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:
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.
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.
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!