Text by Pat Waters
Photography by Daniel Johnson
Clothing fads come and go, but the equestrian style has survived for decades. Luxury designers such as Hermés of Paris and Polo Ralph Lauren have successfully perpetuated horse and rider themes in clothing, accessories and furniture for years.
And if ever there was a year to emulate the horsey set in Omaha, it's this year. A major show jumping competition, The International, will be held April 20 and 21 at CenturyLink Center Omaha.
Lisa Roskens, equestrian and founder and chairman of the event, says this is a first step to eventually holding a world jumping championship here.
Show jumping competitors will wear the tall dress boots and jodhpurs that are part of the traditional foxhunter's uniform. This centuries-old style has been embraced by Anglophiles, who admire and emulate the ambience of English country life.
Equally popular, and in large part due to Ralph Lauren's Spirit of the West designs, is an equestrian style that evokes the range and the ranch: full-leg chaps; Stetsons; distressed leather cowboy boots; turquoise and silver jewelry and belt buckles; and dusters.
What is it about the equestrian theme that is so long-lasting?
Sam Matranga, who with her husband, Luke, owns Regg & Wally's Tack and Saddlery in Elkhorn, says the style has staying power because of its association with enduring traditions such as fox hunting. “Everyone looks at the beautiful horse and rider and wants to copy them,” she says.
Luke Matranga is joint master of the North Hills Hunt fox hunting club.
Ceramic artist Julie Kinkade, who has a studio at Omaha ClayWorks in the Old Market, has had a love affair with horses since she was 5 or 6 years old growing up in rural Massachusetts. A professed tomboy who liked “The Lone Ranger” and “The Roy Rogers Show,” Kinkade incorporates horse figures into dinnerware, pottery and sculpture.
But she doesn't create true-to-breed figures. Her renderings are what she calls “romantic, almost childlike caricatures” that imply the noble beauty of all horses.
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