On a recent conference call with my fellow Carolina International committee members, we were discussing the aftermath of our gutting cancelation. I asked Lefreda Williams if there was this much hysteria and fear during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, to which she replied in true Lefreda form, followed by a light moment and some laughter. Which we all needed.
Not to make light of this situation, I have been quite vocal on social media from the start that events should cancel and we should do everything in our power to flatten the curve as quickly as we can. It is everyone’s responsibility. We are all currently living a future history class. And it is scary. Life does go on, and I know how unbelievably lucky I am that I live on a farm and continue to ride and train my horses, keeping social distancing in mind as well as washing our hands. A lot.
Anyone who knows me understands my connection to “Idle time is the Devil’s playground!” Most of my family and friends are worried about what sort of ideas I will think up for the next addition to my house, or what I will be watching or reading about that potentially will show up at my doorstep in the future, i.e.: a balance beam. All of that aside, my first priority are the horses and how to handle this forced break in the season with everyone, two and four legged, in good health, fitness, and ready to run.
At this point we don't know when there will be light at the end of the tunnel, we can hope and put a wishful game plan in place, but be ready for a change. First off, my Advanced horses that were just starting their wind fitness gallops and longer trot sets in the lead up to Kentucky, Jersey, and Bromont are being backed off of right away. They will all stay in work with hacking and some light flatwork for the next couple of weeks, a great low stress time to add more layers to those partnerships. By then we can hopefully start to look at a start date for competitions and plan their fitness accordingly. If in a couple of weeks we are still on a holding pattern I will up their dressage and really start to train and focus on what I feel needs strength.
It is a good time to look back through the dressage tests they have done this year and see where I can gather more points – go back through videos, study the test and see how I can bring marks up. Cavalettis and some jumping is a must so that I can keep their jumping muscles in tune and so I don't go completely crazy.
Looking at this optimistically, we don't know when we are going to get to start back. How lucky are we that mid-season we can give the horses a break and let their bodies and brains have a little rest? They will come out of this light time that much refreshed and ready to go back to work!
It is also a good time mid-season to focus on the young horses. We spend so much time in March and April stressing out about the upper level horses that the youngsters get put on the back burners sometimes. So those guys are in full force. I will do some dressage on them both in the arena and out on the hills to help their strength. It's a great time to go back to those winter grids and freshen up their knowledge on where to put their legs! But the youngsters included in the lightness of this time will all come back better from this change in the season.
And, when I am not in the barn, I will continue with my workouts to keep myself fit. Might do some woodworking (I took a class last year) so will be practicing lots of dovetails. Planting my garden with vegetables - Lord knows with where the stock market is and the price of oil – the only thing I will be adding onto my house right now is additional garden boxes so I can grow my own food. I will also be researching growing grapes (both red and white) in North Carolina, for obvious reasons.
This is a very scary time for all of us and it is important that we all support each other and stay together (figuratively speaking). I will be taking time to FaceTime with my family. My brother and sister-in-law love when I start calling them around 6:30 a.m. - 5:30 a.m. their time. Organize my office, read books, take walks. We are a resilient species and we will survive with altruism, empathy, and discipline. Enjoy the quiet . . . it will get loud again soon.
In this unprecedented time with events canceled all around the world, eventers need to stick together even more (virtually!) Share your story with your community – how are you staying busy with your horse? What goals are you setting for the downtime? Do you have any advice on staying positive? Email [email protected] with your tips, tricks, and stories as we navigate this together.
All the major contenders passed the eventing final horse inspection at the Tokyo Olympics and will carry on to contest the show jumping phase in a few hours’ time.
The ground jury (Nick Burton, GBR, Christina Klingspor, SWE, and the U.S.A.’s Jane Hamlin) and vets only failed to accept one horse - Fantastic Frieda, ridden by Poland’s Joanna Pawlak, who had completed the cross-country in 41st place with a refusal and 25.2 time-faults.
The FEI has announced that the Swiss horse Jet Set, ridden by Robin Godel has had to be euthanized after pulling up extremely lame on the Sea Forest Cross Country Course during Equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on August 1, 2021.
In 2002, at the age of 15, I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Maine while Tremaine Cooper was there building some cross-country jumps. I helped him build a trakehner, not realizing that this day would set the course for my future. A few weeks later he called asking if I could help him at Millbrook Horse Trials. From there I helped Tremaine during most of my school vacations and throughout the summers. After graduating high school I kept at it never looking back. I lived the gypsy lifestyle for about six years going from coast to coast and event to event. In 2013 my wife Kathryn and I settled down in Lexington, Kentucky. These days I spend roughly 60-75 percent of my time on the road preparing events or building private schooling areas. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with some really great events around the states and have cultivated many friendships all over the country. In 2019 I was asked to be a part of Team Evans Olympic cross-country building crew. As I write this I am on my third trip to Tokyo. Here’s a day in Tokyo . . .
The British team cemented their gold medal position at the Tokyo Olympics with three magnificent cross-country performances, all clear inside the time. Added to that, their first rider, Oliver Townend, holds pole position individually after the dressage leader, Germany’s Michael Jung, picked up 11 penalties for triggering a frangible device.