Where to start? Such a spectacular trip. After going to our first Rolex, neither of us can believe that we have waited so long to go to this event. So, I guess that I really should start with Saying Thank-you to the person that brought us to this event. Thank-you Mary Leibold and EquiFlexsleeves for this unforgettable experience.
We spent quite a bit of time with Mary and her crew. We definitely made some new friends and learned a lot about this great sport. We had front row seats sitting in the Equi-Flexsleeves Booth during the Dressage Events on Friday. Honestly, we caught a few moments from the cheap seats in the stadium but found ourselves to be much more comfortable with this crew.
For the most part Friday was beautiful weather – Sunny but a very brisk breeze. We walked the 4 mile cross country course so that we could scout out the jumps we most wanted to see during the Saturday Cross Country Events. And let me tell you. These jumps are impressive and intimating at the same time. I can’t imagine running this course with the forecasted weather for Tomorrow. Right now We could only wish for todays sunny but cool temps for Saturday’s featured events.
Look at this Dead Tree jump. Besides the size, notice the gorge that it is lying across.
Now Look at this one … look close, you will notice that the horse has to run up hill and then jump through the middle of this jump and then follow up with an immediate jump right afterwards. And then run back down hill. Can you even imagine?
So Saturday was an early morning start with torrential down pouring rain. Yep, the one time the Newsman gets it right we are wishing that he got it wrong. They started the Cross County event early with a 3 minute start between each rider/mount. The goal was to complete the event before 1:30 pm because the newscaster was calling for Lighting, extreme wind, possibility of tornados, etc starting around 2:00. So Troy & I bundled up and headed to the course. You would think that with such crappy weather that the spectators would have been thwarted. Well… NO! Traffic was crazy as more than 30,000 spectators swarmed the ground to watch rain or shine.
Once we got there, Troy and I trekked to the Lake Jump.
Yep you guessed it. The best seat in the house for the lake jump was standing in the lake. So, what do these loyal fans do – they stand in the lake to watch this spectacular jump …
The part missing from this video is that they go out of the lake and as they are running uphill they make another jump. I guess, we would have been able to film that part for you if we had stood in the lake as well. LOL
After watching a few rounds at the lake, Troy and I moved to the Keyhole jump.
We were able to film this from another view as well.
At this time I have to admit that we were getting really wet. But we decided to ignore that for a little longer and moved on to the dead tree jump.
This was just a few of the jumps. I wish that the weather had been more cooperative because then we would have had more films for you. But shortly after this jump Troy & I had to get a little dryer. The funny part about all this was that the race was started early so that it could be done before the real bad and dangerous storms rolled in. And would you believe it, at 2:00 all the storms came to a complete stop. I guess they would have been better to delay then to start early.
The optimal time to finish the course is/was 11:02. That is 11 minutes and 2 seconds. And the US rider that rides the closest to this time wins a new Land Rover for two years. Boy! That would be nice.
Sunday was an early start. We met Rolex Alumnus Ralph Hill at the vet check point to watch as each horse was observed and checked to make sure it was safe for them to proceed to the final day trails – arena Jumping. When we arranged this early morning jaunt, I thought that there would just be a small group of us. Just a couple of us from the previous nights dinner. I was just flabbergasted how many people showed up to support the horses and riders and to make sure they made it through the vet check. The crowd would cheer ecstatically as each horse was approved to move forward.
The event started out with almost 90 horses and riders. And at this am vet check there was only approximately 40 horses to move forward. We have lost more that 50% of the horses in this event.
I asked “What kind of things would have a horse an rider removed from an event?” The answer… If a rider falls off a horse, If a horse refuses a jump more than two times, and the obvious would be scratched by the rider.
And all of those that passed the check moved to …. the arena jumping scheduled to start at 12:00.
About 2:00, the sun came out and the day was beautiful. We were able to peel off the hat, gloves, and coats. And Thank-goodness, or this walking billboard would have froze. Yes, ladies! This young man is decked out in jeans and paint. Check out the below photos. This attention-getting advertisement is for a saddle company – Bliss of London. To be honest we did not see much of the featured event. We caught some here and there on large screen tv’s in the vendor tents and other areas. We actually spent most of the day investigating the other areas of this magnificent event. We perused the shopping tents and vendor areas. Visited the Food truck alley and enjoyed the craft beer brew tent. Watched at the warm up pens. Picked up a couple souvenirs. Bid adieu to new and old friends. And of course, no trip can be complete without hitting the barn and doing a little work on at least one horse.
All in all this was a fantastic adventure. I did not know it before we went. But I do now and want to share this little tidbit with you. The Rolex 3 day event should be on each and everyone of your bucket lists. I know we will be going back next year. Truly spectacular!