Thistly Cross Hard Cider and the HITS $1 Million Grand Prix


By Nancy Smorch

So, I apologize - I was a little distracted today.  Here in Ocala, Florida, we have a horse show called HITS (Horses in the Sun) every year starting in January.  Thousands of horses and riders come in from all over the world (New Zealand, Brazil, England...) to compete in one of the largest horse jumping shows in the country each year.  Yesterday was the last day of regular competition and tonight was the $1 Million Grand Prix competition.  I was excited to go and see such amazing athletes - both horses and riders.

The jumps are crazy high - taller than me!  And the turnout for the event was huge.  Big news and big times for us here in Ocala.

I love watching the competition at this level.  These are serious athletes and they respect their horses and treat them extremely well.  What amazes me is the trust that must be present between horse and rider for this level of competition.  The rider knows the sequence of the jumps for the course, but the horse doesn't.  So the horse has to totally trust the rider - and the rider has to totally trust the horse.  The team work is so beautiful to watch and I love to watch the horses - especially when they know they have done well - they know it and they look so proud.  And every now and then when you see a horse complete a course without knocking any of the rails down, they will let out a little "kick" or "buck" in celebration.  It always inspires me to ride my own horses - not that I jump...t hat is not my sport.  Too far off the ground for me!

So where does food play into this?  Well, of course, they had special tents with food, but they also had a few "tailgates" set up.  It was quite an event for Ocala, and there was some drinking going on as well.  I didn't bother to get anything to drink at the show, however.  I wanted to wait until we got home to have one of my favorite hard ciders, Thistly Cross Cider.


This hard cider is from Scotland, and if you ever see it, give it a swig.  I found it at Whole Foods in Orlando, Florida.  As I do my "research" for the various tastes of hard cider, I like to try cider from all over the world.  I'm finding that I don't like a cider that is too sweet or too dry.  I but the more hard ciders I try, I find myself leaning towards those that aren't so sweet.  I love learning about what kinds of apples are used and how the process occurs!

Which is your favorite hard cider?