By Suzanne Kruass
At age 60, I did something new. I became a horse show announcer – at a dressage show.
I started riding when I was 5. First Balance Seat, then Saddle Seat, and then Hunt Seat. Dressage has been my passion for the last 6 years. Dressage reminded me of figure skating. I was 4 years old when I was in my first figure skating show.
I’ve always had a voice, and people say they like to hear it. I was a cheerleader in middle and high school, and had lead roles singing in high school musicals. I was a radio news anchor/reporter. I was also a TV news reporter.
My mother begged me to stop talking about horses when I was 3… My husband says I’m obsessed with horses…I say I’m passionate about horses.
I joined the Zoom call 10 days before the 2022 New England Dressage Association’s Breed Show in North Salem, NY, and it included 12 people. The show was 250 miles from my home in New Hampshire. I had never been to a breed show. I was leaving my comfort zone.
The Zoom call included myself and two other paid officials, and the rest were volunteers.
Volunteers are the backbone to every show. Show stewards, runners (some who are kind enough, with a support boot, to run scores back to the show secretary), the folks who hand out ribbons, parking directors, everyone, anyone who is volunteering…. THANK YOU! I was told there are more volunteers at NEDA shows than there are paid staff. Think about that. I hope being gracious and thankful fuels the volunteers to volunteer.
On September 9, 2022, I drove the 250 miles to Avalon Farm in New York. I was greeted by happy people who helped me navigate the sound system. I spent the night at a hotel chain where I watched the movie “Up”!
On September 10, the first day of the show, I announced for two rings. I was told I might be amused at the energy at a breed show. Broodmares and their sassy babies running in front of judges. I wasn’t disappointed. Praise, the patience of the stealthy young handlers literally prancing alongside these thoughtfully-bred potential dressage horses! There was some playful, young horse behavior – bucks, rears, just raw energy.
Me-the announcer. I was located where I could “see” both rings. With a microphone in front of me, I found comfort.
I had a flustered moment. A handler told me I was saying her horse’s name wrong. Combine that with three of us on handheld radios “trying to” communicate about a Championship Class – the most important class of a division. Priorities. Mine was to get information out ASAP. I would do my best to get her horse’s name right the next time. Breathe, Suzanne.
On September 11, the second day of the show, show officials said they wanted 9/11 to be mentioned, perhaps play some chimes or something. It didn’t have to be at the exact time that the first plane had hit the World Trade Center, but something. We agreed that between the first and second classes, I would do something to mark the event.
I scripted what I was going to say.
“21 years ago today at 8:45 AM on what was a Tuesday morning, with a beautiful blue sky … our world as we knew it changed forever. 2,996 heartbeats were silenced on that day. Marking the 21st anniversary of 9/11. Today, can we all look to something, each other, the sky, the ground, our horses. If you are near someone, look them in the eye, shake their hand, hold their hand, hug your horse. If we can, take 10 seconds and breathe, and remember the goodness on this earth.”
Show time is 8:20AM.
Read more of Suzanne’s adventures with USDF programs in Adventures in Qualifying, Secrets of the USDF Training Manual, and Who Knew?