I wish the people behind Google Maps would start putting landmarks on their turn-by-turn directions. Maybe then I wouldn’t have nearly caused an accident after slamming on the brakes when the robin’s egg blue stands on the side of Highway 30 came into view.
It was my first time at Dressage At Devon, but even I knew the color of the stands, and it was utterly clear that I had missed the turn when they went zipping by.
Missing the turn became the only low point of the weekend. Devon enchanted me. From the charming parking man who greeted me with a smile every morning, to the delicious fudge, to the plethora of dancing horses, Devon swept me off my feet.
Approaching the Dixon Oval for the first time reminded me of a baseball fan’s first trip to Yankee Stadium. There was that moment of awe and wonder as I stepped to the rail, looked around, smiled, and thought, “This is so cool.”
You don’t often see more than 25 different breeds at the same horse show. The judges enjoyed a blend of Appaloosas, Haflingers, Cleveland Bays, Friesians, Morgans, Gypsy Vanners, Georgian Grandes, Nokotas, Connemaras and others, in addition to the traditional warmbloods during the two days of in-hand competition.
The refreshing mixture of flavors reminded me that dressage is a discipline that encompasses many different styles and coat patterns.
Take North Forks Cardi, for example, a Welsh Cob stallion that traveled more than 3,000 miles from Washington to compete at Devon with rider Jessica Wisdom. This diminutive but powerful pony took home several in-hand championships, including the Born In The USA High-Point Stallion Breeder’s Award, and finished tied for 14th in the hugely competitive Intermediaire I class.
While “Cardi” isn’t what you’d typically see in the upper levels of dressage, he certainly held his own in the Dixon Oval and quickly became a fan (and photographer) favorite!
Devon’s many traditions—Ladies’ Hat Day, the leadline class, the box decorating contest and announcer Brian O’Connor’s entertaining performances—all add a special spark to the electric atmosphere.
Even the inconvenient downpour on Saturday night during the Grand Prix freestyle couldn’t keep spectators out of the stands (or Brian out of the ring). They gathered by the hundreds to sip wine, nibble on cheese and watch 10 horses dance through the muck in hopes of adding a Devon win to their résumé.
Hours after Tina Konyot and Calecto V’s victory in the freestyle, I was still sitting in the press box, looking out at the dark, empty ring. The rain continued to fall by the bucket load, but even the chill in the air couldn’t dampen my spirits as I reported on the happenings of that fine September day. It was only my second day at Devon, but I was already brimming with enthusiasm for the next day and year.
The organizers weren’t joking when they chose the theme “be a part of the magic.” It was easy enough to do. After all, I was enchanted from the moment I slammed on my brakes.