For centuries, the United States has imported wonderful things from Italy; red wine from the Tuscan valley, white wine from the northern foothills, and some of the very best olive oil in the world. This led me to ask the question, "What has the United States had for about 50 years that Italy did not?"
The answer lies in the rich history of the American Quarter Horse. While the American Quarter Horse is still a relatively new breed compared to other breeds such as the Arabian--which dates back over 4,500 years, the history of the American Quarter Horse mainly exists in…America. That was the case until about 40 years ago when Ruggero Prevedel's father, Alfredo Prevedel, imported one of the very first American Quarter Horses into Italy back in the 70's.
San Quirino is home to Karin and Ruggero Prevedel of KPR Quarter Horses where vineyards dotted country sides with rustic Italian villas surrounded by one of the largest mountain chains in Europe the Dolimites, Pordenone and the surrounding provence. Starting from a fine selection of Reining bred quarter horses, Ruggero and his father started showing and breeding Italy's first quarter horses. Many European Championships later in several events, Karin and Ruggero have built a great farm of horses and clients. Breeding, raising and showing finely selected Quarter Horses have been their passion for the past 20 years. My husband, Shane Pope and I recently had the privilege of spending some time with this great team. Not only did we get to spend time at their beautiful state-of-the-art facility, we got to experience the horse show life in Italy.
Coming all the way from London, Paris, Germany and Austria, exhibitors came to Verolanuova, in the Brescia provence of Italy, to compete and to enjoy what is for them a passion, just as real as it is in the states. This made me realize that we "Horse People" are truly a nationality all our own. The show was run pretty much the same as our shows here in the states with the exception of a very important detail that we here in America tend to leave out in the show pen.
Showing as a kid, I remember getting the ribbons as I walked out the arena and being thrilled with the excitement of seeing that blue ribbon. There were several days I was excited just to see any ribbon. But as the years went on and the shows got bigger, the ribbons disappeared. The prestige of winning even the smallest class has been replaced with shows excusing their exhibitors from the arena before placing the class just to make the show run faster. We've lost that "moment" we have all invested in. And when I say invested in, I don't mean just financially. We invest our time, our every resource and in most cases we invest our souls into the horseshows.
After watching just the first class at this show, I was fully aware of every exhibitor in the pen. Each judge's results were called out starting with sixth place and working their way up to the prestigious first place. Each exhibitor who was included in the results was personally handed a ribbon in the pen and had their picture taken as it was presented. First and second place along with their ribbons, received awards that would, in most cases here in the states, be considered circuit awards. They took their time presenting these exhibitors with awards that they have "invested" themselves in. This truly opened my eyes to what Italy is all about. After all, it's not the fast-paced, crazy busy, workaholic atmosphere that Italy is known for, it's the enjoyment of every second in the day, every drop of a perfectly made cappuccino, and every ounce of history that is poured into Italy that makes horse showing so enjoyable in their country.
Just like a perfectly aged wine, you can take your time to enjoy the show. When you are done showing, instead of going to a fast food restaurant, you go to a 650 year old village square to enjoy a dinner that any fine dining Italian Restaurant in our country can't even come close to replicating. You can look any way around you to see every brick has a history and every person has a story. Being from around the Charleston, South Carolina area, I get excited seeing 200 year-old buildings. That can't even compare to seeing 2,000 year old buildings still standing and wondering why I have trouble keeping a four year-old house up and running. This makes Italy my new favorite place to show….too bad I can't fly my horse over with me!
One of Italy's known treasures is the vast amount of art and art history. As a designer for print ads and photographer, I studied art in college, so not only was the art in Italy amazing, but the show clothes have taken on Italy's artistic touch as well. Carrying on her families love of the show pen, daughter Darilyn Prevedel along with Valentina Lai, create show clothing for exhibitors all over the world. Awe inspiring, creative, and artistically made, Piccola Rosa's jackets have a style all their own. There is no mistaking that they are not a "cookie cutter" designer.
Each piece of their jacket is hand-crafted, hand-painted, and stoned by hand to create a truly one-of-a-kind piece. The quality of materials, the meticulous eye for fashion and the knowledge of textiles are what sets Piccola Rosa apart from all other designers. Just as 3-D movies are making a hit on the big screen, Piccola Rosa's 3-D masterpieces are setting a standard in the show pen. It was a pleasure to have met these young designers and see their outlook on fashion and the fresh approach they are taking!
While my trip to Italy was winding down, I started to realize that no matter what language you speak, what nationality you are, or what kind of background you came from, there is a common language that exists for those who show horses. It's a passion just as real on the other side of the world. Maybe translated different, maybe practiced different, but it all is felt the same way.
I'd like to say a special thank you to Karin, Ruggero, daughter Darilyn, and son Ryan Prevedel, as well as the great team behind KPR Quarter Horses for truly showing us what Italian hospitality is all about. Ciao mia famiglia italiana... fino ad incontrare nuovamente! (Goodbye my Italian family, until we meet again!)
Click here to see a slideshow of gorgeous photos from Holt's trip.
Holt Pope is a talented graphic designer who owns and operates Holt Advertising. She is responsible for many of the ads you see every month in GoMag. Please visit her website at HoltAdvertising.com or email her at Holt@Holtadvertising.com