Thursday, October 19, 2017

social hour at FHI

Leading up to this year's Fair Hill Fall Festival with the Dutta Corp's CCI2*/3* events, I was having a little bit of scheduling anxiety.

basically my ideal job description
Former barnmate Rachael and I had impulsively decided to tag along with Michele to all the YEH stuff on Thursday and Friday (after which I'd need to ride my own horse too). Then Saturday would be a full day with a jump lesson in the morning, then as much FHI cross country as possible before skipping off to an evening wedding. And naturally Sunday was Loch Moy's second fall starter trial.

"four stars" was a theme among all the decorations at fair hill
So.... Ya know. A lot on the schedule. But it seemed doable. I was anxious but optimistic.

michele! hangin out in the tent watching all the YEH dressage
Lucky (?) for me, tho, Charlie sought to ease my anxieties by just going on ahead and taking the nuclear option with that damned splint. Thus liberating me from the need to school him in those days leading up to Loch Moy, bc obviously he would not be competing. At least he did all this in enough time for me to get a refund on my entry fees...

sarah!! watching the 5yo YEH class
Really tho, I wish someone could explain to Charlie that the anxiety of preparing for an event despite a busy schedule is MUCH preferable to the anxiety of preparing a horse for surgery and recovery. C'mon, Charlie :(

britt!! photographing her friend ride through the 5yo YEH test
But hey, at least that was a big relief to the overbooked schedule. So I could spend the days really enjoying hanging out with everyone at Fair Hill without being distracted by anything pesky like a horse show of my own. (does that sound bitter? sigh....).


Really tho, Fair Hill was a BLAST! I just love this event -- and it was bigger this year than ever before. More shopping, more tail gating, more.... everything. The weather was cooperative too - brisk and chilly towards the end of the week and with some earlier gentle but soaking drizzles to soften up the ground from its previous concrete conditions.

good ol' Dan preparing to enter at A on his 7yo MW Gangster's Game for the CCI2* dressage test
More than anything tho, I really enjoyed seeing so many people! I've been floating around the periphery of Maryland's eventing scene for a couple years now and finally actually *know* people. Whether that's current or former barn mates, lesson mates, trainers, vets, or other horsey peers, it was really cool to bump into so many familiar faces over the course of the event.

rachael, scott and goofy boyd! (looking like a very adult horse haha)
Plus I felt like I had a real insider's sense of the grounds after coming out here for the big event these past couple years, as well as competing at the starter trials myself (the water complex in the above video should look pretty familiar to you if you've ever watched any of my helmet cam videos from Fair Hill).

what's in the bag, katie???? 
Naturally the recent trail ride with Scott and his horses Boyd and Freebee really helped me better navigate the park too. Tho everything definitely looked bigger and more impressive when the jumps were all dressed up in their decorations and numbered for competition.

carly, niamh and austen! plus puppies!
As a nice added bonus, I felt fortunate to see a lot of familiar faces from our own wonderful little equestrian blogging community - including Niamh, Michele, Britt and Austen whom I've had the pleasure of meeting previously. Plus I finally got to meet Sarah, and Carly who surprised us all with a visit!!

what's in the bottle katie?!? also scott and freebee!
Suffice it to say it was a jam packed couple of days. We had familiarized ourselves with the grounds and shopping and all while there for the YEH stuff on Thursday and Friday (even getting in a full walk of the cross country courses during this time too), and saw almost all the YEH stuff and basically all the 2* and 3* cross country, in my preferred style of staying on the move to see as many jumps as possible ridden.

talk about a satin collection! soooo many prizes there, and actually for lots of fun stuff, not just traditional "first place"
I have a ton of media from all that too, so I'll probably spread it out in multiple posts over the upcoming weeks in an effort to not totally inundate you haha.

For now tho I'm just gonna keep continuing work on convincing myself that being adjacent to awesome fun horsey things is the same as doing fun awesome horsey things myself. Or at least, it's a close second, right?

32 comments:

  1. I was so excited to see the additional vendors this year. For a while they were really dwindling. I can't help but wonder if they trying to get a food in the door before the 4* - which seems like a good plan.

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    1. *foot, not food. Sigh. Although the extra food was nice, too

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    2. Yea it definitely felt like a gear up for the 4* - seemed like there were way more spectators too, esp tail gating sections. And there were more areas with grandstands as well, tho I thought the placement was a little curious in some instances. It's exciting!

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  2. ha it was SO MUCH FUN!! I just wish i had more time to fit even MORE in the few days i was there. And having to carry every piece of wardrobe with me everywhere due to weather changes was exhausting! LOL (At one point, i had a vest, raincoat, change of shoes, fleece and hat in my bag). LOLLOL

    It was so great meeting more people (Rachael and Austen were great, Sarah it was like we had met before, and all the other people I met and can't remember their names).

    SO MUCH FUN! Can't wait till NEXT YEAR! :)

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    1. Omgosh so much clothing tho, so much to carry! Tho the weather eventually finished very nice so I'm cool with it! (Even if my back is still killing me from carrying coats around lol). So great seeing you all three days, I had a blast and am also excited about next year!!

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    2. So much fun but SO MANY CLOTHES both carried and bought! Though I'm pretty sure there was one year there were snow flurries during cross country... So great meeting everyone! I'm still recovering, but having withdraw!

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    3. Ha im still recovering too. Last year's weather was so great but I'm actually ok with it being a little chilly. Fall is here!!

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  3. That video makes it glaringly obvious which riders know how to ride for the YEH classes and which ones don't. So much headdesk happening over here right now.

