S.P. II Will Be Fun For Whole Family
Let’s get this out of the way first — I am not a horse person.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the equestrian sports. That couldn’t be further from the truth. They’ve just never been something I’ve followed or, quite frankly, understood. I suppose that’s the case for a lot of people who haven’t grown up around these magnificent animals.
This is the extent of my equestrian knowledge: I was born in Lexington, Ky., the “Horse Capital of the World.” Unfortunately, I barely remember anything about my five years there other than going to Kroger and the car wash with my mother.
My grandfather runs a family Kentucky Derby pool every May, and in 20 years, I don’t think I’ve ever picked the winning horse. Oh, yeah, I think I won 13 bucks at Churchill Downs one time. Woo-hoo.
That’s about it. So I’m about as big a newbie as they come when it comes to the world of horses.
But as sports editor at The Pilot, one of the sections in the Sunday sports section is Hoofbeats. For about eight months now, I’ve been reading the section every week, and many of the stories focus on our active eventing community.
Eventing has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I had a very vague idea of what it was about, but never a concrete understanding.
I still don’t, but the nice folks at the Carolina Horse Park invited me and other members of the local media out this week for a Media Day in advance of the prestigious Southern Pines Horse Trials II, which are coming up next weekend, March 25-27.
The three-day competition will feature some of the best eventers in the world as they prepare for the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event — considered to be the premiere competition in the United States — in my native Lexington. The Horse Park officials indicated that some of those competing at Southern Pines II also have their sights set on the 2012 Olympics in London.
While there are four levels at the competition, the top tier (advanced) boasts some of the biggest names in the sport. The event is the first stop on the annual Professional Riders Organization Tour.
This was my first time at the Horse Park, and it’s an absolutely beautiful piece of property. Though it’s just a stone’s throw from Moore County, it’s really an escape from the hustle and bustle of life in the town.
My fellow media colleagues and I were treated to a prep course on three-day eventing by the park’s executive director, Jane Murray, and Bobby Costello and Will Faudree, two of the top riders out there. I learned a whole lot, but I’m not going to pretend I know what I’m talking about, so I’ll just share my observations.
First of all, they explained that eventing has military roots, from the days of the cavalry. It was a way for officers and horses to keep fit for duty. Watching Will and horse, DHI Coloured Candy (known as Andy), demonstrate the cross-country portion of the event (the other two portions are dressage and show-jumping), it was easy to picture a Union or Confederate cavalry officer on his horse galloping through the woods en route to the next battle.
Will explained that in order to be successful, the two atheltes (the rider and the horse) have to have “one mind.” And Will and Andy certainly have that.
In the dressage demonstration, Will commanded Andy to do different movements in a way that was completely inperceptible to someone like me. It appeared that they had some sort of ESP going on. The same held true for the show-jumping and cross country phase . Truly amazing.
My personal favorite of the three was the cross-country demonstration. I loved the speed and endurance that horse and rider have to show, but I especially appreciated the bravery aspect. It takes a lot of guts to launch over a jump into a pond at high speed on top of a large animal. The suspense during competition must be breathtaking, something I can’t wait to see for myself.
I encourage folks to check out this year’s trials. The Horse Park is doing a great job of providing a family-friendly atmosphere with something for everyone to enjoy. There will be a Kid Zone for younger fans, plenty of food and retail vendors (including a beer garden, which is reason enough for me to go), and much more.
Best of all, the event is completely free for spectators. There aren’t too many sporting events where you get to see and mingle with the top stars at no cost.
I know I’ll be there, and I hope to see you there, too!
Contact John Krahnert III at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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