Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Horseshow From Hell

Late July, 1990. Arco Arena, Sacramento, California.

Every year a merry band of brigands—judges, stewards, jump crews, trainers, riders, vets & farriers embark on the Grand Prix circuit – a quasi-carnival of sorts that tromps around the western United States in search of glory, money, free beer, a shot at the Olympics – maybe just next week’s rent. A lot of this activity is simply designed to make a good horse a little better. It’s called mileage.

This particular show was added to the summer circuit. Think the promoter called it The Sacramento Grand Prix. Hardly mattered. Seems the promoter was already on parole for a previous promotion that went…well, south.

A lot of folks might think that ‘horse show people’ are snobby, uptight, ego-centric types that can’t take a joke. Actually that’s true, but they can pull together when it counts.

The promoter had rented the Arco Arena, promising a truly spectacular, audience- centered horse show, including a rare event in American show jumping: the Puissance Wall, an eight-foot something tall monstrosity designed to clarify the meaning of ‘jumper.’ That was a 5K class with a 25K Grand Prix to follow. The smooth talking gentlemen had also pre-sold about 5000 tickets to the public. Shortly thereafter, he was spotted on I-5 heading south – literally and figuratively.

Well, after a little discussion it was decided that the show would go on. The officials, the crews, the volunteers – even the exhibitors – all banded together and put on the show. The audience had paid for just that. Nobody got paid, nobody got their ribbons or year-end standings and the winner of the $25,000 Grand Prix of Sacramento got a round of applause. Not much else.

We nicknamed it “The Horseshow from Hell,” but in the end it was a lesson about doing the right thing at your own peril. I think they call that integrity. Hope some of the folks in this picture wander by again.

No comments:

Post a Comment