Rolex recap

I’m a bit late to the game on this one; it’s been a busy time at work for what feels like the entirety of the year!

My Oklahoma pals T. and B. drove up to Lexington on Friday. We were hoping to be able to make it to one of the course walks, but despite leaving at 5 AM, were delayed by construction and my need to stop at a Big Lots in Illinois and purchase a car charger because I’d forgotten to pack one.

We drove to our Airbnb upon arrival in Lexington; it was close to downtown and only about 7 miles from the Horse Park. It was a very cute shotgun-style house (long and narrow) with plenty of room for everyone’s stuff and an adequate amount of K-cups to see me through the weekend. The neighborhood was full of families who seemed to be into sitting in the front yard on lawn chairs (this is an important detail for later), but it wasn’t a scary or loud place.

Friday night found us in downtown Lexington at McCarthy’s, where we watched horse racing on the TVs while drinking a pitcher of Country Boy Cougar Bait.  We wandered over to Sawyer’s for burgers before heading to Kroger to buy breakfast supplies. I tried to buy a whole country ham, but was talked out of it by T.; nevertheless, I bought a small package of biscuit slices and a bottle of Dr. Pepper to cook them in. (If you are unfamiliar with country ham, it’s a salt-cured, smoked, aged ham that’s a thing in the south and is somehow unavailable in Oklahoma. I miss it so much!)

We got up relatively early on Saturday to head to the Horse Park. I stuffed my rain jacket into my backpack and put on my insulated duck boots because let’s be real: it’s going to rain at some point on cross country day at Rolex. The parking situation was not as much of a nightmare as I’d anticipated and my experience was better than it was last year. We hiked over to a spot where we could see both jump 14 and 16. There were few spectators and several portapotties with no lines. We watched several horses tackle our relatively unexciting jumps successfully before walking down to the Land Rover Landing, where we saw a few riders get into trouble and have to reroute for the longer option. When it began to rain, we headed toward the vendor area to get under cover and do some shopping.

My primary purchases at Rolex are always souvenirs for friends or family members; it’s pretty easy to resist all the tack and clothing when you work at a tack shop and can buy things with your employee discount. However, I did give in to a pair of SmartPak Pipers in a fun purple. I bought longs instead of regulars, and that seems to have addressed one of my major complaints- the other pair I have is constantly shimmying downward. The longs seem to have the length in the rise, which means they mostly stay put. And really, how good should I expect a $65 pair of breeches to be?

After SmartPak, our next stop was The Farm House, where I said hello to one of the store’s vendor reps who was helping Farm House with their booth. I made T. try on a pair of Ego7 boots (because she’s looking for a new pair, and the store carries these) and spent an hour or so getting a lecture on the finer points of fitting the Ego7 boots and show coats. I really ought to expense this trip.

T. wanted to go peruse the Horze booth; I looked for the store’s reps, but instead encountered the rep for the dressage trailer! (The dressage trailer usually has different vendor sales reps than the store because it spends all of its time in a different geographical area.) I let him try to sell us breeches for a few minutes before cheerfully telling him who I worked for and that I’d be buying all my Horze products at my place of employment. That turned out to be the easiest way to escape him, and on we went. (Horze’s reps are all very, very nice and super interesting to talk to, but they are always SUPER aggressively salesy.)

While my friends stopped and shopped at booths on our way back out to the cross country course, I looked at things with an eye toward work. (I really need to expense this trip.) I spotted this godawful Arista dressage coat and reconsidered my decision to carry some of their dressage vests. My god, who is still wearing a long, waisted frock coat?! I hope none of you are. Please let me help you if your dressage coat looks like this.

Hideous. Just hideous.

We headed back out to cross country after that, where we spent some time in the sea of people at Head of the Lake. That’s always a fun place to watch! We watched several riders go, then ventured back into the vendor area to find lunch. By the time we ate and walked back out to the course, the day was nearly over. We opted to head back into the vendor area to wait in line so T. could get photos with Boyd Martin, Lauren Kieffer, and Doug Payne.

Once we were back at the house, we all took a little nap break before coming up with a dinner plan. We opted to pick up pizza at Mad Mushroom, which was conveniently located near Country Boy Brewing’s Lexington outpost. Our Airbnb hostess had provided growlers for a couple of local breweries, which was totally awesome. Growlers are largely unfamiliar to me; Oklahoma has some fucked up liquor laws, so things like buying wine in the grocery store, refillable beer containers, and buying regular beer (meaning not the low-point 3.2% ABV stuff) cold are things that just don’t happen here. It was super cool to walk into the brewery’s serving area, ask for a recommendation, and walk out with 64 ounces of cold Ghost Gose to take home! I also bought a six-pack of Cougar Bait because it was delicious and beer is a great souvenir, right?

