2010 WEG Eventing Course Walk With Boyd Martin | The Chronicle of the Horse

I just read  the 2010 WEG Eventing Course Walk With Boyd Martin | The Chronicle of the Horse. and I’m delighted to learn that I’m not the only one who walked around that course thinking it looks big!

I’m back in the tack at home now and it is really good to be on the back of a horse again.  We arrived home about 4:30 last night and Jay and I instantly got the major things out of the car and went immediately outside to enjoy the beautiful evening.  I hopped on Eddie and had a wee gallop  in the newly harvested soybean fields.  Great footing.  Nothing like a gallop on a 17h thoroughbred to clear the mind after a 10.5 hour car ride.

Then I swung a leg over Elliot the wonder warmblood.  A friend dropped in during my ride and we we talking while I was warming him up in walk, then some walk lateral work and then into trot.  I was emulating the quiet hands and relaxed backs of the riders I’d been watching for the last two days.  When we picked up a trot, my friends said, “Wow, even the first step was elastic and lovely.”

I don’t think I could have dreamed of a nicer thing for her to have said.  I’ll keep working.  I’ll keep channeling Edward Gal and Steffen Peters and remembering that even Boyd Martin thinks the course looks big the first time he looks at it.

Day 4 XC Preview

It was after 5 in the evening when we got out on the cross country course to see the first half of it, that I hadn’t seen on the first day.  If you recall, Jay had walked that while I was watching one of the reining sessions, so he was a little giddy in explaining what was coming up for each fence we were approaching.  Sort of like seeing a movie with someone who has already seen it and can’t help but add hints throughout to their hapless friend: “oh, here comes a good part” or “you’ll never guess what happens next.”  I know what happens next to me anyway, it makes me want to ditch the tour guide and walk the course alone.  But, alas, I signed the “’til do us part” contract, so walk it with Mr. Information Please Almanac it was.

On the way out to the course we passed lots of European riders out grazing their horses.  Almost all of them were smoking, so we had to conclude that this was actually a cigarette break disguised as grazing.  The back 40 at KHP are about the only place on the park they could get away with lighting up.  Too funny.

Irrigation art

As I mentioned the other day, it has been dry in Kentucky.  The park staff have been watering the galloping lanes, which have been roped off for over a year, to maintain the integrity of the footing.  I took this picture to help you see how much of a difference it has made in the grass.  You can see it in the background of several upcoming pictures too.  Though I did walk right on the galloping lane, up to the Hollow for the blog earlier this week, I didn’t do that for other pictures because I recognize that the less human traffic on the galloping lanes the better for the horses.  Also, if other people see us staying outside the ropes, they may decide to too.  However, we had to cross over the galloping lane several times in our course walk today.  We did so at designated crossings, and when we did so, we could definitely feel a spring to the turf that does not exist where the drought has been allowed to run its course.  All the dragging hoses and sprinklers and watering and care has worked wonders.

First Water

This area was an oasis of green.  This is the first water.  The stouter log on the right is the AB, the option is to jump the frog going away from the water, take a right and drop into the water over the ascending rails.

The C element Trout can be seen on the left side of this picture and then the last element was what we think is a prehistoric trout-eating bird.

As we were walking, we saw one of the 4-in-hands out for a hack in the back of the park.   Their spare horse apparently has to pull his own carriage for the trip.

Here is fence two.  I love its shape.  Seems pretty jumpable.

On any horse who believes he can fly.

Through the miracle that is the Kentucky Horse Park, the jump that I showed you on Sunday that was a wee bit airy got a bit less airy.

Miracle Grow

They must really have good fertilizer to grow little shrubs that quickly.

Next we came across the coffin complex.

This shot is showing 7A, direct route.  Seven B is the ditch  that you can’t see, and the C element is one of the pair of corners that forms a diamond on the right side.  The jump on the left is the longer route A element, B is the ditch and it shares the same diamond corner option for the C.

Side view of direct route

Indirect route A

Marathon hazard with sprinklers going

After this very pretty A element near the stone wall wishing well complex,riders had a choice of taking a quick right over an immense concrete and stone, 90 degree corner or taking the longer route of jumping a stone wall, quick right and back over the wall at another place.  I didn’t take a picture of the wall because I would have had to march right over the turf for full effect.  You will have to trust me that it was HUGE.

