 18 – the judge didn‘t realise she was blue roan, not a grey who was going to get lighter…
8. “Your horse looked like he would rather have had a showjump in the arena.”
9. “I’m glad he didn’t repeat what he did in the warm-up” — the rider was first in after a break and just before they went in got bucked off, which the judge had obviously seen.
10. “ *Stargazing* ” written in the comments (about the horse, not the rider) after the mare threw a particularly unelegant strop in the middle of a test and refused to bring her head down.
11. “A lively test, great choice of music however next time we don’t need to see the Moon Walk” — freestyle to a medley of Michael Jackson music. Horse decided to rein back after final halt…
12. “Lovely horse, calm and willing. Could use a little more OOOMPH .”
13. “Nice pony, has great sparkle – even without the bridle” — about a feisty mare that was done up to the nines in bling.
14. “Was spooky tonight – rather you than me!“ – a lovely coloured warmblood who spent the whole novice test in shoulder fore and also executed a stunning half pass (not required) when he caught glimpse of the fire exit sign…
15. “Nice test, but lose the chewing gum!”
16. “Oh you’ve got to love a mare!”
17. “Nice little horse in a horrible hurry.”
18. “I am sure a good test is just around the corner!”
19. “Well rescued!”
20. “A very enthusiastic test, I’m sure he’ll settle with age” — to a 21-year-old horse.
21. “The rider should salute; not the horse!”
22. Heard from the judge’s mouth – but not written down: “That horse sounds like a pig” as he snorted his way around the arena.
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23. “Head dangerously high.”
24. “Rather odd!”
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