Last week was the Washington International Horse Show – an event that has been around for years upon years and showcases the most beautiful horses and riders. It is primarily a jump show with a few amusing interludes such as barrel racing and Jack Russell races. The crème de la crème is the Saturday night President’s Cup which is when one sees the top riders in the world jumping over 6-feet fences in a course of harrowing turns and lightning speed. Whoever clears the round in the fastest time wins. The purse is around $100,000. That sounds like a great deal of money, but the horses, training, transportation, and equipment costs so far outweigh the purse that it is not even amusing. It is a sport for the very wealthy, but it is magnificent to watch.
I was lucky enough to be the guest of one of the sponsors which meant I sat at one end of the arena at a lovely table with food and wine provided. I got to watch magnificent, regal four legged creatures seemingly float over massive obstacles without a worry in their brain. Of course, it took years of training and amazingly brilliant riders to make it look so effortless, but it is so much fun to bask in the moment of glory as almost a ton flies over a wooden obstacle and amazingly lands on the other side without breaking a limb.
After an evening of enjoying the best of the best, I was awakened at 4:30 in the morning (bedtime was around midnight) in order to get to my barn so that my horse could be cleaned up, outfitted, and loaded on a trailer for his “baby” show – his first Hopeful Hunter show in the neighborhood. As a former racehorse (and, yes, he won) he is now moving into the next phase of his performance life. He is learning to jump and to do dressage. So we entered him in a baby show where he did brilliantly. (Yes, I am a proud mother of a four-legged magnificent beast.) He was Reserve Champion of his group – two jump classes and one “under saddle” which means well behaved with a rider at walk, trot, and canter.
I got to spend Saturday evening with some of the best riders in the world and then, after four hours sleep, was privileged to take my exquisite beast to a local show where he reminded me that he was a racehorse (he wasn’t so fond of the horses in the distance who were racing around, and he was supposed to be quiet and gently warm up), he settled down and jumped the course perfectly for his wonderful trainer.
Both events were sublime as well as ridiculous – what a perfect world!