BY SISSY WICKES
Most of us fell in love with our sport as youngsters. I tell romantic stories of peeking between the lower rails of the ring at Devon while a legend showed. We remember our first pony (Oliver Dragon) and our first pair of tall boots (I was 12). Our idols of youth- for me it was Rodney Jenkins, Terri Rudd, and Kathy Kusner. For the younger among you, it may be Laura Kraut, Scott Stewart, or Louise Serio. No matter what the era, no matter what the discipline, we remember those who inspired us. I was the kid who would stay at the horse show all day- watching, helping out, riding anything I could find.
Fast forward 50+ years… I still am that kid. I love to watch horses race, jump, or buck in the field. I watch videos that people send no matter how suitable the horse is to my order. I watch racing on TVG with my husband. I watch live stream of horse shows, even paying for FEI TV against my better judgement. When I was watching the pony model at USEF Pony Finals at 7AM, I thought I may have a serious problem. The model – they are standing still!
I am a fan; I have always been a fan; I always will be a fan. The upside of media today is that we have access to a worldwide panorama of equestrian sport. We can watch dressage in Aachen, showjumping in Rome, eventing in Lexington. I root for Laura Graves and her Verdades, knowing their fascinating back story.
I followed Spencer Smith, a young man whose parents are friends and fellow professionals, as he participated on his first Nations Cup team in Rome and then went on to win three Grand Prix’s in Europe this summer.
Philip Dutton is a hero as a rider and a father, and no one is better to cheer for as they blaze around a cross country course.
Colleen McQuay, the brains behind our International Hunter Derby series, has a world class Quarter Horse operation. I follow her husband, Tim, and her kids and grandkids as they bring home victory after victory. The reigning family of reining.
The equestrian world is there for all of us to enjoy. Drink it in; learn from every one and every horse. Lucky for fans that horse sport is very translatable on screen. Cheer from your living room, watch when insomnia sets in, watch the show when you can’t go. Follow it all- reining, eventing, dressage, showjumping, racing, polo. Be the fan, the little kid looking between the rails in awe. Media is a great thing. Use it as a fan, use it as a horse lover, use it as a steward of the health and longevity of equestrian sport.
About the Author: Sissy is a Princeton University graduate, a lifelong rider and trainer, a USEF R rated judge, a freelance journalist, an autism advocate and Editor of The Plaid Horse. Her illustrious resume includes extensive show hunter and jumper experience. She lives with her family in Unionville, PA and Wellington, FL.
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