Speaking of huge, here is another diamond shaped corner option,

this one with a cute little cabin in the middle.  Yeeha.

Marathon obstacle with a water splash.


This is the third water.

Third water

Those hedges are big and the second fence is eyebrow shaped, encouraging a run-out.  This particular fence is late on course and horses and riders are tired, so it will be a challenge for some.

How about some downhill, angled, related-distance FEMA-housing-sized obstacles as 23 and 24?  Why yes, thank you,  I’ll take two.

Hold your line, pony.

This little chalet at 25 looks friendly enough


Until you see how wide it is

and dang near a double wide...

Warning:  If jumping over ditches keeps you awake on Friday night before XC day, so not look at the next several pictures.  Here is the in, right or left, you choose.


Here is the direct route out.


The indirect route is on the other side and somewhat less impressive but also less convenient to the track.

Here is a look at the ditch complex so that you can see how they are related.

In and Out

Sorry this bridge over a ditch is a little fuzzy.  D’oh!

Let Up

What I think is hysterical is that somebody, if not all the major players, are going to come down to this fence during the course walk and consider it a “let up” fence.  For them, it is.

Last fence.

last fence

The signs say “Do not mess with the apples or our volunteers will cry because they had to make 3 trips to Kroger for the right number of each color of apples” or something similar, in 4 languages.


Thus ended our trip to the WEG 2010.  It was a lovely trip and I am grateful to Purina for providing it.  Purina can also provide the best nutrition for your horses.  My horses have been running beautifully on it for years.  Their research and product line are unsurpassed.

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WEG Day 4 with dressage pictures

Yay, well rested so back to the blog.    First the corrections from yesterday.  The horse and rider I said was Totillas and Edward Gal was actually Steffen Peters and Ravel.  Both pairs are spectacular of course, so I can be forgiven on the weakness of my exhausted stupor.

Steffen Peters and Ravel

So we arrived at the park in our car (the shuttles were working just fine, but the cost difference was only slight ($20 parking, $30 for the two of us on the shuttle) and the walk from the car parking lot was only slightly longer.  Besides, the parking attendants were  a show in themselves.  There was music playing outside our car through the absolutely crustal clear, static-free speakers with the WEG logo on them.  Some of the parking attendants were incorporating the music into their communications to their subjects.  The short video below shows a young man trying to communicate us to not follow the car in front of us and start a new line.  He was hysterical.  I wonder how long he was able to keep this up.

So after breakfast and a brush with the very kind George Williams, mentioned yesterday, it was back to the main stadium for some spectating.  The weather varied from occasionally entirely overcast to sunnier as the day went on.  The temperatures were in the upper 60s and low 70s with no wind.  Very nice for both spectators and horses, and when the clouds passed over, I thought of my friend Derith, who, as a horse show photographer, has a much easier time of it when the clouds make the sun a non issue.  There were, of course, some serious cameras in the media section and I’m sure they were glad for the overcast while it lasted too.

I have never spectated at an international team dressage competition before so I learned a few things watching the WEG.  The first was that they draw order of teams and then each team chooses order of their riders.  Usually, the best riders are chosen to go last for their country, so the final rotation is pretty much a bunch of ringers.  Keep in mind though, that even the first rotation is pretty impressive.

In the third rotation, which was our first today since there were two yesterday, there were some very nice rides and some major disappointments.  We were all stunned and very sad when Adelinde Cornelissen on Jerich Parzival was excused very early in her test.  Her horse had some blood in his mouth and the FEI rules are very strict about horses having to be eliminated for that.  Another horse was eliminated in the session for “irregularity of gait”, the dressage queen phrase for lame.

We also learned from the headset narration that dressage horses do not do anything nearly so mundane as poop, they “make manure”.  What an elegant way of expressing it!  As in, “Oh that lengthening was made more difficult for him since he was making manure during it.”

On a fashion note, the Italian rider Susanna Bardone on Dark Surprise cut quite the dashing figures as she wore her mounted police uniform.  It was a refreshing change from the sea of white breeches.

