Is it possible to feel homesick for a place you were only for a weekend? I’m joining the ranks of the thousands this soggy morning who are wondering why they don’t live in Lexington, the mothership for all horse-related everything. Even the air at Rolex smells better there, as one of my friends from the barn rightly observed. Sweeter, greener. Like you want to try the bluegrass in a salad, because you are convinced that it will give you Popeye muscles and a glossy coat.
Not only am I road weary this morning, but feeling a horse show hangover that comes from not eating a single veg, too much caffeine, beer and walking miles in the rain and mud, and less sleep than usual. My goals this past weekend (there were a few) were to cover the vendor square thoroughly (check), not purchase anything too spendy (check check), and to try to squeeze in some live runs of the talented horses (praise Jesus for Jumbotrons) between learning about the new and innovative companies in the tents. KlickandRide, is a German shoe stud system that will be shortly sweeping the USA with their slick ease of insertion. I met the friendly team at the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, that accredits and works with racetracks nationwide (including our own Finger Lakes track) to adopt out horses for their next career. And I met the lovely Leslie Stackhouse, who personally creates some of the most beautiful and comfortable looking saddles, you’ve never heard of.
I think this was Fence 14. Holy mother of hang on tight.
The head of the 16 Combination – Pre-dousing. Note turf is still pristine.
You don’t want to need this, but glad that it’s ready and waiting.
My hotel hosted mud in the elevators, dogs in backpacks, dogs on leashes, exhausted grooms, owners and a few sage and weather-worn attendees. I was smitten at check in. Even at dinner, I randomly sat next to and had a nice chat with the Dr. Milt’s team. Horse people are mainly a friendly, open bunch and it’s easy to pick up a conversation along the 29 jump course with people from your old home state, Texas, and assorted locals. The fashion selection was colorful ponchos, rain hats, Burberry boots and umbrellas lining up next to the tape. With rain hair eminent, I dashed to the Rolex tent to snag a hat and gifts.
After the XC Day ended, I drove back the scenic route along Iron Works Pike, past giant gates inlaid with names with gravitas like Fasig-Tipton, Cobra Farm, and Spendthrift Farm. The stone fences and shady trees lining both sides with horses, and more horses. If you live and work here, you are lucky. The only fly was the car that somehow launched itself on top of one of the stone fences. Not sure how that turned out as it was at least a good 8 feet up. Guessing bourbon. Possibly Four Roses.
OTTBs represented – 6 in all, and all finishing in the top 20. Some goose bump worthy horses at the top of their game.
I realized that I need to come back next year, spend more time enjoying Dressage day with the headset for live commentary and maybe a bit more time on the course watching the bravery. These fences are enormous, complex and scary as hell when it’s been raining all day. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.
The date for next year is already blocked on my calendar. See you there!