Horse Show’s keepers of the gate
LAKE PLACID — The stars of the Lake Placid and I Love NY horse shows may be the horses and riders, but a small army of support staff is what keeps the competitions running.
From bartenders to groomers to security to vendors, there are dozens of people who make the horse shows go ’round, and one of the more visible positions is that of jump keepers — those who ensure jumps are where they’re supposed to be and who fix jumps if a horse clips one.
This stable of employees travels around the country from horse show to horse show, and though they’re out in the ring, they also tend to blend into the background.
“Basically my job, during the show days, I just sit here and watch for rails and we make height changes and course changes,” Bryan Mandelstan said. “And then at the end of the day, we build all the rings and set them up for the next day.”
Mandelstan — who hails from the Dallas, Texas, area — said he’s been working in this industry for a few years, and ended up in Lake Placid after working in Saratoga earlier this year. Although it is his first time in Lake Placid, Mandelstan said the Olympic village is one of his favorites so far.
“I work for Southbound Show Management,” he said. “He needs a crew to do what we do, so we just travel around from show to show. We stay pretty busy.
“I gotta say Estes Park, Colorado, and this place, too. Just the scenery, the weather. Gotta love it. Coming from Texas, we don’t really see this a whole lot. It’s pretty cool.”
Mandelstan said he and his crew arrived in Lake Placid on Monday morning and will be in town for the two weeks the horse shows run.
Another employee working the shows with Mandelstan is Michael Green, who got into the horse show business a few years ago. Green hails from Saugerties, but had never been to Lake Placid until this week.
Mandelstan and Green, along with a plethora of workers, make sure the jumps are where the course designer wants them, and that rails — the bars the horses jump over — are replaced if a horse hits one and knocks it off the jump.
“This is my first time here — beautiful place,” Green said. “What’s not to like about it? Meet new people; see new places. And horses, they’re beautiful creatures.
“It’s hard to explain, we move quickly. It’s not really a hard job, you just have to have common sense.”
Green said that while part of their job consists of waiting for something to happen, there is a sense of urgency among the ground crews as well.
“Just to keep the show going, make sure everyone is in and out,” he said. “Just so no one is being held up. Because if one is being held up, then everyone else is being held up. Because everyone wants to do what they gotta do and get out of here.”
Mandelstan said there’s a lot of subtlety and nuance to what they do, even if most spectators don’t realize it.
“There’s a lot of little things that nobody really would notice,” he said. “But it’s pretty straight forward.
“He (the course designer) may want to switch out the rails or something. There’s little details that the course designer is changing, and we’re there to meet his needs. When they’re measuring, every little move (matters) — it doesn’t seem like much, but every little thing plays a roll. It’s pretty interesting.”
The Lake Placid Horse Show continues all week at the North Elba Show Grounds, with competition starting each day at 8 a.m. For more information, including a schedule of jumping competitions, go to www.lakeplacidhorseshow.com.