The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair is one of the most iconic horse shows in the US. For 118 years, competitors have come to Pennsylvania’s Main Line to showcase their carriage horses, hunters, jumpers, three and five-gaited saddle horses, and ponies. While a ribbon won at Devon is special, a division championship and the accompanying award cooler is a prize to be dreamed of and treasured for life.
Katrina Coldren, owner of The Clothes Horse, knows a little something about the award coolers given out at Devon, as she’s been involved in making them for over 20 years. I reached out to Katrina to learn a little bit more about these coveted prizes, thinking it would be neat to know about the journey of a Devon award cooler from inception to its placement over the back of a Devon champion.
Katrina told me that this year she made 61 championship coolers and 5 championship driving aprons (for coaching champions). The 2014 show runs from May 22nd-June 1st, and she said in order to complete the order in time she typically gets with David Distler, the show’s manager, in February to confirm the order and discuss any changes. The Devon coolers are made of natural white wool, which is difficult to make and store (think dirt!), so they require a little more time in order to make certain they have enough material. They’re trimmed and bound in natural, with a 1/2 in ribbon in Devon blue and a tail cord of Devon blue and cream. Finally, the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair logo and the year are embroidered on the side.
There are 3 classes that do not have the classic natural white cooler with the Devon logo. The Grand Prix of Devon, the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Amateur Owner Classic, and the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior Jumper Classic have light blue coolers with the name of the class and the year on them.
So how does a cooler get made? First the fabric is cut in stacks of 10 or so and then the patterns are organized by size (for example, horses get a standard size 80″, large ponies get 72″, medium 66″, and smalls get 62″). The two halves of the cooler are assembled and then trim is added. Hand-crafted buckles are affixed, and then about three weeks prior to the show the coolers are embroidered. The embroidery is done by a 4-headed machine, so 4 coolers are made at one time, and it takes approximately 2 hours for each run. If things go optimally, in eight hours The Clothes Horse can embroider 16 coolers. Once the entire order is assembled, Katrina hops in her car and drives across the Delaware River to Pennsylvania to deliver the coolers to the show to wait for their new owners.
I asked Katrina about some of her favorite jobs, and she noted that retirement coolers are always special. Although she’s done coolers for equine legends like Gem Twist and Sapphire, she shared with me that she is always honored when asked to make a retirement cooler and cries at every retirement ceremony.
Katrina clearly loves what she does, and her superior attention to detail and the fine craftsmanship of her products is why shows like Devon and the Washington International and top show barns choose The Clothes Horse. High end craftsmanship and attention to detail is not reserved for horse shows and show barns, though. Katrina and the staff at The Clothes Horse put the same love and attention into every product they create, as she knows a custom dress sheet, cooler, fly bonnet or scrim made for someone’s best friend is just as special to them as a Devon cooler would be.
I’ll be at Devon on Thursday, May 29th, and I can’t wait to see who will be going home with the championship cooler made by The Clothes Horse at the end of the night! For more information about The Clothes Horse visit theclotheshorse.com and don’t miss the Devon live stream on the USEF Network.
Thanks for reading!