Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Best Week You Can Have That Doesn't Involve Being in the Tack!

So8ths Jump Art

A few weeks ago I made the five hour trek to Chesterfield, South Carolina to immerse myself in the Heart of the Carolina's Long Format Three Day Event.  I had contacted the fabulous sponsor coordinators prior to and these extremely generous people paid for my lodging so that I could indeed stay for the entire event.  Next year (Oh YES! I am going back)  I'm going to haul my horse trailer down so that I can stay on the property.

Me sporting some So8ths Volunteer Swag

Thursday night I joined a host of other volunteers, and the coordinator plus many of the officials at a dinner on the property that was set-up so we could all get to know one another. I also got to talk to the sponsor coordinator to find out what jobs he needed me to do.  So with my marching orders and a full stomach I headed off to bed so I could get up early the next day and start the fun.

Friday dawned bright, semi-clear and fairly warm.  After catching breakfast with the other volunteers, again provided by the gracious coordinators and owners of So8ths, I caught a ride over to the dressage arena which was a short hack through the woods, or a slightly longer drive on the road.  This day I would be the official bit checker.  I know, very prestigious.  It's not a job most people like, something I found out later. I on the other hand loved it because it meant I got to touch all the horses! It also meant that while I wasn't bit checking I had a ring side view of every dressage test.  Win win!

So many lovely, braided, well turn-out horses of every shape, color and breed!

Dressage Warm-Up

Saturday was Endurance day! Woo hoo! Every eventer's favorite day, filled with long gallops over gorgeous country and flying over xc fences!  Again after hitting breakfast with the volunteers (the coordinators take such excellent care of their volunteers) I climbed on to the hay wagon and was treated to a leisurely ride to my spot on the XC course where I would be jump judging that day.

I would be judging for every division and both sections. Because if running a long format three day wasn't crazy enough So8ths also runs a horse trial simultaneously!  In the Training 3D section I had six fences I was judging.  Two were combinations and counted as one obstacle and the others were single fences.  I had a brush combination, a ditch and rail combination and a trakehner. I also judged a brush and ditch for the Novice section and for the BN section a brush and a coop.  The day was long but how can you go wrong with the scope of your job involving watching horses gallop up and fly over fences?  That is never a bad day. Now if I could only get paid for it! 

There were only a few mishaps on course.  A couple of T3D riders got lost on course but eventually found their way to the right path.  One rider's horse hit the trakehener with it's hind leg hard enough that the rider chose to retire and there was one significant rider fall. Her horse slammed on the breaks at the very last minute and the rider ended up in the ditch.  The horse, bless his heart, took off for home.  The rider was unharmed and quickly got up and was checked over by medical.  No injuries to either party.

Morning Jog

Saturday night is also the evening of the annual Kentucky Derby Party, which falls on the same weekend as HOTC.  We played racing games, watched the race and ate some excellent food from private catering.   I headed to bed early though others hung out and danced until very late.

Sunday dawned clear and warm for stadium day. I watched the morning jogs, I know most people would find watching a horse trot by very boring but I loved every minute of it. Later I went off to my job for the day. This day I was wrangling warm-up. Basically checking in the riders and making sure everyone was where they were supposed to be at the time they were supposed to be there.  Again I had a front row view of very tricky stadium course.   I cheered on each rider and spent the day leisurely watching the completion of the best sport in the world.

This APHA pony won his division in the long format!

I had absolutely the best time, met so many great people, including the owners of the most beautiful privately owned event venue I've ever seen, ate tons of great food, made new friends and got to watch my favorite thing, horses loving their job and doing it well! 

Keep it between the flags everyone!

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