Sunday, April 29, 2012

Second Jewel

We hurried to get to the Horse Park this morning so that we could see the trot up, but there might have been a bit of bourbon consumed last we were all a bit late getting up. The jog was already underway when we got there, but we still saw some impressive horses/riders (what's with the high heels, ladies?!? I'm afraid it's YOU that will be hurt/spinned!). I'm very sad to report that Heather and Slate River withdrew. And after a second presentation, Barb and Everyready were not passed. :( So all of my "homies" didn't get to finish.

As god himself predicted, it was William Fox-Pitt who reigned supreme, picking up another jewel for the Rolex Challenge. I hope he wins Badminton next week--he deserves it!

I will say that several of the horses looked VERY, very tired. I think the XC course took a toll on them (as it should, I suppose). I'll wager a lot of the rails that rained down early in the day did so because horses were simply too tired to lift their feed all the way!

It looks like all my KY "hook ups" aren't going to work out, so it'll be a quiet evening at home with the bro tonight. Perhaps I'll sample just a bit more of that good KY bourbon ale. :)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Little Bit of Everything

Once again, spring in Kentucky threatened "spring showers"....the kind that drenched you and chilled you to the bone at the same time. It DID rain much of the early morning, so I had to come prepared for anything, given that my fence was 15 A and B, The Hollow, the furthest point on the Cross Country course. We did get a bit of everything, too--some chilling wind, some spitting rain, temps in the low 40's, and then sunshine and high 70's.

We left VERY early, so that we'd miss the traffic of the diehards trying to get a good seat at the water jump. We ended up getting to the park by 7:45, and as it turns out, the first rider didn't go until 10:10, so we had plenty of time. Unfortunately, I did not get the very best view of the combination, because this year my job was to be a second timer in case we had to stop someone, and to watch to see if anyone crossed their tracks if they took the long route. So I was at the back of the jump--but I still got to see the approach, the landing on A, and the take off and landing on B.

Very, very educational.

I remember Ralph Hill saying that after landing from A, you want to push the horse a bit faster than you're comfortable with, so you'll have enough gas to get out at B. I see how that could come into play!

Several things I noted:

  • The experienced riders prepared for fence by changing leads LONG before they made the turn to A, so the horses were balanced and ready.
  • The experienced riders rode it much more "tight"--that is, they made a smaller, closer circle, one that WOULD have cause a cross of tracks had they taken the alternate route for B. They had no intention of doing the alternate route!
  • The good riders all rode positively to A, but QUIETLY--no flapping elbows, no big upper body pushes, very quiet leg and body, but working WITH the horse.
  • The good riders all kept their hands up and rode TO the fence, with the horse in their hands. Most of the time, the horse took them to A, but sometimes they had to help the horse to B--and how they rode B determined how well they were set up for the next gallop.
  • On B, after the hill, those that dropped their horses or tried to "ride the spot" tended to put in a stutter step and have a four legged cow jump; those who rode the horse into their hands and kept their hands still and up and let the horse find his stride had lovely, balanced rides for the most part.

    It was almost painful listening to the announcers and waiting for the next horse....because often, they never came. We ended up losing over HALF the horses that started out! LOTS of rider falls--most notably by Becky Holder and Karen O'Connor!--and lots of eliminations because of three refusals.

    I was VERY impressed with Becky Holder's ride on both her horses, but she came off Comet at a corner, and then was stopped at the next to last fence because Can't Fire Me's knee was bleeding....!! That sounds suspect to me, but perhaps it was for the best.

    Will Coleman made our difficult combination look like an exercise. That man can RIDE!

    William Fox-Pitt was, of course, amazing.

    I really enjoyed watching Mighty Nice and RF Demeter and Mr. Medicott over our fence, too. Well done, all!

    REALLY interesting to watch Tullibard's Hawkwind with Jordan Linstedt aboard--he looked to be cantering around like a hunter the whole time! He went clear, but had must've had about 75 time penalties!! Interesting approach to a four star event.....

    After the Cross Country, we went to Larry and Roxanne's for a family get together. We had some luscious barbeque (chicken, steak, and shrimp), plus yummy dessert made my my niece Kate....that went REALLY well with bourbon. :) I got to see all my nieces/nephews, their kids, and we even skyped my 87 year old mother. Family is good!

    It will be interesting to see how the Stadium Jumping goes tomorrow....several of the horses were REALLY huffing and puffing by fence 15. Notable exceptions: Arthur, Mr. Medicott, and Parklane Hawk, along with both of Becky Holder's horses.

  • Friday, April 27, 2012

    Another Fantastic Day!

    Another fabulous day in Lexington, KY! A cold front came through last night, so it was chilly when we finally got up this morning--JUST right for a walk around the four star course! Donna opted to watch dressage, and she got to see the three top rides. Cynthia and I opted to go on the coursewalk with Ralph Hill and Eric Dierks, and it was FANTASTIC. I've heard so much about Ralph Hill; my first Rolex, he rode Bad Boy Billy, and was a hoot in the trot up, and sang on cross country. The My trainer, Kathleen Zins, worked with Ralph a long time, and I can certainly see the lineage even in the glimpse I got on this walk. Eric and Ralph riffed off each other a lot (and very well!). They talked a lot about terrain and how it affected the horse and rider; how the rider needed to prepare for a hard jump the fence before; how you needed to learn to "feel" the horse underneath you and use that information to make choices: which route to take, what speed to take it, how much encouragement to give, and so forth. It really was a lesson on how to ride!

