Lauren Hough talks about upcoming Longines Masters of New York
Well, I just turned 41 (birthday is April 11) and I turned professional when I was 18. [I started riding] before I could walk. (Lauren’s parents, Linda and Champ Hough, were both professional riders and trainers)
What do you think fans who are new to the sport will find most exciting about watching show jumping?
Two things: The first is that we are dealing with two athletes, the horse and rider. That is very different from any other sport and it is really special to show the horse/rider bond. The other interesting fact is that men and women compete equally—we are the only Olympic sport where men and women compete against each other.
Horses are treated somewhat like Formula 1 race cars. They get the utmost care so they perform at their best at competitions. Horses can’t just come out of the field and you put a saddle on and go. A lot of thought and effort go into getting horses to peak at the right time. It’s a sport that you work on 365 days a year because the horses need care every day. We usually start working with young horses to bring them along in training programs for years before they reach the top levels.
It’s fantastic that we have another five-star event and I always like to support a new event in America at the five-star level. It’s new to us, but hopefully we will have a big crowd and good following. We encourage people to come and watch and cheer us on.
The new inception of the Riders Masters Cup that debuted in Paris adds to the excitement of the competition. It’s great to have another team competition and make it exciting for spectators to watch. Also, the fact that the Longines Masters is an indoor series with the possibility of a good bonus for the grand prix winners up for grabs is really exciting. At the shows, there is a Prestige Village that is open to the general ticket holders and they get to stand at the rail and watch the riders warm up before they go into the competition ring. That is pretty unique and really fun.
What was it like competing in the first leg of the Riders Masters Cup at the Longines Masters of Paris? How does the competition compare to other classes?
The debut in Paris was quite successful. It came down to the very last match, which makes It exciting for the crowd. It’s a very unique competition; no other venue has it. It will be interesting to see what Robert (Ridland’s) strategy will be with the second event in New York. He will want to win on home soil. There are different tactics to use in each round based on the format, where you can really go for broke in the second round. You need a very specific horse for this competition, one that is a speed specialist.
What does it mean for the sport of show jumping to have the Longines Masters Series come to New York?
We had some success in California and with it moving to New York, there is a lot of support behind the event. It’s a big horse area and I hope we can reach out to a new audience to showcase our sport.