The Horse Circus: 3.21.14

The Horse Circus

We pretend to go to the horse show but everyone really knows it’s a circus!

Bring on the clowns! And the horses too!

Every Friday Counter-Canter Culture features the important US and International Horse Shows currently under way.

Live Oak International

The Live Oak International 2014

The Live Oak International is underway now March 19-23, at Live Oak Plantation in Ocala, Florida.  This five-day festival, which began on March 19 and runs through March 23, features the best in both driving and show jumping.  In fact, the show producers and hosts are no less than 10-time US National Four-in-Hand Driving Champion, Chester Weber, and his sister, Juliet W. Reid.

Driven Dressage competition has been the main focus of the classes so far.  For those not familiar with driven dressage, it’s quite similar to traditional dressage except the horse performs in the harness.  The drivers execute tests that require a high degree of training, suppleness, and obedience.  And driven dressage is not just for single horse hitches!  In multiple horse hitches, such as a pair or a four-in-hand, the team must give a picture of harmony, and should match in conformation and action.

Here is how Max Montoya’s team got it done during the FEI Driven Dressage Intermediate Pair Horse division, and how show producer, Chester Weber, and his team scored a 35.02 in the FEI Driven Dressage Four-in-Hand division on Thursday.

Max Montoya Live Oak

Live Oak Chester Weber

There is much more driving to come throughout the show, including a driving marathon and obstacle competition.  And as if that wasn’t enough wonderful driving action, the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales are also on hand in Ocala to strut their stuff.  Here they are performing in the impressive eight-horse hitch on Thursday.

Clydesdales at Live Oak

The $50,000 Live Oak International CSI2* W Grand Prix promises to be the focal point of Saturday’s competition.  Top athletes entered to compete in this World Cup and American Invitational qualifying event include 2012 British Olympic Team Gold Medalist Ben Maher, 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist Cian O’Connor, and U.S. Olympian McLain Ward.  In total, over 40 entries representing 12 countries will hit the grand prix course on Saturday, vying for the top honors, which went to Todd Minikus last year.  Here he is flying high at the 2013 Live Oak International with his winning mount Quality Girl.

Photo courtesy of Mark Astrom

Photo courtesy of Mark Astrom

As if the wonderful jumping and driving competition where not enough, the Live Oak International promises the full experience, including elegant marathon tailgating, trend-setting boutiques at the Vendor Village, a Kids Zone featuring a bounce house, the Charles Owen Competitors Club, and the Lugano Diamonds Competitor Party, which has been know to offer a mean mechanical bull riding competition!

So definitely head down to Ocala this weekend if you can!  Admission is just $10 per person, $5 for children under 12, with proceeds benefiting the Marion County Therapeutic Riding Association.  And if you can’t make it in person, you can still grab a piece of the action over on the USEF Network, which will be broadcasting the competition live on Saturday and Sunday.



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