While America's upper level riders were up in Fair Hill Maryland, getting ready to qualify for next years Rolex Three Day Event, the rest of us were down here in Aiken enjoying a beautiful afternoon in Paradise. The morning started very dark,windy and cold but the afternoon was lovely. Thank God we were rain free! A little drizzle the day before made the already perfect footing even better and the new road held up just fine. (A huge story in itself, definately worth an entire bottle of Excedrin PM's)
Can't believe the event has come and gone. It was a great day, ran smoothly due to all our wonderful friends that made it happen... and I STILL CAN"T SLEEP! Organizing a horse trial, even a small one like our past competition (approx.100 horses) is such a large undertaking. Pulling the grounds together requires millions of hours and many many people. Mowing, chain sawing, weed eating, collecting brush and stuffing it, painting, staining, moving jumps, dragging,telephoning, emailing, having the right nails, screws, tools for dressage arenas, radios,, jumpcups, flat cups, deep cups, safety cups, maps, programs, duplicates of everything. The list goes on and on....
Barbie Reeser and Ann Kinney rode all my horses every day for the past two weeks,plus kept all the other horses in gear.Not only did Ann help Barbie with the riding , but she put the event program together and managed all the website stuff and bought "Norman", a lovely grey gelding that lives here. So congratulations and best wishes to Ann! Together Barbie and Ann managed the riding and the meds and bandaging and now the wretched blanketing as well. A huge ordeal with 15 horses. Antonio and several others buzzed around carrying endless lists in their pockets that grew and grew each day (instead of shrinking).My Spanish was put to good use. I learned lots of new words!
We had a new event secretary this year and our old secretary assumed the position of TD. Juli Hearn enjoyed getting out of the office and actually seeing the event work for the first time in about 14 events! Nancy Russell was a complete pro and handled everything like she'd been there all her life. Barbie didn't ride on the day and held all the volunteers and radios together -Two more huge jobs.
Three rings of Dressage ran smoothly and were finished by about 12 o'clock(ish). Sort of sad to see such a short day, compared to the spring event where we run 310 horses and the 4 rings go all day.
The Paradise Farm Show jumping team were very excited to see how the course was going to ride.I hope one day to have enough time to start attending lots of course building seminars as I am extremely interested and get great satisfaction out of course designing.
I do not believe that Horse Trials should be won in the dressage ring, and this years show jumping course helped sort out the men from the boys. One of the event's highlights was a visit from Gand Prix rider Micheal Tokaruk, who took time out of his incredibly busy schedual to come watch. He compared Paradise to a European event, being in a field on undulating ground ect. A huge compliment, one I understood completely having competed in Europe a lot myself.
Americans are mostly used to competing on prepared surfaces now and having permanent stabling on the grounds of the competition. One very rarely sees that in Europe. People are very used to working from their Horse vans and trucks,and they are home for dinner on the same day! I enjoyed showing the cross country course to Micheal as that is a different world to him. I do hope he comes over and brings his jumpers to play on the hills and over the jumps.(Especially my favorite Rodger Rabbit!) But I don't think I'll be able to convince Micheal to make the switch to eventer!
The cross country course looked great.The Paradise farm "Ladies Flower Society" is growing. Now this is a job I NEVER used to allow anyone but myself to do. Everyday, we must all be grateful to my very good shrink for teaching me to let go, Let Go, LET GO..........Now, if I could only sleep!
Anyway the point is,there is definately more than one Martha Stewart in this town, and they were all out there in the field making it come alive with flowers and color, paint and stain..It looked beautiful.
The new Tadpole course was delightful. Juli said it was a perfect introduction to eventing,but next time look out all you baby froggies! We are going to include the water, a half ditch, and a baby bank... so get practicing!
People work very hard at eventing.There were many struggles as well as triumphs out there on the courses. It was definately not a dressage competition. When you come to Paradise you must be ready to play... and ride.
Personally I saw some riders that I know do their utmost to take their courses on at their respective levels. They worked VERY hard. There was serious preparation done to make sure they could get themselves around those courses and I applaud them for their efforts. In these difficult times, so many people pushed themselves in so many ways by giving their time, their effort and support all for our great sport of eventing.
It is hard to thank everyone. So many wonderful people come out to volunteer that sometimes I don't even see them all.The volunteer list changes so much from when we start calling people to the actual day that I am always pleasently suprised at how the day goes. Aiken has so many great people that are willing to help out. So a BIG THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU FROM PARADISE!
And of course, special mention needs to go to Nanu for the GREAT LUNCHES! Now that the event is over, Barbie and I will be eating sandwiches for a long time.
I am looking forward to getting back on my horses...I haven't ridden since Pine Top! The Devils go to Rockng Horse In Altoona Florida next. Stay tuned!