by Rebecca Horwitz
Did you ever think summer would arrive? If you’re like me, you probably started doubting somewhere in there between the never-ending snowdrifts of February and the sleet of April. But folks, the leaves are out, the sun is shining, and summertime is in all its glory, with plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy the wonderful variety of events here in the Hudson Valley.
For anyone who loves horses, or is perhaps curious about the equestrian life, you can’t miss the annual event in Saugerties called HITS-on-the-Hudson. It features seven weeks of prestigious competitions between May and September, with some of the top horsemen and women and their horses in the world. In June there will be a competition from June 4-8. Even if you know little or nothing about the sport, you can enjoy a day of watching these beautiful animals and their riders competing in a range of events. You will also enjoy the lovely surroundings and views of the Catskills.
The events are designed for riders of various skill levels and ages, including children and teens. That’s why HITS-on-the-Hudson makes a great family outing. Children as young as six will compete in some events, which may impress yours. To round out the day, there are concessions stands and merchants you can browse. You could also stop at the HITS Bar and Grill or the Diamond Mills Café, which also has a hotel and tavern.
While the equestrian sport is rather expensive to engage in, attending HITS, fortunately, is not. Weekday events are generally free of charge, and weekend events will cost a nominal fee of $5 for parking. For some gorgeous photos and comments by fans of the event, visit the HITS Horse Shows page on Facebook.
HITS stands for Horse Shows in the Sun, and it is aptly named. So be sure to slather on the SPF or pull out that sun hat. If you’re coming to HITS for the day, you won’t want to pass up a visit to the charming town of Saugerties. If you come on a Saturday, stop by the Saugerties Farmers Market. Antique lovers (and their families who must wait in the car), beware! There are so many interesting antiques stores in this town that you may end up spending much more time here than you originally anticipated. Plan buffer time. There is plenty to please in the way of dining and shopping as well. It’s likely you’ll find you need to come back because there are simply too many options for entertainment.
I leave you with a recipe idea for a drink you may wish to consume while watching the spectacular events at HITS, a drink that happens to be a favorite of the Kentucky Derby spectators: the mint julep. Slow, languid sipping is recommended because it has a lot of bourbon!
Ingredients: (Recipe modified from About.com Cocktails)
• Leaves from 4-5 mint sprigs
• 2 sugar cubes or two teaspoons of sugar
• 2 1/2 ounces bourbon whiskey
• Mint sprig for garnish
• Crushed ice
• Soda water
• First of all, check your back yard for the mint leaves. Wherever mint gets established, it tends to grow like a weed. If you don’t have it, you may find some in the produce section of your supermarket, and nurseries often sell it if you want to grow your own.
• Place the mint leaves and sugar in a glass.
• “Muddle” the leaves and sugar together, which means use something to mix them together so that the mint oils and aroma can be released. A mortar and pestle would be ideal.
• Add the bourbon.
• Fill with crushed ice and stir well.
• Optional: top with soda or seltzer water. Add a sprig of mint for garnish.
Enjoy (responsibly)! It will taste similar to a mojito.