Another day, another early start.
On Thursday, it was the perfunctory FEI veterinary check, a piece of officialdom. Part and parcel of riding at the FEI level, it is a review of veterinary documents for each horse, and a very cursory exam. Officials check through a horse’s documentation like a disinterested border guard. They look through an FEI passport for the latest vaccination stamps. Practically every horse has a supplementary binder filled with vaccination certificates, CHEM 25 reports, veterinary reports and more. They are the items that do not fit nicely into the passport.
awarded: an FEI passport presented to Odyssey, owner: Deborah Anne Ramos (Saugerties, NY, USA May 27 2021)
The number of horses dictate the amount of time set aside for the check. With 125-140 horses in the FEI draw at Saugerties, the aim was to complete the check within three hours. The inspection process is very pro forma.
On the board, the $36,600 Saugerties Welcome, 1.45m, an FEI event. The field, 39 riders. The course, a turning, highly technical, 13 obstacle/16 effort layout. Ride too fast would result in losing the riding line. Ride too slow, not enough momentum to vault the higher 1.60m fences.
Elizabeth drew the unenviable first start. It presented the opportunity to set the standard for the rest of field. The ride needed to be precise, clean turns and transitions. And, if possible, to put the event out of reach. It seemed she had accomplished that outcome. Finishing her round, Elizabeth and Lilith posted a time of 69.02 sec. Extraordinarily fast for a technical course. Elizabeth was far from pleased. She had put one rail down, leaving the door open. Seizing the opportunity, however, was not happening. Rider after rider was failing to put together a clear round. A rail down here, a rail down there. Two rails down. Three rails down. Quietly charting rides, Elizabeth was seeing no other rider was close to her time.
Deborah and Comet in pursuit of the lead, 1.45m Saugerties Welcome (Saugerties, NY May 27 2021)
With Deborah and Comet on the course, it appeared they would become the new leader with a clear round. Until a rail fell on the last fence. Their time, middle of the pack at 74.09 sec. They could finish no worst than 8th. Twenty minutes later, it was Tara and Cameron from the 29th position. A slight bauble going into #5, rail down. Crossing to the right side of the course, a moment of indecision flashed across Tara’s mind. “Do I wave off?” But, she and Cameron were already going over #7, a double-single combination. Tara stayed with ride, finishing at 71.01, the second fastest time on the course.
Still, no rider had a clear round. It may come down to the fastest time with the fewest penalties, and that would be Elizabeth. The last rider on the course, Kristi, from NorCal. The daughters know her by reputation, a strong, technical rider. A former eventer, the course layout was ideal for her skill set. Halfway through, Elizabeth whispered to Trish, “Kristi has it.” Kristi finished clear at 74.97. Finishing second was Elizabeth, Tara third. Deborah finished 7th.
During the presser, afterwards, Kristi was asked about being a giant killer. “I caught a lucky break. I was leaning right going into the lefthand double-double combination. Fortunately, my horse knew we were supposed to go left.” Kristi was asked again about being a giant killer. “Elizabeth is a great rider. She was going to win this, no doubt about it. I caught a couple breaks and was able to finish clear. If the course was one fence longer, you’d be asking her about another win. We were out of gas.”
Minutes later, it was the daughters’ turn at the presser. “Elizabeth, what did you feel when Kristi won?” She replied there was a certain relief. “When you have a streak going, there’s a certain relief when it’s broken. You can go back to being a normal rider, working hard, studying hard to be better. Things in this sport can change on a dime. That’s its nature. Kristi is a fantastic rider. She has a strong skill set. Kristi did what she needed to do to win today, I didn’t. That’s your story.”
Two hours later, it was riding another event, the $1,500 1.40m Open Jumper, an FEI/USEF event.
Elizabeth vaulting SAM: Secret Agent Man over a 1.55m fence (1.40m Open Jumper, Saugerties, NY May 27 2021)
Tara clearing Candace (Happy Girl) over double oxer fence #4 (1.40m Opener Jumper, Saugerties, NY May 27 2021)
A familiar result: Elizabeth, winning double clear with SAM: Secret Agent Man 72.06/37.83. Second place: Deborah, double clear with Captain Andrew 71.62/37.99. Third place: Tara with Candace (Happy Girl) 73.47/38.02/4 penalty points.