Fashionista at HOY to Judge Dressage

8 Mar

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There are plenty of synergies between the fashion and equestrian worlds of Vittorio Barba.

“It is expression,” says the FEI 3* dressage judge from the Philippines.

At his Manila home, Barba rises early and as dawn breaks he is either riding his own horse or taking his first lesson. After lunch he heads to his other job designing mostly dresses for women for his own label Barba.

His love of fashion came from his Pony Club days, and grew from there.

Later this month he and two other designers have the honour of closing the five-day Manila Fashion Festival.

Barba is “married” to his work and spends a lot of time travelling, mostly to South East Asia and more recently to Australia and New Zealand.

This is his third visit to New Zealand – his first was as a showjumper in 1999 – and he’s hoping it won’t be his last.

His foray into dressage judging in 2011 came almost by accident, with his first “biggie’ at a World Cup qualifier in Burbank, California.

“I now need to get more experience to get the confidence to do 4*,” says Barba. “In dressage, with the connection between rider and horse, it is what you don’t see that you appreciate. It is a different language you are speaking to a horse and it responds.”

Horse of the Year 2017, Hawkes Bay A&P Showgrounds, Hastings, Wednesday, March 08, 2017. Credit: KAMPIC / Sarah Lord

He’s a rider from way back, and by his own admission, eventing was his first love. These days though he only jumps for fun. Barba loves his time spent with his students.

“I have a handful. It is very gratifying teaching and seeing them improve.”

He will be helping to judge all the FEI dressage classes this week, and is impressed by what he has seen so far.

“I am looking forward to judging a new set of horses,” he says. “Every new face is a good opportunity (to learn more). You judge what you see and it is fresh start each time someone comes into the arena. You have an impression before they come into the arena, and some are predictable but others surprise you.”

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