It was another beautiful day in central Florida for cross-country today at Rocking Horse. I’m sure our friends up in Aiken are not thrilled to hear that (!) but it was a lovely day for winter season eventing.
I was only able to catch the tail end of the Intermediate cross-country, and the course seemed to cause its share of trouble. Alexa Perkiel and Mandiba fell at fence 11, a big table; witnesses said Mandiba hit the front lip of the table hard with his front legs and resulted in a pretty nasty fall. I had seen Alexa and Mandiba early on the course at fence 4ab, where they looked great, so I was shocked to hear of their trouble. There was a hold on course, but Alexa was able to stand on her own and seemed to suffer an injury to her shoulder or collarbone. We hope she feels better soon!
From walking around the grounds, all courses were definitely beefed up from earlier events. Intermediate had a big coffin; A,B,C,D water; two large tables on a steep angle; a double corner combination; and a combination into the hollow. Preliminary looked solid as well with several combinations and skinnies. Training level had an A/B combination with a large table turning to a training-sized corner, a fairly stiff test for the level.
The Advanced course was also up to par, but riders and horses looked very well prepared today. With only a few bobbles, many had successful clear rounds with a good start to the 3-star/4-star path. Both waters were pretty technical: a bounce in, skinny out at the first one; and a brush in, turning to a steep angled brush out on the second. However, each combination was pretty forgiving to minor mistakes. One horse tripped the frangible release on the In element of the bounce, but the course builders had repaired and back in place before the next rider came through. Well done! It’s great to see this new technology working well and making the sport safer. I don’t think the horse hit the log very hard, it did not seem in danger of falling (it stopped at the drop), but the release of the log did not create a safety hazard and the horse was able to negotiate the rest of the obstacle without impediment.
With three Advanced divisions, it’s nice to have a healthy number of competitors at the level. While many of them aren’t quite ready for international recognition, it’s a great sign to develop depth and improvement at the level. Established competitors looked great today, and it was nice to see some newcomers riding like they belonged there, too. Peter Atkins and Henny were flying around to win their Advanced division wire-to-wire. Buck, as usual, had his revolving-door of horses looking spectacular; go watch Petite Flower if you ever have the chance, she’s like a bunny rabbit on pogo sticks! Allie Knowles and Last Call also looked excellent at both waters…can’t wait to see her at Rolex again this year.
Advanced – A
1. Alexandra Knowles / Last Call 35.6
2. Katherine Groesbeck / Oz The Tin Man 38.1
3. Kyle Carter / Madison Park 41.9
Advanced – B
1. Peter Atkins / HJ Hampton 31.4
2. Rowdie Adams / No Money Down 32.7
3. Buck Davidson / Petite Flower 33.1
1. Joe Meyer / Sanskrit 36.8
2. Selena O’Hanlon / Bellaney Rock 40.1
3. Sharon White / Under Suspection 41.7