This past week, Sue van der Linden was lucky to attend the Devon Horse Show for the first time and sent us this report. Thanks Sue!
A Beginner’s Guide to the Devon Horse Show
Wow! I just made my first trip to Devon for the Horse Show. Honestly, I was a bit intimidated about going because these are very high end horses doing incredible things that I am nowhere near accomplishing. I jump 2’3″. These people take 5′ jumps without thinking twice about it, and make it look easy. But the people here, made me feel right at home.
At its heart, this is a country fair, complete with a ferris wheel and fried Oreos. There is also shopping, games, and lots more food. People bring their kids and their dogs, and it’s somewhat like a big community picnic.
But obviously, everyone comes for the riding. The barns, riders and horses are all extremely down to earth. Whew! I had no trouble talking with McLain Ward’s grooms, and getting a chance to meet his horses, who were very sweet. So was everyone! People are very open, welcoming, and willing to talk with you about their horses. Make no mistake — once they get in the ring, they are all business. And it’s really fun to see these horses put on their game faces and compete.
And it’s not just the hunters and jumpers… There were hackneyed ponies, carriage driving, and Standardbreds too.
So, how should you prepare yourself to get the most enjoyment possible out of your Devon experience? Here are my top 5 suggestions:
1. Get out of your seat and explore — The Devon Horse Show has a lot to offer that you will miss entirely if you just go to your seat and only watch the competitions. Talk to people. Tour the barns (ask first because sometimes the horses need a break). Watch the warm ups. Drink it all in.
2. Get a program, and choose what classes are “not to be missed” for you — If you love jumpers and hunters like I do, then figure out when those classes are showing, and when there is a break to another discipline. But don’t just watch what you know. Make time to expand your understanding of the horse world by watching some different disciplines too.
3. Drink lots of water and bring sunscreen — The Dixon Oval is a wonderful facility, but at the height of the day, the sun can be relentless. So bring your own small coolers packed with water and ice to keep you hydrated, and be prepared with sunscreen for your face, lips, and body.
4. Get Devon goodies…it’s for a good cause — There is an entire booth devoted to Devon logo merchandise (shirts, sweatshirts, water bottles, ties, lanyards, socks, you name it). Remember to pick up a memento to remember your trip. Be aware that they start discounting this stuff on Thursday, and things can sell out pretty quickly. Since it all benefits the Bryn Mawr Hospital, I feel a lot less guilty about spending here than other places.
5. Go back — While this was my first Devon experience, I hope it is the first of many more to come. I experienced a lot, but there is still a lot left to do. Thank goodness, my friends and I are going back again next year!