Italian Mounted Police Uniform Goes Uptown

The final rotation included the Netherland’s Moorlands Totilas (pronounced TOW ta las).  He has set the world record for the highest score ever received in a Grand Prix Competition and came very close to matching that score again at the WEG.  This horse has such charisma that he has people doing things usually reserved for NFL and NASCAR fans.

The Exuberant Dutch

Of course, they are the Dutch, so they are to be given some latitude.  They seem to have a very high fun factor.  Their colors are orange, quite obviously, and they stand out in a crowd not only for that reason, but for their enthusiastic cheering for their country and general good-natured rowdiness.  They’re a walking pep rally.

Totilas: Once In A Lifetime

Totilas did not disappoint.  The big black charismatic stallion came out and filled the arena with his effortlessness and joy in his work.  Edward rode beautifully.   Watching them was peaceful and powerful at the same time.   He did his halt from passage at C so beautifully that the entire crowd, including me, exhaled in admiration.  For a halt, mind you.  The horse is 10 years old, a relative babe in dressage terms.

The judges agreed.


We actually felt sorry for the rider who had to follow that,  and remarkably, our worries were unfounded.  While not quite of Totilas’ quality, the horses following were still magnificent.  Ashley Holzer of Canada, trains out of New York and is a national Purina Ambassador.

Ashley Holzer and Pop Art, National Purina Ambassadors

The nutritionists at Purina work closely with Ashley to manage Pop Art’s feeding program, and it shows.  The sun had come out for his ride and his chestnut coat glistened  like copper and he fairly crackled with healthy exuberance in his test.

Steffen Peters and Ravel

Steffen Peters, riding Ravel, was the last ride of the day.  When they entered the arena, it erupted in enthusiastic welcome.  Ravel was gorgeous in his work and came within a few points of Totilas’ score.  Steffen watched most of the dressage competition from a vantage point near us during the earlier rounds.  Fans were constantly wishing him good luck and generally interrupting him, but with all the best intentions.  He was gracious about it, despite the fact that the pressure must have been intense, since the U.S. team was so close to medaling.

I “Took at Good Look Around,” as Jimmy Wofford would say, at the crowd during the canter work in Seffen’s test.  About half the crowd was very subtly rocking in their chairs or nodding their heads in time like they would do if they were riding the canter themselves.  Very intense, very quiet and very supportive.  It was charming.

The Netherlands earned gold, Great Britain silver and Germany bronze.  The U.S. team was a very close fourth.

After Steffen and Ravel and before the medals ceremony, Anky Van Grunsven brought in her reining horse and did a fun demo.  She did not do a full slide stop in the arena footing of the stadium since the footing required by reiners is entirely different.  But there was enough galloping and flying lead changes and spins to keep people interested and clapping to the music.

Next, Jay and I went out to look at the other half of the xc course.  That is continued in the next blog.

Day 4 WEG short post

George Williams! How cool is that?

I just had a few minutes this morning before dressage started, to pop into the Maker’s Mark Bourbon Village for some breakfast (wow, that sounds like an introduction at an AA meeting, but they have unbelievable danish, I swear that was it).  I turned around after scoring a few of the little delicacies and said good morning to George Williams, USDF President and way good dressage rider.  He also, I learned firsthand, is a very nice guy too.

The rest of the day was full of fun surprises too, including Totillas’ and Edward Gal’s performance in dressage.  They are from the Netherlands, a country which slapped down some serious dressage at the WEG today and piaffed their happy hindquarters out of there with the gold.  The link above is not from today because frankly, ya’all are not paying me enough to tape grainy video on my brave little camera of this once-in-a-lifetime horse and thereby give up my chance to  totally enjoy it live from the fourth row .  Besides, we all know it will be bootlegged with some real quality cameras on Youtube within the week.  So, we’re all well-served.  But I will show you the one picture I took for you:

This horse even looks good just standing there.

The rest of the day was just as good as the start.  And tomorrow I will post the rest of the pictures and content, including lots of xc and a few combined driving pictures.  You’ll get a much better blog tomorrow than I would be able to do tonight in my current state of must-sleepness.

