USDF National Finals, Day One

Nov 7, 2013 - 4:18 PM
The Kentucky Horse Park's Ring 1 is dressed to kill for the USDF National Finals.

In spite of an absolutely TERRIFYING drive over the mountains of West Virginia (during which Billy and Fender were absolute princes, such great little soldiers, plus OMG I love my Jamco trailer), we are safely tucked into the inaugural USDF Finals. We arrived in Kentucky just as the sun was setting, and also as the rainstorm moved in, and of course the first thing that happened was that we expected some signage telling us where to go.

No such luck. In fact, we followed a sign that said All Trailers This Way, after which I found myself at a dead end with two trailers behind me, thinking I knew where I was going. Apparently, there is normally a person there checking horse paperwork, coggins and health certificates; but it would seem that he left for the day at 4. Whoops. So glad I spent the money on a health certificate. Sigh.

But let me tell you all—if that’s the worst thing we encounter, it’s a banging good horse show. And so far, so good. The communication before the event was really exceptional, and while parking was a little hairy, the move-in process was brilliantly easy. There are well-lit paths all over the place, and the rings are well-labelled. The footing held up GREAT to a pretty hefty dose of rain last night, and there are bajillion happy and well-educated volunteers eager to help.

And then there’s the indoor. In a word: wowza!

Fender doesn’t show until Thursday, so all we did was school Billy on Wednesday night, who marched into the beautifully-decorated-but a-little-intimidating indoor, looked around, and took a big breath and said, “Ah! The World Cup Finals! It’s about time the USEF sent me!” And put his head down and worked like a champ.

They had a fabulous go in their warm-up freestyle class today, placing just out of the ribbons in a massive, massive class of mostly-professionals on 68.66 percent. I’m so crazy proud of them, and of Kristin, who warmed up with all the FEI riders Wednesday and with all the adults today, and then spoke so beautifully and articulately to the reporters who followed her out afterward. What a kid.

Fender schooled great, a little tight still, but that’s how I want him—I’d rather have too much horse than too little, especially after our boo-boo at the Regional Finals. He is just so lovely. I can hot him up all I want in the ring, and then walk home from the ring on the buckle. What a kid, too.

With three of us here—Kristin, her amazing dad Jeff, and myself—caring for two horses, there’s been a bit of thumb twiddling. I took advantage of the down time to do what so many dream of: I ran around Rolex.

(…OK, I did it in running shoes, but whatever.)

One of the best things about this show is the catching up. How many events do we have that bring a whole country together? I’m getting to meet up with friends from the Midwest, from New England, from Texas and Florida. There just aren’t that many chances to do that in such a big country as this.

And so many people have come from so far! Californians and Washingtonians; I can’t imagine the commute they had. Even people coming from Wellington and Texas and Maine couldn’t have had an easy trip. We were lucky to be just eight hours away, West Virginia mountains and all.

It’s cold tonight, but I tucked the boys in with lots of layers, and I have a beautiful new browband for Fender from Topline Leather. Here’s hoping it’s lucky; I’ve done everything else I can!


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