Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Nations Cup @ Great Meadow 3*

A couple weeks ago, Austen mentioned in passing that she was considering dropping in on the Nations Cup CIC*** at Great Meadow to spectate cross country over the weekend. Definitely sounded tempting, but alas I had a paper chase planned for that Saturday (which, obvi, more details on that soon!).

But then Megan K chimed in with the same idea, pointing out that they were actually running xc on Sunday, not Saturday. Well now. The opportunity to watch Olympic horses go round only an hour from home on a gorgeous July morning is not the kind of opportunity you pass up twice. 


So off I went - swinging by the grocery store for snacks of both salty and sweet variety (so much salty tho), and obvi nabbing Austen on the way too. Alas, forgot to grab beer. Ah well. Next time!! 

Megan had a slightly longer haul down, and had opted to arrive for stadium the day prior. She'll undoubtedly have a post of her own (complete with FAR nicer photos than mine) sooner or later right here.

We got there in enough time to familiarize ourselves with the grounds (which Megan had obvi seen the day prior) and watch the hounds and huntsman kick the show off - which you'll see clips of in the video below. And we stopped by the shopping booths later too.. Honestly not much to write home about, tho perhaps more organized than Fair Hill? Mostly just saddles. But c'mon, is this Purina set up adorable or what?!?

Mostly, tho, we were there to see some horses jump some jumps. And boy, we were NOT disappointed!

And naturally we had to ogle the impressively sized jumps too. Complete with theoretically pulling them apart and identifying just which exact fraction we'd be comfortable jumping ourselves lol. Like, for instance, take the roll top off this table and leave the bales and front rail and maybe, mayyyybe I'd jump it. haha

But yea tho. Really we just wanted to see some horses go!

And boy did they! This venue was really lovely too. Surprisingly close quarters - not nearly the same amount of ground covered by Rolex. And very easy for spectators to just stick to one area or another. 

For instance, this water complex was really popular. Probably bc there were just so many excellent places to watch from, plus some shade.

The water made for good photo ops too obvi haha.

And we found ourselves returning multiple times throughout the day. 

Really tho, if you ever want to watch some upper level horses run cross country, I definitely recommend Great Meadow as a spectator-friendly venue. Literally my only goal for the day was to see every jump ridden and watch every horse go. We totally nailed it on the jumps (tho I guess we never really got up close and personal with the first two fences on course... but those are kinda boring anyway lol). 

But unfortunately were not quite successful on seeing every horse go. Mostly bc there were a few who had falls or retired before they got to wherever we happened to be on course. Esp since we were kinda all over the place all the time lol. Like this coffin complex was a great one to watch - when done correctly it basically rode like a gymnastic exercise.

This giant hanging log tho... Holy crap. It was undoubtedly among the biggest on course.

With bonus massive drop on landing... And yet it rode super well every time we saw it!

Same story for the trakehner, bounded as it was by heavy woods and brush on either side, with a steep downhill approach in what looked like a very doable, straight forward 8 strides. Jump was imposing for sure, but seemed to ride quite well.

These houses were funny too (DO YOU SEE THE TINY ADORABLE MAIL BOX?!?) bc they basically looked like they were side by side, not set as a line at all. And yet they rode in a perfect one (and obvi Phillip Dutton makes everything look easy). Kinda wish we had stuck around long enough to walk some of these lines!


This horse was hilariously raring to go towards the curved open oxer on the far end of the course. This jump was sneaky tho - the approach was technically on rising ground, but horses had been going downhill for a long ways before getting there and tended to be slightly strung out. More than a couple activated the frangible pin on the back rail. Not this horse tho - he cleared it easily!

The combo immediately preceding the oxer was maybe one of my favorites. They hit a big ramp-like galloping fence before turning downhill, jumping a large cabin, then a forward one stride to this massive drop. 

Interestingly enough, I saw varying striding taken to the final element - the arrow above. Riders who made it through the one stride to the drop very forward got to the arrow in 4. Others, like Doug Payne and Vandyver above, who still got the one but were perhaps a touch conservative down the drop, fit in a more balanced 5. Either way seemed to work tho!

And of course, no 3* track seems complete without a hammock these days. This one demonstrated easily by Sinead Halpin and Tate.

Probably the most problematic combination on course were these GIANT double corners in the arena. Riders could choose the left or right side (left rode in 3, right maybe in 4?). But neither side was free from grief. Most regrettably, perhaps, Boyd Martin and Blackfoot Mystery picked up TWO refusals here. The second of which... is unsettling going into the Olympics. 

Mostly, tho, outside of the combinations, it was just a lot of big old galloping fences. Like this great wine cart demonstrated by Marilyn Little and RF Demeter. 

Plus it's always fun to take notice of various rider fashions and tack choices at the big shows. Most riders had to tone down their typical outfits bc of the Nations Cup team requirements... Like Lauren Keiffer very nearly escaped our notice bc she wasn't in her trademark orange. But some riders still found ways to express themselves - like the above loooovely brown boots!

But of course, where riders' outfits were maybe plainer than the norm (so much navy and white!), the jumps were anything but. This beaver was maybe my favorite on course!

Actually this whole water combination was pretty cool to watch, early as it was on course. Tho it was interesting - most horse came out of the turn from the first couple fence looking KEEN and raring to go - but then would suddenly spook and back off the in jump to the water. You can see it pretty clearly in the video below. We weren't around when Elisa Wallace came through but I'm pretty sure this is where she and Johnny parted ways - probably he spooked at the water too?

The one we just kept going back to tho was this giant oxer downhill to the trakehner, shown here by Boyd and Blackfoot Mystery. The views as a spectator were just breathtaking. It's like he's coming right for us!

