Tuesday, May 3, 2016

That thing is F*ing giant!! Rolex edition

Phew - ok, onto the last of my Rolex pics!!! Well.... not really, but the last that I'm posting in this little series. It's a lot of pictures of jumps, which, if you were glued to the live stream this past weekend, or following along on Eventing Nation you've already seen the same jumps in much nicer quality photos.

This be my blog tho, so I'm posting my pics. Hope you enjoy haha.

I got to walk essentially the entire course a few times over between sneaking out during dressage day 2, watching cross country run, and then finally getting up close and personal with all the fences at the end of the day on Saturday.  

These photos therefore reflect the very different weather conditions haha. Sunny and dry on Friday, rainy on Saturday. It honestly wasn't too bad out on Saturday, but I was very happy to have had the chance to look around ahead of time. And ogle the giant monstrosities like this ditch and wall. F*ing Giant. Can you even imagine?

Moving right on along, we sought to find our tail gate location while walking about, and discovered that it was in prime real estate - in close proximity to this new water combination, that giant log from above, and a giant screen for our viewing pleasure. Not bad!! 

It was also cool walking around seeing all the other obstacle types strewn about the property - including what were certainly BN and N sized fences, and combined driving gates (visible in the top left corner above).

The little jumps didn't even look like they were from the same galaxy as these 4* fences. I mean, how does one even fathom approaching this double brush table? And I thought the same fence type on my BN course a couple weeks ago was big haha. 

Meanwhile, all the pros were out and about walking their courses (incomprehensible to me haha) and it was funny seeing how they all chose their lines. Obviously there was solid agreement among all the many riders on the best track for this triple combination haha. 

These hedges are always impressive too, especially with the tricky terrain.

Mostly tho, the most fun part of walking around was just soaking up the atmosphere and getting a lay of the land. The venue was surprisingly easy to navigate (that giant stadium in the middle helps haha) and the course was laid out such that all the big combinations of interest were fairly easy to get to from one to the next - with the longer galloping stretches going away from the crowd in the center. 

It was fun looking at all the decorations too. Tho immediately after cross country wrapped, volunteers were out ripping up all these flowers. Perhaps they were reused as stadium decorations? 

The head of the lake fixture was kinda crazy to behold. Somehow it doesn't look at all in person how it looks on tv. Like, sure, the jumps on course are insane and the lines demand exact precision... but what you might not realize is that the water is also surrounded by way more friendly little banks and ramps for getting in and out. It struck me as a place where I'd LOVE to school water. Maybe one day haha. 

Anyways, we walked about half the course on Friday, then were up bright and early to get into our tail gate on Saturday to see the action unfold. The weather was unfortunately a bit soggy, but temperatures held mostly steady and there wasn't any wind. Plus it never really poured.

All the same, tho - it made for a very different picture from the previous day. As did the thronging crowds - the place was just FILLED with spectators and dogs and kids and golf carts and grills and tents and all of the things that make for a great day of watching the horses go. 

And we were obviously armed and ready with champagne, beer, and RAIN GEAR haha. 

Because it was only a brief wait until the action started in earnest. My goals were twofold: see all the horses go, and see all the jumps ridden. And I was mostly successful (only bummer was having to wait in the long long LONG lines for the bathrooms...). Of course seeing my hero Phillip go through multiple times on his three horses made it all worth it!
 
The coffin was particularly insane to watch - as it's demonstrated here by Buck Davidson. 

I got to walk the lines after the riding was finished, and this first section walked in 21' - a compressed one stride. Compressed but FORWARD, bc you had to make it up to the C element in no uncertain terms. 

Because that sucker was GIANT. 

Plus a drop on landing for shits and giggles, natch.

Human being for reference. Giant and UPRIGHT. Seriously. And yet while a few struggled here (infamously and deeply regrettably, Allison Springer and Arthur) - it seemed to ride more or less ok if you had the horse really spring forward from the ditch. 

Another potentially tricky combination was the market moguls - shown here ridden by Mackenna Shea and Landioso over the B element.  

She made it look freakin easy.

Awesome to see her have such a solid ride through after their disappointing (and scary) fall last year!

Sadly I actually have very few other photos of riders navigating the course, as the rain made it tricky. Plus it was liberating in a way to just sit back and enjoy the show! 

An especially interesting part of walking the course afterwards was just how normal some of it felt. Like walking the distances. This might sound stupid, but I always kinda feel like the pros must always do things a bit differently from how I can. But then walking this line in a very honest one stride distance made it seem almost attainable, almost realistic. (Let's just forget about the blind turn down the steep mound immediately before. Oh, and the fact that they're giant lol).


And obviously Kaitlyn and I had to pose for pictures at the head of the lake when it was all said and done. 

Because how could we deprive you of this awesome perspective of the dragon?!? 

Sunday was another early morning so we could get there in time for the jog and then another couple hours of shopping. Totally worth it! Then we got to our seats in the bleachers. The view was FANTASTIC - we could see just exactly how straight each rider was down the mountainous in-and-out, then to the oxer beyond. 

Plus we were right up close and personal with the triple combination on the far end of the ring - ridden here by PDutty again. 

Luckily we were able to move over to the covered stadium seating just before the rain struck - tho it made the pictures somewhat harder to snag bc of the greater distance. All the same - it was breathtaking to watch everyone go through. Like Elisa Wallace and Johnny above - who were clearly a crowd favorite. As were Lainey Ashker and Al. 

