Not too long ago I was a freak about horses. Before the internet went viral, I clipped photos of the Kentucky Derby out of the newspaper and snipped apart horse-themed magazines I had saved all my allowance to buy. One of my fondest memories was the Lipizzaner Stallions – a pale gray and white horse breed hailing from Austria used in the military for centuries. They are based in the elegant and breathtaking Spanish Riding School while they train for special dressage moves, like moving in rhythm to music, jumping straight in the air and bowing for the crowd. Think of it as a super classy rodeo.
I had no idea there was a state-side troupe that travels in the U.S., highlighting the same spirit of those in Europe. My good sport of a boyfriend and I hiked up the North Shore early in the Sunday and grabbed a spot in the field by Historic New England’s Cogswell Grant, a charming farmhouse from the 1700s that hosts events year-round. We packed a picnic lunch of fancy charcuterie and cheese plus a couple of cava splits to indulge on the gorgeous, sunny day without a cloud in the sky. The all-female riders demonstrated some incredible skills on horseback and as trainers – forming tight lines, having their horses prance in time to the music and perform war kicks. The women also adorned traditional Austrian garb, from flowing skirts and bodices to straight up war uniforms with big, gaudy hats. It might have been a little cheesy, but the audience and I ate it up – just seeing the sheer skill presented with such a legendary breed of animal was well worth the trip.
A bonus? They keep the horses in outside paddocks so you can pet them! I tried not to push the little children out of the way too much. Unfortunately I didn’t have any food so most of the horses could care less I was standing there, but it was still a thrill to see them close up.
The group seems to gravitate toward East Coast tours, so bookmark their summer schedule this year and for 2014. I’m pretty nuts now about these North Shore excursions and hope I can squeeze in a few more before the snow.