Yesterday was the Carolina Cup, the premiere steeplechase event, held here in Smallville every March.
'The Cup,' as it is called, though we also host the Colonial Cup in November, attracts folks from all over. Horse people. People who look like horses. College kids, the girls in spring dresses and heels, the boys in pastels, bow-ties, khakis and flip-flops.Socialites and big wigs, hicks and hillbillys.
It's a melee out there; people come to see the races; to see the horses; to schmooze; to see and be seen; to drink til they drop. It's a Southern thang, baby.
Carlos and I went the first year we lived in Smallville. And it was fun; we were with a large group of people, tailgating and BBQing and drinking and generally enjoying the day. We were very close to the paddock where they brought the horses out before each race so it was nice to see these gorgeous animals up close. Not so nice was seeing them after the race, when they are dripping with sweat and gasping for air.
Carlos used to ride dressage--a way of riding a horse through a series of standardized movements to show a horse's natural athleticism--when he was a wee lad in Mexico. So he knows horses; and he is not at all fond of steeplechase events or even standard horse racing, because of the strain it puts on these magnificent creatures. They can maim themselves in a fall; they bleed from their lungs because of the length, speed, and jumps they make. All for the enjoyment of men...and women, and drunk college students.
So, we haven't gone in the last couple of years.
But this year, before the races even started, the rains came, and turned the event into a mud circus; people cowering under tents to stay dry, and walking through the mud to get back to their cars and go home. Riders loved the mud because if they fell it was a softer landing; horses hate the mud because it is difficult to gain traction and jump in soggy grass.
Carlos wore a smug grin, knowing that there wouldn't be many races, and not so many horses put through the ringer.
Still, it's a big deal here in Smallvile, and quite a spectacle. The pictures are from our first--and only--Cup.