"Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and once it has done so, he/she will have to accept that his life will be radically changed." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Fork CIC 3* recap

I survived my trip to Norwood, NC to help Sally at The Fork.  Tsunami (Sue) needed a qualifying round for Rolex.  Sue and Sally qualified.  I wrote notes on Facebook after each day.  I have a to do list today, so I'm going to copy and paste my notes.  

Thurs AM
Be jealous, the weather is perfect here. And everything is green! We had a safe drive yesterday in reasonable time. We unloaded the necessities last night and headed to the hotel.

The grounds, what I have seen so far, are beautiful and spread out. I will get lost. Dressage has started today but the atmosphere is relaxed in the stabling area.

Sally and Sue are stretching their legs out after the trip which gives me time for updates. So far, so good.

Sally always asks if I'm on FB, and most of the time she is right. I won't blog specifically about any competitors, save cool happenings or informational things I learn. If I can, I will snap quality pics of the event. That is on the back burner.

There is a jog at 5 and a practice ride on the agenda for later. While Sue walks, I'm watching a few *** dressage rides. Wow!

More later.

Thurs PM
Thursday was pretty quiet at The Fork.  The Friday dressage horses jogged and some riders were hacking or practicing.  Sue has been fun to work with.  She will tell you like it is!  It is a change, not in a bad way, from my boys at home.

Everyone in the stabling area is friendly.  Many of the US and Canadian horses entered for Rolex this year are here.  Many of the WEG horses are here.  It's like being backstage at Woodstock.  Sorta.

Walking around and looking at the stabling setups will teach you a lot.  Stabling at a big event is not like stabling at a hunter show.  Yes, there are logos and sponsor signs, but there isn't the same coordination as I've seen at h/j shows.  Don't get me wrong, the setups at this event are nice, but they are not over the top.  Everything is about being efficient.  You have to be efficient, no matter how many horses you have.  Having one horse requires a lot!  Now, I will tell you that the RVs and campers and trailers are unbelievable.  I need to snap a photo of one of the Canadian vehicles.  It is outrageously cool to look at. 

The weather was warm and quite a change from the weather back home.  I only had the opportunity to take a few pictures and they are posted. 

I won't lie, this isn't a very exciting update as, well, there was nothing exciting to report on.

It was a good day! 

The morning was relatively subdued getting ready for the 1 o'clock ride.  I was able to watch a few riders in the morning and get a feel for the test.  It's tough!  There was a small crowd gathered to watch and I suspect that will change tomorrow. Well, maybe it will change.  We are in the middle of nowhere!  Southern Pines and Charlotte are both 45 minutes away so I'm curious to see what crowd turnout will be tomorrow.

Sally and Sue had a solid dressage test. Pictures to follow.

I walked the cross country course this afternoon.  It is BEAUTIFUL!  Granted, I have only ever seen one other *** course at Fair Hill, but still, the scenery is great.  I have no opinion on the difficulty of the course as novice still intimidates me.  I had a chance to look at a frangible pin jump up close.  That's an interesting design.  The course preview is available on EventingNation.com.  I took some pictures, but I'll save taking lots of photos for a day I'm a spectator. 

I can cross riding a motorbike at an event off my bucket list now.  Ha, that was fun.  However, I think I'll stick to walking or the shuttle.  Oh yeah, the shuttle is pulled by a LandRover.  Cha-ching!

I'm a little excited for tomorrow and a lot nervous.  I don't think there will be pictures to share with all of you tomorrow as it will be our busiest day. 

And for the record (again) - I did not send the picture of Sally and Sue to EN!  My photos are better (says me.)

I learned a lot today.  A LOT.

The morning was slow until it was time to get ready.  The weather all day was cloudier and cooler than expected, which made it quite nice for cross country.  I am good at the go-for job, but not as good at being proactive.  I have a lot to learn before I can be proactive. 

I had to figure out a way to get all the equipment to the vet box which was at the other end of the property.  Unless you had a golf cart or small ATV, you were out of luck.  The mini-bikes had to make multiple trips.  Well, I did not have any of those options.  I am resourceful and flagged down the stable manager who gave me a lift to the XC warmup and then a cute groundskeeper gave me a ride back. 

