Cynthia and I were able to make it to the jog up with time to spare! It’s always a treat to see the horses and riders “in their Sunday best”. I was amazed, though, at how many horses didn't show up--the competition began with about 70+ horses, and I think only about 30 actually presented. I know quite a few retired on course, there were a few falls, and so forth, but....gee....
We were treated to a lucky sighting of one of the T3DE by 2010 pact members, Anastasia Curwood (of Team Taco), and a few COTH friends (Epona Cowgirl and...Jeannette?). It's always fun to meet up with like-minded online folks!
The pre-show (national anthem, presentation of flags, etc.) was really nice. I felt sorry for the PC'er who dropped her flag because her pony was being cantankerous....an adult came to the rescue, and led her around...but I could tell it upset her pretty much. I hope she knows we ALL know how she feels!
Cynthia and I had some great seats for Stadium, and we were there early to make SURE to watch and learn.
One thing I absolutely loved: several of the horses, as they circled after the salute, were flapping their lips in anticipation. Yes, they were tired, but NO ONE can say they don't love their jobs!!
Henry Jota Hampton, Peter Atkins' mount, had perhaps the best "lemme at 'em!" expression, followed closely by Cavaldi and Napalm. Other horses, while eager, were obviously pooped. Not Kyle Carter's horse, though; Madison Park did an excited sidepass the length of the SJ arena before actually jumping!
The announcer let us know that Ollie Townend was in the stands watching, and he got a nice ovation.
Several of the riders had trouble with the striding at the triple combination, and a lot of rails came down there. There were a lot of horses who wanted to run XC again, too; several riders had trouble checking their horses before fences. I remember Kim Severson saying stadium was where her horse was going to have difficulty, and she was right; they had several rails down, knocking them out of the top ten. KOC and Mandiba, too, had a couple rails, dropping them out of the first five. And Becky Holder, who I was hoping against hope might win her first Rolex, dropped one rail, but she still ended up in third. Still, she was happy about her performance; I guess SJ is her downfall, too.
William Fox Pitt made it look easy. The man is tall, but DANG is he balanced! He was forward, but in control the whole time. It's clear that Cool Mountain and WFP are quite a team.
From there I learned that a quiet ride is better than a frantic one; that if I stay balanced over my horse, he'll jump better; and that an odd body type doesn't necessarily mean that you can't be a darn good rider.
Philip Dutton was second yet again, thanks to KOC and Kim. He, too, was quiet and steady and balanced in his stadium. Boyd Martin and Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch all had exemplary rides as well.
BRAVO to all who finished! And bravo especially to the horses. How lucky are we to be able to partner with such incredible animals?