Irish showjumper Shane Sweetnam, who won his fourth opening competition at Florida’s Winter Equestrian Festival on Wednesday with the Irish Sport Horse Solerina, revealed that he uses a television set in the stable to acclimatise the mare to the competition arena’s giant video screen.
“She is very funny about the jumbotron (the giant video display); that is her big thing. She has matured about it, but she is still kind of nervous about it. She’s a much better horse when there is no TV,” he said.
The 33 year-old US-based Irish rider said that to help with Solerina’s nerves about the jumbotron, the mare has a TV screen that she watches in her stall at horse shows.
“It helps a little, but I’m not sure how much,” Sweetnam admitted. “She’s not as dramatic about it as she was before, but as soon as she sees a big TV it is still a factor. At shows she always has a TV in her stall. Spruce Meadows show jumping is what she’s watching at the moment. It used to be some cowboy guy before. I better get the Winter Equestrian Festival video, maybe that will work better.”
Despite her reservations about giant TV screens, the 15 year-old Cruising mare, who is owned by Sweet Oak & Spy Coast Farms, still took home the winner’s trophy in Florida on Wednesday night with a comfortable two seconds in hand over Mexican challenger Eugenio Garza and the stallion Providence 3.
“She is still high maintenance, but I have gotten to know her and she has gotten to know me and I know her quirks now,” he said.
Sweetnam has so far won four opening speed classes with different horses since the equestrian festival opened in Wellington, Florida eight weeks ago.