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. It’s still so surreal to me. I keep waiting to wake up all the way back in Los Angeles in 2014 only to find out that for the past year I have been knocked out and this has all been a dream. I’m so grateful to be doing what I love and to be able to be around horses on a daily basis. At times it’s bittersweet to be on the other side of fence, looking in at all of the horses and riders in the ring, but now more than ever, I say, “Never say never.” A year ago I couldn’t have imagined I would be doing what I’m doing today, so who knows what 2016 holds, and in the meantime I remind myself I’m the  luckiest to have these opportunities, to be able to just be there standing ring-side every day watching and being close to horses which makes me feel a kind of happiness and calm that I will forever be trying to explain.

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.

Continue Reading

The New Albany Classic 2015

On a Saturday morning two weeks ago, my alarm went off at 3:30am, but I had already been awake for 30 minutes. If you had asked me how long I had actually been awake waiting for the morning of September 20th, I probably would’ve estimated it had been at least seven days straight, waiting and waiting for the moment I would finally get to grab my boarding pass (which I had excitedly printed 24 hours prior to-the-second of the time my plane would take off on this particular morning) and roll my suitcase out the front door of my apartment in FL. 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 checked in at the volunteer tent and got to meet everyone that I had been e-mailing with for months prior to this day, which was awesome. To give you an idea of how big the event is, these were all the trash cans that were to be set up by volunteers the day before. From here, we began to walk around so that I could get a feel for where everything would be the next day.

The VIP tent was ready to go, and one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. It felt like walking into a Wizard of Oz set, and they even had a really cool separate kids area as well.

Continue Reading

What’s next for me…

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.

Continue Reading

Behind the Scenes with Peeps and her Rescue Crew

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).

Alex Granato making it look easy.

Alex making the big jumps look easy.

Josh in the Hunter Derby.

...and Josh after the Hunter Derby.

…and Josh after the Hunter Derby.

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.

Continue Reading

Scenes from Pony Finals

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.

Welcome to Pony Finals!

Continue Reading

An Exciting Announcement… The New Albany Classic

I’m so excited to announce today that I am the official blogger for this year’s New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix & Family Day at the beautiful Wexner residence in New Albany, Ohio, held on Sunday, September 20th! The Classic has been named the #1 Specialty Equestrian Event by the North American Riders Group (NARG) for the past three consecutive years. I can’t wait to share my experience attending this event for the first time. I’ve already spent days scrolling through the list of everything there is to do during the Classic (in addition to spectating its world-class Grand Prix!) and now I’m officially beginning my personal countdown on here! Follow along on my social media and the Classic’s Facebook and Instagram for lots of announcements between now and September 20th!

I’m also equally excited to announce today that I’ve teamed up with Equus Now!, central Ohio’s hunter/jumper tack and apparel destination, for a super fun meet-up on Saturday, September 19th from 4-5pm with some amazing giveaways and raffles coinciding with the Classic, including VIP tickets! That, and the chance to all hang out together in their 18,000 square foot store, which honestly just sounds like a good time in itself. We’ll be sharing more about those giveaways here on the blog, on my social media, and on the Equus Now! social media as the meet-up approaches, so be sure to give them a follow on Facebook and Instagram too!

Meanwhile, here’s a taste of all the excitement to come at the Classic…

As part of the Family Day fun, the New Albany Classic has live music, carnival rides, a zip line, a synthetic ice rink, classic cars and tons of other entertainment. Family Day concert headliners in the past have included Ariana Grande, Jordin Sparks, Demi Lovato, and the Jonas Brothers, just to name a few, and this year’s headliner is going to be revealed any day now. In the meantime, it was just announced that there will be “life-sized” animatronic dinosaurs roaming one of the tents, chainsaw artisans, and a Star Wars themed fencing exhibition simulating a lightsaber battle, all of which sound amazing. Additionally, the Classic works hard to incorporate the local community by supporting activities and performances put on by the Ohio State Marching Band & Cheerleaders, the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, and local sports institutions, not to mention the hard work of over 300 volunteers to make it all happen.

