Trucks and trailers making their way to Washington Ave. from the Thruway each morning. A noticeable uptick in foot traffic and patronage in village shops and restaurants. The weather is warming up. Ever since 2003, these signs have heralded the return of the horse shows to Saugerties.
Dates for the first session are as follows: May 20-24, May 27-31, June 3-7. Second session: July 15-19, July 22-26, July 29-Aug. 2. Third session: Aug. 26-30, Sept. 2-6.
The show is hunter/jumper. With the latter, getting through the course the fastest and clearing the jumps cleanly are all that matters. With the former, style counts.
A pamphlet designed to explain the events to newcomers says the jumper events “are spectator favorites because they are relatively simple to judge and are based on speed and athleticism … The standard is cut and dry: You either have the fastest round without faults or you don’t.”
The hunter classes judge the horse. “A hunter should have a long, low, ground-covering stride and jump the fences easily, smoothly and with consistent pace. Hunters are quiet, exhibit good manners both over fences and under saddle, and jump courses that involve direct lines and straight-forward fences, usually designed with natural elements and colors.” The rider’s appearance is also important. “Shiny boots, well-tailored clothes and a smartly groomed horse all count in the hunter ring.”
A third class, equitation, is concerned with the rider only. “Equitation classes judge the rider on their form, their guidance of the horse, effectiveness of their aids, position of legs, hands and upper body position, and the ability to perform certain tests with style and precision. The rider’s legs should be perpendicular to the ground and quiet with the heel down. Their hands should be supple and follow the movement of the horses head. The upper body should be upright, but relaxed with a slight arch in the lower back. The rider’s head should be up and looking forward. Equitation classes are generally judged on the flat at the walk, trot and canter and over fences.”