Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2024

Live From Central Park: I Saw Hoofprints Made In History

As I mentioned in my last blog post, when I learned there was going to be a Central Park Horse Show, I totally geeked out. I was so excited! It was the merging of the two things I love most: horses and New York City. The greatest realization was that all of my equestrian buddies would be coming to town for one magical week.

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As I mentioned in my last blog post, when I learned there was going to be a Central Park Horse Show, I totally geeked out. I was so excited! It was the merging of the two things I love most: horses and New York City. The greatest realization was that all of my equestrian buddies would be coming to town for one magical week.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my friends, particularly those in the horse show world. I was always the girl at the shows who was riding by day, planning parties for the horse show crowd by night. Charity events, disco outtings, dinners, get-togethers. Even when I stopped riding, I never really felt like I left because I had woven myself into the fabric of the equestrian community. Horses were the initial glue that stuck us all together, but I also had other, equally solvent adhesives to keep me firmly cemented in my equestrian tribe.

One of my many tricks to staying involved is that I am a freelance journalist for equestrian publications, and I immediately knew I wanted to write about this historic event for the Chronicle. Not only is the Chronicle the most iconic equestrian magazine, it is also a part of the Central Park Horse Show’s DNA.

Also, I’ll tell you a little secret: I don’t know how to go to a horse show and “do nothing.” I’m a bit of a Type-A personality (runs in the family!), and I’m really not very good at just “spectating.” Thus, writing about horse shows is a perfect way to give me something to do with my hands and my brain while my friends are out there tackling the big jumps (sounds like a win/win to me!).

My husband and I arrived onsite on Thursday evening about two hours early, because I’m just that nerdy. I told you I was excited! We hung around and shot some photographs of the perimeter until we could enter the gates and get situated. When they finally opened, we climbed a tall set of stairs to catch our first glimpse of the set-up.

It was like nothing I had ever seen before. The series of interconnected grandstands towered over the dazzling arena, which was beautifully appointed with a course of (very large!) gleaming jumps. Raise your eye level a few inches, and the entire scene was juxtaposed with the urban backdrop of Manhattan. The stately skyline loomed large, as if to remind us that we were only borrowing this transcendent moment while the city hustled and bustled just outside the gates.

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The $210,000 Grand Prix of Central Park got underway, and I had the chance to watch greatness in the form of my dear friend Georgina Bloomberg. I grew up with George and I adore her, and to see her win the class on Juvina brought tears to my eyes. What a thrill for the crowd to cheer on their hometown hero, and what a joy for me to watch my good friend with that giant smile on her face, calling out to her new young son, Jasper, that she “did it for him.” Moments like that are once in a lifetime.

After the class, we were ushered over for a press conference. Georgina, Charlie Jayne (second place) and Paige Johnson (third place) traipsed up the stairs and took their spots at the front. It was surreal. I grew up with all three of them, and it feels like just a couple years ago when we were all in the junior division (Paige and I even showed the same large pony). Now, I was sitting amongst some of the most prestigious media outlets in New York City interviewing them about their top three finish in a $210,000 Grand Prix.


Paige Johnson, Charlie Jayne, Georgina Bloomberg and Central Park Horse Show organizer Mark Bellissimo.

But it didn’t actually happen overnight, and while I’ve been out building my career, they’ve been working, training, and growing as riders. My favorite part of the press conference was when George said: “One thing my Dad always taught me was the more somebody says you can’t do something, the harder you have to work to get it done, and the sweeter it tastes.” 

My own father called me after the class was over, as he had watched it on NBC Sports. After asking me to congratulate Georgina for him, his next question was: “Doesn’t it make you feel a little sad to be there and not be riding?”

You know what? It doesn’t. Everyone can carve out their own place in the equestrian world if they’re creative enough. For me, I got to be a part of history in a different way, and the joy and pride I felt for my friends at their press conference made my heart burst at the seams.

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We returned to the show again on Friday night and watched more of my amazing friends tackle Central Park’s uniquely challenging setting. I cheered them on, and then snuck away to do the other thing I do best: throw a party. I capped off my Central Park Horse Show adventure by co-hosting a charity event at HAUS nightclub with several other riders.

The party benefitted the Equestrian Aid Foundation, a charity that has been close to my heart for well over a decade. Giving back to my community is how I choose to say “thank you” to the sport that has given me so much.

The Central Park Horse Show was a week I will never forget. The energy of the inaugural year was indescribable. We all knew we were watching history. People got dressed up. They cheered. They had fun just experiencing of the moment. By virtue of showing up, you were a part of something very special. The hoof prints left in Central Park this week changed everything.

 

Jamie Krauss Hess grew up in Greenwich, Conn., and rode in the hunter, jumper and equitation ranks as a junior. After graduating from New York University, she embarked on a career in public relations. When the call to ride again got too strong, she headed to California for a stint as an assistant trainer for Archie Cox. Now she’s back in New York City, working as the Public Relations Director at The Narrative Group and riding and showing when she can. 

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