Day 3 – Saturday, 5/9
Today will unofficially live on as the OSF #EqMarathon, with four total big equitation classes occurring within a 10-hour time period. I know.
My day started with the Maclay at 8am and I left the show grounds around 7:30pm after the Eq Challenge.
Since it was Saturday, today was also the first “big” show day with lots of activity. Unfortunately, it started out overcast and cold. I wore pants and a vest and immediately bonded with the woman who was getting out of her SUV next to me as we both arrived on the show grounds and we were just like, why is it SO chilly? A drastic change from the very warm weather of the past two days.
I retreated early on to the main OSF barn’s upper seating area to catch some of the opening Maclay and Medal equitation classes in the indoor ring. Other than the small amount of area in the ring at the gate, the only place to watch the indoor is behind glass upstairs. The surroundings are nice, but it feels strange to not be able to hear any of the activity in the ring and to clap after a round when the riders can’t hear you. The indoor ring looks a little crowded from above, but there weren’t too many traffic jams during the flat classes. The start of my day was also especially exciting because three of my good rider friends, Colette, Adele, and Maddie, placed 1st, 2nd, and 6th in the Maclay, which was amazing except that nobody could hear my clapping from behind the glass so I had to resort to texting them the confetti celebration emoji.
As the morning continued there were signs the weekend had truly started because non-horse people began to arrive. One of my favorite moments was a very young girl walking in to the show with her family as she clutched her Breyer horse, about to see some new tricks in person that she could surely then try out at home. There were also lots of family-friendly activities today from face painting to a great Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Social hosted by Pegasus (I went with Americone Dream, and it was delicious, btw).
The main event of the day was a blink-and-you-might-miss-it Speed Derby at the Grand Prix ring at 12pm. There was also a nice “cocktail party” hosted by KEP with hors d’oerves and mimosas—something I am sure many of the parents appreciated. The sun finally came out, briefly, as the winners did their victory laps for the Derby.
The $5,000 OSF Eq Challenge was the culminating event of today’s #EqMarathon. Because there were so many equitation classes throughout the day and the Eq Challenge was not set to start until 5pm, there was plenty of chatter amongst riders leading up to it, for example, “Are you doing the Eq challenge later?” “Yea, unfortunately. My horse needs to go to bed.”
Twenty-seven total entries made it to the start of the 5pm Equitation Challenge, which kicked off as the rest of the show grounds were winding down for the day. The Challenge consisted of a first course of 13 jumps with a time allowed of 80 seconds, and then the top 12 in the class were invited back for a second course of 10 jumps. While waiting for the riders to complete the course walk, there were lots of comments from parents and riders that having four equitation classes in one day was really pushing it. The Challenge course itself also showed no mercy for tired riders and horses – there were several very large and wide oxers, a water jump, bending lines, rollbacks, a combination, and several tricky turns that were necessary to complete the course within the time allowed. Not to mention, the class occurred at the very end of the day, and the sky and ring grew progressively darker until the conclusion of the class at 7:15pm.
After the first round, there was a general reaction of, “Wait, what??!?!?!” from both riders and spectators to the time allowed, which at first seemed almost impossible to stay within. Victoria Press, who rode fourth in the order, was the first rider to complete the course within this time allowed, at 75.760 seconds and a first round score of 88. Press eliminated time in two key areas of the course – the first being a very tricky, tight rollback immediately upon landing from jump 9, which was set 4 strides out from a 2-to-a-1 yellow combination. This rollback turn required riders to work mid-air in order to avoid running straight into a strategically placed log and course timer; it also demanded the riders remain organized as most then hit jump 10 at an angle before continuing a bending six strides to jump 11, where they had to immediately make their next move at the second most strategic place to save time on course – upon landing from jump 11, the fastest riders cut through the yellow combination to another sharp right before getting straight to the final line – one large oxer, and then five strides to the last large oxer of the course (and breathe.) Madison Goetzmann followed Press’s round and was one of four riders earning scores in the 90s during the first round – Lucy Deslauriers, Ali Trischler, and Victoria Colvin following suit with scores in the 90s as well.
The water jump presented the most problems on course, and I eventually lost track of the number of refusals – no doubt also due in part to a very demanding day for both horses and riders. I mean, do you really feel like jumping over a body of water after a long day? OSF really pulled out all the stops for the Eq Challenge, including a full course change for the second round – and a second course walk for the top 12 riders, who returned to compete in reverse order of their standings. The top 5 riders going into the second round were Lucy Deslauriers, Ali Trischler, Madison Goetzmann, Victoria Colvin, and Meredith Darst. Madison, Katherine Strauss and Sophie Michaels had especially beautiful, flowing second rounds that stood out from the rest of the field that returned, earning them high scores of 88.5, 88 and 89.
However, in the end, you can’t say “Victory” without Tori, and it was Victoria Colvin who rode away with another win as she nailed her second round with a score of 92. While several of the other top riders in the class had flawless rounds, the note that I wrote myself after watching Victoria’s round was simply “stylish turns.” Not only did Victoria take all of the inside options the second course presented, she had especially beautiful tight and tidy turns to jumps 6 and 9 that were not demanded by the course, but she added with style anyway. She was rewarded by moving up from fourth to claim first.
One EqMom who I overheard sitting nearby summed up today’s #EqMarathon in the words of a true horse show parent: “I just like that my child didn’t die.”
Don’t forget that it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow.
See you all again at the show in the morning – it will be my last day, so please say hi if you can! I’m very excited to head to Kentucky on Monday and to share another spring show with you all. For coverage of Day 4, click here!