Just one picture couldn’t capture Kent Farrington flying over the final jump of the jump off before blazing through the timers to win the Tryon Spring 3 Grand Prix a few weeks ago!
As the first few riders took to the course tonight, I noticed McLain Ward sitting quietly by the ring and studying their rounds. Having been there for now both of his 5* wins this WEF season, I have a newfound appreciation for the attention to detail and precision that he delivers with each of his rides.
Earlier this week, I watched him and HH Azur compete in the first round of the WEF Challenge, and then I noticed he was riding a horse in a smaller class over in the DeNemethy ring before he had to head back to the International Ring for his jump-off. I stood at the rail of the DeNemethy and watched as he made a jumper course look like an equitation round that he could’ve ridden with his eyes closed. One of my favorite things to do is to watch a rider like McLain up close in a smaller ring like that and focus on one part of their riding – on that particular day, I decided to watch how he carries his hands throughout the course. It was this same quiet accuracy and consistency in each part of his riding that I saw and appreciated that day, and again tonight as he made a 5* jump-off look just as effortless.
So there he was, off to the side watching and studying the course like any other rider would, and it was a moment that I didn’t want to forget tonight, especially as the thrill of his win leaves my fingers hovering over this keyboard at a loss as to how to convey everything I feel that is both so humbling and exciting about this sport.
If you missed my first post on the beginning of the action-packed week of the Central Park Horse Show, check it out here. Now, to pick up where I left off, going in to Friday…
It’s been awhile. The past two months were so busy. I’m now all the way back in Florida (after being in Ohio, NYC, and over a month in NC), and I finally have some time to catch up before WEF. I have some brand new ideas on the way, but more on that later because I’ve waited long enough to get to what this post is all about – the Central Park Horse Show.
The last time I wrote to you, I was excitedly announcing my new job with Equestrian Sport Productions and Tryon International Equestrian Center, and getting ready to leave for the New Albany Classic (which was amazing, and I wrote all about here.) So, I think the most logical place to pick up is on Monday, September 21st, the day after the New Albany Classic, when I boarded a plane from Columbus, OH to NEW YORK CITY. Up until this past September, I had only been to NYC two times, ever – once in 5th grade as a part of a summer riding camp where we spent a day in the city eating at Tavern on the Green and riding through Central Park (I rode a one-eyed ex polo horse, I’ll never forget it), and then one other random time while I was in high school.
On the plane ride from Ohio to NYC, I had one of those moments where I couldn’t believe this was actually happening, looking out from my window seat and waiting to catch the first glimpse of the city – was I really heading to NYC for a HORSE SHOW?! As part of my job? Sometimes I still can’t believe this crazy adventure started only just this past January for fun (the first time I ever picked up a camera, borrowed from my boyfriend), and now only nine months later – I’m traveling to NYC to be a part of the Central Park Horse Show. I’m so grateful to be doing what I love and to be able to be around horses on a daily basis.
On a Saturday morning two weeks ago, my alarm went off at 3:30am, but I had already been awake for 30 minutes. I was so excited to finally leave for the New Albany Classic in New Albany, OH after months of talking about it and googling the gorgeous venue on a daily basis.
To give you an idea of how much planning goes into the New Albany Classic, which is only for one day out of the year, I worked with the team behind the event all the way back in April to include it in my blog coverage. However, getting everything in order for all aspects of the event itself lasts all year long and requires tremendous organization by many talented individuals. One of the best parts of being included in this event is the people behind it. I used the hashtags #bestday #bestpeople on a photo I posted the day after the event, and I really meant it – the people behind this show are just, The Best. Everyone involved has a passion for the show and what it means to the community, and it’s demonstrated by the work they put in to making such a monumental day go off without a hitch. I was so humbled to be a part of everything as their official blogger, and about 30 minutes in to classic day I began trying to figure out how I can return to this event every single year because it was that much fun and so rewarding.
On Saturday the 20th, I landed at the Columbus airport at 10:30am. I picked up my little red rental car (I chose the red car over the blue one in the spirit of blending in with all the Ohio State fans heading to the game), and I was off to New Albany. New Albany is a gorgeous small town with tons of little shops and restaurants and vibrant streets, the kind of place that just begs you to take a walk on a crisp autumn day wrapped up in a scarf and sipping a warm beverage, colored leaves crunching underneath your boots. The town also has sections with quaint brick buildings and white fence-lined properties that would naturally instill a sense of calm and nostalgia in any horse lover, the same kind of feeling as when you arrive at the barn on a cool, clear blue fall morning and find yourself taking a breath so deep that your shoulders melt and your whole body relaxes.
On Saturday, I was doing an Instagram takeover for the New Albany Classic, so my first stop was the venue to catch a little bit of the set-up for the event.
I’m sitting here at home in Florida reflecting on how amazing this past summer, and year, has been. Two years ago, I was living in Los Angeles without plans to move back to the east coast, even though I missed it all the time. I had just retired my horse after graduating from college. One year ago, I had only recently moved to Florida, but as of New Year’s my limited plan for getting back into the horse world was to visit the Winter Equestrian Festival so that I could reminisce about riding as a junior. Earlier this year, I couldn’t have imagined that in April I would quit my full time job to start this blog about horses, to travel up and down the east coast and to tell the stories behind shows that I have always wanted to go to.
While I was in Kentucky for the Summer Series and Pony Finals, I finally got to go to the Kentucky home of the insta-famous miniature dwarf rescue, Peeps (@mylittlepeepers). Peeps’s barn is at Mad Season LLC, helmed by Alex Granato and Josh Dolan. Peeps made her debut to much fanfare at the Nations Cup event at WEF in the winter, with the Chronicle writing a great article about her backstory and Alex and Josh’s efforts to rescue miniature horses.
I got to see Alex and Josh in Tryon (see pictures of them being awesome below).
But, alas, I didn’t get a chance to see Peeps and her mini friends, who made the trip as well. Cut to Kentucky Summer, when I walked in to a large commotion on vendor row on the way to my car: it was everyone crowding around Josh and Peeps. I lived in L.A. for 3 years and I never saw a celebrity get as much attention as Peeps was getting. It was impossible to walk past without stopping to interact with the tiny-hooved starlet. And she was just as sassy as I had hoped.
As much as I wish I could’ve shrunk my 16.2 Irish Sport Horse into pony size for a week as a junior, this year was my very first time attending Pony Finals. Never having been before, I tried to get a feel for what it was like before going. Everyone I talked to over the past few months seemed to have his or her own Pony Finals take or story. “One girl cried during her round.” “My pony tried to kill me.” “There are so many bows…and emotions.” “All of the horse show dads come out.” Now that it’s over and I’ve had a week to reflect, decompress, and do a ton of laundry, I’ll start by saying Pony Finals is definitely like no other show I’ve been to so far, and I really enjoyed it.