While I definitely was a little sad about missing LRK3DE again this year in person, I was really grateful for the live stream. It’s pretty awesome to be able to follow along with every step of the action, live, over the entire 4 days. What did we even DO before live streams???
First of all, I have to fess up – go ahead and label me a traitor if you want, but by the time we got down to the final 2 in show jumping, I was rooting for Ollie. Yeah I know, I’m severely in the minority. But I love that horse, especially because we have one coming next year by the same sire (Ramiro B) and out of an even more blooded mare than the dam of Cooley Master Class. I’m excited about the foal, and I thought it was pretty neat to see a repeat win for Ollie’s horse, who was absolutely on fire all weekend. Even if it means I get kicked out of America for not rooting for Boyd.
I also liked the commentators on the live stream, for the most part. Specifically the lack of KOC was nice, I have never enjoyed listening to her or her obvious favoritism. I think Doug Payne was my favorite of the rotating dressage commentators this time around, but most of them were fun to listen to and did a good job. Didn’t really love Laura’s showjumping commentary though, it was a little boring. Kinda felt like “they’re gonna want to rebalance here” and “he/she got away with it” on repeat, with a lot of silence in between. Given her experience in pure showjumping it seems like they could have gotten some good conversation there but I thought it fell a bit flat.
I was glad to see so many helmets in dressage, with 88% of riders choosing them over a top hat. I have to admit, I think top hats just look goofy AF these days, and it’s so rare to see an American rider in one that I do a double take. It makes me happy to see so many people that care more about protecting their melons than they do about “fashion” or relatively silly traditional attire.
The best part of the dressage, though? Ollie’s salute. I was DYING. He’s like “Did you bitches see that? YEAH YOU DID. BAM!”. I want to start saluting like that, maybe the confidence will help my scores.
As for cross country day, the rides that really stand out in my head aren’t the big name guys. It’s the first timers getting it done on sheer grit, and it’s the people who have made it this far with their one special horse that they trust 110%. It’s SO fun to watch those true partnerships, like Sara Gumbiner or Allie Sacksen. They have so much faith in their horses, and their horses have so much love for the game. Their rounds might not be as picture perfect as some of the bigger names, and they might not have the scores that are competitive enough to put them top 10, but to me they are way more inspiring to watch. It gives you chills.
Fun fact: the average blood % of the top 10 finishers was 62.8%. If not for Will Coleman’s unfortunate 15 for the flag penalty that cost him 5th place, it would have been 66%.
AND THAT FLAG PENALTY IS SOME REAL STUPID BULLSHIT, I HATE IT. I understand why they put the rule in place, I really do, but I just don’t like how it’s been playing out so far this year. I’m with Will on this one, that horse tried his guts out to get himself over that fence, and the majority of his body definitely made it through the flags. The horse still had forward momentum, he made every effort to jump it with his whole body as best he could… I just don’t like a rule that punishes that. There has to be a better way. Also Will totally said on Facebook what all of us have been thinking for a while:
Moving on to showjumping, I gotta give the top 5 some serious credit, boy are they cool under pressure. I’d have been crapping myself. Boyd’s round was about as masterful as you’d want to see, at a couple jumps I’m relatively certain he picked Thomas up and literally threw him over the fence. Talk about delivering when it matters most. The man has ice in his veins.
When they cut over to interview Buck during one of the breaks, I got one of my favorite and most memorable moments of the weekend. Poor guy has yet another broken collarbone, didn’t get to finish ANY of his three super nice horses at a huge event that they’ve been aiming for for months… if anyone has the right to go hide or be upset, it was Buck. Yet there he was, collarbone taped up, watching stadium and coaching and cheering for his friends. When they interviewed him he said something along the lines of “If you want to see real bad news, turn on CNN. We are all so lucky to even be here.”. He had nothing but good things to say about his horses, the people around him, the event, and even the weather. His perspective is one to emulate, and his sportsmanship is off the charts. Much respect to Buck.
Also I tried really hard all weekend to dislike Ollie, after all that drama with him and his over-eager whip last year, but I have to say that either they’ve done a lot of work on his PR or he’s seen the light a little bit. Dude was a class act from start to finish, in a way that I haven’t really seen from Ollie before. Granted, things were going well… we’ll see what happens when things don’t go so well.
One horse that really stood out to me a lot over the weekend was Paddy the Caddy. I’ve seen him before but he REALLY looks good right now, such a classy horse. Whatever they’re doing with him, it’s working. His blip on XC was unfortunate, yet even with a 20 he still finished with only 4.8 time penalties. Once they put 3 phases together, that could be a really legit 5* horse.
I was also left feeling like, once again, the foreigners tend to have horses that are a bit less “fancy” in their gaits but much better trained and well ridden. Just like Michael Jung – none of his horses are particularly fancy, but he’s masterful at getting the absolute most out of them. Piggy’s horse isn’t a great mover, the trot especially, but her dressage test was just SO well-ridden, she got every possible point she could. It’s interesting to me, because we tend to get hearts in our eyes for those big fancy movers (like Deniro Z) and forget just how much you really can maximize a more average-moving horse. Fancy is not required.
Overall it was a great weekend of sport, a good course, and just the kind of competition you want to see. The first ever 5* was definitely a success, even if I didn’t get to see it in person. I did make a little purchase yesterday that eased some of my sadness, though…
See you in September, Burghley!!!