Rock on,


Day 3 WEG with pictures and video

Today was the start of team Grand Prix dressage competition.  The forecast last night for today indicated it was going to be wet going.  So Jay and I packed it off to Target last night and rustled up some cheap rain slickers to put over our Field Day jackets, which are good in the rain for a limit of 4 hours when their nylon shells morph into skin-clinging, heat-sinking deadweight.  We needed plastic.  Our mission accomplished, we slept the sleep of the deserving.

Up early this morning and off to the park.  I’d like to note here that Lexington, KY has the longest stoplights in the world.  Combine that with the fact that we had just gotten on the highway when I sheepishly announced to the fabulous Jay that I forgot my headset and wanted to go back and get it.  Stoplights become even longer the third time around, having now gone through them on the way out, the way back and then the way out again.  With rain tapping metronomically on the windshield and my heavy burden of making us late, I comforted my self with the lovely fact that I was married to a man who actually was annoyed he was going to miss sitting in the rain and watching dressage.  As a horse-riding woman, that’s a very good problem to have.

Not only is he a horseguy, we’re also both pretty much engineering-type geeks, (with the caveat that he’s a real engineer, I’m a just Physics-Obsessed Girl (POG)) and we like infrastructure stuff.  This is what makes him a really good xc jump builder and me, um, I don’t know what it makes me other than someone who can understand what he is talking about, usually.  So we had a big conversation about this:

Oooh, infrastructure...

Why, it’s a roll up temporary sidewalk.  Even in this picture it looks slippery, doesn’t it?  But it isn’t.  It is made of interlocking plastic tiles that made it possible for them to create this people highway that makes it a lot easier to walk and keeps people from making huge mud and getting it on themselves, if it rains.  This showed some nice foresight on the part of the WEG planners, since it hadn’t rained there for many weeks before the Games.  It would occasionally slightly bridge over a pothole underneath.  The bridge over the gap would be springy like any self-respecting suspension bridge, and add its energy to the walker’s next step, sort of an involuntary human passage step, which was a very appropriate way to start Dressage Day.  I’d have never thought of this clever device to get people in the mood for the day.  These WEG planners thought of everything!

I promise there is lots of horse stuff coming up, but there was even more fun before the horses set foot in the ring:


Yes, tractors!  Every horse husband’s fantasy is to at least have a really cool tractor that he can drive around the property while doing all the work while the princess rides about in perfect ignorance of what it takes to run the farm.  (Yes, I’ve been paid handsomely to write that.)  But seriously, these tractors were really fabulous — not too big, not too small and waxed to within an inch of their dear little spark plugs.  John Deere is a major sponsor of the games and, as an aside, in the John Deere pavilion, you can sign up to “Ride a Reiner.”  There was always a line or I’d have been all over that.  The only sliding stop I’ve ever ridden was a special surprise gift to me and had a 3’3″ oxer at the immediate end of it.  But I digress.  And for even more digression, back to the John Deere thing, my dad was a John Deere salesman and he loved his work and they were good to him.  So John Deere rocks and the picture above of those dandy little workhorse tractors just makes me smile.

So, the riding today was incredible.  For sticklers for the details, the percentages, the horse’s breeding, rider’s middle name,  yadda, yadda, yadda, the scoreboard is here.  I’m one of those people who goes to baseball games to enjoy the sunshine and the popcorn and the game, but I can’t tell you Babe Ruth’s rookie year ERA.  I don’t memorize minutiae.  I watch dressage to watch riders and horses and enjoy their harmony and connection to each other. We can always look up the scores later online.

We watched the first set of riders.  The two things that struck me about the riders were their forward-moving hands and the relaxation in their backs and hips.  The horses are talented, beautiful and nearly unflappable.  The stands were much less than half full, but the stadium was loud in greeting horses and riders and there was not one even moderate blowup in reaction to it.

