Horse shows can be magical days, and there's no show more magical than the Dressage Gala held in Germany.
There's something about horse show mornings that's entrancing and addictive. It starts with the quiet, the patient and measured preparation before the crowds begin to arrive. It's the horse heads poking over stall doors in anticipation of breakfast. The early morning rub-downs and check-overs to make sure that the horses have made it through the night uninjured. There's a sleepiness, a fogginess to it all that makes everything a bit gentler than it will be later when the sun is at full height and the competition is in full swing.
The early mornings at the Dressage Gala are blissful.
But that doesn't last for long. No, soon the spectators will be arriving, the quiet solitude of the warm-up arena will be broken, and the loudspeaker will crackle out over the grounds. Horses and riders and grooms and trainers will be everywhere, in a semi-controlled chaos.
There will be heavy anticipation and stress and pride and disappointment; because we work for years for our moment in the ring, and in a matter of minutes our dreams can change. Take a look at this video which beautifully chronicles the 2014 Dressage Gala.
The show atmosphere changes again as the sun slants over the late afternoon and the darkness begins to wrap around the grounds. The arena lights will be turned on and horses and riders will perform while brilliantly illuminated in white light. The bits and stirrups will gleam against the spotlight and the horse's coats will shine even more dramatically.
And at the end of the evening, a champion will be named. And tired horses and sleepy grooms will head back to the stables where the horses will be rubbed down, checked over, and fed. The grooms, riders, and trainers will stumble into bed, preparing for an early-morning wake up to do the whole thing again tomorrow. And the horse show magic will start all over again.