Friday, May 8, 2015

Rolex Venue Etiquette: Suggestions

Attendance at Rolex seems to go up every year. This is good for the sport, but bad for the crowd-hating spectators. Bob has said it is his last year to go. Too many people, and too many who are inconsiderate. I have compiled my own list of Rolex rules of conduct. I have delicate sensibilities as you will see...

  1. WATCH the event. You drive from God-knows-where, you pay for your ticket, and you walk over a mile to get here, why would you ignore the competition and do disruptive stuff like horse around and yak with friends at volume 10? If you decide your buddies are more deserving of your time, show some respect and move away from the competition.
  2. When you're near the XC action, pay attention -- riders and horses are putting their lives on the line right in front of you, and attention is a form of respect -- but also, do it for your own safety. This go round there was a loose horse CAREENING around the course, briefly, and he could have easily gone through the string and into the crowd.
  3. Show jumping  -- Theater seating rules apply! There is nothing more annoying than being in a row where spectators are continually getting up and down during the stadium jumping. Extra demerits for doing this while a horse is on course. Sure, run to the bathroom (once) but don't jump in and out of your seat to go socialize with someone you know in the stands -- maybe you've been to a lot of these events, maybe you're local, but some of us have taken planes, trains, and autos to be here, at great expense. Be considerate.
  4. Umbrellas are allowed. And so are hats. But in the same way that behavior can be legal but not ethical, view-obstructing apparel is allowed but not considerate. If you are at Head of the Lake, belly against the string with a good view, consider everyone standing behind you  -- put the effing umbrella DOWN.
  5. Taking photos? Be mindful of the hoards of OTHER people taking photos. Not cool to dart in front of someone at the last moment. You'll get YOUR perfect shot while ruining theirs.
  6. Dogs. I won't even go there. I don't think they should be allowed, it is simply too dangerous for the riders and horses. Sorry.
  7. Dogs. While at Rolex this year, I saw dogs shivering, overstimulated, thirsty, muzzled, exhausted, being dragged along by owners. Other dogs were fine. If you are thinking of taking your pet, be realistic about how they will react to the excitement, and how long they will be comfortable. This was the FIRST year there were no announcements about dogs locked in cars during the heat. I guess they were still locked in cars, but it was freakin' cold, so no one complained. If you're an animal person walk the talk!
Someone left a comment on my blog which I think is true -- spectating etiquette is important. At dressage shows, you show courtesy to the rider by not letting kids play with his sparkly pinwheel near the ring. At clinics you respect the clinician and the other auditors by paying attention. It's common sense but somehow otherwise sensible people need reminders.


  1. I couldn't agree more with your comments. Perhaps Rolex should have people (like at a golf events) who police the crowd?

  2. Where we were sitting for stadium, everyone in the 3 rows before us was in the wrong seat. So a volunteer had to come over and get everyone to move into their correct seats. Stadium is sold out so there aren't going to be extra seats. You can't just sit wherever you want and hope no one bought those seats. It was incredibly disruptive as they were all in the wrong seats so each time one person moved to their correct seat, the person sitting in that seat had to move as well.

  3. What you said should be so obvious, but I think etiquette and respect for one another, in general has declined. We have a steeplechase here in Virginia that has a huge spectator base, huge. A large percentage are UVA students and it is considered a major party opportunity. They have police patrolling simply to keep alcohol consumption under control. I no longer attend because the behaviors of so many ruin it for the rest. I was in France this past fall, and particularly in Paris, I was astounded at how well behaved the children and young people were. In top notch restaurants, parks, stores, they were incredibly aware of their actions. I wanted to approach every parent and say "thank you".

  4. If these horses can't tolerate a sparkly pinwheel, it's time to desensitize.

  5. Yeah, Anon, I suppose if your kid's sparkly pinwheel is more important than the hundreds or thousands that someone has spent, and hours of training, to be in the ring on that day, go ahead. No need to reflect on the fact that we're talking about animals, not machines, who may lose focus for just a moment and blow a movement, however they are trained. Go ahead, live it up, be a great role model. Your kids will learn that their fun in the moment trumps anything else that might be going on in the immediate area. Great world citizens they'll be. And feel free to critique the person's training program after you've ruined their day.

  6. Considering my horse and I just rode through 5 hours of mounted patrol training successfully, I can risk the pinwheels. If a bad ride ruins your whole day, pick up a new hobby. Bad rides happen, and it's a cop out to blame everyone else.

  7. How foolish to think that any horse is not capable of a reaction. No one is saying bad rides don't happen -- horses are not machines -- but to casually and thoughtlessly wreck an important moment for someone else is rude, no matter how you slice it.


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