Thursday, February 6, 2014

Still in Austin - Can I make it one more day??

OMG, my blog got picked up by WEF PR.  That’s enough of a caveat in itself!

For today’s blog, I thought I might write about some of the pro riders, trends, and play a little game that I have invented called “bansion or mansion?”  Don’t like this plan? Too bad.

During my first week at WEF I spent a lot of time watching both hunters and jumpers being flatted.  But one thing was consistent for both, and that was draw reins.  Cover your eyes COTH readers, that’s right, draw reins are king.  Honestly, I saw nary a pro hacking a horse that didn’t have draw reins on in some form or fashion.  Some with traditional leather hooked to the girth between the legs or at the sides, and others with leather for the reins but rope for the area that runs through the bit and to the horse.  I know that draw reins are much to the disdain of many riders (including Mr. Morris himself), but I will tell you, it did not matter the level of fame of the pro, how good of a horseman or woman I considered them, or if I did not know them from Adam, almost every single horse I saw out hacking was doing so in Draw reins.  

I somewhat already wrote about this, but jumpers mostly had bobbed tails, bobbed manes, and any sort of combination of soft shell coat/helmet configuration you can think of.  I also saw a lot of colored “techno” stirrups, and some varied very interesting high tech gear such as kinesiotape on a horse’s back.  Bits really ran the gambit of almost every set up you can imagine, but 90% were in running martingales at the levels I watched.  

For the hunters, it was honestly a snooze fest.  I was very surprised by the lack of fashion forward looks.  I was ready to see hunter riders with silver buttons (LIKE THE COAT I WANTED), piped collars, and contrasting lapels!  What I saw in reality was navy, more navy, and a few blacks with soft shells accounting for only 20-30% of the riders.  White is the only color of shirt to be seen, with tan pants.  Also interestingly, Tailored Sportsman has really lost their stranglehold on the market.  I’m aware that Pikeur started to make a move a few years ago, but really I saw just as many Animo, Tredstep, and Equine Couture breeches as I did Pikeur or TS.  

For the horses, beautiful movement and jump never goes out of style, but these horses have beautiful movement and jump unlike anything I’ve shown against.  I don’t know where they find these freaks of nature coughcougheuropecoughcough, but they were really incredible to watch.  For those of you in hopes of bringing the TB back, I have bad news, I saw none.  The warmblood is still ruling the field, though many will be happy to know that none that I watched go looked over medicated or particularly dead.  Though the sport seems to get a bad rap for sedated, on the forehand horses, going 0mph and looking like slugs, I just simply didn’t see it. However, don’t forget your fake tail; it’s really a requirement at this point.  I’m not talking ridiculous blunt cut fakes, but it needs to be full or you’ll just look silly.

Hunter tack was also very conservative and traditional.  Whatever fancy saddle you so choose, shaped white fleece pad, plain leather girth (gone were the washable fleece girths of a few years ago), dark brown conservative bridle (trending away from the wide flat nose bands and more towards wide raised nose bands), and standing martingale.

Although D rings were really the only thing I saw horses showing in (except a few full cheeks scattered here and there), in the morning during our early call hack in the ring, loose rings and gags were the most popular bit.  I actually school DC in a gag myself as he tends to get heavy, and I certainly wasn’t the only one.  Most flatters were flatting in something other than what I would imagine them showing in, specifically loose rings being the most popular.  Granted this is only a sample from one day, but that’s my take at least.  

WEF certainly has introduced me to some different aspects of showing, and I’ve accounted for a few of these already, but here is an abbreviated list (yes, this is what abbreviated looks like).

FEI stabling grounds – I’m sure most of my well educated readers are aware, but horses competing in FEI classes are stabled apart from everyone else on the show grounds.  This was new to me, as honestly, I’ve never been to a show with FEI classes before now.  The reason for this is that FEI has much stricter standards for medications than normal USEF rules.  As a result they segregate the horses to prevent any “accidental” mingling of drugs.  That, and they get their own pretty entrance to show how important they are

Orders of go – Every class has a posted order of go, period.  Conflicts are not taken lightly, you get your butt to the ring or you don’t show.

Ring juggling – Divisions switch rings every day, and you rarely show in the same ring twice in one show.  Not only that, but a ring might be a hunter ring one day, a jumper ring the next, and then back to a hunter ring the day after.  The sheer man power it would take just to move the jumps each night is mind boggling.

Schooling – On Tuesday before the show started, there was one hunter ring open for schooling.  You had an order of go, wore a back number, and it was tightly controlled.

Lack of schooling – Other than Tuesday, there is no other schooling available, period.  I’m very used to being able to get into my ring the day before showing to get a feel for how the jumps ride, and letting my horse get used to his surroundings.  Forget it in WEF.

Off show stabling – At least half, if not more, of the horses do not stable on the show grounds.  Off show stabling actually seems to be preferred to the show tents and barns.  You’re likely to get turn out, your own arena, and a quiet place for you and your horse to relax.  On the flip side it takes 3 eons to get to the ring (see point 2).

Shopping – I just blogged about this yesterday, but it’s unreal.  Seriously.  

Friendliness – I’m sure most won’t believe me, but honestly I’ve not come across a group of more friendly people at a show ever.  The support amongst the riders (in my division at least) was genuine, refreshing, and so nice.

Saturday Evening Festivities – I only saw one, but it was bat shit crazy.  Can’t wait for the next!

That’s all for now, I’m quite confident I’ll find more this week.

And now, for this blog's game of bansion or mansion….

Pic 1 - Bansion or Mansion?

Pic 2 - Bansion or Mansion?


  1. I'm gonna say 'bansion' on #1 for sure and my first guess is the same for #2.

    I agree with the friendliness at WEF. One year I remember sitting next to the same couple pretty much every week enjoying pleasant conversation and getting to the point where if one was making a beverage run drinks were brought back for all. Found out later that he was a very well know musician & she a supermodel (up to that point I knew they looked familiar but just thought itbwas because I had seen them at shows, which was also true lol. They were just like the rest of us 'joes') also another year (when I was still in high school) I had a project for English class. I needed to interview someone in a career that I could see myself in after graduation. Well Chris Kappler was stabled across from us and it took me 2 weeks to work up the nerve to ask him if I could 'interview' him. He was soooo awesome! He said sure can you come back in a couple hours I've got a class. Well when I came back he answered every question (& then some lol) I got to feed Concord carrots and scratch him and get a couple of horse kisses. I have never forgotten how gracious and humble he was! And the next week he saw me and asked "what grade did we get?" Lol (we got an A+ for those who are wondering)

    1. First is a bansion, second is a mansion with a bansion behind it!

  2. Both are definitely Bansions! Also, crazy how there's hardly any schooling -- I would die!! Or pass out from terror.... either one.

    1. First is a bansion, second is a mansion with a bansion behind it! I thought I would, but somehow WEF becomes the new normal. Like orange is the new black or something.

  3. At least I got the Bansion-Mansion right. My only blue ribbon in this setting. The rest is Greek, but I always loved foreign languages

  4. LOL - love your Bansion or Mansion quizz. It reminds me of when I was hacking out with a friend in North Salem once and we were going past all these amazing properties. We came out of a woodland trail and I remarked to my friend that I really like the next house that we could see. She started laughing and said "That's the housekeepers house!" - Sure enough, the Mansion was around the next corner. Couldn't see a Bansion there though... Keep up the great Blogs, Anna :-)

  5. I'd love to be a housekeeper at one of these places. Just as long as it came with showing and riding perks!