But there were some “Moments”.  (Blog definition: “Moment” is short for “Marital Moment” — those occasional extemporaneous conversations that happen in a relationship.  These conversations usually end with a word like “Fine”.)  The dressage Moments today included an honest to beginner novice Wrong Lead.  Transition from passage no less.  I was so stunned I couldn’t even think to look at how that would score in a GP test.  The lead was fixed in one stride of course, with a perfect flying lead change.  Let’s be clear then, I am not negatively critiquing anyone who has the technical skill and cahonies to ride GP dressage at WEG.  But what I am saying is that people who are struggling to learn to ride a dressage test in public can take heart, your suffering will never end because you’ll always make mistakes, that’s just how it is.  Ha ha.  While that is true, that’s not my main point, I’m kidding.  What I am saying is take heart, everybody has Moments and there’s no need to have a canary about it by punishing yourself for a week for a wrong lead or whatever.  Just get out there and see how quickly you can fix it.  Everybody makes mistakes.  A GP rider fixes it in one stride.  If you fix it in 5 strides or 5 months, it is still fixed.

So, then in The Scheduling Oddity of All Time, the dressage rounds were interrupted by the Endurance Medal Ceremony.  It was in the schedule, but What?  I kid you not.  These impressive endurance people were up trotting and cantering around until all hours last night, and apparently they compared their calendars at the end, and all could make it at 11:00 (or whatever it was) this morning to receive their medals, so the dressage people said, “Sure, come on in, we’ll just piaffe in the corner over here.”

Endurance Medal Ceremony in the Middle of Dressage

Seriously, I’m all about celebrating somebody who rode 100 miles yesterday and was here walking upright today, but really, right in the middle of GP team dressage?  Apparently, yes.  The dressage spectators could not leave the arena, because once your ticket is scanned you are in and if you leave you are out, never to return.  No inky handstamps allowed.  So we hung out and cheered the Spanish woman who won it and the two UAE father and son people who got silver and bronze.  The silver medalist literally could not be bothered to show up so his chef d’Equipe (coach) stood in for him.  No explanation was given, so we’re going with our theory that a middle eastern guy couldn’t deal with a Spanish woman on a horse named “Nobby” showing him how it’s done.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  She was a way good rider and I will leave my comments about the quality of the other two medalist’s riding unsaid.

Go Spanish Chick

So back to the dressage.  The first U.S. dressage rider, Todd Flettrich, produced a very nice test.  He ended up 16th of the 31 horses who competed today, and not an obvious drop score among them.

The second U.S. rider, the last rider of the day, was Katherine Bateson-Chandler who has partnered with this horse only since this March.  I shot this video with my really lame $100 digital camera that I bought like 5 years ago.  I used it because I did not bring my video camera because at Rolex you can’t video tape your own shoes standing in the park for fear of copyright infringement, so I was thinking the same would hold here, but videocams were rampant and nary a word was said.  D’oh!  I was wrong.   So this video is a little low in quality, but you’ll get the idea of the lovely ride Katherine shared with us today.

Tomorrow, Day IV WEG:  Dressage, second half of our XC course walk (which would be the first half of the course) and whatever else shows up on our Big WEG 2010 Adventure.

WEG Endurance and Pictures Day II

Lots of fabulousness

After watching the US win gold in reining, we had an opportunity to just rest in the beautiful weather and watch some horses school.  Here are some photos of the GP dressage schooling that was going on throughout the day.  The styles of schooling were quite varied.  Some were very disciplined, working on specific movements, while others would work very hard for a few minutes and then allow the horse to stretch and relax.  There were some riders who were getting insight from coaches constantly, and others were working entirely independently.  They were allowed to ride inside the competition arena and most took advantage of it.  At times there were 6 international quality horses and riders working in chaotic harmony in one large dressage arena.  Piaffe next to lengthening, canter half pass and collected trot.  Really amazing.

Relaxation in the stadium arena

Some of them showed up in coolers and just hacked around.

Receiving area where horses came in to the vet check

Next, off we went to watch endurance.  There was a big and mostly quiet crowd out at the vet check area.  As one might expect, there was a strong middleeastern contingent there.  When we were there, the top two horses were from the United Arab Emirates, with the third horse from France.

Receiving area where horses come in to the vet check

We could see the horses come over the hill and trot in where their attendants would take them from their riders, then start stripping tack and get water on them to get their P and R’s down for the vet check.

Horses had to be trotted for the vets for soundness. They could be trotted by their riders, who wore yellow pinneys or grooms, who wore orange pinneys like this one.

