Ok, guys. This is important, so consider your answer carefully. If you could convince a horse friend play hooky from work and go watch fancy horses in New York City, would you?
Of course you would. Request time off, buy tickets, grab your friend, and go! It took approximately zero convincing for Andrea to agree, and we picked the Arabian showcase evening. Obviously. That gave us the day to toodle around the city and do whatever we wanted before settling in to see the horses.
We took the train up from our home in NJ, which was so easy I can’t believe I haven’t done it before. We popped out of the ground near Madison Square Garden and set off in search of the Manhattan Saddlery, a place I’ve long stalked on social media but never been.
Surpise! It was so goddamn expensive I didn’t even want to grab a hat or shirt. Not that I need those; I’m kind of drowning in trucker hats and baseball caps with horse and running logos alike. But amid the leather armchairs and walls of gorgeous boots, there were sales to be found. And find them I did. Pink Horze tendon and hind boots for Java were coming home with me. Horze discontinued the color, carmine rose, and I really should have grabbed them before then. They were double cheap here, and I was under their credit card limit, so I tossed in a pink jelly curry for good measure. Twist my arm.
Afterwards, we headed over towards the Flatiron Building, where there was an outdoor pop-up garden of food and drinks. Andrea’s friend, a former horse girl gone NYC aspiring actor, joined us there. We loaded up on pad thai and sangria. I couldn’t finish the noodles, but the sangria went down easy. So easy I had to have another. Eventually, we wrapped up our cocktails and Andrea’s friend showed us how to get where we were going on the subway. Finally, it was time to see some horses.
Could our view be more beautiful? Yes: add horses.
We had awesome seats, and the horses were really, really impressive. They offered several in-hand classes, Western, English, and Country Pleasure, as well as my favorite, Native Costume. They did an interesting thing for the under saddle classes where the rides were split between professional and amateur riders on the same horse, and both rides went toward the same score/placing/class. It was a neat way to see how the students and trainers interacted with the same horse. Some horses were game and amazing regardless, and others had a few things to say depending on who was in the saddle.
Can I bring him home with me on the train? I'm sure Tommy won't miss him...
We picked horses we thought should win all night, and were mostly correct, except for the western class. Tommy Garland and his horse came in second, but I still think he was the best and I'll hear no other arguments. (Him looking like Java only had a little bit to do with it.) I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know shit about Country Pleasure, but the horse I picked definitely won. I totally picked him because he’s such a quality animal, and not at all because his name was Harry Trotter. Not at all.
Harry Trotter, The Horse Who Won.
When the show was over, AHA invited the attendees down into the arena for champagne and to meet the horses. We couldn’t miss that! She and I ended up chatting with the groom of one of the senior stallions, a pure white horse that hurt your eyes he was so clean. I asked him their secret, hoping there was a shortcut, but alas. Purple shampoo, like the rest of us. Just make sure to scrub until it isn’t purple anymore, or you’ll dye the horse. Apparently, it was a problem they’d had before.
I was so impressed by their decision to open the arena for questions and visitors. It was a smart way to engage people who may never have seen horses before, let alone Arabians, and everyone was friendly and approachable. I think our sport needs more of that, no matter of the breed or style or riding. At the end of the night, Andrea and I left with Central Park Horse Show shirts (how could we not?) and tired feet. I may or may not have slept on the train home, and I may or may not have dreamed of Java competing. That native costume would look amazing on him!