This post is a bit delayed but on April 22nd I went to The Del Mar National Horse Show’s Night of the Horse. Technically it’s their main event for Western Week but isn’t exclusively western exhibition riding. Each act performed twice except for one. It was really interesting to see what impressed me or captured my attention and what didn’t. Incoming videos!
For instance, the Arizona Mini Mystique drill team was too cute for words. I wanted to take them all home. So many had that great-but-awful attitude that little horses are known for. I see this as my geriatric future. (This video is long! Oops!)
A nice juxtapose to the minis was the Popoff Clydesdales. I’ve seen this same performance by the Budweiser Clydesdales and I always hold my breath because I’ve seen a few online videos where one of the team falls during some fancier footwork. During the second half of the show, which I did not take media of, a woman came out with a team of 4 and did some faster, higher maneuverability work and that was impressive to see.
There was an act where a guy came out and just did a bunch of sliding stops. Fun to watch the first and second time, but after a while it’s just ‘meh’ for me. He also did some weird skit where he chased a guy in a chicken suit around the arena and then roped him and dragged him out of the arena. No video for this act, but trust me you aren’t missing anything.
Another act was a girl that did trick riding. The arena was dark and I didn’t get video because it wouldn’t read but she came out with a bullwhip on fire and cracked it a few times, which released a really cool plume of flames like a dragon breathing fire. Then she got up on her rock star gelding and did some stunts. I was impressed by how steady her mount was and that he was mindful of where she was at all times.
A former Cavalia trainer/performer came out and did some dressage movement on her Andalusian stallion and then did some liberty work. Overall the performance was underwhelming. The under saddle portion of the performance wasn’t great. Maybe I’m just spoiled, riding with great dressage/classical riders my whole life but it definitely takes more than some half-hearted attempt at the Spanish walk to impress me. However, I did find the liberty work really cool because I can’t even get my horses to listen when I’m connected to them, let alone from across an arena. I do wonder if these horses sour on the routine after a while because the same routine was performed at another show two weeks later.
My favorite act was a Day of the Dead performance. Tomas Garcilazo is a great rider and actually well known for his La Charreria riding (not to mention well known in So Cal!). He came out first on a bay Andalusian and then came out again on his quarter horse stallion, Hollywood. Hollywood is a crazy good looking quarter horse in my humble opinion and a Hollywood Dun It baby too. Tomas biffed jumping through his lasso but performed his well-known ‘wedding ring’ roping trick to a standing ovation. I love watching an amazingly talented rider. (If you only pick one, watch the second of these two videos.)
The finale was really cool. A performance by The One Armed Bandit. I recall as a kid going to our rodeo and seeing this guy ride a buffalo around the arena and then up onto a horse trailer. Back then he had two arms. Now he rides a mule and uses his good arm to crack a bullwhip. Which means his mule does everything off leg cues, making what he does with those cows even cooler. Although, I’m not sure how he even talked those cows into doing what they do. It was a great way to end the night.
All in all, it was fun. My mom enjoyed it a lot and we made friends with our seat neighbors (which you may or may not hear in the videos). I missed out on Dressage Week because I was in LA for Fiesta of the Spanish Horse but I’ll be back for Hunter-Jumper Week to watch the $100,000 Grand Prix. In the mean time I’ve been watching the hunter and jump classes via https://eqsports.net/live at work.