Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fair Hill International 3* (moar photo spam! + blogger meet up!)

I really hope you're not tired of these uber picture heavy posts yet, bc here's another... And alas my standard photo quality doesn't hold a flame to the nice pics I shared from Austen, nor will it likely hold up against the pictures Britt took. But. Well. It's what I got so we're going with it! 

It was such a perfect day - Alli (and her adorable pup Max!) and I met up at Fair Hill to catch the 3* cross country. The Miseventer was out and about too, along with one of her friends who was on the awards committee, and as such could give us the inside scoop on the course and how everything was supposed to go. 
This was my first time spectating at an upper level competition - previously the highest level I'd watched with my own eyes was prelim at the MCTA HT at Shawan Downs. So actually being able to get up close and personal with these fences... well, it was intense haha. Neither Alli nor I thought much about the idea of *actually* jumping one of these skinny angled brush fences haha. 
We ran into Britt too! That was especially cool bc she was able to tell us all about some insider knowledge on some of the riders and horses (cough, Forrest Nymph, cough). Read her post here for all the awesome details. So nice to meet you Britt - hope you enjoyed your time in Maryland!
But of course you probably want to know about some of the action too :) Pretty sure this is Ellen Doughty Hume and Sir Oberon.
We tried to catch as much of the course as possible and moved around the different combinations. This particular coffin combo - Rebecca's Rails - was especially harrowing. We actually didn't see any issues here tho, beyond one rider going for the option instead of the direct route. This might be Cooley Cross Border and Kim Severson. 
Horses were slowing waaayyyyyyy down on approach - some of them seemed even slower than a typical show jumping speed. Crackerjack was raring to go with Boyd Martin.
But for the most part the riders made it look easy - especially Phillip Dutton, pictured here with Mighty Nice (and who we had the privilege of seeing on a couple different horses through the day).
Maximus!!!!!! Also check out Alli's awesome boots. 
There were a couple tailgate areas set up close to fences of interest as well. Like this large seating area near the food vendors. And ya know, just this MASSIVE table. Nbd. 
There was plenty else to look at too, beyond the competitors and obstacles. Like all the outriders, who were dressed to the nines with their horses groomed to perfection.
This is Piney!! The giant white mule with 12" ears!! He was suuuuuuper sweet too :)  (as was the appy Memphis, pictured behind Piney)
Check out his awesomely braided tail too! This guy was definitely hard to miss haha.
We also got to see a couple competitors up close in somewhat unfortunate circumstances - as in, on the long walk back to the stabling after retiring (or otherwise) on course. I think this is Jessica Phoenix and A Little Romance. So very sorry but I've misplaced my competitors list and therefore can't confirm who all of these riders pictured are. Which is annoying bc I probably knew who it was at the time of snapping the pic... but alas, memory is a fickle thing. But if you recognize a face lmk!!
Another incredible thing was watching riders walk the course throughout the day. This particular competitor looks so nonchalant, right? Just like, "oh nbd, just a massive fucking corner. Lah di dah, yay cross country!"
This combo was neat too - with a sunken road leading immediately up a steep (but short) hill to a skinny twisted log. And actually, it's one of those fences where we mere mortals look at it and think, well, put it on a long straight galloping path, give it some of those big steeplechase wings, and give me a stout shot of liquor , and mayyyyybe I could do it haha. Pretty sure this is Marilyn Little jumping with RF West Indie.
Owl hole! We stayed at this combo long enough to watch a couple riders. This particular view was neat bc you can see the 2* path on the right side - that red skinny to the duck to the brush coming towards the camera. And the 3* ran in the opposite direction - finishing at the corner just visible at the rider's left shoulder (I think it might be Lillian Heard?) through the owl hole. 
More owl hole!!! 
And then the corner. Nbd. Muggle, Nilson Moreira da Silva's huge chestnut, obviously was not particularly impressed haha.
You can see why this was a popular tailgate area tho - definitely prime for spectating!
This was also the area where we spotted a certain someone's coach walking around sporting quite the mask! #alwaysbeaunicorn
All the jumps for the following day's stadium course were laid out and ready to go next to the main arena.
Which, that arena was INSANE by the way. These jumps were f*ing HUGE - even from such a distance. Just look at that corner! Incredible. 
This line was kinda interesting too - the jumps (again, massive) were set on a bit of an angle so we saw riders getting variable striding depending on how much bend they put in. I can't even imagine walking that line trying to come up with a plan. Nope haha.
But obviously I CAN imagine being ridiculous in the children's play area with Alli. I mean, we do both ride ponies (or almost-ponies, in Isabel's case) so this felt fitting haha.
And I can also imagine poring longingly over some of the many fine saddles on display at the vendor tents...
But to protect my own sanity I just snapped these pics on the go and didn't get close enough to risk losing will power lol.
Ooh and we just so happened to come across the Equiery's tailgate. They had food and beverages (of the adult variety, too!) and tables for anyone who want to stop by and enjoy the view!
Which was pretty spectacular in itself - they were positioned to see a giant oxer that rode in a bending line to those angled brush fences from the first couple pictures of this post. The angle was insane, but riders like Werner Geven (pictured here in bright pink instead of his typical orange in support of breast cancer month and his wife) made it look easy. 
Unfortunately Werner was pulled up immediately after the combo - we initially thought there was a hold on course, but it turned out he was eliminated. I'm not totally clear on the circumstances since all we saw was how he came through this combo, but perhaps he missed a fence somewhere along the way? Idk, it was a shame tho.
Food from the Equiery. And also a pretty clear example of how there are two kinds of people in this world haha. I'll take my fried chicken and cheese thank you very much, and the Miseventer can have her veggies. lol
More sweet jumps!! This particular roll top or mushroom or table or whatever you want to call it, was on the 2* course - but I just loved all the farm yard animal decorations!
Especially the cat. Obviously lol.
The 3* course had these corners for their barnyard themed combo. And can you believe the angle on these jumps? I seriously cannot fathom threading a line through there... tho we saw Colleen Rutledge get through and make it look pretty easy in the process, so... yea. Impressive!
Another 2* fence - but look how cute!!! Fishies!!!
We finished the day off at two side by side water combos near the start gate. This line above was the Frog Pond - fence 5 - that started with a log into the water, then over the duck, then over a skinny brush fence. I think this rider is Joe Meyer, maybe with Clip Clop?
Which Phillip and Fernhill Cubalawn handled easily.
I loved the duck's reflection in the water! 
Here comes Phillip back through the other side - fence 24 that had a brush fence into the water to an arrowhead to a big table. This area was super convenient for spectating bc we could run back and forth to catch the same competitors as they looped through the course.
Arrowhead in the water! Ryan Wood and Fernhill Classic made it look easy too. Also check out all those geese decorations on the old ruined structure. Hard to tell but there are also 'nesting geese' in all the trees and along the banks. Seriously cute decorations!
Boyd Martin and Blackfoot Mystery and the Duuuuuckkkk!!!!
And Boyd finishes up the day as the final competitor over the C element of this combo. (also of note - he went through the combo with only one stirrup... crazy!)

