Central Park Horse Show: Part 1

Hi everyone!

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.

In flight from Ohio to NYC, on Monday, September 21st! The day is finally here!

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.

I got in late at night on Monday, so Tuesday morning was the first time I laid my eyes on this view from Wollman Rink, the venue for the Central Park Horse Show. Here it is still getting set up. The first events were on Wednesday night.

On Tuesday there was also a press conference as the set-up continued. New Yorker and last year’s Grand Prix winner, Georgina Bloomberg, was around to chat with the press about the event.

During the press conference, the special edition George Morris talking Breyer action figure was unveiled. You can read more about the George Morris Breyer at COTH here. George and I had quite a few adventures in NYC, which I’ll get to telling you about in Part 2 of my Central Park Horse Show blogs.

George, taking it all in.

Police horses were also on-site for the press conference and they were adorable and friendly and I got distracted for a little bit petting them.

Georgina and her son Jasper took a spin in the Land Rover mini-cars, or more like Jasper took his mom for a spin. It was so cute.

Set-up still in progress.

Tuesday was a quieter day since the ring was still getting set up and the press conference took place in the morning.

About a month earlier, when I found out that I would be going to NYC for the show, I had decided there was one restaurant I really wanted to visit while in the city – the brand new Polo Bar NYC by Ralph Lauren. I know there are tons and tons of amazing, unique restaurants in NYC, but I couldn’t resist wanting to experience Ralph Lauren’s equestrian decor. I made a reservation at the Polo Bar almost exactly four weeks in advance, and even then I only managed to get the 5pm time-slot on a Tuesday night since reservations are still in such high demand. So if you’re wondering where all the people are in the photos below, I was eating there right when it opened. Every seat was full by the time I finished my dinner.

The excellent service at the Polo Bar is noticeable from the moment you arrive. After checking in with the hostess, I was guided to a staircase in the back with a curtain drawn over it that then leads you down to the main restaurant. Along the way, all of the hostesses already personally know your name at each point and walking down the stairs to the main area of the restaurant feels like you’re entering a secret hideaway. I spent the first few minutes sitting at my table just turning in every single direction to look at all of the equestrian art on every wall, which is complemented beautifully by the leather, hunter green walls, and warm lighting throughout! Also a MUST when you go to the Polo Bar: Check out the bathrooms which are equally gorgeously decorated. The service was incredible. As you might expect, the hostesses and waiters are also beautifully dressed in Ralph Lauren’s classic style. Finally – the FOOD, which can only be described as delicious comfort food. I ordered the Polo Bar Burger and it was life-changing. I can’t wait to go back on my next trip to NYC!

Sometime on Tuesday, I also decided that it would be super fun to wake up one morning to go to a taping of the Today Show at Rockefeller Plaza. I’ve turned on the Today Show in the mornings as I get ready for the day for as long as I can remember, so I am kind of a fan. On the way back to the hotel from the Polo Bar, I popped into a Walgreens and bought a fluorescent sheet of poster board and a Sharpie so that I could make a sign to hold up in the background during filming. I decided to make a Central Park Horse Show themed poster so that ideally I could get on TV and more New Yorkers might see it and come!

On Wednesday morning, I woke up at 5:00am and was out the door headed to Rockefeller Plaza in an Uber about 15 minutes later so that I could make sure I got a good spot in the background of filming.

6am. Creeping in the studio windows. Nobody here quite yet.

6:25am. The NBC pages instructed us to check-in to a special section of the Today Show website on our phones in order to be admitted.

I’m in!! Wednesday, September 23rd. The sun isn’t up yet and I’ve made friends with the guy standing next to me who is a Delta Airlines pilot.

Sometime between 7-8am, Carson Daly greets all of us. I took a selfie with him but it’s pretty bad so I only shared it with my mom.

Al Roker, up close. He shook everyone’s hands. Blurry photo because I’m excited and about to shake his hand!

The Today Show crew!

Although I wasn’t chosen for a TV shout-out, I did get interviewed by Sirius XM for their live Today Show morning program, which thousands of New Yorkers listen to on their commutes to work, so that was awesome.

A photo my mom texted me while she was watching live from her house in FL. That’s me in the background with my fluorescent poster. Hi, Mom!

Although it made for a super early morning, I’m so glad I got up and went to the Today Show. The live filming out on the plaza wrapped up around 9am and then I went back to the hotel to prepare for my first “real” day of the Central Park Horse Show!

Wednesday evening marked the official start of the 2nd annual Central Park Horse Show!

Each night the VIP tent was decorated in a different color scheme. It was such a fun surprise to walk up there at the beginning of the evening to see what the tables would look like on that particular night. The logistics of a show like the Central Park Horse Show are like putting on a wedding, every single day for five days straight.

The entrance to the VIP tent!

The U.S. Open Arabians presented by Aljassimya Farm was the opening night competition. It was my first experience seeing a real Arabian event.

I don’t know too much about Arabian horse competitions, so this was 100% new to me but really flashy and fun.

Honestly I had no idea who was winning.

Also a highlight during Wednesday night’s competition: the DJ/soundtrack was awesome with all kinds of high energy pop songs and mixes.

My favorite part of photographing the Arabian night was how expressive these horses are.

The rosettes, ribbons and prizes for the Arabian horses were elaborate and gorgeous!

Central Park: all dressed up!

The evening concluded with the costume class, and then I headed back to the hotel to sort through about 3,000 Arabian photos.

The next morning, I went over to the show to watch the jumpers schooling in the ring for the first time. I will take this view from the office ANY DAY.

On Thursday night, the two events were the U.S. Open $25,000 Under-25 Grand Prix and the U.S. Open $40,000 FEI Speed Class. All riders had the opportunity to flat in the ring that morning, and there was no shortage of excitement from New Yorkers and tourists walking through the park and catching a glimpse of the horses heading from the temporary stabling area to the ring.

One of the most common questions I was asked was, “Where do the horses stay?” The main stabling for the show is in Gladstone, NJ, and horses were trailered from that location to temporary stabling set up next to the baseball field in Central Park on the day of the competition, and then trailered out once it ended. The schooling ring was also next to the temporary tent stabling, and then the horses followed a secure path through Central Park from that area to Wollman Rink.

Jumper riders flatting in the ring for the first time! I LOVE THIS VIEW.

Maps of Central Park, anyone?

That night the gates opened at 5:30pm. I decided on a brownie from the media tent for dinner and got to work as the crowds rolled in!

Ways to tell a tourist in NYC: The people who are always walking around looking up at all of the buildings. (That’s me.)

Daily surprise: Seeing what the tables look like tonight! Beautiful as usual.

Ok, saw the VIP tables. Now I’m down doing the course walk which is also super cool.


The Under-25 riders began to make their way to the ring.

Nicole Bellissimo was the only double clear in the four person jump off to win the U25 class!

First stop after the victory: a hug from Dad.

After the Under-25, next up was the Grand Prix Speed class!

Liubov Kochetova was rocking the pink show jacket. #goals

Georgina was all smiles as the crowd cheered her on.

It was Conor Swail and Simba de la Roque’s night, as they followed up their win from the previous week at New Albany with a victory in the Speed class.

Todd Minikus and Quality Girl took second place, and Daniel Bluman and Conconcreto Believe took third.

Quite the setting for a victory gallop!

After two action-packed days, the show wasn’t even half-way done. Click here for part 2, featuring all the action from Friday through Sunday, including the Jr/Am class, Grand Prix, Hunters and Dressage!

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