We flipped channels for a while on Saturday night, and right as we were all winding down to go to bed, the neighbors began having a loud and mostly unintelligible argument. The only words I could make out were “fuck” and “fucking”; this went on for about 10 or 15 minutes before we heard a loud THWACK followed by unintelligible angry screaming. I am 90% sure a woman picked up her lawn chair and whacked the shit out of the guy she was arguing with. We all very quietly went to bed after that; in the morning, T., who was sleeping in the living room on an air mattress, reported that the police had showed up about an hour later. Fun!

We weren’t in a huge hurry to get to the Horse Park on Sunday. We arrived around 10:30 AM, and did some more browsing before settling into our seats for stadium. We opted to get covered seats this year, as last year we were rained on, then sunburned in the bleacher section. (I couldn’t shake that stupid tan line all summer!) Stadium was exciting- I thought most of the horses looked alert and bright, though it seemed like there were a lot of rails for the bottom half of competitors. It was really exciting to see Michael Jung jump (of course)!

I finally managed to meet up with Aimee, Renate, and Karen after stadium jumping! It was awesome to meet them; we had such a good time chatting and grabbing an early dinner. I always love meeting people from the internet- it’s almost always amazing! Our group was apparently so fun and friendly that T. told me she wanted to take up blogging because you get to meet the coolest people. It’s true!

We headed back to Oklahoma on Monday. Our 10 hour drive turned into a 13 hour trip thanks to all the flooding in Missouri; we spent about 2 hours driving in and around the Mark Twain National Forest before finally finding the hour-long detour around it. That’s more time than I ever wanted to spend in Oklahoma’s neighbor to the northeast!

I had a fantastic time at Rolex this year- I’m sad I didn’t get to see more horse bloggers, but I guess I’ll just have to plan on doing that next year!

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

19 thoughts on “Rolex recap”

  1. You had a lot more luck at Farm House than I did. I saw the Ego 7 sign and went over there to try them on/possibly pre-order the brown, and both times I went in there the employees completely ignored me and kept talking to each other. I’m not going to beg for assistance or stand there awkwardly for more than 2 minutes, so I just left.

    1. Yikes! I was specifically looking for our Ego7 rep to mostly say hello, so maybe that’s why I had better luck! I couldn’t escape her, haha.

  2. Looks like a successful trip! Besides the strange neighbor argument (which you could argue was free entertainment??) Air BnB seems like the way to go! Hotels fill so fast and are generally far away. Also, I have spent a few nights in McCarthys and all of them super fun!

    1. Airbnb was totally awesome- it was nice to have plenty of space and great to have a full kitchen to cook breakfast every morning. I’d definitely do it again, neighbors and all.

  3. I wanted to see you so bad (and return your damn nalgene. Just send me your address. I’ll mail it. Haha), but it sounds like you had a crazy busy day.

    Also, screw those Horze guys. Annoying doesn’t begin to describe.

    1. Oh man, the Horze guys. They’re so pushy; my pre-order meetings with them are like 4 hours long. I dread them.

      I’m super bummed I didn’t get to see you!!! :'(

  4. I didn’t realize the flooding in MO had you rerouting around Mark Twain — that’s practically in my back yard, you probably drove right past me! I’m sorry I missed you in KY but maybe I’ll come out west and meet up with you at some point!

    1. If I’d known that, I would have driven right to your house and waited out the damn flooding! It was a BEAUTIFUL forest, but not really how I wanted to spend my afternoon. 😛

  5. Oooh so much fun!! Aside from some oddness in shopping haha and that flooding omg. If you’re ever inclined to come back up this way for any big shows tho def lemme know!!

    1. I’m going to try to make it up to NY for some Saugerties shows with the dressage trailer this summer- maybe I can rent a car and drive down to visit!

  6. I stayed in a hotel recently where my neighbors were having a similarly loud argument at night. Thankfully the police were not called in my case. Sounds like Rolex was fun though. I need to work at a tack store. An employee discount would save me a lot.

  7. Sounds like a classy neighborhood 😉 The rest sounds like fun though! I must agree, I skip the Horze booth at Equine affair because they stalk you. I’ll just order on line from them…
    It’s funny you mention that about the pipers. Mine kind of do that falling down thing too. I’m the furthest thing from long, but maybe I’ll give that a try. I used to get longs in the TS low rise breeches so they would be less low rise and they actually worked pretty well.
    Flooding sounds like a nightmare! Glad you found your way home safe!

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