The Near Side: Embarrassing Moments at the Barn


A few years ago in the old HI Spy column, we asked people to tell us about their most embarrassing moment related to horses. There were some good responses, many of them involving inopportune and/or awkward falls. They’re worth a read. Take a look.

I was thinking about that this morning because a song came on the radio that reminded me of what is probably my most embarrassing moment at the barn. And that in turn reminded me of my runner-up most embarrassing barn moment. Neither one of these incidents directly involved a horse. They both took place at the barn where I taught summer camp and riding lessons many years ago.

Pictured: Actual camp horses who were not responsible for any embarrassing moments I got myself into. Not pictured: Any actual embarrassing moments, because fortunately, there is no photographic evidence of them.

First, the runner-up. I was standing in the ring, teaching a group of campers, and for some reason thought it would be good to stand on top of a groundpole in the middle of the ring. You already see where this is going. So I stood there, working on my balance (I guess) while imparting my equestrian wisdom to the younger generation when the inevitable happened. The pole rolled, leaving me on my butt in the footing. The other counselor in the ring looked down at me, turned back to the kids and said, “This is an example of why you shouldn’t play around with the equipment at the barn.”

That doesn’t sound all THAT embarrassing, but please remember that this was in front of a group of 7- and 8-year-old kids. This is a demographic that: 1.) finds falling down hilarious, and 2.) doesn’t let anyone live anything down. Seriously, I would rather fall on my butt in front of the population of People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive list than a group of 8-year-olds. At least the former might have some sympathy.

When summer camp season ended, we continued doing after-school riding lessons, but the pace was much less hectic. Most of my daytime working hours were spent in the seasonally quiet barn, by myself, just taking care of the horses. It was lovely, and it sets the scene for my No. 1 most embarrassing moment.

After putting the horses out for the day, I went about my usual routine of picking the stalls and scrubbing water buckets. I had the radio on, and was singing along in my, ahem, unschooled singing voice. I had just finished a rousing chorus of The Smiths’ “How Soon is Now” when I turned around to see a dude standing in the doorway at the opposite end of the barn aisle. If you need a refresher, “How Soon is Now” is the song with the line:

I am human and I need to be loved
Just like everybody else does.

So it was just after finishing that horribly self-pitying line, and not just in any awful singing voice but my own terrible Morrissey impression, I discovered that I had an audience. Best of all it was a dad who had come to inquire about lessons for his kids, which meant I had to pretend to be a mature adult that he would want to entrust his children to and not just some weirdo hanging out in a barn doing weepy solo karaoke to 80s alternative music.

Good times.

Can you top that? Sure you can. Tell me about your most embarrassing moment in the comments below. I promise not to make fun of you. After all, you are human and you need to be loved…just like everybody else does.

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Leslie Potter is Sr. Associate Web Editor of Follow her on Twitter: @LeslieInLex.


  1. It is a good to be acknowledged as an expert in something, most of the time, that is. Well, at my former boarding barn I was known as the “sheath cleaning lady”. So once or twice a year the barn owner, and the boarders that owned geldings would ask me to help them with that cleaning chore!! Which most times I obliged, knowing that I could accomplish said cleaning while suffering no bodily harm. Did I mention that this is also a lesson barn? Well, it is and on several said cleaning sessions, I would have my arm halfway up a geldings particular body part, only to find a young girl watching from the open stall door with eyes extra open, and a worried expression on her face. Then I would try to explain the cleaning operation without going into detail, but emphasizing that I was not hurting the horse!! Fun times

  2. I was at a class A Arabian show with my yearling filly showing her in the Halter class. We were just entering the ring which is done at a trot. As we entered the gate, she stepped on the side of my foot causing me to trip and fall flat on my face with judges and audience watching. My trainer was on the rail and cracked up laughing. Not one of my better moments but at least I didn’t lose my horse during the fall. She just turned around and looked at me like “What are doing down there?” Was actually pretty funny. Luckily I wasn’t hurt and we were able to finish the class.

