There is something about the start of spring that ignites a sense of excitement in all serious equestrians that compete. After a long winter of busting out ice in water buckets, trudging through snow, and basically hibernating until better weather makes its way around, horse people jump at the chance to ride outside, attend horse shows, and enjoy the start of a fresh season of competition. I myself can relate to the joy in the beginning of competitions stating to pop up closer and closer on our schedules. There is something about the new teams of horses and riders, new competition venues, or even old teams and old, favorite show locations that re-ignites the passions in equestrian enthusiasts after a long winter of less than vibrant activity in the horse community. I realize that in some warmer parts of the country these activities never really cease during the colder months…but for those of us in states that have all four seasons, we definitely welcome spring and summer with open arms!
I have had the privilege of attending several competitions in the past two weeks that represent the excitement of the horse community beginning to compete again. One such event was the Spring Bay Horse Trials at the Kentucky Horse Park. I was there on Saturday and volunteered as a Dressage steward. While the weather was less than spring like…meaning twenty something wind chills…the day was still filled with smiling faces and a thrilling sense of anticipation as they were beginning to tackle new goals for the year. I do not have a dressage background so I was excited to spend the day observing and learning more about the sport. I have to give major props to these people…they are fearless in the face of bad weather! Watching some of the riders take off their winter jackets before entering into the show ring made me even colder than I already was, which was hard to do! I admire the way they all never seemed to complain or gripe about the weather…they seemed just happy to be engaging in competition again. Another event I was able to attend was the Kentucky Spring Premier Horse Show, which was also held at the horse park. Now this is where my expertise lies (I have a background in showing Saddlebreds). While I know about this sport much more than any other equestrian discipline, I still love to watch and observe in an effort to expand my knowledge in any way. It is also just great to watch amazing, equine athletes shown by horse professionals that I have grown to admire and also call many of them friends. The air there was also filled with excitement and some nervousness as new horse and rider teams were being introduced to the show ring for the first time of the season. The weather that week was much more spring like than that of Spring Bay and everyone was clearly enjoying what seemed to be the final end to winter!
The horse community as a whole has a way of making the spectators at their different events feel the passion that they have for their animals. Equestrians have a unique sense of comradery with each other. We all know that we are all ready for the start of competitions and new experiences and memories to share with one another. There is something about horse shows that bring together all horse people for the common interest of appreciating stellar equine athletes and riders. So here is to a great 2016 season for whatever equestrian discipline we all choose to engage in. Best of luck!