And obviously I took a ton of video clips to create a fun little compilation video if you have any interest in seeing any of these riders in action :)

But yea it was an awesome day and I had so much fun wandering around with our little group. It was an especially perfect remedy for the stress and tension that had been building up inside me in anticipation of the following day's event at Loch Moy. Seeing all these pros canter around giant obstacles was nothing short of inspiring, and spending time with friends was just what I needed to chill out and relax a little bit.

Can't wait to do it again next year!

51 comments:

  1. I'm sooooo jealous. It looks like such a fun time! Werner was the first upper level eventer I ever met. I fan girled a bit when I saw your pics :)

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    1. oh how cool! i've really met like, zero upper level riders haha (except for my coach, but does that even count?). it was a lot of fun geeking out over them all the same tho!

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    2. My introduction to Werner was watching him talk to A and warm up his horse for stadium. He was turned around talking as his horse jumped a fence, and he did it like it was nothing. I also really like him because he always makes time to help S out at events even though he is riding a ton of horses and has his students riding. Basically, it's everything that is awesome about eventing.
      And your coach totally counts! He seems pretty awesome and I would love to lesson with him.

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    3. wow werner sounds like a great guy! it was such a shame to see him get pulled up - in digging around a little more i think he missed the flags on an earlier obstacle and got a TE because of it. what a bummer! also dan is pretty great to ride with - he's actually relocating to PA next spring but thankfully says he'll still come down to teach me. phew, crisis averted!

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    4. That is awesome he will still come back. It sucks when a good coach leaves.

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  2. I was soooo bummed to miss cross-country day this year. We went for show jumping but it's just not the same.

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    1. aww boo, i wondered if you were there! it was a great day!

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    2. We go EVERY year, but I got hooked up with free VIP tickets to Maryland Million this year. Which was pretty cool, too.

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    3. oooh i've never been to the maryland million either - sounds fun tho!

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  3. Glad you had a fun day! I love watching the upper level stuff, which is why I volunteer as a jump judge at Jersey Fresh every year: you get to watch Olympic riders do their thing on XC, and realizing just how HUGE the jumps are!

    I can't help with identifying any of the riders you have pictured, except Boyd with his signature striped helmet. But if you check out his Instagram, there's a picture of his newborn son wearing the same outfit.....you'll die of cuteness! :)

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    1. yup i saw that baby pic. it's adorable!

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  4. Makes me miss Fair Hill, one of my favorite places ever. Oh, and I bought your RW gift card yesterday, hopefully you got it or will get it today! When she's got that mask half on you're like.. is it Amanda Merrit, or is it Uni... AM or Uni... AM or Uni... small world though!

