RK3DE: Uniting the Equestrian Community at the Best Weekend All Year
The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event is one of the most highly anticipated upper level equestrian competitions in the US. It is the only CCI**** event in the country, and as such people come from far and wide to experience the Kentucky bluegrass and watch in awe of the gutsiest equestrian competitors around. And sure, the competition in and of itself is enough to get any equestrian excited. From the first days of beautifully ridden dressage tests, to the breathtaking intensity of cross country day, to the show jumping finale on the final day, RK3DE is wonderful to watch from start to finish. Let's not forget the fabulous vendors either! Almost every big-name saddle brand comes to Rolex, along with a variety of tack shops and innovative new equestrian companies and products. However, this year I noticed something more than just the amazing competition and shopping that Rolex offers. I noticed connection, a community.
First of all, just the sheer fact that people from so many states and countries attend Rolex allows the attendees to communicate, learn from and connect with new people. That alone is amazing, and what I continued to see during the time I was at the event amazed me even more. From the little girl and her mom exiting the horse park after a long day, still chatting excitedly together about the vendors and the competitors, to the many international visitors who were so happy to get a taste of what the horse world is like in the United States, I saw everyone uniting for the love of the horse and the love of the sport. I realized this is really what Rolex means to me. It didn't matter whether I, a hunter jumper rider, was with my hunter/jumper friends or my friend who rides saddlebreds, we experienced Rolex together because we were appreciating the horse world and all that is has to offer-together. Everyone else that came to Rolex, whether they were an eventer, a reiner, or just a trail rider, was so happy and excited to witness the event.
I think this is because the bond between a horse and rider, especially when they are trying their heart out, is something any equestrian can appreciate. Even though I have never jumped a cross country jump in my life, watching the eventing greats like Phillip Dutton, Michael Jung and Buck Davidson gallop across the Rolex cross-country course made me so happy and felt so relatable because I saw the same appreciation and connection I feel with my horse every day. And I could tell everyone around me felt that too, and that was why they chose to come to this spectacular event.
When the crowd cheered for Michael Jung when he came through the timers during his show jumping round, everyone was so happy to watch him win another Rolex due to his amazing skill. But I'm sure they were also happy because they were thinking about the feeling you get when you accomplish a goal, big or small, with a wonderful equine partner, just as Michael just had. We all understand this fabulous feeling even if we have never competed at the high levels of our sport. That was what truly made all Rolex attendees one amicable community-no matter your state, no matter your country, no matter your discipline, we are all equestrians because of the joy the horses bring to our lives, and everyone was celebrating that at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.
Photos generously provided by Kristin Leigh Creative ©