Postcard 8: 2008 Developing Rider Tour, Lipica

Sweating in Slovenia, coach Melanie Smith Taylor reports on the team's latest stop, not far from the shores of the Adriatic Sea.

June 26, 2008 — Hi, all! The U.S. Equestrian Federation Show Jumping Developing Rider Team is now in Slovenia, bookended by Italy and Croatia. We’re at the show in Lipica, the home place of all Lipizzan horses in the world (400 reside here now). One of the exciting parts of the day is when they are turned loose in the evening to return to their pastures–mares, foals and young horses all gallop down the paved road right by our stable area. That perks up a few ears!

Founded in 1580, the stud farm’s long entry way is lined and shaded by century-old linden and oak trees that meet overhead. But once you hit the arenas it is open and hot. This is the first time in 28 years that a major show jumping competition has been held on these grounds. Although Lipizzan dressage and driving exhibitions for tourists are held here daily throughout the year, the management is making a huge effort to make the show an annual event. The large arena is all new footing. The nice sand/fiber combination appears to be riding well for the young horses. Our classes begin later today.

I will never understand why Europe doesn’t make the effort to air-condition these hotels. All of us–riders, grooms, parents and friends–are “stabled” on the grounds also, but unfortunately these two hotels were built in 1870, and it is sooo hot in the rooms even with windows wide open. We get in our cars occasionally and drive around with the a/c going full blast to cool off!

All of the riders get their horses out very early while it is somewhat cool; there is a long break before we show at 3 and 5:30 today. Tiffany Marr, our traveling vet this week, and I drove into the nearby seaside town of Trieste today during the break just to view the Adriatic Sea. We came upon the downtown port where this gigantic yacht was docked. A fellow told us it belonged to the owner of the Russian soccer team, which is in the semifinals tonight against Spain. It had a helicopter parked on top–but the best was its name, “Ecstasea.” I guess so…

We have a lot of great support here this week. Alexa, Tracy and Jeanne all have family and friends here and Amanda Knowles’ folks are here from Canada. Amanda has been showing and traveling with us along with Peter Leone, her trainer.

It is about time to dress in ice cubes and head back to the barn. But everyone is handling the heat fine so far and hopefully the horses will adjust, too. We have no fans because of lack of power but they get out of the stuffy stalls for many hand walks and grazes. We had to “redesign” the stalls because the vinyl petitions are solid all the way up on 4 sides with a low roof, and we had to get air to the horses somehow. We got creative so you can, too, to figure out what we did. Hint: It was very simple!

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