After a cool out, the riders or their grooms would trot the horses down and back for the vets.  If the horses were deemed sound, a green light came on and the horses were allowed to go to the cooling tents.  Where they had to undergo a 15 minute mandatory hold.  Then they were trotted for the vets again to check for soundness again before going out.  The reasoning behind that is that if the horse has some soreness, it will come out once the horse is at rest and has to trot again.  Kind of why we eventers have showjumping on the day following xc.  It is a very good test of soundness!

Off to the cooling tent

Even though it was cool enough for many people to wear a light coat, the horses were kept in the shade of the tents while liberal amounts of water were applied to them.  All in all, the horses looked to be handling the stress of competition very well.  The crowd was very knowledgeable and very patient.  The horses started out in the morning at 8 a.m. and the last horses were expected to come in by the light of the glowsticks placed for the last 7 miles.

The hollow, direct route. Nice bending line and terrain question. The down banks on the left are the ones that caused so much trouble at Rolex 2010

On the way back from endurance, we walked part of the xc course.  Though this picture looks like I was on the galloping track side of the ropes, of course I wasn’t.  <cough>  My little digital camera is a wonder of science with its zoom.  Um, yeah.  Anyway, this bending line could be very fun to watch riders negotiate.

As we were walking around the xc course, we were treated to a view of the some of the marathon hazards for combined driving.

Combined driving obstacles

Jay, who has built a fair number of xc fences, took an appreciative look at the workmanship of this marathon obstacle and remarked.  “That takes a little more than a chainsaw and two guys to horse it around.”  I’ll say.  I’m guessing cranes were involved.

Then there was this on the xc course:

I saw the sign first and was nonplussed, but it all became clear when I saw the jump itself:

Moutain Dulcimer

This fence wins the Field Day Overachiever Prize for “Highest Amount of Work Put Into a Skinny Jump”.  The whole jump itself is 30′ wide, has at least 2 different kinds of wood, is sanded to within a few grains of the smoothness of a baby’s bottom and decorated with flowers.  For all that, the horses and riders have about a 6′ space to jump between the flags.  Go MES and your jump builders.  Love it.

And the Frank Lloyd Wright Award for best use of a live tree goes to:

Frank Lloyd Wright is nodding and smiling.

More marathon course fabulousness. Go on, drive through that with your 4-in-hand.

Wonders of irrigation

It has been very dry in Kentucky in the last few months.  It rained hard on Friday night, breaking a long dry spell.  During the dry spell, the staff at KHP has been watering the galloping lanes with hoses and sprinklers to great effect.  In this photo you can see the green of the galloping track and the relative brown of the other areas.  The healthy grass and aerovation will be a great help to horses running xc next weekend.

Another wacked driving hazard. Go you combined driving people. Have at it and make us eventers look sane by comparison...

Well, at least the above hazard doesn’t involve alligators and chickens, open pits and electrified potholes, but other than that I can’t find a thing easy about driving a 4-in-hand through it.

Another picture of the downed tree jump from yesterday. Over a ditch of course. Yeeha.

It was fun to look carefully at the downed-tree jump.  Just getting the thing cleaned up to look like it does required at least a day with a pressure washer and then, get on out there and stain the whole thing so it looks pretty.  Holy cats.  It does actually look like a pleasure to jump if you had an experienced horse, didn’t mind ditches or bigness and your horse can hold a line.  I think it is the ultimate foxhunter-on-steroids-and-after-a-stiff-stirrup cup fence. Somebody stayed up all night thinking about this one and then chuckled over coffee in the morning.

The direct route

Now here’s a bit of fun.  This is the A element, then you have to angle a bank down, bending line to the up, then jump a table that is just out of the shot on the left.  The lovely person underneath it, a volunteer who is placing beautiful flowers, will not be there on Saturday.  She assured me she will be on the other side of the ropes.  Anyway, this is probably a well-manageable line for those with experience and accuracy.

The harder line

Here’s a closer look at the direct route to show the angled drop in and bank up and table out in the direct line.  Lots of questions in quick succession.  I’d love to watch Kim S do this.  She’s a technician at this type of question.  At the WEG there is always and easier option and it always involves a significant expenditure of time.

