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.

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