2016 Arabian US Open-Behind the Scenes on Wednesday!
Originally published September 12, 2017
It’s important to note the fact that I’m giving Mike equal credit on this post. Full confession time-Mike's the one that got up at 3am to get these totally dramatic pictures of the horses arriving at Central Park!
However, I also did indeed get up in the wee early hours of the morning. At 5:53am I walked out of the hotel, across 59th Street into a dark and mysterious Central Park. There was no one around. No one. When I called Mike and told him I was on my way -and I asked him how to find the barn area- he chuckled and told me to “follow the light”.
By that he meant the big flood lights that had been set up to illuminate the stabling area.While there was lighting from the street lamps lighting the path, it was still really dark. And really quiet. And really, really very lovely. And I did feel much better when I finally spied the lights and barns in the distance.
None of the photos we have from this show are “real” Mike photos. When we went we didn’t really know what our assigned tasks would be and we opted to travel sans camera. A mistake we will not repeat! Because we took some amazing images but none with the kind of resolution that we would really like to have. Learning from that mistake, you can be sure the camera will be with Mike at all times this year.
Once the horses and tack were all unloaded everyone gathered at the arena for a quick look at how things were going. As you can see in the photo above, the equipment for preparing the footing was still there for work to continue in the morning. And that Rolex clock will go out into the arena!
After that, the exhibitors pretty much dispersed to either go get some breakfast or catch a nap or both. There would be no schooling in the arena until later in the afternoon when they would have a two hour practice session.
But for Mike and I, our day had begun! I was in charge of organizing the awards and the first challenge was finding them. That quest ended up taking about an hour and a half. Having found the awards the next task became getting them across 59th Street and to the arena.
The distance is about a third of a mile. Doesn’t sound like much but 59th Street was a frozen black river of bumper to bumper diplomatic vehicles and posed a definite problem. Because when I say bumper-to-bumper, I mean that the limos and SUVs were pretty much touching. Not even room to walk between them, let alone maneuver a hand truck dolly full of boxes.
Fortunately for us, an awesome doorman from the Essex showed us how to get it done.For myself, most of the rest of the day was spent at ring side as I unpacked and figured out how to organize and set up my “station”.
After I had the awards ready to go, I helped out a little in the VIP tent- putting promotional materal out at the tables. I had a great view to watch as the IEG team finished putting the arena together. Bringing in the footing and prepping it could be a blog post for another time. Then they strategized the placement of the Big Apple , the Statue of Liberty and the Rolex Clocks!
Rolex is one of the big sponsors of the entire show as is Land Rover. If you watch the live feed you can see that the Land Rover is prominently placed on east-ish side of the arena, right next to where the big screen tv and the stage for the live band! In the photo above, Julien McPeak explains the plan to the official show photographer, Howie Schatzberg.
I actually don’t recall even seeing Mike for the rest of the afternoon. He spent the day over in the barn area (which is actually on one of the many baseball diamonds) meeting and greeting exhibitors and going over the plan for THE WALK. Earlier in the day Mike and I had timed how long it takes to do THE WALK -to get from the stalls to the arena and it was seven minutes.
The walk is on a very nice asphalt paved path. For the purposes of the show, the path was divided into two lanes. One lane for the regular park pedestrians and the other for horse traffic. The entrance into the Wollman arena is a bit of a trick because it's a fairly serious down-hill and on asphalt that would be risky so the area immediately outside the arena had rubber mats.
One of Mike’s favorite moments was acting as an escort for Mary Trowbridge as she rode H Mobility H- who was to present the American flag that evening- down that path through Central Park. As an actual eye witness, I can tell that nobody could have done a finer job representing the breed (and trainers) and the show hadn’t even started yet.
And then before we knew it, it was time to go back to the hotel to change for the evening-Show time!