Entrance gate at Richland Park. All those white tents in the background are portable stalls for the 500 or so horses competing.
This was, as Ed Sullivan would have said back in the ’50’s, a r-e-a-l-l-y- BIG-SHOW! Fortunately for me, Richland Park, which is just north of Kalamazoo, MI, is not that far from me. And in spite of its size, the booth fees were totally reasonable for a 4-day extravaganza. I even made my booth expenses back at this show. It’s always my goal, but not always realized. So here’s the lowdown on my RP adventure!
My booth, “nestled” between a very high-end saddler and a super popular retailer of custom printed Kerrits equestrian clothes.
This is the best outdoor vendor row I’ve ever been situated in. All the merchandise was first-class, and there was a lot of it! The booths went on around the corners at the far end.
The view from inside my booth, with another super high-end saddler across the way.
So I guess I should explain a little about this show. It was a horse trials, which is essentially the same as a 3-day eventing show. But they needed 4 days to get all the horses and riders in. The highest level eventing show is a CCI****, and this one also had lower level classes with the CCI*** being the top level. That meant that a lot of big names from around the country (and even some from other nations) were going to compete here. Among them were three of my personal faves. More on that in a minute
Eventing has three components–dressage, cross-country, and stadium jumping. The stadium jumping took place right out the back door of my booth…conveniently! So I was able to sneak out there and get some photos.
The ring before jumps were set up and after. Note all the clouds. This will become important later!
The show hosts conveniently arranged the vendor row to also border on a portion of the cross country course, so I was able to get over there for a few photos too.
A chunk of the cross country course by the vendor row. It looks complicated and jumbled, but no one horse had to cross all the jumps. They were set up by class level and only the ones in a particular class had to be jumped. The water obstacles were fun to watch.
Cross country near the vendor row. It looks sunny now, but don’t forget those clouds.
And back to the stadium jumping because it was here I was able to get my best shots.
Kim Severson, suspended in mid-air and sight-lining her next jump.
Katie Ruppel, coincidentally a Facebook friend although I did not meet her personally. Her magic horse Houdini went clear in the stadium jumping.
And a perennial winner and favorite, Buck Davidson.
A few words about Buck. The day before the stadium portion he broke a few ribs. He had eight horses to ride, six of them 3* and two others lower levels. I don’t know how he did it. All he said was that he was kind of sore. Click here for full details of his winning ride (yes, he won the 3* with a bunch of busted ribs) and also some good photos of cross country and some bits about how the other riders did.
Up to this point, all was find and dandy. It was now late morning on Sunday, the final day. A bit after noon, word went around that a big bad nasty storm was due to hit in about an hour and we were going to be in the middle of it. We had sort of known the day before that this might happen and show management had moved the cross country start time up by an hour to try to get all the riders in before the deluge. However, as is common in the Midwest, it was still sunny and pleasant but menacingly windy at times. Most of the vendors, myself included, decided to stow anything that might blow away or be damaged by rain and just wait it out. But the storm kept teasing us by not appearing. Two hours later a light rain began. It did not move quickly over us as it turned out to be a rather large weather cell. So the folks who had a lot of helpers just started packing everything up because it would be too late to reopen their booths if and when this thing ever did get finished with us. The Kerrits guy next door had an absolutely huge booth and wouldn’t have been able to dismantle it quickly, and I was in the same boat (terrible pun, but I should have been in a boat). As the storm picked up I worked in my tent packing things up and stowing them in my truck which was parked only about 3 feet from my tent. I finally got to the point where the only task left was to take down the tent. This is where it got messy, not to mention outright dangerous. Until now it had been only heavy rain, no thunder, no lightning. So here I am with three of the four heavy steel legs of my tent removed, and struggling with the fourth one which was being quite stubborn. FLASH! BOOM! RIGHT OVER MY HEAD!!! And I’m HOLDING ONTO A LONG METAL POLE AND STANDING IN A BUNCH OF WATER!!! That was it for me, I made for my truck and attempted to sit in the recommended position of not touching anything in it but the seat I was sitting on. Couldn’t help touching my camera, though.
Deluge. It eventually said goodbye and I was able to finish packing up while doing a very good impersonation of a wet rat.