In a world where words like “manure” and “drool” are mixed in with “Longines,” and “Land Rover,” dirt and grime is combined, somewhat nonchalantly, with luxury. The unusual pairings are part of what makes our sport so alluring.
While some equestrians roll their eyes at these contrasts, preferring the down-to-earth, practical aspects of horsemanship to the glitz and gleam, the aristocratic romance of equestrianism is in part what funds many competitions, riders and horses. The Longines Masters in New York City is happening April 26-29; an event that combines art, shopping, fine dining and entertainment with show jumping in one of the world’s classiest cities. In preparation, we’re delving into the amusing variety of oxymorons within our sport.
White breeches: The thought of putting them on, much less surviving a whole day without having them be used as your horse’s napkin, is enough to make any rider groan. It could be speculated that the impractical colour choice is to enforce a certain impression – that sparkly white breeches mean you can afford a groom to do the dirty, drooly work. Wildly illogical in today’s world, where most riders are in some way involved in the care of horses.
Women who will frown at anything other than cheap sneakers are saving up for custom Parlantis.
Hermès: Founded literally hundreds of years ago as a harness maker, royal weddings would be postponed in order to wait for their special-order carriage horse tack. Princesses would put off their special day until they got their Hermès cruppers. Since then, the company has grown to become an iconic symbol of utmost luxury and craftsmanship. They’ve stayed true to their equestrian roots, and a peek in any of their boutiques reveals hoof picks amongst silk scarves. On one occasion, when I had stopped in to drool, I dared stroke the hand-carved wooden handle of one of their crops. Trying to put it on the same level as my collection of five-dollar battered whips was more than my brain could handle.
Tall boots: It’s a standard formula that the tall boots of an equestrian cost at least twice as much as the heels they wore to their prom or wedding. Women who will frown at anything other than cheap sneakers are saving up for custom Parlantis, on which they will most definitely get poop all over at some point.
We manage to weasel the world’s dirtiest sport into swank places. Throw down some footing, set up some jumps, pour champagne and voilà!
Horse shows in urban areas: They are the best example of how wonderfully extravagant our world can be. No sumptuously luxurious location is out of bounds for horse people. We manage to weasel the world’s dirtiest sport into swank places, including the Grand Palais in Paris, which also happens to be Chanel’s favourite runway show venue. Throw down some footing, set up some jumps, pour champagne and voilà! The NYC leg of the Longines Masters will be no exception. Held in the newly renovated NYCB LIVE, the warm up ring will essentially be smack in the middle of the Prestige Village.
We tease, but the sport has done a stellar job over the years of maintaining a strong culture and ambiance. The tangible aura surrounding it is attracting new participants and spectators all the time. Our sport is not afraid to think outside of the box. Cue Veuve Clicquot cork pop.
More information on the Longines Masters of New York can be found at longinesmasters.com.