California Riding Magazine • July, 2012

Horsey Humor:
Simon Says You Can't Ride

by Bob Goddard

While watching an American Idol rerun the other night, I got an idea. What would it be like to have Simon Cowell as a horse show judge? For those of you unfamiliar with the show, American Idol is a reality based television series that promises to deliver America's next pop music sensation. Simon is the brutally honest British record executive who served as one of the original three judges on the show. His harsh criticisms of the contestants lead some to believe he is unnecessarily cruel. Others think he is simply telling talent-less pop star wannabes what they desperately need to hear. I think he should be a horseshow judge.

This is how I imagine it:

As the last few bars or our National Anthem are being sung, Simon gears up for his critique of the singer. He just can't help himself. But his comments are drowned out by the P.A. announcer's list of today's show sponsors. Between "Frank the Farrier Horseshoe'n" and "The Tack Box: Your Neighborhood Horse Supply Source," we hear the words "second rate" and right after Oakwood Stables we catch "dreadful." But other than that, everybody pretty much ignores Simon's
witty appraisal.

The first showmanship class enters the ring. As Simon proceeds down the line, we learn that Susie Petemaker's Quarter Horse is "too fat for this competition." And little Audrey Lowery's preparation was just plain shoddy. Linsey Macker's grooming job was substandard. In fact, Simon is disgusted with everybody's performance. He is especially irritated by Amy Flicker, the girl who "accidentally" catches Simon in his left eye with her lead rope. Better take up the slack on that rope, Amy.
After observing five minutes of walk-trot competition (with one hand over his sore eye), Simon orders the riders into the center of the ring and addresses the class:

"As a group, I can't imagine a worse collection of riders. Your performance this morning was simply appalling. I can't pick a winner because, you're all losers. In fact, no one here deserves a ribbon and I'm not awarding any for this class. You all should go home and forget about showing horses."

As the group of 6 year old girls leave the ring, Missy Turbin's pony, Skippy, "inadvertently" lands a hoof on Simon's right foot. While he hops around on one leg, little Annie Weller slides off her horse, bounces past Simon and plucks a ribbon from the awards box. She smiles sweetly as she saunters by him, waving the ribbon in his direction.

Simon is especially harsh on the english equitation riders. He tells Jessica Amway that she rides like a constipated monkey. Heather Branch needs to take up dancing or hockey or motocross – anything besides riding horses. And with mock ceremony, he pronounces Nickie Stamps as the Worst Rider in America. On the way out of the ring, Nickie's horse, Bingo, "inadvertently" body-checks Simon from behind. He goes down like a wounded deer. The rest of the class steps over Simon's body as they exit the ring. Stacey Mackenzie's horse, Zipper, stops to nibble on Simon's boot as he struggles to lift his head out of the dust.

Simon limps to the center of the ring, his one good arm grasping his crumpled cowboy hat. It's time for Western Pleasure. For the last 14 shows running, Western Pleasure has been won by Vanessa Engles and her $25,000 Arab, Marx. Everyone assumes Vanessa has a lock on the blue ribbon again, but Simon is not impressed. As the riders line up in the center of the ring, Simon wobbles up to Vanessa and Marx and tells her she rode "okay" and her horse is "fine, but ordinary." But her refuses to place her, because she has a severe personality problem. And it wouldn't hurt for her to lose a few pounds...

In the background, we hear an expensive foreign make of automobile "inadvertently" explode. Simon is going to need a ride to his motel.
As they pass Simon hobbling alongside the highway, a stream of truck and trailers honk and wave. Horsepeople are friendly that way.