My husband bought all of the Rolex tickets for us as a Christmas gift. As I was uninvolved in this, he basically bought everything. When all the tickets were mailed to us, I was pretty blown away. Not only did we have admission for 3 days, we had Kentucky Club tickets, preferred parking, stadiums seats for dressage and show jumping, and reining tickets for both nights.
Not pictured-preferred parking pass
We got in to Lexington pretty late on Thursday night so we slept in a bit on Friday morning before heading to the horse park. We had preferred parking, which was great - especially for carrying out purchases. We probably got to the park around 9:30/10:00 and began by exploring the sponsor's village and trade fair. We then went over to watch some dressage. I generally find dressage about as interesting as watching paint dry, but I will say watching it in person made it a lot more fun.
Rachel McDonough on Irish Rhythm
We left at the lunch break and instead of going to get food since we figured everyone would be there, we went to do the Landrover cross country. This was soooo fun! They let my husband and I each drive a different vehicle and go with each other so we got to go twice. It was really cool to drive up hills, through water, and over huge bumps. It was also really scary as normal cars can't handle it, but the landrovers really do make it easy. Here's a video from HorseJunkiesUnited showing a test drive. If you go to Rolex I highly recommend doing it.
over the water and up the hill
After that, we walked the cross country course, which was really long and really cool. All of the pictures are on my husband's camera so I'll have to share them later. We returned to the main area and finally got lunch. There were still some lines, but it wasn't bad. Then we went to do some more shopping. At Bit of Britain's tent, I learned that not only can I get a Hit-Air vest, I can get one in any color I want. Seriously, you can just give them a pantone color and they'll make your vest to match. How cool is that! I don't have a color, but I feel like black will be pretty hot so I think I'm going to get a grey. My husband was also the model for their deployment demo. I got a slo-mo video of it, which was really cool. In normal speed, it just goes from empty to full so quickly you can't see it. Even in slo-mo, it's really fast. Now my husband wants one too.
We went back to the stadium for afternoon dressage when the big names came out. Even to non dressage people such as my husband and myself, it was easy to see how much better the pros were. And they made it look easy.
William Fox-Pitt on Bay My Hero
Michael Jung on La Biosthetique Sam FBW
Phillip Dutton on Mighty Nice
After dressage, we headed back for more shopping. I appreciate the small tack stores we have in our area and try to shop there occasionally to help keep them in business, but they're very small and have very limited selection. So I go nuts every time I have access to horse equipment. Especially tack on sale. We ended up looking at M. Toulouse saddles because they have adjustable gullets. The saddle fitter had recommended a Wintec with adjustable gullet for Nilla, but I really hate Wintecs. They put me in a bad position. I actually had a trainer refuse to ride in the Wintec we used to own when I was having my OTTB trained. She also found that it threw her out of position.
I'm not a huge fan of M. Toulouse. It's sort of a middling brand to me. Better than Bates, or the real cheapies, but not as nice as Prestige or Antares. However, the adjustable tree is pretty cool. It's not a gullet replacement like the Wintecs. Instead, it has a little screw mechanism that adjusts the tree. Here's a video and more information on the genesis system if you're interested. I asked the saddle fitter by email if she thought the M. Toulouse might work and she said it might, but obviously wouldn't know until she saw it. The saddles at Rolex were demo models and were all on sale. The M. Toulouse Jennine Pro with Genesis retails for ~$2149 and we got it for $1615 with free bridle and leathers thrown in. Seriously good deal! My husband actually really liked it and has been wanting a more forward flap for jumping so if it doesn't work for Nilla, I'll either give it to him or sell it. Pretty sure I could sell it for more than I bought it for and I fully plan to sell the bride and leathers regardless.
After shopping, we went back to the car and drove over to the reining which was at the AllTech Arena at the horsepark, but not very close to the Rolex facilities. Friday night was regular reining and it was okay to watch. I'm not a huge fan of reining - most of the horses look miserable and the set pattern is pretty boring to watch. However, some of the horses were really pretty, did not have pinned ears and were really cool to watch.
The food was also terrible - the options were burgers, hot dogs, and chips and pretzels. There was no chicken or vegetarian to be found. So we ended up leaving early to go get dinner. We went to my favorite Cracker Barrel. I check on my phone before leaving the arena and there were 3 within 15 minutes. There isn't a single one in California. I know it's a crappy chain, but I never get to go to them anymore and I really like biscuits and chicken and dumplings, so I was really happy.
Then we returned to the hotel to collapse from exhaustion and set our alarm for super early the next morning.
Edit: apparently uploading videos to blogger removes the slo-mo effect. If I can figure out how to fix it, I will.