Arabian US Nationals starts on Thursday. If you followed the link, you'll see that Nationals is 40 years old, and this is the last time it's going to be held in Louisville, KY. For years the Nationals has alternated being held on the west coast (Albuquerque, NM) one year and on the east coast (Louisville) the next. Starting next year Nationals will not rotate, but will be held every year in a more central location - Wyoming, I think.
Anyhow, Kaswyn won his first National Championship at 4th level at Louisville in 2002 with me riding him. That was the last year that they held dressage, sport horse, and jumping classes at Nationals. Since then all of the sport horse classes have been held at Arabian Sport Horse Nationals. But since we won this Championship at Louisville, it kind of holds a special place in my heart. It makes me sad that I won't be at Nationals for the last show there.
See, I started out showing arabians, not dressage. Arabian shows are one of a kind events, where you can find english, western, driving, halter, youth classes - pretty much everything. We used to take horses in multiple disciplines - for example I showed a horse once who used to go western, hunter, side saddle, and halter. You could really get a lot of showing in over one weekend and have a lot of fun. Arabian shows are a total blast. Almost all training barns decorate their stalls with stall drapes, plants, even furniture for the big shows. They rent extra stalls for tack stalls, groom stalls, and hospitality rooms where they keep mini-fridges stocked with goodies and a tv/VCR so potential clients can view horses for sale. There are barn parties and special events for horses who are retiring or getting achievement awards. When the classes are in the show ring, the crowd hoots and hollers at the horses going by, and if the judge looks at your favorite horse it's perfectly okay to cheer and show support. Trainers and coaches yell out instructions for their clients as they whiz by on their horses, sometimes frantically gesturing to get their point across. This was what I was used to when I started showing dressage.
However, dressage shows are much more sedate. Not that they aren't fun, but just different. There is minimal barn set up - maybe the barn will rent an extra tack/feed stall, but usually there is no groom or hospitality stall. Some have stall drapes, but it's on a much smaller scale than arabian shows. As far as the show ring goes, there's no hooting, no hollering, and certainly never any coaching from the sidelines. After the test is done there is usually polite clapping, and sometimes a tame "Woo!" can be heard, but that's it.
I had hoped to be able to get to Nationals again, just to attend and see all the classes. It's so fun to just sit at the ring and watch for hours because the classes are all mixed up. You'll see a western class, then maybe a youth class, then english, more western, driving...it's very entertaining. But now it's doubtful that I'll be getting to Nationals again. Sport Horse Nationals, hopefully, but not again in Louisville.
I can only hope that we'll make it to Arabian Regionals again, since they still have all the other disciplines plus the dressage classes. I'll just have to set my sights on Lexington, KY instead!