"I've got to be in the rain with them. We have had no complaints. The dirt has held up magnificently because of the work we have done in the past," said Richard Feldman on Saturday morning of the Grand Prix weekend. On Friday Keene Valley received 4 and a half inches of rain, the East Branch of the Ausable River went over its banks flooding fields, roads, and a few houses.
Up in Lake Placid Richard Feldman, chairman of the Horse Show, the staff and volunteers worked hard to keep the impact of the rain at bay and the events as close to on schedule as possible. "We lost three quarters of a day on Friday and had to stay off the grass for safety reasons," said Feldman, "but we have made up for most of it. The grounds are the name of the game and they are sensational. Butch and his crews have kept them top notch."
"When it rains hard we try not to go on the grass because it can be slippery," said Butch Martin. "We are fine on the dirt. The grass is holding up well. We have 16 inches of roots that soaks up the water as fast as it comes down. We are sitting on a large sand bank. Once the water gets through the grass or dirt and hits the sand it's gone. Underneath all this out to the landfill is sand. It's a great blessing that many other courses would die to have. So unless it is raining really hard, we go on."
"We have been cantering on ponies and this week I cantered on a real horse," said Alexis Schultz, age six and a half. "I like the smell of horses."
"I don't know why I like this sport," said her cousin Rose, age 7. "I just have been loving it since I was a baby. I have been riding since I was two years old."
"I think they are going to carry on the family legacy," said their teacher Marcia Kulak. "I started riding when I was two. If you have an inclination and can get on a horse I think two is a great time to develop a feel for a horse or a pony. It is just like ballet, skiing, swimming or anything the earlier the better. Obviously a very safe and tolerant horse is a very important factor when starting someone so young."
"I started riding late, very late," said their grandfather Michael Schultz, who is a member of the Horse Show board of directors. "I have been riding for just the past 30 years, 25 competitively. My wife is a rider. She rode hunters. I took it up in self-defense. I had no expectation to show, but there was a log on the ground and you hop over it. Then it gets a little higher and you hop over that and soon it becomes a fence and you are hooked."
"Ten years ago when I gave up jumping I took up dressage," Schultz continued. "It is so complicated and so fascinating. A good dressage horse is very well trained. You have to quiet yourself down and think about your aids, the commands you give your horse. To be a jumper is being a cowboy by comparison. Dressage is really a lot of fun. Every jumper should learn how to do dressage first. As for Lake Placid I can't think of anything really special about the village, except maybe the Mirror Lake Inn where we are staying. It is the horse show for us that is special, that's why we come here."
"Boy, that jump is really high," said Diana Feldman after we watched the first two riders in the Grand Prix.
"She clears them really well," said Hans LaVerge of Margie Engle as she took her first run through the course on her horse Evening Star.
"Oh she knocked one down," said Diana of Adrienne Sternlicht.
"She was going too fast," said Hans. "How many points do they get when they knock one down."
"Four," said Diana. "See this rider has 12 points, that means they knocked down three."
"Where are we now?"
"Candice King on Bellissimo."
"This Candice is doing well, she had a clean run," said Kat Chace.
"Another clean run," said Diana of Paul O'Shea's ride.
"Did you see the way he rode with his elbows out?" said Hans. "I think he was trying to lift the horse over the jumps. Not pretty but effective."
"More people should be here," said Kat. "These are terrific athletes the best riders in the nation. I don't think people realize how inexpensive it is or realize their Price Chopper Card allows them to get half price. There is lots of great seating. Every kid should come out see it."
"Oh my god, did you see that? Laura Chapot fell! Oh, I hope she is all right," said Diana. "She is getting up. They have reached her and she is starting to walk off the course. Oh thank god, she seems OK."
"She is OK," said Richard Feldman returning from the ring. "She comes from a family of riders. Her father Frank is one of the great riders of all time. She just misjudged the horse's step and fell off."
"I have been riding for probably 40 years, over 35," said second place winner Margie Engle, who has won the Grand Prix twice before. "It is a great sport. I love the competition. I love the horses. They each have their own personality so it is a different ride every time."
"I love the sport," said Heather Caristo-Williams, who came in third. "It is the only sport where women and men compete as equals. I have had my horse since she was five. I have fallen many times. It is like any sport, if you have a fall it is about getting back on. It is all about the desire you have for your sport. My husband is from Placid. His dad Jessie Williams used to coach the US Ski Team. This is one of my favorite horse shows because of the field, the town, and the people the whole package."
"This is my first time in Lake Placid," said Grand Prix winner Paul O'Shea. "I rode in Vermont last year and everyone there was talking about Lake Placid. The show and the town have lived up to the expectations. Margie rode very fast. I had to give it everything."