  3. I work as a Wrangler at a riding stable. I used to ride a 17 hand horse as my lead horse, mind you I am only 5’2″ tall. One day it was pouring rain and I had just come back from a ride and went to mount up for my next ride. We don’t use mounting blocks so I had to do what I call the leap of faith. That’s where I put my foot in the stirrup and jump to get my hand around the saddle horn. Well, that day the leather horn was slippery and when I lept up to grab it my hand slipped right off and I landed square on my butt in the sand in front of my boss, co-workers and the 20 person ride. But despite the embarrassment I laughed along, dusted myself off and managed to drag myself up onto my horse after a second try.

  4. I was laying on my completely loose horse while she was eating grain – no halter of course! I had been at work and college all day, and fell asleep. Of course the electrical fence decided to short out and make a sudden buzzing IMA ZAP A HORSE sound. I stuck it about 20 feet before falling backwards off the 22 year horse. I could have broken every bone in my body and still been able to get up and walk away!

  5. I was 45 years old and a mother of 3 when i took my first riding lesson. It went very well until the dismount which was when I realized that large coffee i drank before going to the barn was a bad idea. i think you can figuure out what happened next.
    P.S. It was a male instructor.

  6. I took one of my 10 yr old students riding at the lake. It was a fabulous day and she did fantastic. We came out of the water after about 20 minutes. Her mom was taking pictures. As we stopped to talk…my girth was loose…you guessed it…a complete roll sideways under my horse. As I lay on the ground student say in a voice only a 10 yr old has ” hmm..checking your girth during a ride is mandatory..what pert of that didn’t you get?” Smart girl…dumb trainer!!! It was all caught on camera…sheesh??

  7. The poor embarrassing thing did not happen to me but I was witness to it. I was walking up the hill to our arena when I see one of our older students dis mounting her pony. Her shirt and bra slipped over the horn as she jumped off and was hanging there on the horn with mostly her bra supporting her as she was falling out of her shirt. She was yelling don’t let him see don’t let him see because the male owner was up above somewhere. We slowly approached the good pony who was standing still and boosted her up to freedom. She was so embarrassed but I reminded her it could have been very different and allot worse if the good little pony took off in fear.

  8. When I was about 14, my instructor and my lesson buddy and I went on a mini trail ride to a fallow field nearby. It was large answer were cantering around a fair distance. When we got to one end, we stopped to turn around and go back, but I held my horse back behind the others for a second so I could get settled. He didn’t like that! He bucked, throwing me up onto his neck and completely out of the saddle, and took off at a dead gallop. I was riding with my breastbone on his spine, but I quickly started slipping off. I would have just let go but I new I would land under his hooves. The others finally pulled up and my horse stopped on his own – with me hanging like a monkey from his back! Both of them were cracking up.

  9. At the end of a pleasant ride with my sisters we were all dismounting in various areas. I was riding my sisters older roping horse “Star” and dismounted a little behind them in the field. Not as agile as I use to be I decided rather than leaving my left foot in the stirrup I would just slide off. When I leaned over the saddle to free my left foot and pushed off I found my pant waist had caught on the horn. Bless Star because as I hung there with all my weight pulling on the saddle she stood fast. I yelled out and my sister not knowing the situation yelled back just a minute. I don’t know how long I hung there(seemed like a long time) mere seconds I am sure. I kept trying to free myself to no avail the poor horse had finally had enough and rared just a bit in frustration. Thankfully that action freed my pant waist and I fell to the ground,of course it was at that moment that my sister turned and she started to yell at the horse. I quickly stopped her letting her know just how great the horse really was and hoped Star wasn’t going to be too sore. Thank heavens for well trained horses. Lesson learned this less than agile person now uses a mounting block.

  10. I was riding with one of my good friends after eating greasy taco shop food and while riding i was, lets just say letting them rip. well unfortunately i trusted one fart i should have never trusted…… i hopped off and thought i was safe till i took a step. i did the awkward waddle up to the bathroom that had a shower thank god and had to call my friend who proceeded to laugh for a good 5 straight minutes before she brought me my clean clothes. to this day if i dont trust ridding with bubble guts unless i know i have clothes and a bathroom handy .


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