The below post was mainly written on the flight to Portland on Wednesday...then this week was VERY intense and busy so here it is now :)
This past weekend was Fair Hill International! Fair Hill International is a big 3-day event for top eventers in the horse world. There was two levels of competition: CCI** and CCI***, called the 2-star and 3-star. A 3-star course is Olympic level eventing and there is only one level higher: the CCI**** or 4-star, with the most popular one being Rolex, held in Lexington, KY at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Eventing is split into 3 disciplines and for top level competitors over 3 days: Dressage is first and you can roughly compare it to drill moves on horseback. The following 3 pictures are from photographer Shannon Brinkman
|Susan Beebee and Wolf at FHI dressage phase|
Cross country is on day two and is the most grueling. At high levels it includes multiple phases to test the horse and rider’s endurance with the most commonly known phase being cross country: galloping over a roughly 3 mile course and jumping a lot of big, solid jumps in a variety of different ways and situations under a time crunch. Sound scary and tough? It is very challenging for both horse and rider and where the most falls, injuries, withdraws, and disqualifications occur. This is how Christopher Reeves was paralyzed.
|Buck Davidson through the keyhole on the 3* course|
On the third day is stadium jumping, which consists of tall and easy to knock over jumps in an arena with a specific course and time limit. The focus here is to have control after the exhaustion that is cross country day. Throughout the whole 3 day process there are vet checks and jog outs to ensure the horses are in top physical condition, not in pain, and able to continue in competition.
|Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot- winners of the 3*|
In case you can’t tell- I LOVE eventing. In fact, secretly this has always been a dream of mine since my Pony Club days- to one day compete at Fair Hill International at the 2 or 3-star level. I gave up on this dream many years ago because I didn’t fit into the eventing mold. Not only do you have to have a fit horse- but you also have to be very fit to compete. Well, here I am world- I’m putting the dream back on the table! Although, I am scaling it back a bit and would simply like to get to the preliminary level- a few steps down from 2 or 3*, but very impressive and needing great conditioning for both horse and rider. If I could get to Intermediate or Advanced (1*) that would be incredible….but I have to remember to walk before I crawl. Eventing, like anything horse related, is expensive. And my job is very demanding and so is eventing. It’s a fine juggling act that I’m not going to give up on, but for now is on the back burner until Indy is ready- which will be years.
Right now Indy is not even ready for longing (moving in a circle around a stationary person on a long line)- his knees are still coming off the track and swollen and his gash on his left knee is getting better but still swollen and ouchy. He tore up his left knee right before leaving the track- on a hot walker machine. I think they took out the staples too soon to send him home with us because he cut it open again last week. Right now we are one and the same- when you get injured you need rest. In his case he might need the entire winter off worth of rest. We’ve been handling him every day- twice a day for meals to ensure he stays good and used to being handled. He’s such a sweet horse and despite the fact that we won’t be able to ride for perhaps months, I feel so blessed to have him in my life. J
So back to Fair Hill International….I was an outrider again, on Piney. Of course, he was awesome and received a ton of attention from spectators and competitors alike. We even had our pictures taken by the press and ended up in Equisearch! Pretty cool! The weather was absolutely perfect and I’m glad I bought a new jacket because I looked snazzy and felt great. One of the coolest thing was the number of people that remembered us from last year! That’s the cool thing about FHI- a lot of the same people come every year because the eventing community isn’t huge as you might guess.
I got to see some of my favorite riders, and even discovered a few new favorites. The winner of the 2* was a 19-year old college student from James Madison University, Connor Husain. He always competes with a pink ribbon on his lapel to honor his mother who is a breast cancer survivor. Cool kid, huh? Horse people are awesome J I also met one of the best riders I’ve ever seen- Tik Maynard from Canada. He did something that all riders aspire to do- he was truly one with the horse the whole time. They moved around the cross country and stadium courses like they were linked, it was very cool to see. So I approached him in the warm up ring before Stadium and told him all that and he said that was the nicest compliment he’s ever heard and he really appreciated it. I took a picture of him because he was just such a nice and great rider. Also, he’s not bad to look at.
There were lots of other great riders, like Marilyn Little who is gorgeous and really nice and wears rhinestones on her helmet and lapel. She also always shows up to vet checks and jogs in stilleto heels. Very unique and cool, especially for the eventing world which is more about mud then bling.
|Tik watching stadium before he goes on. Yeah, he's tall for real|
What do you think about horses- love them or scared of them?