Wednesday, May. 22, 2024

Living The Dream, A Last Rolex Dressage Ride And No Groom Needed: A Few Pre-Cross-Country Highlights

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Lexington, Ky.—April 28

There will only be one Rolex Kentucky CCI**** winner this weekend. But taking home the watch on Sunday afternoon isn’t really the only way to succeed here in Kentucky, a place where, even if it’s cheesy, it’s true: To be here at all means you’re already #winning.

We chatted with a couple of riders who are living the dream, Rolex Kentucky-style, this weekend.

Aidan Keogh on Master Tredstep—tied for 23rd after dressage with 48.6 penalties

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Aidan Keogh came all the way from Ireland with his mount, Master Tredstep, to contest the Rolex Kentucky CCI****. It’s a bucket list item for the 49-year-old rider.

“Obviously Badminton and Burghley [England] are closer to home, but you never know when you’re going to have a good horse who’s sound and ready to do this again,” he said. “So I thought, ‘Let’s come over and enjoy this wonderful event.’ ”

Riding isn’t Keogh’s day job. He’s the founder and owner of Tredstep Ireland. While he was developing the business, he took some time off from upper-level eventing, but then he stepped back into it with the help of neighbor, trainer, mentor and friend William Micklem.

“It took me longer to get Tredstep going than I thought it would,” he said. “I had an 18-year break between three-stars, and then I said, ‘OK, let’s do it. Let’s see how good we can be.’ You dream it as a child and a teenager, and just because I’m a bit older doesn’t mean I can’t chase that dream. It’s taken a while to get here, and we’re here. We have nothing to prove to anybody. We’re here to enjoy it and enjoy the love of eventing.”

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Keogh will head out on cross-country at 12:32 p.m.

Lisa Marie Fergusson on Honor Me—52nd after dressage with 62.4 penalties

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After her dressage test, Fergusson had to take her horse, Honor Me, back to the barn before she could come up for an interview. The reason? She doesn’t have a groom with her this weekend.

“I find it way less stressful to be able to take care of my horse myself and be there for all the parts of it,” she said. “I find it part of the process. When you braid, you get calm. You can go through your test, and it’s just quiet time with your horse.”

Fergusson noted she does has friends to assist for cross-country tomorrow. But even her helpers in the vet box might not get to do as much as they’d like.

“I’m really not a good person at handing that stuff off to someone else,” she said. “Last year I brought a groom, and he was fantastic, and he was like ‘I’m basically not doing anything.’ ”

Fergusson will start her cross-country at 12:16 p.m.

Bobby Meyerhoff on Dunlavin’s Token—53rd after dressage with 62.5 penalties

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When Bobby Meyerhoff stopped to chat about his test after leaving the Rolex ring, he couldn’t hide the emotion anymore. This is the 17-year-old Dunlavin’s Token swansong at the upper levels before the horse retires to do some show jumping with Bobby’s wife, Danica.

“It’s sad. I didn’t think I’d get emotional but…” Bobby trailed off.

This is Bobby and “Token’s” fourth time competing here. The pair first attempted the track in 2014.

“I was supposed to come in 2013, and he came up sore at the jog, so I didn’t get to ride. The second year I came, I had the best ride of my life and fell at the last combination,” he said. “I think back at it now, and I think it was fine, but it was just a beautiful ride. The last two years coming—just having the chance to ride him around and complete was amazing.”

Bobby didn’t have an ideal preparation for this year’s four-star, to put it mildly. He had a cross-country schooling accident nearly two weeks ago, and he broke two ribs—one of which collapsed his right lung. Though his lung is fine now, the ribs still cause him plenty of discomfort.

“The whole time I was thinking, ‘I’m going,’ ” he said. “But last week I was in a lot of pain, and I was like, ‘Shit, how am I going to do it?’ But yeah, I’m glad to be here and glad to be able to ride.”

Meyerhoff will set out on cross-country at 12:24 p.m.

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