If everything had gone to plan this year, horses and riders would be lining up for the first horse inspection of the Land Rover Kentucky CCI5*-L today in Lexington, Kentucky. While that’s not happening because of COVID-19, Dubarry is sponsoring a virtual jog and still giving out Best Dressed Awards. Though some riders are choosing to don the outfits they would’ve worn in Kentucky, Sara Gumbiner’s ensemble took it to the next level.
In a time when the world is enthralled with the wackiness of Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic on Netflix’s “Tiger King,” Gumbiner and her two-time five-star partner Polaris cosplayed as Baskin and her loyal tiger. Gumbiner’s Aiken ditch dog Dixie even got in on the fun as Joe Exotic.
“I have two awesome girls working for me right now—they’ve been working so hard—and they were begging me to do [the virtual jog],” Gumbiner said. “They were like, ‘Come on, you already have your outfit that you were going to wear,’ and my mom loves that stuff too, so she was like, ‘You should do this.’ I was like, ‘You know what guys, I think we should do something fun.’ And Paige [Cianciulli] that has been working for me said, ‘Whoever does Tiger King is going to frigging win.’ So I was like, alright, that’s what we’re going to do!”
As they brainstormed, the costumes took on a couple different iterations. “Larry” was nearly Joe Exotic before they settled on making him a tiger. Once they found a washable paint, Cianciulli and fellow Evermore Eventing employee Alexis Poe got to work transforming the 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Brandenburg’s Windstar—North River Lady) into a striped beast.
“They painted all the orange on by hand,” Gumbiner said. “They were like finger painting. They felt like they were back in camp, so they were little kids, and then they painted the stripes on. It’s seriously impressive! We had no idea that we had such talent on our hands. It only took her like five minutes.
“We didn’t really know how intricate we’re going to make it,” she continued. “I didn’t want to spend a ton of time on it. It was surprisingly easy and quick. You can only keep Larry occupied without putting him out with his friends for so long. It only took us about an hour to paint him up and take some pictures, so it wasn’t too bad.”
For his part, Larry was exceedingly cooperative.
“He’s such a good sport; he’ll let us do anything to him,” she said. “We’ve played with him before. He doesn’t love baths, so getting the orange off has been a little tricky, so he’s still a little yellow. Hopefully we’ll be able to get him white again eventually. But actually getting the paint on, he was quite good about it.”
Poe found Gumbiner the perfect clothes to transform her into Baskin.
“The girls were all about it because they always tease me that I have the same hair as Carole Baskin, so Alexis was in charge of finding my outfit,” Gumbiner said. “It’s amazing how much Carole Baskin gear is for sale on Amazon right now, so that wasn’t very hard, and all the stuff we bought was pretty cheap. We knew we had to do a little bit of leopard, and the flower crown was important. That came together pretty quickly.”
Gumbiner said that while dressing up as a wacky character is a bit out of her comfort zone, she felt it was important to have a little fun during quarantine.
“It’s been a really disappointing spring season, and these girls have stuck by my side, and we’ve just been chipping away every single day and just training,” she said. “I think all the horses are getting better, and everything is going well, but when you don’t have these big goals to work for it gets a little monotonous sometimes, so it’s fun to break it up, and it seemed like a good way to do it.”