George Morris and Julie Winkel have set a classically straightforward course for the Pessoa/USEF Medal Finals. There are only 10 jumps in the ring, and they’re all plain, hunter type jumps, with minimal filler and a natural look. There is the infamous narrow wood coop, set with just a few bushes as wings, at the end of the ring. And it’s jumped twice, once off each lead. That jump always causes a few drive-bys.
There’s a dotted line once riders come in, keeping them in the end of the ring by the in-gate, so they have to circle immediately, then jump a brown oxer (fence 1) on a diagonal toward the long side. There are seven strides in a bending line to a plain split-rail vertical (fence 2) set at the end of the long side.
Then, riders roll back to the right out of the short side of the ring to the narrow coop (fence 3). They’ll have to be very accurate in their steering here, and keep their horses in front of their leg in the turn.
From there, a bending five or six strides to the left leads to a triple combination (fence 4ABC) across the diagonal of the ring. It’s set with a square oxer filled with straw bales as the A element, then a white vertical, then another square oxer with straw bale filler. It’s two strides to one stride, and rides forward. Riders really have to get their horses going again in the short turn to it.
Then they twirl around the short end of the ring again, this time to the right, and jump a wide triple bar (fence 5). This roll back turn really tests the riders’ abilty to keep their impulsion in a tight turn. From there, they ride a bending six strides up the long side to a vertical-vertical in-and-out of birch rails (fences 6 and 7), with a tight three strides in it. From there, it’s a very tight left 90-degree turn in four strides back to the narrow wood coop (fence 8).
Riders finish with a ride through the short side and out of the corner to a Swedish oxer with a log filler (fence 9), showing their ability to get their horses back into a forward pace after negotiating a few tricky turns over vertical fences.
This course is vintage Medal Finals, with true tests of accuracy, ability to steer while keeping the horse in front of your leg, and riding off the eye. The rider who’s able to establish and keep a good pace from the beginning and ride a flowing track with smooth turns is going to do well.
The Second Round
The jumps haven’t changed much in the second round, but the directions have reversed for a lot of them–the course is basically backward. Riders will start out over the former last fence, which is now a square oxer. They then ride around the short end of the ring, and roll back to the narrow coop. Then, they have four or five strides in a 90-degree turn to the vertical-vertical three-stride.
Then, they go directly to the triple bar off a right hand turn, then circle around the short end of the ring to the triple combination. They jump the triple combination up the diagonal, to a bending five or six strides right to the narrow coop. They then twirl around the short end of the ring and then jump the split-rail vertical to the brown oxer, which is now a Swedish.