Friday, April 25, 2008

Girl Power!

As of yesterday, Becky Holder and Courageous Comet had a commanding lead--more than 10 points lower than anyone else. While that's not quite a refusal or run out, it's more than two rails, and all of those things come into play in the events to come.

But day two of dressage saw some excellent rides, and like 2006 it's the women who are leading the way.

Until the last two riders, in fact, the first five places were women. Becky Holder held on to her first place ride, but Heidi White (whose Norther Spy is apparently stabled right next to Courageous Comet) gave her a run for her money with a score of 40.6, just barely over a point difference. She and Northern Spy flew under the radar two years ago to come in second at Rolex, and I think she's got the stamina and determination to be consistent once again and give Becky a run for her money.

Corinne Ashton, riding her chestnut thoroughbred Dobbin (another TB who thinks he's a warmblood) had a really strong, consistent test. She's another one who's been to Rolex before (with this same horse), and her experience is showing. She and her horse aren't rattled, and they came in to give a workmanlike performance.

Young rider Emilee Libby on beautiful Cahir, a lovely bay with a quirky stripe, did quite well, too, though the judge at H didn't see what the other two did--she was one of the few who had very disperate scores. Two of the three judges scored her quite highly, while one didn't see what they saw (or, perhaps, saw something else). Regardless, this talented young lady is sitting in sixth going into the cross country day.

The last two riders of the day were Stephen Bradley on From and Phillip Dutton on Connnaught, and both of them came with a score to settle with the women in the lead. From had some amazing trot work and a really nice test (with the exception of some odd lead changes behind) and he snuck into third place in front of Corinne Ashton and Dobbin. Phillip Dutton, the consumate professional (and also wearing perhaps the tallest hat of all the men...hmmm, does that mean anything?) had a consistent, workmanlike test that was a pleasure to watch, and he slid in front of Bradley with the last ride of the day to finish third after dressage. I honestly think he MIGHT have given Becky and Heidi a run for his money if his flying lead changes to the left hadn't been leaps. His lead changes to the right were perfect.

Once again, I was impressed with Dutton's relaxed seat and excellent hands. I've heard he's not the most nurturing teacher, but I think watching him for an extended period of time would be a superb learning experience.

So it's the ladies in the lead! I saw Heidi White sitting next the the Charles Owen booth, and I congratulated her on her score, and told her I was pulling for her and Becky. She said this year was the year of the woman at Rolex. Let's hope she's prophetic!

Two high points today: first, I got to meet my hero of all time, Jimmy Wofford, at the Practical Horseman booth. Surprisingly, there wasn't a huge line, so I chatted with him for a few minutes. I said "hello" from a friend of his (and mine), Day Acton, and when I asked for advice about eventing in Texas he replied "ride early, and get a fast truck". Wise man, that Jimmy! I hope one day to be able to take a clinic/lesson with him. The things he knows just blow me away. What a horseman! Donna was kind enough to take my picture with him, so as soon as I get it downloaded, I'll post it. Of course, it's on my brother's camera, so that could take a while....yesterday, I used my little tiny camera to take pictures, and was wistfully eyeing all the fine cameras that the professionals were using. Donna suggested that perhaps I had camera/lens envy, which was true. But Larry lent me a cannon with a respectable length lens, so I'm happy now. AND I should have some great shots for XC and stadium!

I watched the last two rides in the Equestrian tent (listening to Sally O'Conner's insightful commentary), and while there I met some lovely folks from Terre Haute, IN: Melony (the mom, who's a lawyer and who rides dressage), and her daughters, Olivia and Ali. All of them were going to be crossing guards for the cross country phase on Saturday. Both girls have done some hunter/jumpers, and now they're starting to event (and they love it). I'm really impressed that they are learning to contribute to the sport from the beginning as volunteers--Yeah for them! Crossing Guards are some of the hardest working volunteers, and I know they'll do an excellent job. And here's to the girls of the future!

I also got to meet the famous Denny Emerson at Bit of Britain, ever so briefly. I LOVE his posts on the Chronicle of the Horse forum, and he's probably got as much good stuff in his head as Jimmy Wofford. Can you imagine getting them BOTH to talk? Talk about heaven....the mind boggles at such a thought!

I attended the fence judge briefing with Carolyn Borgert, who's amazing, and I'll be at Fence 11, the Sunken Road. I'm very excited once again to be a very small part of such an incredible event. To see these athletes go over this and the surrounding obstacles will be humbling, amazing, and thrilling I'm sure.

Until tomorrow.....

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