I was able to visit the 2010 Scottsdale All Arabian Horse Show for two days toward the end of the show's two-week run.
I spent the first day getting acquainted with some of the Arabian trainers who'll have articles in future issues of Horse & Rider, and getting set up to photograph them the second day. I also got a general feel for the lay of the land, checked out lots of barns, horses and shopping opps, and soaked up some of that famous Arizona sunshine.
My mom accompanied me on Day 1. She is spending the winter in Arizona, and after hauling four kids to horse shows with my dad for years, she was eager to go to the Arabian show and just enjoy herself. That's her in the vest with the saddle motifs on it.
It was also the first time she had gotten an opportunity to see exactly what it is that I do for a living when out and about at an event. (She's seen me chained to my desk at home for days on end when visiting us in Idaho, but that's not quite the same as the public side of my gig.)
If you're flying in for the show, as I did, the experience starts right at the airport. Show ads appear throughout the facility, including at the baggage pickup where I waited for my luggage. You also see show ads on buses, billboards, and on TV. The public presence helps make the show a popular activity for locals; something like 200,000 people come through the gates just to watch the show and take in all its atmosphere.
There is plenty of atmosphere to take in. The horses themselves are all just breathtaking, and some of the barn setups really have to be seen to be believed. There's more temporary landscaping here than there is PERMANENT landscaping at my barn at home, that's for sure!
One of the many things I appreciate about this show is the lavish RIBBONS (and other prizes). The Arizona Arabian Association puts the show on, and spares no expense when it comes to this element. It's a big deal just to finish in the top ten, and anyone who does so is presented with a gorgeous rosette and streamers. The champion and reserve champion in each class receive additional keepsake ribbons.
Not only that, but every winner from the top ten on up gets to make a pass in front of the crowd ("victory lane") and have a photo taken. There is no "hustle 'em out of here and get the next class moved in" mentality that deprives competitors of their bit of earned glory. Each champion and reserve champion is photographed in the arena, receiving their honors to the applause of the crowd.
The extra effort put forth to put MEANING into winning has to be one reason why people get excited about participating in this great show.
Labels: ribbons, Scottsdale Arabian Show