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    1. I actually have a ton more to post about the YEH stuff (including the 5yo video in case you haven't already seen that on my YouTube). The folks in the Marilyn Payne workshop didn't really mention it but I was kinda surprised to see a lot of folks riding as if they were in a normal competition with a bit of a "get 'r done" style. Is that what you mean about not riding for the YEH class?

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    2. There's a lot of not going forward. The whole point of YEH is to try to showcase that the horse can be an upper level horse, and to do that you need to gallop and jump out of a forward stride, showing that the horse can hunt the jumps and cover the ground. It seems like a lot of people were trying to "derby" it or worry about making it pretty. There's a big glaring lack of forward in a lot of the rides that just doesn't showcase the horses very well.

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    3. ok that makes sense - and actually, yes the workshop *did* discuss exactly that: in terms of demonstrating that the horse is actively and willingly carrying the rider forward to the fences - that the horse has that desire to move forward. i might be misremembering, but i don't recall it coming up a ton tho in the commentary (with a few exceptions) when it came to scoring. whereas rideability also came up repeatedly and they seemed to reward those horses who maybe didn't go so forward by giving them higher marks for rideability if it seemed like it was the rider trying to package them up. not sure this is really achieving the objective of the class tho.

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    4. It's interesting to me how some of them scored compared to last year. From watching videos I didn't think they looked tremendously different, but a lot of horses who scored quite well last year did not score very well this year. That's what happens when something is subjective though (and when the judges change from year to year). I got a bit of a snicker out of the fact that they picked a Ramiro B winner on each coast for the 5yo's. And that Ramiro B is a Very Big Deal in Britain. And that the main judge was British. Heh. Just like last year when the Irish judge kept being super generous to the Irish horses. It's just not possible to totally hide our biases, even when we try. I love YEH, but it will always be flawed because people are flawed.

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    5. i know like..... wayyyy less about the breeding and specifics of each of the horses and riders (let's be real, i know only the most superficial details and my eye isn't good enough to fill in the gaps) but even i got that distinct sense that this particular class was highly subject to bias. it reminded me a lot of hunters in that way, and my friend - who *is* actually a professional and has an excellent eye that was in agreement with MP basically the whole time - who hails from a saddleseat background (equally if not more subject to bias and politics) agreed. even within just the MP workshop, there was quite a bit of variance between our scores and the official scores. the 4yo winner was a great example of that particularly in the dressage. it's a fascinating class and i learned a lot about what to look for in terms of developing my own eye further... but yea. objective it is not haha.

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    6. no offense but the winner of the 4 year old could have stayed home and phoned it in and was still going to win and be scored in the 80s. She was photo'd on facebook page before they even scored her in dressage so high so I have a feeling she was the 'flavor' of the year. Lovely lovely horse but I dont think she was heads and tails over everyone else (but what do i know). I saw a lot of good riding and a lot of crappy riding and a lot of nice horses i wouldnt mind having in my barn. :) I think the workshop was so worth doing even if i didnt agree with all the discussion. But to be fair the judges in our workshop were a bit fairer on some horses than the ones actually judging. and vice versa at times. And the lack of forward was a stumper to me. I didnt need them going balls to the walls but come on FORWARD even I KNOW THAT!

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    7. yea agreed completely, Michele. that 4yo winner was LOVELY, but did not seem to be the #1 pick of the litter by anybody except the official judges. all the same tho, there were so many really awesome horses and it was cool to see what qualities shone through despite mistakes or bobbles by either the horse or rider. for that, i'm really glad i participated in the workshop! personally, too, it was really cool to see so many young green horses navigate through the questions set before them. gives me new perspective on my own tentative introduction of my horse to itsy bitsy starter fences lol!

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    8. Oh it's totally biased, for sure. I love the idea of it, and I think it's a super important program for the horses, our riders, and our breeders, but... yeah... the results of it are not something that you can "take to the bank". Thats ok though, it's a mechanism by which we can keep striving to get better, and it's really good for that.

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    9. yea that makes sense as a way to think about the class - that it's more about developing the pipeline of future event horses rather than being itself an "event"

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  4. fair hill really stepped up its game this year. i got there sooooo late which is why i missed you :( bc f'ing scheduling and i had to take care of someone else's horses.

    made it for the beer tent tho!!!

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  5. Charlie really tried to help you out. He saw how busy your schedule was and tried to lighten your load. Though there were easier ways to help out that didn't involve surgery.

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    1. Ugh seriously. Cmon Charlie get a grip!

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  6. At least you have fun horsey things to do besides worry over Charlie, and you don't live in a barren wasteland of horseyness!

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  7. Oh my gosh, it might be the best kind of 'close second' out there! What an amazing looking event!

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    1. ha yea i suppose i shouldn't be too sour grapes about the tradeoff, this really is a very special event and we are extremely lucky to have this (and so many others!) in such close proximity. it's been really easy to immerse myself in the eventing world without really too much effort, and for that i'm grateful!

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    1. haha not this time, tho had there been just one more glass of wine involved, who knows what could have happened!

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  9. Okay but like.....what's in the bottle, Katie?!

    Haha. What a fun event! Hopefully everything goes well with Charlie.

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  10. You're soooo lucky to have this one so close! Sounds like a lot of fun :)

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  11. So cool you live so close to this event! Can't wait for them to run a 4*!!

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  12. Haha I love that the only photo we got together wasn't together and featured my back side... lol next year let's try again!!!

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