Thursday, October 7, 2010

WEG Redux: The Sunday Jog

(Boyd and a rather wild-eyed Neville Bardos)

Sunday morning dawned super grey and chilly, which was a rather shocking change from the previous day's sun and warmth. Despite these inauspicious conditions, I convinced my parents to hop one of the earliest buses to the park so that we could get good seating for the jog. They poo-pooed me, but lo and behold! We arrived well over an hour early, and still didn't get into the front row, though our consolation spot in the second row was still pretty darn awesome. We whiled away the hour reliving the excitement from the day before and speculating how the US might fare in the Show Jumping that afternoon. I personally was feeling cautiously optimistic that the US riders would be leaving the park with some hardware around their necks, barring any shocking turns in the jog itself.

(Mandiba strikes a pose on the way to the presentation to the ground jury. I'm not a huge fan of the cowboy hat/American flag ascot combo, but it certainly wasn't the worst team outfit at the jog.)

(FRH Butts Abraxxas looking so kind and alert)

(Mr. Medicott giving a regal look to the crowds)

Once the jog got going, it went very quickly. I always love watching the trot ups, just for the basic enjoyment of watching how differently the horses move, and how universally beautiful they all are. Every horse presented just oozed class, though (as I always am) I was surprised at the wide variety of shapes, sizes, types, and personalities on display. It's so amazing how many different right answers to any question there are out there, and the sheer variety of horse types at the trot up seemed to illustrate that point to me more clearly than ever before.

(There were little pointy firecracker types like First Lady...)

( well as bigger boned warmblood types like HJ Hampton...)

(... downright chunky horses like Vittori...)

(... and super refined, typey horses like this Italian horse whose name was like five words long that I won't even try to get right; doesn't he just have the biggest, softest eye you've ever seen?)

The one thing all the horses had in common was incredible physical fitness (there were a few that were so tucked up and fit looking they could have passed for big, fancy racehorses) and the sort of alert, intelligent expression that makes me swoon. These are some VERY clever animals, and I think more so in general than in a lot of other disciplines; just imagine the amount of intelligence required for a large pack animal with a brain the size of a walnut to gather together that it's supposed to be calm and submissive even in incredibly electric conditions one day, be a fireball and gallop and jump flat the next, and then turn right around and jump roundly and carefully the day after that! I never cease to be amazed by these creatures.

(This French horse had a very keen, intelligent look; a real "look of eagles")

(Horseware Bushman looking a bit worried (though I love a good worrier) but very handsome... the rider's pretty easy on the eyes as well!!)
(Mmmm... yes, two VERY good reasons to move to Ireland right here =D)

(Hawley Bennett and Ginny looking sooo cute together)

It was good to see so many horses looking so good after what had clearly been an enormous test the day before, though I was also a bit mystified by a few of the ground jury's decisions: there were a few horses that looked ok-ish that got sent to the hold, and a few horses that were wild or VERY sketchy looking were passed without incident. Then, from the few horses that were sent to the hold, every one that re-presented was accepted, even when a few of them were (in my opinion) MARKEDLY off. I'd love to have been a fly on the wall for some of the lengthy conversations the ground jury had that morning, because I certainly couldn't follow all of their decisions myself. Of course, no one wants to get spun at the jog, but a few of the horses that sailed right through without even a vet examination (which happens when a horse is sent to the hold) looked listless and flat at best, bordering on uncomfortable and sore at worst. But what do I know?

(The Jump Jet competed at Burghley just a month before WEG, but still trotted out sound as a dollar on Sunday. I REALLY don't agree with running a horse at two CCI****s in a month, but have to commend this horse's soundness!)

(Buck and Reggie looking very dapper)

(Andrew Nicholson... a total silver fox. And what a horse!!)

(Mary and Imperial Cavalier looking like such a wonderful partnership)

I was crushed for Becky and Comet, as they had been SO lovely to watch the day before, but at the same time could not fathom why they had presented at all, as Comet was so uneven you could hear it. I know that Becky is a great horseman, but I found her presentation of this obviously unsound horse to not only be in bad personal taste but also to speak very poorly of our national program and values. I wasn't privy, of course, to all the decision making that went into the choice to present and so will reserve full judgement, but certainly it didn't look great from the side of the spectator.

(Concrete proof that eventing is a heartbreaking sport)

(Phillip and Woodburn... also not the most spectacular jog, though they passed without incident)

After the jog, we tried to spend as much of the intervening time before show jumping in a warm place as possible. The weather had turned positively wintery, and even Pa was shivering (a huge sign!!), so we hid out in one of the museums for a little while before braving the Bit of Britain tent to pick up from more fleecy things before finding out seats. As every other person on grounds appeared to have the exact same train of thought as we did, trying to fight through the Bit of Britain tent was probably one of the more intense physical activities I've done recently; there were times where I was literally clawing and kneeing my way through sheer mosh-pit-density throngs of people. But, thankfully, it was significantly more bundled up (and warmed up after the work out that was fighting for a spot in line!!) that we found our frosty seats way up in Row Y of the grandstands for the thrilling conclusion of the weekend.

The conclusion WHICH, unfortunately, will have to wait for tomorrow, as I've got my first midterm of the year tomorrow to study for... =)

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