I'll admit that my very sick and guilty pleasure, of late, is watching reruns on Netflix of The Hills. For those of you familiar with the show, you're probably rolling your eyes at me now. It features the "real life" adventures of a Teen Vogue Magazine intern named Lauren Conrad.
I digress. Anyways, I knew that interning for Dressage Today wouldn't be anything like Lauren Conrad interning for Teen Vogue. A day in the life of Lindsay would not be like an episode of The Hills. And I was more than okay with that. If I was to have any assignments outside of the office, I had prepared myself to be tromping around dusty rings in Dubarry boots, not clickety-clacking across slick floors in high heels like Lauren Conrad at her VIP events.
My stomach did do a tiny back flip, though, when our senior editor, Hilary asked me if I would be interested in attending a back tie gala for PVDA Ride for Life, a benefit function for the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center, hosted by the Potomac Valley Dressage Association.
I had never been to a gala before, but it sounded glamorous. But glamorous or not, I was game- especially with the bait of getting to watch the main event of the evening called the "Dancing Horse Challenge," which showcased some top notch international competitors, as well as some up and coming young riders performing advanced movements to a variety of musical numbers.
One of my barn buddies and I arrived at the Prince George Equestrian Center on Saturday night just as things in the ring got rolling. One of my favorite aspects of the event was seeing a dressage ring, quite literally, in different light. There was upbeat music and spotlights. In the spotlights were the usual high quality horses, but instead of stone-faced, oh-so- serious riders, there were smiles and laughs, resulting in a much more lighthearted atmosphere. Because the event was a fundraiser for breast cancer research, many of the riders were decked out in froofy pink attire, wearing anything from pink wigs, to ribbons, to feathers.
I gasped as I watched the Great Falls Vaulters do their acrobatics on horseback and I was mesmerized by Silva Martin's "old school" presentation. We watched a heartwarming Pas de Deux and also a Quadrille, that included a plucky little pony that did quite well in keeping up with his long-strided companions.
The undeniable favorite of the night, however, was the YouTube sensation himself, Bent Jensen. Bent got his big break (for YouTube) at Ride for Life last year, where he performed an upper level freestyle to Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" and sported equally Lady Gaga-esque attire (watch here: http://youtu.be/cxzB4GaWtPQ).
This went viral on the web, and Bent eventually developed a similar routine to LMFAO's "Sexy and I know it," that got about 46,000 views on YouTube. By the way, Bent was also on the Danish Olympic team in Barcelona. No big deal, right?
At this year's Ride for Life, Bent graced us with another rendition of "Sexy and I Know It," complete with animal print pants and an afro. He even had a few dancers that stood on the outskirts of the dressage ring and stirred up the crowd.
The highlight of my evening wasn't until after all of the rides were done, when we sat down for dinner as part of the Gala. I let my star-struck mannerisms get the best of me and I capitalized on the fact that I actually had a real excuse to go talk to someone of Olympic status, so I grabbed my voice recorder and trotted over to Bent's table, where he kindly let me interrupt his dinnertime conversation.
He gladly sat down with me for a few minutes and told me a bit about his endeavors on the dressage/ pop culture crossover scene. So how did the LMFAO routine come to be?
"You find a song that you like the beat of and that works for the horses and then you develop it out of that. We saw the video of the LMFAO and we said ?oh, that could be cool- dress like that and then make it the center of the thing' but then you have to find other music to work with," Bent said.
"We have this thing in Florida called ?Dressage Under the Stars' on Wednesdays and judges down there said it was a huge success. So then of course, Jeannette Bair wanted me to do it again up here like I did last year?and it's really funny because it went viral on YouTube and now I'm invited to ride in Munich, Germany in November and two other places in Europe, just based on my rides on YouTube. It's so much fun."
I couldn't help but conclude by asking Bent about the complications that his wardrobe entailed. He said that before his ride, they sponge off his saddle with water to give his animal print tights more grip on the leather surface. And if I understood him correctly, I believe he said that his afro has been staying on all right, but if it gets stretched out, it might be time for a new one.
I know some dressage horses can hardly handle flowers in the boxes outside of the ring. I can only imagine how some would react if an afro blew across the ring like a tumbleweed during a freestyle.
When Bent and I parted ways, he wished me good luck with my internship and I wished him luck this his "wiggling." And thus concludes my semi-glamorous night of rubbing elbows with celebrities. I bet Lauren Conrad never interviewed an Olympic YouTube sensation. Just saying.