I won’t lie. I walked into the pancake-flat showgrounds at the Stadium in Wellington, Fla., and I wanted to be annoyed. Looking out at the cross-country course on manicured footing that looked as though nothing had stepped on it in the past year, I couldn’t help but think, “No. Nooooooooo. This isn’t eventing! This is show jumping over solid obstacles!” I wanted to not like it.
If someone wanted to get up close and personal with eventing, this is the way to do it.
The Wellington Eventing Showcase is a close-in eventing experience, with spectator-friendly viewing of all phases in a compact show-village normally home to legions of dressage horses. Billed as a showcase with high-stakes, this “eventing lite” experience is perfect for the introduction of the sport to new viewers.
While the weather on dressage day was a bit nippy for the area, breezes and clouds didn’t keep spectators from watching 35 riders here to compete for $75,000 in prize money.
In this digital age, we’ve all come to expect instant information—whether we are looking for the temperature at precisely 3:27 a.m., or when we want a tidbit of information about a horse that caught our eye.
I sell and place a lot of horses, and I meet a wide range of people—most of whom would make their mommas proud in the manners department.
But there are a few of you that need a smacking with a heavy purse, and I think it’s time I let you know who you are, or at least tried to educate the people that turn my typical smile into what I call “Poo Face.”
My mom has this freaky obsession with textiles. Sheets, towels, blankets and pillows are carefully stacked, labelled, put in matched set with ribbons a la Martha Stewart. She also has this freaky ability to know EXACTLY when one of her things is missing, and woe to the person responsible for its walkabout! We all pick on my mom for her constant compulsion to buy the next softer blankie or set of decadent sheets. I mean, Mom! You have 30 sets of 9,035 thread count sheets! WHY do you have these brand new ones? How many sheets and blankets can one person use?
That was the predominant phrase I heard while at the famed three-day event this past week. Every rider, when they were asked about the massive Mark Phillips designed course, had the same thing to say: It’s good! It’s big. It’s Burghley.
It was definitely big. I always say, with no disrespect at all intended, that the Land Rover Burghley CCI**** makes Rolex Kentucky look like Fisher Price My First Four Star.
Apparently the weathermen in the United Kingdom are much more reliable than in the States, because when they said the rain would stop at 3 p.m., and it was still downpouring at 2:50, we were skeptical. But, shine the sun did, and just in time for the largest number of horses to jog that I've personally witnessed.
A few drops here and there did not dampen the spirit of the crowd, though collective breathes were held while several horses were asked to be represented.
It was a gorgeous day at Bromont for Day 1 of dressage. The CCI* and *** were in the ring doing circles today, and there were many fabulous tests.
Michael Pollard and Schoensgreen Hanni put in a phenomenal test, good enough for a 48.2. His test was a bit emotional to see considering the mare was a survivor of their terrible trailer accident two weeks ago.
Sitting in first place is the stunning Downtown Harrison, ridden by Jon Holling. This horse is a lovely mover with phenomenal trot work. A few bobbles were not enough to knock them out of first with a 46.0.