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  • Cara Van Leuven

Size Matters


In St. Louis, in my past life, I was comfortable with big downtown festivals and small country schooling shows. This weekend created my private version of Trading Places.

Friday marked the first day of ribbons at Bridlespur Hunter/Jumper show. It was also the first night of the Highland Schweizerfest Festival.

At Bridlespur I was taken aback by the stunning grounds of the show. Round bales pocked rolling fields where a lake framed the background for a perfect setting. The arena sat at the bottom of a hill – the top lined with decorated viewing boxes for the spectators and competitors.

On the contrary, the Highland Schweizerfest Festival was a small event, also quaint, but down-home. Festivities lined the downtown square with several rides, get-the-ring-around-the-dummy-duck’s-neck games and really, really terrible bands.

The contrast of events was startling. In the past, St. Louis festivals were the norm. I recall walking to the arch more than once in a day to watch the air show followed by the fireworks. You were blessed to find a spot to lay your throw, and were not to be offended when it was stomped on repeatedly by the passer-bys.

The shows I know best are at smaller stables hosting a formal get-together. There are rarely stalls and the shows usually end by 3PM. Re-dos are often allowed and sometimes the judge even doles out advice.

(waiting my turn at a schooling school ~2015)

The Bridlespur show was as formal as a schooling show gets. It was highly organized and the competition stiff. The Schweizerfest Festival was a hometown ho-down. Not what I’m used to in either world.

The beauty I realized is that everything has its place, and both are VERY IMPORTANT. Small schooling shows advanced me for a win at the larger show. The smaller festival kept me comfortable as my anxiety in big crowds has grown more extreme. A community together in a celebration is what counts – and size does matter.


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