by Laura Pola, Product Specialist
While 2009 celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event, it was all a first for me! A New England born-and-bred hunter/jumper rider, I had never truly experienced horse country or 3-day eventing. This year’s Rolex was also the first time I had ever traveled with SmartPak to a horseshow!
I had visited the Kentucky Horse Park many years ago for a hunter/jumper show but remembered very little about it. I was thrilled to see massive, rolling, green fields with new moms and their adorable foals as soon as we left the Lexington airport (and our very bumpy plane) behind. You just don’t see things like that in Massachusetts; our biggest fields are mere postage stamps on a Kentucky-sized field! The show grounds themselves are also a sight to behold, especially with the addition of the brand new outdoor stadium and spectator areas! Again, facilities like these don’t just exist up north. It’s really something else to be smack in the middle of horse country, at one of the most premier equine venues, during one of the biggest 3-day events in the world!
After a day and a half of setting up house, the SmartPak Store was ready for business and the show opened to the public. For those who weren’t able to stop by the booth, we were very excited to feature many of our SmartPak exclusive products, including the brand new SmartSlim, the new SmartPak line of bridles and martingales and Vineyard Vines Totes, Flip-Flops and Belts with horsey patterns! We were also sure to bring along lots of examples of all our custom products like the Custom Photo Panel, Custom Mattes Pads, High Point Custom Saddle Pads and Custom Safety Vests.
The second day of the show brought with it the SmartPak cross-country coursewalk with Kim Severson and Jan Byyny, as well as some heated competition in the dressage arena. Now I don’t know much about 3-day eventing but when I heard Bettina Hoy and Ringwood Cockatoo’s dressage score of 28.8 over the loud speaker, I knew it was a big deal! Therefore, I was very excited when I got to head out to the cross-country course Saturday afternoon to watch a bit and realized I would see Hoy and Ringwood Cockatoo come through the Head of the Lake obstacle. I have to be honest, I didn’t even realize that some of the jumps were not just decoration until the horse was actually jumping them! I did also get a chance to see Lucinda Fredericks and Headley Britannia (or should I say a flash of bright pink) racing down one of the galloping lanes to gain the lead! The ability and athleticism of these horses on the cross-country course left me awestruck. I am so glad that after 17 years of riding, I was finally able to witness some cross-country action firsthand!
Sunday came and we were all excited to be a part of Poggio II’s retirement ceremony. Our embroidery department did another amazing job capturing a handful of his victories on a cooler presented to Pogi, Amy Tryon and owner Mark Hart during the ceremony. It was a heartfelt ceremony for most, but not for Pogi…he was ready to go run Cross-Country! In Pogi’s name, SmartPak dedicated a year’s worth of SmartSupplements to the Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center in Woodinville, WA.
As the show came to an end on Sunday and everyone flocked to the stadium to watch Fredericks and Headley Britannia take their place in the history books as champions of Rolex 2009, I took a moment to reflect on the week. What a whirlwind! In addition to experiencing a whole new discipline of riding, it was great to finally meet some of our customers face-to-face! I also got a chance to meet many of our canine friends and even one baby goat! You never know what might happen at Rolex and I can’t wait for what’s in store for next year!
On a more somber note, our sincere condolences go out to Mike Winter and all involved in the life and training of Kingpin, who’s tragic passing occurred early Saturday morning. Our thoughts are with them during this sad and difficult time.