Spruce Meadows may be a show jumping facility of international acclaim, regularly hosting the world’s best equestrians — but it took Hermes to get me there. I was glad it did, because not only did I get to salivate over my fantasy saddle, but I met a local rider who is making his mark on the world’s show jumping stage.My first stop was a white tent in the plaza near the West Grandstand. Inside, Hermes saddle maker Nicolas Cornebois had come all the way from Paris to demonstrate his craftsmanship on the item that every horse-mad girl with a weakness for luxury brands covets. Aka: moi.
The press release calls him a Master Saddle Maker, but Monsieur Cornebois demurred, telling me it wouldn’t fly with his colleagues back in France. Talented and humble.Meanwhile, salesmen swooped in with equestrian-themed scarves to swooning shoppers.The mercurial Cheval Fusion from this year’s Spring/Summer collection caught my eye.But the Hermes pop-up shop devoted most of its space to items for the horse enthusiasts attending the Masters CSIO 5. If your pony’s been hinting they’d like a tack upgrade, this was the place to take that carrot to the next level.
While many of us associate Hermes with high fashion for humans, the brand is still very connected to its roots as a 19th Century saddle and harness maker. Although I can’t help but give a thrifty heads-up: my secret source at the orange H tells me the $60 glycerin soap isn’t that different from what is available at the dollar store.However, Hermes isn’t above a little collab in the horse department. The historic brand recently worked with Freejump to develop these quick release stirrups…… which I saw in action a short time later …… in the Hermes branded warm-up ring.Romain Duguet, a Swiss riding superstar, is no stranger to Hermes. Not only is he sponsored by the company, he won the Grand Prix Hermes in Paris in April.The custom-built jumps mark the first time Hermes has partnered with Spruce Meadows. Obviously making Romain and Otello du Soleil feel right at home.Then came Ben. Perhaps in preparation for this moment, but more likely because the photogenic Ben Asselin is an amazing rider, Hermes’ most recent recruit is a hometown hero — who also happens to have the ultimate hometown advantage. Not only is 21-year old Ben from Calgary, he is the son of Canadian Olympic riders Jonathan Asselin and Nancy Southern… whose family owns Spruce Meadows.Ben’s horse, Plume de la Roque, makes Hermes gear look good. From quilted saddle pad to branded ear bonnet.Ben and Plume enter the International Ring at the Spruce Meadows Masters.Even though Plume sailed over this fence in the sizzling heat of Friday’s competition, Ben didn’t make the top twelve in the overall standings. (Romain placed 11th).However, the Hermes sponsorship makes Ben a winner in my books. Meanwhile, newsflash: Hermes also makes polo saddles. What do you think, Simon? Should I try one?