Plus, of course, we got to see the eventual winner Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen cruise through on their way to victory - on the loosest rein I've ever seen at this level competition, to boot! As Austen said, it's like he just sat back, put his leg on, and told the horse 'you know your job - do it!' So cool to see trust like that! 

I am just so grateful that we even have the opportunity to impulsively hit up 3* competitions and watch Olympic riders and horses gallop around like nbd. Honestly I never really knew anything about Great Meadow - and certainly had no clue that it was so close by and fun!

But it's essentially comparable in distance to Fair Hill's 3* - and absolutely just as fun. One of these days I'll make it to Jersey Fresh and Plantation's big show too. For now, tho, next on the list is Fair Hill in October. Hopefully with Allison again like last year, and obviously Austen and Megan too bc we seriously had the BEST TIME this weekend!!!

What about you - have you ever gone to any international competitions? Do you have any nearby or is it like a journey to eventing (or whatever discipline) mecca?

46 comments:

  1. I had no idea Great Meadow was so close. Totally need to get there. I'm hoping to get to Loch Moy this weekend to watch my trainer's horse do his first 1*.

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    1. oooh good luck to your trainer! and yea great meadows was LOVELY - really really pleasant, and in some ways a bit easier than fair hill (esp parking).

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  2. One day I'm gonna make it up there for one of these things! That's some insanely athletic horseflesh.

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    1. right?!? you totally need to come up tho - fair hill in october! and apparently plantation in september?

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  3. I'm so jealous that you have the big shows so close! It sounds like a fun day.

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    1. it's just so inspiring to be so close to so many amazing riders and venues

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  4. Great photos and commentary!!

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  5. Central New Jersey is definitely horse country, and the Horse Park of NJ (that hosts Jersey Fresh 3* and a bunch of horse trials) is about 15 mins from my house. I don't event and never plan to, but I'm very lucky to have the chance to watch Olympians in my backyard!

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    1. jersey fresh is on the list for sure.... but probably not until after they have an incident-free year or two...

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  6. How cool that you have so many of the bigger tracks near to you! Our only Advanced level track around here is Millbrook, but it's still so much fun to go and watch. It's one of my usual must-dos for the summer.

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    1. ooooh yes! the bigger tracks are definitely awesome to watch - tho honestly i probably learn the most from watching the same pros take their greener horses over novice tracks lol

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  7. im probably gonna volunteer at the CIC at plantation in september - if you wanna crash with me. not sure if i'll do one or both days!

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    1. i will definitely keep that on my radar!!

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  8. Mom and I talked about going, but then we had family arrive. So I shall live through your experience :) Glad you made it down to see it all.

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    1. aw bummer you couldn't make it - it was definitely a great day!

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  9. omg why did we not have a big blogger meet up! Great Meadow is minutes from my house, and I was there with Clueless but Curious, and we met up with Shelby, we could have all found each other!
    Those giant corners were crazy to watch. We weren't over there very long, and I saw three refusals. I don't know these kinds of things well, but it looked like everyone choose the harder side and got the refusals, when the other side looked way easier.
    Loved watching the hounds in the water... they were so cute.

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    1. yea those corners were intense. the right side definitely looked easier for sure, tho there were still problems for riders who took that track too.

      also what a bummer we missed out on meeting!! next time for sure!

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  10. I'm lucky in that Spruce Meadows is within easy driving distance, but the nearest upper level event is Rebecca Farm, which is a 10 hour drive. Obviously I'm still going to zip down for the weekend, because who needs sleep.

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  11. So cool! I don't think there are any big events down here, maybe I should look a bit harder, but we have a couple big time show jumping shows. How fun that you have so many cool people to meet up with at these events too!

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    1. you have so many cool people to meet up with too over on your side!! i would LOVE to see some grand prix jumping one of these days too..

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  12. I went to Red Hills once a couple of years ago. That was pretty cool, and not too much further than this one was to you. Looks like you had a great time!

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    1. nice! and yea we did have a great time. esp bc it was a small show as far as # of riders goes, it was easy to get in and out without fatigue

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    1. i'm also surprised to see purina and horse feed???

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    2. eh, they make a ton of horse feed. i mostly just thought that table display was the cutest thing ever!

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  14. Every time I see a post like this, it reminds me of why I so badly want to live on the East Coast. Spontaneous horse show visits involve a drive of at least 3 hours for me. And serious planning, because we don't have something almost every weekend.

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    1. i mean... i'm usually a big planner too, regardless of ease or proximity. so this impromptu stuff isn't my typical habit. it worked out well tho. but hey, you can always come visit the east coast - like for fair hill this fall!

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  15. That looks amazing - great photos!

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    1. it was a great day! tho i can't take too much credit for the photos since every last action shot is a video still (and usually zoomed at that, so a bit pixelated...). whatever tho. i'm happy to sacrifice quality for quantity lol

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  16. I've only been to Grand Prix Dressage and Jumping at Del Mar National. I wish there was somewhere local I could watch ay!

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    1. i would LOVE to watch grand prix show jumping. and dressage for that matter!

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  17. What a fun day. Those jumps all looks so cool. I love the hammock one in particular.

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    1. that hammock was definitely wild lol. so pretty tho!

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  18. This may be my favorite post of yours! Some of those pictures are awesome (holy giant logs! And the flailing grey is hysterical) And that video is so awesome!

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    1. yay glad you like it! i obviously can never just choose *one* photo to share haha

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  19. Great Meadow also hosts Twilight Polo (arena polo) on Saturday nights in the summer (May-September). Each week usually has a theme and is a super fun to go watch. You should definitely also check out the Virginia Gold Cup in May :)

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    1. oooh that's great to know! i've actually never been to a real professional polo match and would LOVE to check it out!

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  20. Looks like a fun time! Some of those jumps are crazy!

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  21. Sounds like such a fab fun filled day ♡♡♡

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