Life is really all about choices. And it’s the choices we make that determine what we do, who we are, and what happens.
The great thing about choices, though, is that we can *always* make another one.
Today, which once again started out gloomy and wet, we started the day once again at Quillin’s to pick up our “swag”. Paddy now has a lovely black halter to go with his lovely black tack! Because of our side trip, though, we didn’t get to the park in time to see Leslie Law ride, which I was sorry for.
While we were walking to the stadium, we passed next to the warm up ring, and we saw Kristi Nunninick and her horse R-Star warming up. They were an eye-catching pair, as R-Star has that unmistakable Riverman stamp. And I read about Krsti in the Chronicle of the Horse: she’s a 48 year old mother who’s bringing along the horse she trained to her first Rolex, a real dream come true.
The pair were lovely in warm up: very supple, very “up” but soft. In the ring, they got a bit more tense, and they had some trouble with counter canter…but they still scored well! I’ll be cheering for them for sure.
We were supposed to have gone on a course walk with Smartpak, but since we watched Krsti and R-Star, we were late. We saw a smallish crowd near jump 5, and assumed that the weather had cause attrition, so we joined them….and ended up going on a wonderful course walk with Bonnie Mosser (who used to be a world class skier, and is now a world class equestrian). This coursewalk was sponsored by hayguard (thanks!), and it was incredible.
She walked the course explaining how she’d ride it (ride aggressively to the first element; keep legs on and make sure I’m straight to the second; etc.). She talked about walking the course with her coach at the event, Jimmy, who said things like “if you have 20 penalties, be the fastest one with 20 penalties”). That’s Jimmy!
She pointed out “scope” questions (like the table-ditch and wall-table) and “accuracy” questions (like the angled brushes). She would always say “here’s how I plan to ride this fence”. She also waded out to the drop side of the head of the lake so that we could see how far the horses had to jump down…wow.
She also took us through the alternate routes for jumps as well, which there seemed to be quite a bit of now. “You should always have an alternate plan in mind” Bonnie asserted.
When asked how many times she walks the course, she replied that her walk with us was her fourth, and she’ll likely do at least one more (if not two more). And she’s been here four times before! The first walk was by herself. The second with her coach. The third was with a wheel. The fourth was with us. And she’d at least walk once more in the morning.
“How do you keep fit?” I wondered. She said that she normally just rides, but before Rolex she starts to run, and she can feel a big difference in her wind strength. I asked her how this year’s course compared to last year’s, and she said it was more complicated, but not as “maxed out” as Badminton.
I really enjoyed the coursewalk, and I think I learned a lot. I hope Bonnie and Merloch do well tomorrow!
We got back to the dressage late, so we didn’t get to watch William Fox-Pitt’s stellar ride on Cool Mountain that put him into first place….nor did we see Allison Springer’s ride on Aurthur…but life is, after all, about choices, and I’m really glad we stumbled on the great course walk with Bonnie Mosser.
We DID get back in time to watch Kim Severson’s ride, however, and it was really nice. When they trotted into the dressage arena, Kim saluted, and I swear Tipperary Liadhnan dipped his head in salute, too! I recall previous Rolex rides with “Dan,” not a particularly big mover, that placed her in the top three, and once again she rose to the occasion, this time with a bigger mover. She was very accurate, relaxed, and she rode the test well. Even though her horse fought both of her counter canters, earning her two low scores, she scored well and will be a force to be reckoned with. Go Girls!
I was interested to watch Amistad, ridden by Michelle Mueller of Canada, because he looks like Paddy’s twin, and I believe he’s an Irish boy, too. He was impressive to be sure, but he looked a wee bit inexperienced; when his rider stopped to salute at the beginning of the test, he literally swung his head around to see the stande/film crew…and he did the same at the end. I don’t think he left on a lose rein, either, though he was nicely in the bridle and supple during his test.
I wanted to make sure to watch Olliver Townend’s last ride, and it was nice, consistent, accurate…though his horse was wringing his tail the whole time. Also, Ollie had a big hat….there’s that big hat theory again….
Boyd Martin did a nice job on his final ride: not flashy, but consistent.
After the dressage, my old fence judging friend, Nancy, took me to the fence judge meeting, and I have fence five, the Angled Rails. It’s the first real technical question on the course, and I’m sure I’ll learn a ton!
Later this evening, I got to meet up with a friend from Ohio State days, Roxanne, and a WONDERFUL restaurant in Georgetown, Circa 1840. Super food, and incredible girl talk…we even got to know a future eventer to watch out for, Kerry Benedikt, a waitress there who informed us that William Fox-Pitt was celebrating his first place standing with a medium rare steak. Afterwards, we went back to Roxanne’s place (GORGEOUS) and were entertained by her two rescue dogs, her husband, and some mighty fine bourbon (Four Roses Single Barrel). Life is good, and I like my choices so far. Let’s hope all the riders like THEIR choices tomorrow!