Note: An experiment of sorts with a semi-live blog. Comments will be off until later tonight.
Updates are at the bottom of the post.
A warm week of riding, this morning begins on the cooler side. While the cooler conditions are much welcomed, thoughts turn on whether afternoon storms will be easy or severe. Last Saturday, thunderstorms sort of wrecked havoc with the schedule with many delays for strong rains and lightning, pushing the start of the GP into the evening hours. Hopefully, it won’t become a long day for everyone.
6:30 am –
Arriving at the horse barn an hour earlier, time for a light workout. SAM and Captain Andrew have been having an outstanding two weeks. Candace (Happy Girl), still in recovery for lameness, has been doing well also. Tara wasn’t too sure in bringing Happy Girl but is glad she did. Happy Girl has shown no shyness with the taller fences (1.40 and 1.45 m) and jumps with the spring one expects. Also, she has shown no tenderness.
The easy workout ends. After a cool down, a supervised relax period in the paddock.
8:45 am –
Walking the horses back to their stalls ahead of the 9:00 am GP riders meeting. Through last night, only 7 riders were listed for tonight’s GP. This morning, the list expanded to 32. Not uncommon for the list to expand. The meeting will be a breakdown of the day’s schedule – final vet check, handout of the course layout, ring walk-through, course walk-through – and the all-important blind draw on starting position.
9:30 am –
Tara has drawn the best starting position, #32. She will have the opportunity to watch the entire field and know what she needs to do to get herself and Happy Girl into the jump-off. Deborah has drawn #18, Elizabeth #25. They’re not bad starting positions, though Deborah hoped for something in the 20’s also.
Update, 2:40 pm –
If you’ve ever been to a horse show, as a competitor or attendee, the schedule ends up running late. Most times, it is a class that has become too large, or there is a technical issue. Though clouds are in the distance, you can’t call this one on the weather. The WiFi has been up-and-down since late this morning, which in turn delays so many other things, like scheduling, that has become part of the wired world. To be only 45 minutes behind schedule isn’t too bad.
Around 11:30, it was the ring walk-through. This is the chance for the riders to have a sense of the footing. With a GGT surface, the footing is very good. Rarely, rarely does one experience any soft or hard spots. It is also surface that doesn’t grab onto a hoof. Also, the amount of rain we’ve had this week hasn’t changed the footing dynamic. The horse park has one of the best drainage system.
In about 30 min, the vet checks will begin. It’s mostly a pro forma process with a focus on the legs, the hooves, and veterinary paperwork. For a horse, like Happy Girl, the vet will pay extra time checking her over.
Update, 4:56 pm –
The gates to the Grand Prix ring opened at 4:00 pm. Unlike most other horse parks, the grandstand has limited seating. The remaining seating area is contoured like a gentle hill in a grassed park for the attendees to spread out their blanket or set-up their own lawn chairs. If they wish, they can picnic their dinner. It is also one of the few venues in which the GP is not a ticketed event. Though more relaxed, the electricity of a GP event can be felt.
Remarkably, the weather has stayed fairly nice. Though the afternoon clouds have built, they seem not to be the stormy kind – at least not yet. Temperature-wise, it is in the mid 80’s. Warm, but not the blast furnace kind of heat from Thursday and Friday. Eyes, though, remain focused on the sky as the cloud cover has come closer.
Around 5:40 pm, it is the course walk-through. The GP riders will get to walk the course, to gauge their sight lines, riding lines and footing. Most likely, the stadium lights will be on to minimize shadows. While it seems the GP may begin near its scheduled time of 6:30 pm, more likely it will begin between 7:45-8:00 pm.
Update, 11:39 pm –
The horses are safely bedded down for the night in their stalls. Back at Bella’s home, my daughters continue to unwind. Each have a tiny sip of champagne, setting it aside for tall sodas. Their minds and attention turn to Iowa, planning out a short week of practice.
The parents, and Bella, proud of our girls.
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