The "easier" route

Enter Exhibit Easier, the longer route.  This has to be approached from a different line than would be convenient to those trying to make the time.  The good news is that A, B and C are on a straight line.  The bad news is that the D is the same D as the other line, off to the right and just out of the shot here, so it will require another time-costly loop back.  Much slower, much easier.

Gut Check

Jay with Susan Brigham's wildest fantasy: a 10' aerovator.

More driving craziness

Yes, this is a combined driving obstacle, but Jay and I loved the cob-webbing effect on it.  Usually this effect is used to make a part of a fence very high so that it can’t be jumped, but this is a new use to me that could be incorporated into some aspects of xc  jumps.  Anyway, we thought it was attractive.

Skinny angled drop into water. It's not just for breakfast anymore.

Jay was walking the course yesterday while I was watching reining.  He texted me and said, “The drop into water will wake some folks up.”  Jay’s the king of understatement so I was intrigued.  I envisioned a few things, but not this.  It is exactly what it looks like, an angled, skinny drop into water.  The left side of this fence is angled away from the bank, so that some water is between it and the bank.   The option to this fence, looks like this:

...still not for sissies

A raised rolltop drop into water is the option, but again, it is way off the desired track and will take a lot of time.  Regardless of which “in” you take the out is the far bank and a quick left over the goose, which is facing us almost head on behind the tree branch. You can see the goose more clearly in the photo above.

the options

Then a canter around and back into the water again after a jump on land.  Once in the water, riders can choose the B, C combo of up the bank, over the vertical and into the water again, or B in the water on the left, turn right and come back over the C on the right – and end up going exactly the opposite direction as the track.

So that was a description of about half the course.  We’ll get to the other half tomorrow or Tuesday.

When WEG is done with it, I want this to decorate my arena. (yes, I'm kidding) But it would decorate mine and every other arena in central Iowa. It is that big.

As we left the park we went past the back of the temporary stands around stadium.  This canvas is incredible.  Everywhere we look here, there is something amazing.  Usually it is horses, of course, but sometimes it is technology.  I wonder where they print something like this. Really incredible.

Tomorrow is the start of team dressage.  Woohoo!

Day Two morning

Reining team final this afternoon.  By now I almost understand what I am looking at, thanks to the quality explanation on the headphones.  The final US entrant was high score for the event, which does not win him gold, but it did clinch the gold for the US.  That is great, but call my cynical, isn’t this a US sport?  We pretty  much invented it, no wait, we DID invent it, so I’d pretty much expect world domination for at least the first four times it is in the WEG.  And that is true so far, so all is right in the world.  I’d say look out for Italy and Germany who clearly understand the game and God knows somebody will sell them the horses if they can’t breed good ones themselves.  Dark horse: Poland.  When freestyle reining becomes a WEG sport, which I suspect it will, the Polish riders I saw already have a leg up on the lyrical potentials of the sport.

Watching reining gave me several things.  One was a reminder that good riding all looks the same, regardless of the sport.  Another is that english riders, as a general group do not require enough of our horses in submission, possibly.  By this I mean that the reining horses are all, as they say, broke.  They stand still when asked for the most part.  They go forward when asked, they come back when asked.  They follow the rein.  They are soft in the poll.  They back up using their hindquarters.  All pretty handy stuff.  When this is accomplished through loving systematic training it is a very good thing. 

Then Jay and I went and watched some GP dressage schooling in the Stadium.  Horses would come marching down the entry into the stadium and be ready to go with their work, 5 and 6 beasts of hunky dressage gorgeousness at a time.  Some riders would have the horse on the bit the entire time, producing beautiful work for a short period and then let them relax only when they had exited the arena, while others had their horses walking on a loose rein quite frequently.  As a general matter of comparison, it was much more relaxing to watch the GP horses school than the eventing horses school dressage.  Sorry, even though I’m an eventer at heart, the dressage people were more subtle with their horses, though everyone was well within the acceptable range.

