USET Festival of Champions 2000

Happy 4th of July to all!

Please excuse our delay in filing a report on the USET ‘Festival of Champions.’ Allan and I took off a few days afterward to decompress and relax. We are still enjoying the afterglow of a marvelous experience!

Festival of Champions

We loved all three days at the USET Headquarters and Olympic Training Center in Gladstone, New Jersey. The best, of course, was Saturday, June 24, when our Spanish-Norman stallion Romantico H.H.F. competed in the Invitational Freestyle Reining! Although Romantico H.H.F. and his trainer Garry McAllister did not beat the best reiners in the country, they were definitely at the top in audience appreciation. The huge crowd was thunderous in applause for the pair in medieval armor performing to Elton John’s song ‘On the Trail’ which, for us, symbolized both Reining and the Spanish-Norman entering the world of international competition. The beautiful, green 6th place United States Equestrian Team ribbon is a treasure too.

We were most impressed with the wonderful, warm welcome we received from both the USET Directors and the President of the National Reining Horse Association. Both thanked us more than once for bringing Romantico H.H.F. to the ‘Festival of Champions.’ Of course, we said we were honored to be invited. Photos and/or a photo ad will appear soon in the following horse publications: the ‘Reiner,’ ‘Equine Journal,’ ‘Conquistador,’ ‘Horsemen’s Yankee Pedlar,’ and ‘Andalusian,’ magazine.

Freestyle Festival of ChampionsWe want to congratulate the NRHA and the USET for all their achievements on Reining’s acceptance by the FEI as an Olympic sport. The Reining arena and V.I.P. tent at Gladstone is the most impressive. Everyday we were treated to fantastic catered luncheons, open bar, gorgeous flower arrangements on every table, with flags of the countries competing in the first Nations Cup of Reining: U.S.A., Italy, Canada, Japan and Argentina. There was an ambiance of cordiality and excitement. Allan and I were thrilled to be a part of the important event and proud to display the Spanish-Norman breed to the international press, enthusiastic audience, and national media present there.

On Saturday evening, Rolex presented a gala dinner dance, ‘Go for the Gold/Send Off to Sydney,’ a benefit for the USET and honoring our Olympian Medalists from the past. Upon entering the gorgeous Skylands, guests were greeted by dignitaries and immediately served champagne. (Mrs. Bruce Springsteen was Honorary Chairman.) On the first floor a jazz ensemble played as guests sampled elaborate hors d’oeuvres. Dinner was served upstairs in the Grand Ballroom and featured Australian cuisine and wines. The ice sculptures and decorations were majestic horses and Olympic motifs for the USET 50th Anniversary Celebration. The orchestra, food, celebrities, and charming guests made it a night to remember.

USET Festival of ChampionsOn Sunday Allan and I watched some Dressage Freestyles, the Show Jumping Olympic Selection Trials, and Combined Driving competitions. We visited the vendors at the spectacular country fair. We met an incredible artist of illustrative stained glass, Mary Beth. We had never seen such stunning, unique pieces of equine art, meticulous in detail and exceptional craftsmanship. Mary Beth does not yet have a website, but you can contact her for a catalog at her studio in Lafayette, New Jersey. (973) 383-0038.

As you can see, the USET ‘Festival of Champions’ was a smashing success for us and the Spanish-Norman breed. Allan and I thank our Spanish-Norman stallion Romantico H.H.F. and his trainer Garry McAllister for giving us this wonderful opportunity and happy time.