Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Hooray for Richard Spooner
This past weekend Richard Spooner won both Grand Prix out at Thermal, the big multi week winter horse show in the California Desert, an event ignored by the L.A. Times but huge in the horse world.
During his winter campaign, Richard broke the 100 record for Grand Prix won by a single rider. He's now up to 103. He's based at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. The local crowds roar when he enters the ring, and he's really nice to his fans, always the first one to the autograph table afterwards. The Olympic team seems to ignore him, making me think that must be very political and insider. Traditionally East Coast riders have considered themselves far superior.
A Grand Prix involves a set of 12 fences (approx) set at heights over five feet with ridiculous twists and turns. After a first round, only the horses that have jumped clean and within a time limit, come back for a second round, the jump-off, where speed and accuracy determine the winner. On Richard's site he's called "the master of faster." (His site could use some work though.) After the Grand Prix is over, the top horses take a victory gallop around the ring which is a treat to watch.
But here's the wonderful thing about Richard Spooner. He rose to his great success aboard a small white horse named Robinson. I've seen him win on Robinson for years, doing some amazing things on courses. Richard calls Robinson his very best friend. Now Robinson's about 20, and mostly retired.
But I just read this morning, that at every Grand Prix win in Thermal, Richard's gotten on Robinson for his victory gallop, and that's Robinson in the picture above. How lovely is that?
The big Grand Prix of the season, the finale, is next Sunday. I'd like to go there, but it's a 3-4 hour drive each way.