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    1. you're just gonna have to make it up here one year to watch - it's so fun! and spotting your trainer was awesome lol - like, oooooh there she is! lol. haven't gotten the RW card yet but will let you know :)

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  5. Lurve the mule! I think I need one. And a ffjord. And all the other Grabby hand quadripeds I want...

    Oh dear it looks like it's getting chilly there. Guess you can tell I live way more south, eh?

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    1. i loved that mule too!! he was so sweet! and yea it was a chilly day haha... we got our first real frost over night too. brrr!

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  6. Lurve the mule! I think I need one. And a ffjord. And all the other Grabby hand quadripeds I want...

    Oh dear it looks like it's getting chilly there. Guess you can tell I live way more south, eh?

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  7. That is an event on my list to get to! Looks like so much fun!

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    1. it really was so much fun! i had never been before but will definitely want to go back. it was a very nice change of pace too - just got to stroll around and enjoy the atmosphere!

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  8. I think that keyhole is one of the most hated jumps among the riders. It's been traveling from event to event for years now (I've been grooming for Trainer at the 2*/3* events for a couple years now) and she's said that the riders don't like it- it's caused a ton of problems at some events, to the point it's been pulled from the course for safety reasons.

    I am so sad I missed the Fair Hill trade fair! I was looking forward to it this year to get some of my winter riding stuff either on sale or with freebies.

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    1. yea i can imagine why it causes so many issues. and then of course we got word while on course that WFP had his fall at a similar jump... scary stuff. and bummer you had to miss fair hill too! i managed to not do any shopping tho either (which is probably a good thing haha!)

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    2. The shopping wasn't that great - you didn't miss much. If you wanted a brand new super expensive saddle or Dubarrys, you were set, but everything else was just *stuff* :(

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    3. that was kinda the impression i got just cruising around, so i didn't bother looking too closely at anything. i'm broke anyway haha so it all worked out :)

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  9. See, you're just making me want to go to Galway and I CAN'T. Damn.

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  10. ahhhh so jealous and bummed I couldn't come up with you. Silly work and lessons getting in the way :( Great photos though!!

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    1. you definitely have to come next year! we had a really nice time!

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  11. Ahh this was such a fun day! Can't wait for our next adventure! :)

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  12. I'm not a big eventing fan, but going to a large event like this looks super fun!

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    1. that atmosphere was excellent, the weather was good (if a little chilly), and everyone seemed to be in great spirits. what's not to love?

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  13. ;_____; jealous of the antares booth, they've abandoned us here on the west coast.

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    1. it looked pretty nice... but admittedly i didn't get close enough to actually sniff, let alone touch the leather haha

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  14. Looks like such a blast!! Glad you had a good time!

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  15. Yay! It was so nice meeting you too :) And I LOVED my time in Maryland (slash Delaware, slash Pennsylvania, slash wherever- I stopped trying to guess!)- I hope very much to be back next year!

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    1. haha sounds like you had a crazy busy - but AWESOME visit!!

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    2. PA/MD/DE is my daily commute (all 20 minutes of it). It really confuses people who don't live in that little area!

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    3. haha it's definitely a strange area geographically.... and then of course there's western maryland with WV and VA all right there too!

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    4. Totally awesome- when there is wine, horses, and friends, I don't care what state I'm in! :D

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    5. haha i couldn't agree more :)

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  16. I love Fair Hill though this year could have been a bit warmer! Glad you had a good time. Based on your pictures, we were probably in the same place a few times (though we didn't walk around as much during the 3* as we did during the 2* thanks for exhausted puppies). I loved that mule and his ears! I successfully avoided shopping (ie: spending), but I did get roped into trying on a pair of Dubarrys... I'm in love. But, not exactly in the budget right now (or ever...). Can't wait for next year either.

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    1. i heard the 2* course was pretty awesome too, tho i missed all of it entirely. funny that we were in the same places a few times too - i got that same sensation after watching the official 3* compilation video. bummer we didn't run into each other!

      also - re the dubarrys, i have the mountain horse version of those river boots and LOVE them. plus, ya know, they're a little more budget friendly :) http://fraidycateventing.blogspot.com/2015/03/review-mountain-horse-forest-highlander.html

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    2. I have a pair of dublins and I really like them (held up for 2-3 years now) but until I tried the dubarrys... I guess that's why you don't try on things you can't afford!

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    3. hahaha yeaahhhh that's totally fair ;)

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  17. Replies
    1. i'm super happy i went - and will definitely go again!

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  18. Those jumps are super impressive and terrifying! Looks like a really fun day. Love all the pictures!

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    1. omg right? i seriously can't ever imagine pointing isabel at those fences... terrifying indeed!!! so fun to watch tho, and definitely made the next day's novice course look all that much more friendly :)

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