Thursday night prior to winning the Grand Prix, McLain Ward formally retired his two-time Olympic gold medal partner, Sapphire. He rode the 16 year old chestnut mare into the ring through to the awards section where she stood while the announcer read her list of accomplishments, and then Ward dismounted, removed the saddle, replacing it with a white sheet embroidered with her name. He took her past the grandstand where her fans could get up close to admire her, then walked back out the “in gate”, into the warm up ring, and down to the far end nearest the stabling area. As he handed her off to a waiting groom, in the distance I could see his hand move to his bowed head and it was clear that he was wiping away a tear.
It’s the last week of May and you see this color: You’re thinking: a box from Tiffany’s, The Robin’s eggs that have just hatched, a beautiful cloudless sky? If you’re one of the legions of competitive hunter or jumper riders, breeders, pony, horse or coaching drivers, side saddle, gaited or western riders, you are seeing Devon Blue, the ubiquitous color that drapes the boxes and grandstands at The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair. The first Saturday night of the 2012 Devon Horse Show brings a chance to check out the vendors, the food, the carnival, who else is there, and, oh yeah, the horses. Devon has something for everyone punctuated by a few traditions of its very own
The Show in the Woods There are sometimes places so magical that even though you go there every day, it’s spell never fails to seduce you. The Hitchcock Woods, in the center of Aiken, South Carolina, is one of those. Somehow, as soon as you enter The Woods, the canopy surrounds and embraces you and time holds still. The air is clean and soft, scented with Longleaf and Loblolly Pine needles underfoot; footfall is muffled by the sand.