Now we’re off to watch some endurance. I’m not sure how much of a spectator sport that is going to be.  From the vantage point of  the Maker’s Mark Bourbon Village, it has been fun to watch the dots progress around the course on the live feed.  They go out and back in a series of loops that together cover 100 miles.  Each loop comes back into the vet check area where the horses stop for a period of time for P and R checks and if they pass they can then go back out.  So we’ll grab a toddy and head to vet check and learn something there I’m sure.  Cheers for now.

Pictures Day One

Morning arrival to KHP

In the Reining arena

Reining judges' stands. Borrowed from the set of Baywatch

Apparently, mane length counts in reining...

Endurance horses at soundness check

Comet mugging for cookies, while Becky looks on after a morning school

Phillip after a morning workout

WFP discussing his morning workout

Half of the Bit of Britain store. I couldn't back up anymore to get it all in!

Jay shopping in BoB

OH MY Goodness. This place was awesome.

Cool table that Jay shot while l was watching the second session of reining

Airy much?

Looks like Ames after high winds...

Outside the Alltech Experience with the Hippie Peace and Love Horse. Ok, I named it that.

I'm posting this because I thought it was cool and I think Pam Stone would love it in her house or gallery. It was mesmerizing.

Big Ass Fans. Told ya.

Outside of the Opening ceremonies stadium. Benito there, is not happy...

People entering for the Opening Ceremonies. I ran into Allison Springer in this crowd. I rode with her in a clinic once and she not only remembered me (amazing, it was a big clinic!) but was very fun to chat with!

Culver Academy carrying the US flags. It was beautiful.

William Shatner driving his horse in the opening ceremonies. The horse was magnificent and he drove it professionally. He spent much of the day at the reining events in our section and was just a very cool regular guy.

Even the Universe was cooperating for Opening Ceremonies

Fresian Train from the Netherlands. Mighty great.

Mohammad Ali in a very cool car that Rick Hickman could identify...

Black Horse Troupe. All different makes and models of horses, all black

Opening Ceremonies

Nearly unbelievable.  William Shatner, Mohammed Ali, gaited horses that were so beautiful and happy in their work that they brought tears to my eyes (and I usually don’t get the gaited horse thing), a boy sitting next to me who asked if the lady with the white hair driving the hackney was Queen Elizabeth, western dressage, rope tricks, a full symphony, the UK basketball coach, the KY governor, Lexington Mayor, FEI President Princess Heya, 2 antique cars, a beautiful sunset, a packed house, bareback and bridleless reining, the fresian train, music from Carmen with full choir, Circus parade carriages, California cowgirls, some guy who rode two horses at a time while standing up, a man and andalusion who danced beautifully with a young ballarina, great weather, great sound, packed house.

Wow.  Must sleep.

Reining Session II and prep for the Opening Ceremonies

Next stop this afternoon was Reining Session II in the Alltech Indoor Arena.  Whether it was coincidence I can’t say, but the quality of the horses and riders improved in the second session.  The Polish rider chose some native music that was lyrical, and the way he and his horse flowed reminded me of a dressage freestyle.  It didn’t surprise me when, at the end of the session the announcer shared that the rider also did a freestyle that could “make you both laugh and cry.”  He had some technical difficulties, but I think his style is very attractive and could be the next generation in reining.

The radio commentary provided by the NRHA president was excellent.  Just enough was said to be enlightening.  He didn’t talk it to death and he didn’t leave major questions unanswered.  I talked to him afterwards to tell him how well I thought he did and how I thought that their way of describing staying “between the reins” was something we talk about in eventing as “to keep the horse between the straight lines of the reins and the stirrup leathers”.  And that his expression of the horse being “willingly guided” by the reins is analagous to one of my favored expressions of the horse “following the rein”.  Very interesting.

I had wondered before the first session if I would be able to tell the difference between very good reining and not-so-much-good reining.  It turns out, yes.  The basics are always the same.  Cool.

Jay and I toured (part of) the trade show for a few hours after that.  Everything you want, and stuff you didn’t even know you wanted (but now you do) is there.  More on that tonight.

Right now I have to catch a bite at the Maker’s Mark Bourbon Village (who wouldn’t love that name?) and go to opening ceremonies.  Jay is catching OC at the hotel tonight, the local NBC affiliate is carrying it live.  Just one more reason I love KY.  That is sweet.

Rock on.