    By the time we got to the dressage arena post coursewalk, it had warmed up to the low 60's (and about 70+ in the front row of the dressage arena, after the sun reflected off that white sand!). I'm sorry that we missed so many fantastic rides--Donna said Allison's Springer's ride on Aurthur was amazing--but we got to see Karen O'Connor's ride on Mr. Medicott and Michael Pollard's ride on Icarus, so we still saw some pretty impressive rides.

    I learned once again that a consistent test was a solid test--Becky Holder's thoroughbred Can't Fire Me was very consistent in all his gaits, solid in his transitions, and she got a good score. I learned that if the rider gets tense and leans forward, the horse responds (this was Buck Davidson on Titanium)....and that if you come back and relax, the horse does, too.

    Not much retail therapy today! I bought something for a few friends of mine, and we picked up the halters we ordered from Quillin's.

    I once again had a bit of a scare finding the fence judge briefing....for some reason, I did NOT bring the information with me today, and I was thinking two years ago, when it was held at the altech I went there first with plenty of time to spare...only to realize "something's wrong". So I asked another volunteer, who was pretty sure it was in the visitor's center...and, of course, that's right where it was.

    I was able to get there about five minutes late, and I heard most of the briefing....thank goodness! My fence is #15, the Hollow. I can't wait!

    Here's to a safe ride for everyone!

    Thursday, April 26, 2012

    What a Day!

    Once again, I've traveled from West Texas to visit my wonderful, loving, generous brother and his family in Paris, KY.....and, once again, this visit just happens to coincide with the only four start event in the United States: The Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event!

    My brother and his family ARE indeed kind, generous, and a thousand other good things, because they are not only putting up with me for the duration (knowing that I'll be home after 6:30, and up and out by 9 at the latest), but they are also housing several other horse, friends of mine. Donna, my former partner in crime from TX (who USED to be my "other" eventing buddy in Lubbock, but left me for the greener--literally-pastures of Austin), Cynthia, my friend from NM, and also Stacy (aka Cookiepony), my online-now-f2f friend. Did I mention how utterly cool my brother and his family are?

    Our first stop Thursday morning was the traditional foray into Quillin Leather and Tack, just down the street a few miles from my brother's house. I ended up getting my wonderful grey boy Paycheck another halter (he's had several from there, but somehow after leasing him, he ended up with NO halters that came back with him, so he needed a new one), and I HAD to get a lovely leather flask, a nice wallet for my kiddo, another cool leather purse, and a few other essential horsey items (face brush, grooming rag, etc.). So far, so good. On to the horse park!

    We were worried about the weather, so we all brought rain gear (though Cynthia and I left ours in the car), which then ensured a clear, beautiful day. It was a bit hot to sit in the dressage arena, with that incredibly white footing reflecting in the sun and back into our eyes given our front row seats, so we decided to start off in the trade fair. At least that was my initial thought: a breeze through the inside, cool trade fair, then onto dressage....

    But somehow, the three of us (I have to note here that Stacy is volunteering every day, and being incredibly diligent about her duties) ended up spending a long time....a VERY long time....and a lot of this same trade fair. I thought I had gotten everything I needed....but then, there was the champagne FITS shirt on sale (and me with two pairs of champagne breeches)....the back on track stuff that somehow just started piling up (initially, I only wanted a couple saddle pads and a knee brace).....the electric unit and cool heating pads....and suddenly, I'm getting a call from my credit card making sure it's not been stolen.


    We DID see Boyd Martin's first place dressage ride, which was lovely, and Heather Morris' FINE dressage test (along with Will Coleman's, Will Faudree's, and a few others)....but the bulk of the time (and time IS money) was spent (literally!) in retail therapy that I didn't even know I needed.

    Hopefully, that's done. Now we can concentrate on the event!

    The most EXCITING thing that happened to me, however, did in fact happen in the trade fair, and it was worth missing Becky Holder and Karen O'Connor for.

    I came face to face with god. AND he remembered me!

    That's front of the Bit of Britain tent, I looked up to see if Cynthia and Donna were anywhere in the vicinity, and came face to face with god himself: James C. Wofford. Now, if you've read ANY of my blogs, you know that he's my absolute, all-time hero. I've taken a couple of clinics with him (and blogged them), but hey, I'm just a T3D wanna-be, and he's got REAL eventers he's working with on a regular basis, plus any number of clinic stargazers like me he sees every few weeks or so. But guess what? Apparently, I'm memorable--because he said "Hi--it's Becky, isn't it? You're a long way from home!" We chatted for all of 30 seconds, but was Jim Wofford, AND he remembered my name!