California Riding Magazine • May, 2014

Show Jumping Shines in
Paris & Los Angeles
Hermès Saut and LA Masters Grand Slam set high bar for the sport.


Photo ©Frédéric Chéhu

The Hermès Saut horse show at the Grand Palais in Paris embodied everything romantic and sensual that Paris is known for. It took place March 14-16 and I had the good fortune to experience it in person. The dates aren't set for 2015, but when they are announced, I will buy my airline ticket and suggest that my fellow equestrians do the same.

This show jumping event is the most spectator friendly, well thought out equestrian competition I have ever attended. From the moment I entered the stunning turn of the century glass ceilinged architectural marvel, the Grand Palais, I was mesmerized. The Hermès imagineers created a colorful floor-to-ceiling stabile of colored strips that added texture to the cast iron columns and stairways and made a perfect backdrop for show jumping. Add to that the top riders in the world, the "echt" riders (German for "genuine" riders) and their magnificent steeds, interspersed with Emperor Qin's magical clay Chinese soldiers, as imagined by Bartabas come-to-life, and Lilliputian Shetland ponies with child riders, and it was the ultimate spectator event.

I was prepared to write "the most beautiful equestrian event in the world," until I met with Christophe Ameeuw and Matthieu Gheysen, of EEM World. These are the Belgian men behind the Gucci Masters in Paris and Longines Hong Kong Grand Slam Masters of Show Jumping.

Now I have to revise my opinion for the propitious reason that the Grand Slam is coming to Los Angeles from September 25-28. It will take place over four days at the Los Angeles Convention Center. I am hoping that the charity for which I fundraise, Childrens Institute, will be the partner of EEM and that all of Los Angeles and California will benefit from this magnificent event. It will feature the top 25 riders in the world competing for a million dollars in prize money.

Recognized by both the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) and the U.S. Equestrian Federation as a CSI 5* event, the American leg of the Masters Grand Slam Indoor will put Los Angeles on the international equestrian scene. It will feature art, fashion, the latest in gastronomie, as well as entertainment.

All of this is proof that show jumping is emerging as a true spectator sport. Our very own California rider Richard Spooner, "the Master of Faster," will be in attendance after becoming a veteran of its sister tournaments, the Gucci Masters and the Longines in Hong Kong. And a host of young talent will be participating. The Grand Slam is hopeful that Georgina Bloomberg, Jessica Springsteen and her parents Patty Scialfa and Bruce Springsteen, and Jennifer Gates and her parents Bill and Melinda Gates, will participate, which will truly guarantee that it will be a sell-out event!

U.S. Olympian Reed Kessler has given her whole-hearted endorsement. "I have been riding at the European Masters Grand Slam – the Gucci Paris Masters – since I was 16 and I hope that all American riders join me in LA for this spectacular competition."

Show jumping is truly a global sport supported by a global economy. This reality was the basis for many wonderful international moments during my visit to Saut Hermès, highlighted by fortuitous encounters with riders from Morocco, Qatar, the Ukraine and Colombia.

One of the most charming bits of information was something I learned from the Qatari riders. It is well known that the racing Thoroughbred stems from the Darley Arabian, Godolphin Barb and the Byerley Turk. The early Arab nomadic tribes treasured their horses and depended upon them for survival. In order to protect the horses from the harsh elements they sheltered them in the tents and slept with them side by side. In battle with other tribes the welfare of their steeds took precedence over human life. I understand that a tube containing its pedigree information was worn around the horse's neck, so that if the horse wound up in the wrong hands, its pedigree would not be lost.

As luck would have it I was seated next to Jannicke Nautsdal, Hanne Christensen and Jenny Abrahamasson at the Hermès Saut. These three women are the brains behind the powerhouse website www.WorldOfShowJumping.com. One look at their breaking news, cutting edge website and the full force of show jumping as a serious sport with a following that rivals Formula One racing is abundantly clear! It is beyond impressive and yet they never lose sight of their love of the horses. In the stands of the Grand Palais, they cheered wildly for their favorite riders and knew every one of their four legged partners by name.

Resources:
• Hermès Saut Horse Show in Paris: www.sautHermès.com/75_Hermès-at-the- service-of-horse-and-rider.html
• LA Masters Grand Slam Horse Show:
www.mastersgrandslam.com/en/los_ angeles_masters/news/109
• World of Show Jumping: www.worldofshowjumping.com

Author Winter Hoffman is a veteran horse show mom-turned freelance equestrian writer. You can reach her at Winterjhoffman@gmail.com.