Really, tho - everyone was on the edge of their seats for the entire round of jumping. So much cheering and enthusiasm! Or disappointment when a horse took a rail... Plus Sally O'Connor's commentary in the headphones was priceless - lots of "Oh dear, oh dear oh dear" haha, but also pointing out when she saw a horse she really liked - when they were round and into the bridle. Yup, I like that too Sally haha!
Of course you all know who won the show by now - Michael Jung and Fisherrocana, pictured above. What a pair - and how awesome to see them go!!

I honestly wasn't sure how the whole Rolex trip would go - esp with the new job and travel schedule. It obviously put a little bit of a damper on working with Isabel in preparation for our event this weekend (omg so soon!). But I am SO GLAD I went - what an experience!! Definitely want to go again next year :D

36 comments:

  1. I didn't watch the livestream so I appreciate all the pics! Those fences are huge and how fun, glad you got to go!

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    1. I'm really glad I got to go too -- will definitely do again!

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    2. you can watch everything on demand still tho!!

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    3. I definitely plan on watching a couple rounds on demand when I have a chance - plus there's still a few helmet cam rounds that I'm dying to watch!!!

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    1. Haha yeah. I'm watching Doug Payne's helmet cam/video and just like NOPE. I have no idea why people do that. NONE.

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    2. Haha yea.... I mean I love the thrill of it and the technicality and all of it... But I have a limit lol

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  3. The commentary was awesome. She was great for dressage as well. She mentioned that Mark todd came to Rolex for the first time (many years ago) without a groom and said he didn't need a groom. She said nope, this is an international competition, you need grooms and she lent him her kids. She also said that Phillip Dutton could ride a cow around dressage and be good at it. So worth the $ to get the commentary.

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    1. Oh man I agree completely - that commentary was solid gold lol. Glad you enjoyed it!!

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  4. Gah those fences are huge! I have zero desire to jump that big (although if I had started jumping as a child it might have been different). I love these Rolex posts :)

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    1. Some people just aren't scared of it I guess. Starting early probably helps tho haha

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  5. That sounds like an epic adventure!! Love the tailgating

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    1. Ha I love the tail gating too!!! Kinda wish we had spent more time there but there was too much else to see!!

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  6. I caught most of it live - such FUN! and those jumps......*GULP*

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    1. Ha that pretty much sums it up :)

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  7. I went two years ago and seeing all these pics has me dying to go back!!!

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    1. It was definitely a blast! I loved fair hill too but this was something special

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  8. I got to walk the course with my trainer last year (actually up to the fences because I was there on Wednesday dropping off things she wanted from home- I may have also snuck into stabling hehe), and the lines are surprisingly doable. I mean, everything is freaking huge, but I was able to read and understand the questions with my own riding experience and then walking the various 3* courses with trainer in the past. I doubt I'd be able to answer them, but at least I read the question properly! Haha! Also, when we got to the head of the lake, Trainer and I were both like, "We thought it would be bigger." Thoughts?

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    1. yea it's interesting - that's pretty much how i felt too. somehow getting up close and personal to it reaffirmed that YES, it is definitely beyond my skill set (DUH, right? lol). but also YES i actually do understand what the questions are and can start scratching the surface at how they should hypothetically be ridden. kinda cool!!

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  9. Wow, so cool. Rolex is on my must-do list, love all the inside info :)

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    1. it's definitely a must do!! wish i had more insider knowledge to offer too, maybe one day haha

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  10. Love all the pictures. Totally random, but you seriously have the coolest hair (I've only ever seen pictures with your helmet on! Sounds like such a fun trip!

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    1. ha thanks! that's actually what ppl say to me irl too - like, 'wow that's a lot of hair, would have never guessed by always seeing you in your helmet' lol

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  11. Yep, huge fences! The reason why I ultimately chose dressage over eventing was that Grand Prix dressage didn't make me want to vomit like Rolex did. Looks like you had a great time!! I really want to go next year, I had wanted to plan on going this year but finances slowed me down. Next year though...

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    1. yea... i know what you mean. tho honestly the upper levels of dressage feel equally alien to me. but i guess you're right - they're not quite as barf-inducing haha ;)

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    2. Next year you'll join the Great Blogger Migration to Rolex!!!

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    3. oooh yes it'll be a thing!

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  12. I livestreamed nearly all of the dressage and some of the show jumping; missed all of xc since Saturday was barn day. Did you see the aerial video of the course walkthrough? Just watching that exhausted me haha

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    1. ha no i didn't see the aerial footage but have no doubt that i could feel daunting!! just walking the course was wild - there's SO MUCH terrain!!!

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  13. I saw the bobble with Allison Springer and Arthur and it was heartbreaking. So glad to hear you saw all the things!

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    1. i didn't see it - just heard about it after (and couldnt' fathom how she managed to fit 2 strides in there without planning to go for the option... not like i wouldn't have personally tried to fit in like 5-6 strides myself lol)

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  14. Love this! Rolex is so amazing! I want to be part of a blogger meetup part 2 at Rolex next year!

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    1. Oh, and Arthur. So many things to say about that horse. Love him, but so many mixed feelings there too.

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  15. I'm so glad you went and had a great time! Those fences are 110% horrifying, and seeing how big they are with actual humans standing next to them makes 4* riders seem like magical beings. #BNforever.

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  16. So glad you had a great time! Some day...

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