All that is old in Santa Fe is new again, and that is exceptionally evident in the fact that horses are still ingrained in the culture of the city. Rather than carrying the Spanish conquistadors into battle as they did during the 17th and 18th centuries, horses now live the life at the HIPICO Santa Fe show venue. And if you thought this was just another horse show, think again.
Rather than fight against the arid desert climate, HIPICO Santa Fe embraces every aspect of Southwestern culture. With the signature turquoise and orange colors, mountain views from the Grand Prix Field, and ringside cabanas, the Santa Fe Summer Series is more than just another rated show. Did I mention the weekly Sunday champagne brunch in the VIP Lounge? What about the effortless blend between luxe Italian show coats and hand-painted cowboy boots?
The VIP Lounge itself is a draw all on its own. The billowing, elegant white tents hold an artfully decorated, eclectic southwestern space that is anything but boring. The decor - the stuff of Pinterest visions - hosts pieces by local artisans, including paintings, decorated longhorn skulls, rugs, furniture, and even ringside cabanas, where guests can soak up the full show-cation vibe while watching the biggest classes of the day. Each cabana is decked out in a unique fashion by a different sponsor, adding to the fresh, modern feel of the VIP experience.
"You think, ‘that’s the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen’ and then 15 minutes later you say ‘no, that’s the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen’”
If you’re not convinced that desert chic dreams are made of HIPICO, maybe I should tell you that Santa Fe is home to natural hot springs and award-winning restaurants. Oh, and HIPICO’s florist, the world-renowned Betsie Smith, has designed gardens at the Smithsonian in the past (amongst many other epic achievements). “Double rainbows, dancing rain. You think, ‘that’s the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen’ and then 15 minutes later you say ‘no, that’s the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen’,” says Betsie, when asked why this area is so inspiring for her craft. “Santa Fe is visually fantastic—with the culture, wildlife, elevation, and so much more.”
Finding creative freedom within the forward-thinking, artsy HIPICO team, Betsie has crafted an earth-toned array of local blooms that cover the VIP Lounge like a soft desert blanket, with an ever-so-southwestern twist - traditional vases have been replaced by boots of all shapes and sizes. “Arranging the flowers for [the lounge] has given me an opportunity to put my two passions together, horses and flowers—how much better could it get?” she explains, brimming with excitement and passion. “It gives me pride, because I’ve participated in VIP Lounges around the country and to walk into ours, it’s a notable difference - [partly because of our local artistic talent] as well as our fascination with fabulous southwestern style. [It’s also just the feeling of the space] - letting there be a casual atmosphere with the cabanas [feels really different, really special].”
Time to wrangle up that turquoise jewelry your grandmother gave you when you were 13, drape yourself in a fringe-y poncho, and scoot on over to the Santa Fe Summer Series.
Photos by Mary Neiberg. Feature photo by Pamela McGroarty.
Written by Kate Kosnoff
Kate Kosnoff is an equestrian journalist, blogger and photographer. When she isn’t working, Kate can usually be found sipping green tea, scrolling through Twitter, or petting her horses—sometimes a combination of the three. She is based in Indiana and can often be spotted in jumper rings across the Midwest and Florida aboard her strawberry roan, Waffle.