Well, another Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event has come and gone. It might be the excitement from the final victory gallop talking, but this might be one of my favorite trips ever. My good friend Sarah and I came to watch the excitement and insanity in the middle in Lexington and ended up having more fun than we ever expected.
In no particular order, here are my Top 10 moments from Rolex weekend.
10. Rolex Wedding!
A gorgeous bride, her dashing groom, a shining steed and an idyllic setting … this was the setup for Ellen Doughty (now Hume) and Alistair Hume’s wedding at the Head of the Lake on Friday evening. Sir Oberon proudly carried Ellen down the grassy aisle lined with family and friends to the lovely and lighthearted ceremony that was presided over by none other than David O’Connor.
The Humes looked overjoyed to be surrounded by their loved ones and well-wishers, and I am grateful to have had the chance to witness the eventing community’s love and support for this couple. Congratulations, Ellen and Alistair!
9. Chatting with the Super Farrier
Friday was pretty rainy and miserable at first, so I took advantage of the many shopping and meet and greet opportunities at the Horse Park. My favorite interaction of the day was with Danvers Child, CJF. The “Super Farrier,” who had Q&A sessions at the SmartPak booth, is one of the official farriers for the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.
He was happy to answer my questions about shoes and studs for event horses, drawing upon his experience working with horses in various disciplines and with different issues. Danvers uses some handy-dandy illustrations and practical advice to explain the needs of horses based on their level of competition, the type of footing on which they’re working, and some of the issues that improper shoes or studs can cause.
8. Shopping the Small Businesses
As a small business owner, I enjoy supporting and networking with other small businesses. Innovative products for horse and rider are always on my shopping radar, and there were many Rolex vendors that offered handcrafted creations that I was happy to support. Among my favorite purchases are a Bandi belt for keeping my cell phone safe and handy while wearing breeches without belt loops, a gorgeous hand-screened floral belt from MangoBay Design for riding in breeches with belt loops, and a custom horsehair bracelet and keychain from Pony Locks.
To these and other small businesses showcasing their work at Rolex, thanks for providing such beautiful and fun products!
7. Tailgating with EN
The weather was absolutely gorgeous for Saturday’s cross-country. What better way to spend the day than at the Eventing Nation tailgate party presented by Tredstep Ireland? From snacks and drinks to meet and greets with eventing stars like Dom and Jimmie Schramm of Evention TV, there ain’t no party like an EN party. Stay tuned for a full recap from the tailgate coming later today.
An added bonus of tailgating with EN was the opportunity to meet my awesome coworkers, who are scattered around the Eventing Nation, so to speak! I communicate with the other staff members regularly, but this was my first chance to actually meet them face to face. And yes, they are all as friendly as I imagined … not to mention absolutely “insane in the middle” in the best possible way!
There may be an (in)Famous Eventing Nation Staff illustrated post in the works … Stay tuned!
6. Creepy Dance Party
For anyone who is familiar with Sinead Halpin’s groom Meg Kepferle, it wasn’t a secret that another incarnation of Creepy Dance Party would go down sometime during Rolex. Thanks to EN tailgate hosts Tredstep Ireland and our next door neighbors, Jan Byyny’s tailgate crew, the Creepy Dance Party was made possible after the final cross-country round on Saturday.
From enthusiastic participants …
… to innocent bystanders …
… the Creepy Dance Party was a huge success that culminated in a giant prize and EN swag giveaway!
5. Napping on XC
All the festivities and excitement on Saturday gave me a brief case of the sleepies after cross country and Meg’s Creepy Dance Party. Fortunately, I had an entire park’s worth of lush grass and sunshine to lounge in, and I soon passed out face down on the cross-country course, with an EN hat on my head and the slightest inkling that if I stayed there too long, I could become a new kind of cross-country question for any horses and riders on evening hacks through the park. Fortunately, my nap was relaxing and refreshing, and I didn’t freak anyone out (as far as I know).
4. Watching Tonto Kick Butt
Saturday’s 2014 Kentucky Reining Cup Freestyle Championship was a different kind of Insanity in the Middle, as human and equine athletes spun and slid to fun tunes such as “Gangnam Style” and Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” My favorite? Australian Dan James, dressed up (so to speak) as a shirtless and crow-clad Tonto. He rode Smart Little Elan to music from The Lone Ranger while bareback.
And then backwards.
And then — to deafening cheers and applause — Dan dismounted, and Smart Little Elan performed lightning-quick spins at liberty.
It was truly impressive, and Dan and Smart Little Elan ended up clinching not only the freestyle victory, but also the People’s Choice award. Check out their full performance:
3. Witnessing Pitty’s Victory
Show jumping is always a nail-biter; who will come out on top? Watching the incredible four-star partners finish up the weekend in the Rolex stadium took the audience from the lows (such as Ruy Fonseca‘s upset at the triple combination) to the ultimate highs (like watching Lauren Kieffer‘s double clear round with Veronica to seize the USEF National Championship).
During William Fox-Pitt’s final ride of the day on Bay My Hero, you could hear the sound of a pin drop (or a camera’s shutter clicking) in the stadium. The thunderous applause as they cleared the final jump just about shook the Kentucky hills. What a ride!
2. Stuffing My Face
Half of the fun of Rolex is visiting the various food stands and spending ridiculous amounts of money on delicious and dubiously healthy foods. In addition to the gyros, baklava, hot dogs and fudge that I consumed at the Kentucky Horse Park, I also discovered the joys of the Alltech Arena’s bar during the 2014 Kentucky Reining Cup. Man O’ Wars, anyone?
Aside from Rolex food, Sarah and I made sure we had a chance to visit Ramsey’s diner for some southern cooking. Their fried green tomatoes and apple fritters are amazing, but my true reason for hitting up Ramsey’s was their cheesy, gooey, artery-clogging Kentucky Hot Brown. Words can’t describe how amazing and vegan-unfriendly this dish is. Topped off with a rich slice of pecan pie for dessert, I basically had to roll myself out of the restaurant, but oh man, it was totally worth it.
1. Meeting Awesome People
From EN staff to eventing legends to fans and friends old and new, I am grateful for the opportunity to spend time with some of the most passionate, creative, hilarious and fascinating people in the world. Whether we bumped into each other while gathering on a knoll by the Head of the Lake or during the meet and greets at the Eventing Nation tailgate, I enjoyed chatting and laughing with all of you. If you have any memories or ideas for (in)Famous art, I’d love to keep in touch! Feel free to email me at [email protected] to chat, discuss your ideas, or just to talk about how stinkin’ cute the Eventing Nation Chinchilla is.
Thanks for the great times, Rolex and Eventing Nation! Until next time, Go Eventing.