I could go on and on about how excited I am to be involved with a show jumping event of this caliber that also hosts a day that is so refreshing and accessible for everyone, whether you’ve been around horses your whole life or this will be your first time seeing one. The Grand Prix is a $125,000 FEI CSI2* on a pristine grass field and approximately 30 riders will compete. Previous winners of the Grand Prix include Shane Sweetnam (last year’s winner!), Kent Farrington, McLain Ward, and Beezie Madden, among many others. I’m also looking forward to cheering on the few up-and-coming wild cards who are invited to compete and give our sport’s top riders a run for their money! The rider list will be announced in a few weeks. If you can make plans to come, do it! It’s going to be so fun.

One of the most impactful elements of the Classic is that it’s the primary fundraiser for the Center for Family Safety and Healing, which provides resources for people impacted by all aspects of family violence and domestic violence. When you purchase a ticket to the Classic, you are helping to restore hope. To date, the New Albany Classic has raised more than $25 million, and last year’s event was enjoyed by an astounding 18,000 guests. It’s a great example of using our sport as a way to give back and enthusiastically embrace the local community as well.

If you’re interested in making plans to attend (and it’s definitely not too late to…I just booked my airfare last week), tickets for the Classic are only $23 for adults and can be purchased here. The cost of admission benefits the cause and gives you unlimited access to every aspect of the event, including the Grand Prix, concert, rides and entertainment, so it’s quite a steal. The Port Columbus International Airport (CMH) in Columbus, OH is only 15 minutes from New Albany and there are numerous options for accommodations in the area.

If you’re coming, be sure to comment or send me a message. Hopefully I’ll see you there! In the meantime, keep checking back here and following on social media for more exciting announcements about the event and the Equus Now! meet-up, including this year’s headline concert performer and rider list! 34 days to go!!

Video: Summer at Tryon

During the two weeks I spent at Tryon Summer in July, I occasionally flipped over to video mode to capture a few of my favorite faces and moments. Now, with August flying by and and indoors looming, I made this video to re-live a little of the summer fun I had at Tryon, tan-lines not included. Can’t wait to return in the fall and see you guys there.

Tour of Tryon International Equestrian Center

July Update: Tour of Tryon International Equestrian Center

Back in May, I traveled to the Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina for their Spring 7 show and wrote a post giving a tour of the beautiful facility. I recently returned for two weeks of the summer series in July and there were many very exciting new additions to the property. If you haven’t read the original Tour of Tryon International Equestrian Center post, I recommend starting there to see the impressive barns, rings, and layout of the property. In this post, I’ll be sharing the updates to the facility that have happened since my last visit in May (and there are some GOOD ones, so keep reading…)

Tryon International Equestrian Center

Tryon Carousel

Freshly-planted flowers lined the sidewalk near the main entrance where the venetian carousel greets visitors.

Tryon Equestrian Center Mountains

It can’t be said enough: There is never a shortage of spectator seating or shade by any ring at TIEC. When you don’t have a golf cart to pull up ring-side and sit in (I never have), you might be surprised how many other horse shows have little to no other options for ring-side seating for those without golf carts.

Continue Reading

Scenes from Tryon Summer 3

Unlike in the Spring when I only had the chance to experience Tryon for one week (see that post here), this summer I was able to stay for two weeks and experience double the number of fun moments throughout the bustling Tryon Summer series. If you missed it, here are the scenes from Tryon Summer 2. After Tryon Summer 3, I drove to Lexington, KY for the North American Junior & Young Rider Championships (hence the slight delay on this post!), and there was a loooong train of cars traveling from NC to KY along with me on Monday the 13th. I counted at least five horse trailers within the first hour. I think it’s great that so many barns were at Tryon during the weeks prior in order to prepare for the championship, and the competitiveness of the classes during Tryon Summer could also speak for itself. But in between the hustle of the show day and a busy summer season, there were plenty of little moments to be captured, memories to be made, and faces to meet…

The show week started with the usual preparations.

Extensive research at Tryon has proven that having carrots waiting at the in-gate can improve your jumper’s speed by 90%.

Thursday morning’s $34,000 Welcome Stake featured a course that was causing all sorts of trouble for the 34 entries. Alison Robitaille, 20th in the order, was the first to go clear aboard Cassinja. No one else seemed to be able to conquer the course, with six other riders missing the cut by only one time fault. Enter David Blake and Binkie, winners of the Tryon Summer 1 Grand Prix and last to go in the order. David guided Binkie to a smooth clear round to force a jump off at the last minute, and gained the advantage as the second rider to go. Alison went for it in the jump off but had a rail down, setting up David’s steady clear round for the win.

Alison Robitaille was all smiles after her 2nd place finish.

Continue Reading