Not knowing how things worked, I figured I would see Sally again at the finish.  Nope, she reminded me I had to set jumps.  Wait, what?! You want ME to set warm up fences for a 3*?  Umm, ok!  Here's the thing, Sally is a smart lady.  Bonnie Mosser was at the event and came out to set fences and help get Sue in the start box.  I am forever in Bonnie's fan club.  She was so tolerant with me and really helped me figure out where to go and what to do. 

Stand out in a field between a 4' vertical and oxer for a few minutes while the best riders in the country jump around/over you.  It is a little crazy, my friends.

Sue looked incredible, and of course Sally too, over the small part of the course I could see.  I snapped some lousy photos and ran for the vet box. 

Here's something scary.  I tied Sally's pinny.  Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeez.  It did not come loose.  Anyway, I get to the vet box area and start scouting what others are doing.  I set up and realize I can't hear the announcer.  I have no idea what's going on.  Crap.  Sally came through the finish and then all kinds of activity happened and then I'm standing next to the road with all of Sue's tack, Sally's gear, buckets, and no transportation.  Damnit.  Enter nice guy delivering ice.  I asked him when the next shuttle would come through and he said there's no schedule.  Apparently he felt sorry for me and came back after his delivery to give me a lift back to the barn.  What a nice guy. 

I think today is still sinking in.  I'm trying to recall all that happened and I can't get it all straight. Oh well.  Tomorrow will be crazy busy.  There is potential for more photos before the long drive home.

We started the morning at 4:30am.  Sue needed attention before the jog started at 8.  Plus, we needed coffee and breakfast. The grounds were a red clay muddy mess when we arrived.  It had rained overnight and made things well, yucky, to say the least.

We were at the jog early which was good.  Sue had plenty of time to walk in the long, wet grass and self clean all the mud she tracked walking to the jog.  She passed inspection without an issue.

Then it was time to pack everything so that we could leave as soon as the day was done.  Sally left to walk the course after we finished packing.  This was the slow time of the day for me.

The show jumping had been running late all day, unfortunately.  We walked up to the lower warm-up area and Sue did a flat warm up.  Sally saved jumping until the upper warm up.  That was not what I wanted to hear.  There were only a handful of people in the lower warm up and I wasn't as afraid of jump setting there.

So let me briefly explain, for those who don't know, how this works.  For those who know, remember this was my first time.  First, you play Frogger as you dodge horses from the fence to the jumps as horses with huge canters go riding by.  Then you have to set the jump quickly as you are directed.  However, you can't set the jump while someone is jumping or if another rider is approaching.  And you're standing between 4' fences and you can look up at a horse's stomach as they jump over you only a few short feet away.  And if you drop a rail while setting, people might "ooooh" you as the kids did when you dropped a tray in the school cafeteria.  It happened today!

Here's the other thing that could happen.  Your rider could tell you to make an oxer as big as possible and move the front rail up 2.  And after setting the back rail, Mark Philips (who is the head coach for the US eventing team) might tell you to only move the back rail and leave the front one.  Then your rider says put the front rail up 2 holes.  You put the front rail up two holes and ignore Philips.  At least that's what I did.  I was a little intimidated by Philips, but I am terrified of my rider!  :)  (She did laugh at this write up.)

The perk of surviving the warm up, you can stand where few others are.  It's a front row seat to some of the world's best jumping.  I only saw one jump yesterday and watching the entire course today was so exciting!  I didn't do a whole lot this weekend, but I know I helped make Sally's weekend a little easier.  I was thrilled when they jump around as amazingly as they did.

We were packed up and on our way home within thirty minutes of finishing the course.  Sally was happy with the weekend.  I'm still trying to take it all in.  Ever get off a roller coaster and love it but not quite remember what just happened?  Yeah, welcome to my world. Thankfully, I have another 7 or 8 hours traveling home to wind down.  :D

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