Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Marlborough Horse Trials

What a weekend!  The weather couldn't have been better; the footing was perfect; and Marlborough Horse Trials was glorious!  This was my first experience really being a part of the "behind the judges box and XC flags" team that puts on an event. Over the years, I've jump judged, scribed, ring stewarded - done all the critical jobs that let you show up, put in one heck of a long day, eat a free lunch, and go home.  As a new member of the Marlborough Horse Trials Board, I have a whole new appreciation for the incredible amount of work that goes into hosting an event.  Thankfully my job as Cross Country Chair let me do the bulk of my work over the past month, so when it came to showtime, I really enjoyed sitting back and watching it all fall into place!

The Beautiful Marlborough Horse Trials at Rosaryville Park.  Right to left - dressage rings, show jumping, and XC in the distance.

Golightly students Zoe Nardo on Rachel (just finishing their first Training level dressage test!), me, Kerry York and Atticus (who is finally able to RIDE her Training level dressage test and not just survive!) and Kirsten of Shear Convenience (braider extraordinaire!).

Show Jumping Field
Zoe & Kerry with Kirsten - while some horses get psyched up for jumping (Rachel), others take a power nap (Atticus)
The front pavilion field of the XC course.

I'm proud to report that Marlborough HT was not only a great event, but it was a great event for Golightly students too!  A huge congratulations to Kerry and Atticus for finishing 3rd in a very competitive Training level class!  And a big WOO HOO! to Zoe and Rachel who completed their first Training level event, without any drama (well, only a little drama in the last part of the dressage test, but at least it was only the last little bit that turned into "Rachel's dramatic interpretation of dressage"!!!).  WELL DONE LADIES!!!

The beautiful bank/hill combinations

Super cool volunteer hats this year!  Thanks Cosequin!  And a huge thanks to Patuxent Nursery for the amazing decorations found all over dressage, sj, and XC - fall is in the air!

When I agreed to serve as XC Chair, I thought the job description pretty much included one task: flag all jumps.  That didn't sound too hard.  What I've learned is: 1) it isn't easy; 2) a battery powered big screwdriver is your friend; 3) a truck full of volunteers is priceless; and 4) calculus did not prepare me for the complexities of counting from 1-20 (red flag, green flag, yellow flag, white flag... A,B,C, or one A and 2 Bs... and black flags too - I'm feeling there may be a Dr. Suess book in there someplace!).

And, sort of as a result of being the right/wrong person, in the right/wrong place, and the right/wrong time... my duties expanded in the matter of a moment when Roger Haller officially delegated responsibility for the Marlborough HT Introductory XC course design to me.  OH MY! My first chance to "design" a competition course... 10 jumps, max height 2'3".  The pressure was really on!  There was a bit of a pinch to find suitable obstacles, and Tyson Rementer (course builder) was so helpful in his creative use of logs luckily discovered here and there in the woods.  I would have liked to have done some things differently, and I hope I get the chance for a repeat design engagement next year - but the biggest thing I learned in course design this year: IF YOU THINK IT'S OBVIOUS WHAT A HORSE/RIDER WILL DO, IT'S NOT.  I've read countless accounts of Olympic riders "back in the day" who took it as a challenge to find clever (and ridiculous) short cuts (especially on roads and tracks) that the course designer had missed blocking off and that would give them seconds or minutes advantage.  I always laughed.  Until I watched the Intro horses ride on Sunday!!  Everything was going great, until I got back to the far field and realized that I had made a tiny error in judgement about 2 tiny gaps in the tree line.  Turned out, either one was usable both coming and going, and should the riders select the same path as one was coming and the other was going - agh!  Luckily, someone on our team had the foresight to recognize this little crink in my clever design plans and placed some galloping lane ropes around.  Mental note...  Intro horses and riders, not so much understand galloping lane ropes.  It was actually quite clever the way the navigated the ropes (a bit like a corn maze!), eventually found their way to the next jump from an entirely different direction than I had intended, and all riders safely avoided running into each other!  I've already made a note for improvements there next year!!!

Like any good "course designer", I was very excited to see how my course rode - did my 10 little jumps challenge in the right ways; did they reward in the right ways?  So, I headed out with my video camera to see how everything rode - and now, for all those who think you might consider entering Intro level next year at Marlborough Horse Trials...  here's a little taste of what to expect -

And now for some real fun - my friend and fellow Board member, Diane Zrimsek aboard Lincoln, got a great helmet cam of the Training level course (and Diane came home with a pretty red ribbon at the end of the day - woo hoo!):


  1. I love the kid riding around intro with no stirrups - was that intentional? And I also love the how well the rider on the pinto in the intro video encouraged the horse to go into the water. So cute.

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