There are special competitions all over the world, but then there are special competition experiences. These are the shows that take the exhibition of the horse to the next level with thoughtful, unique added details. Back in the real world, driving home in the glare of the street lights you feel exhilarated and can’t help but grin and think, “Now that was a horse show.”
Paris, the globe’s iconic center for art, fashion, and culture, is the first stop on the 2018 Longines Masters Series, a ‘Grand Slam Indoor of Show Jumping’ traversing three continents. Last weekend was the tenth anniversary edition of the Parisian equine celebration, and the red carpet rolled out for horses, riders, and fans in the French capital.
Come for the horse show, stay for the music... and the art... and the food!
From edge-of-your-seat thrills in the competition arena to delightful demonstrations and celebrity appearances, here are a few of the sweet, distinct, notable moments we loved in Paris.
The Longines Speed Challenge, designed by Frank Rothenberger, is known as “the fastest class in the world” and is run at all three stops on the tour. In Paris, Kevin Staut and the 12-year-old mare Ayade de Septon et HDC screamed around the arena to victory, with the constant cheering from the stands practically pushing them faster as they went. Their lightning fast round was a stunning demonstration of daring, trust, and partnership. "The beauty of our sport is the osmosis between a horse and a rider who know each other perfectly,” Kevin said.
Waiting on pins and needles, watching with bated breath while your competitor turns and burns, hoping to beat your time. It’s a tense, white-knuckle minute where every tenth of a second counts. While a rider’s supporters kick their heels and jump every fence with them from the kiss and cry by the ingate, the division leaders in Paris sit in cushy comfort, gripping the soft, reassuring sides of a stuffed animal.
I need a new office chair and one of these would be just perfect.
Hobby horse-ing is taking Europe by storm as an affordable way to bring every little girl’s dream of riding horses to life – almost. Hobby horse competitions frequently include dressage and jumping tests. In Paris, there was a neighing competition, followed by a synchronized drill team-esque performance by the “Two Legged Mules” and the “Sardines” dressed in exquisite costumes and clearly having the time of their lives.
Pony Races. Need I say more?
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Helloo Leo! We’re accustomed to seeing photos of celebrities courtside of a basketball game, but check out who made an appearance at the Longines Masters of Paris!
Longines doesn’t just support the world’s most prestigious competitions, the company is also dedicated to giving back. The Longines Clear the Jump fundraiser for JustWorld International, a non profit that provides essential basic needs to thousands of children around the world, took place during the Longines Grand Prix. Each time a horse and rider cleared the Longines jump on course, 200 meals were promised. By the end of the class, a total of 5,000 meals had been earned and will be distributed to feed children in need.
What else do we love about the Longines Grand Prix of Paris? NOËLLE FLOYD Magazine Issue 12 cover girl, Edwina Tops-Alexander, and the mare California bested the field of 43, winning by a mere 36 hundredths of a second. That makes Edwina the first non-European and only the second female to win the premiere class in Paris.
There are so many things to love about the Longines Masters of Paris, and we barely scratched the surface. Edwina herself sums up the atmosphere best: “I've been coming to the event for 10 years and I've seen it get better and better. It has become trendy and fashion and it is an event where, I think, everybody wants to be at this time of the year.”
Oh Longines Masters, you are some kind of wonderful. We’ll see you at the next stop on the Series tour in Hong Kong!
Photos courtesy Longines Masters of Paris.
Written by Hossein Maleki
Having grown up on horseback, Leslie Threlkeld, Managing Editor at NOËLLE FLOYD, treasures her career in the equestrian industry as a writer, photographer, and eventing technical delegate. Leslie thrives on frequent travel but never tires of returning home to the serene mountains of North Carolina.