Riding Habit Revised a column where the best and worst of equestrian fashion and decor is reviewed with a modern edge.
Some might say that the Longines Los Angeles Masters in not an equestrian counter-culture event. After all, yesterday I sat just a few strides away from like of Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg and probably several others on the world’s billionaire list. And most media outlets will talk only about the opulence – the celebrities, the high end shopping and the exquisite food.
But as an industry insider and actual horseback rider, I’m not so easily wooed by the well-worn world of equestrian extravagance. All of that hoopla is both figuratively and literally old news. What the LA Masters accomplishes, which is actually extraordinary in the equestrian business, is selling this old world crowd on something new. And that is absolutely Counter-Canter Culture in my book.
It starts with the look of the show itself. Where you might expect to see white tents and polished wood, you find an edgy black, white and loud red theme. The lighting over the music stage is reminiscent of that at the Bootleg Theater in the artsy Los Angeles district of Silverlake, and, hey, there is actually a music stage with up and coming artists as opposed to chamber music. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate that! Not to mention an actual DJ booth to boot.
The art on hand is not your tired popup gallery filled with 19th Century horse renderings either. I just about exploded out of my skins when the Opera Gallery representative proudly stated that it was their mission was to bring modern art to this equestrian event. And bring it they did! From the clothes hanger “Stallion,” to the car engine turned equine “Cheval Mecachrome,” to the colorful works of André Brasilier, there was something for the edgy equestrian in all of us.
And as if that were not enough, local artists were invited to transformed the two white horses that stood at the entrance into colorful works of art over Saturday and Sunday, one using his skills as a graffiti artist. The other was also responsible for the modernistic equestrian scene painted on old book spines, which lined that back of the DJ booth.
The vendors on hand also served up some interesting flair. Of course, there were the usual offerings of horse and rider gear that are important to every rider present, whether competing or not. But mixed in with the expected, you quickly discovered many up and coming fashion brands like Tara Kiwi and Deco Pony. Even Kingsland got a bit of an edge, selling Converse style shoes with bright silver laces.
And last, but certainly not least, there was the most unique atmosphere in and around the arenas. The warm up arena was quite exactly center stage in the vendor village, allowing all attendees the opportunity to get up close and personal with the best riders and horses in the world. It was the exact opposite of elitist.
Inside the main arena, the audience was filled with horseback riders who clicked, smooched, hooped, and hollered the horses on in the speed rounds. All clear rounds were not met with a reserved golf clap, but rather a blast of popular music. And in breaks, the most outrageously eccentric ringmaster I have ever had the pleasure to see hoisted souvenir rosettes into the stands. Why for a minute it was almost like the rodeo!
Or maybe even Comic-Con thanks to the outrageous costumes donned by the worlds best and outstanding amateurs for the Pro-Am Charity Speed Challenge!
Check out the LA Masters gallery (here) for some jaw-dropping images from that event.
In the end, the only that that truly remained classic about the look and feel of this horse show was the one thing that deserves to endure – the outstanding horsemanship displayed by the top riders in the world. Thank you to the Longines Master for bring the modern world of show jumping to Los Angeles. Can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve for next year!