Have you ever wondered what eventing is like across the pond? Wonder no more! On this episode of the USEA Podcast, Nicole Brown is joined by U.S. eventers Andrew McConnon and Lexi Scovil to talk about the similarities and the differences between eventing in the States and eventing in the U.K. McConnon worked for eventing legend William Fox-Pitt in 2016 and 2017 while Scovil is a current working student for Fox-Pitt.
McConnon gives our listeners a recap of his experience as a member of Team Erik at the Adequan USEF Futures Team Challenge competition that took place last week. McConnon was a member of the winning team alongside Daniel Clasing, Meg Pellegrini, and Caitlin Silliman.
Scovil was recently at the Burnham Market Horse Trials with Fox-Pitt and team, and she shares some details about her weekend. She said the experience was a bit surreal – competing in a CCI4*-L without any spectators present or any of the typical competitor parties taking place due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Brown has McConnon and Scovil lead off the U.S. vs. U.K. eventing comparison by sharing their first impressions of eventing overseas. For McConnon, one of the things he was expecting that he didn’t experience much of was rain!
McConnon observed that one of the differences he experienced was the sheer number of quality competitors in the U.K. Not only do you get to ride next to – and against – the best, but you also get to watch a great many number of quality riders. Scovil agreed, and said she found she really had to do her homework and step up her game when she arrived in the U.K. to continue to be competitive.
Scovil was a bit surprised to find that so many upper level events would, for example, run dressage on grass arenas versus how so many upper level events are run on engineered footing or at purpose-built competition facilities in the States. She finds that there are a lot of upper level events in the U.K. that have somewhat of a “backyard feel” in that they are not held at permanent facilities.
Pop quiz! In the United States, there were 38,692 horses that started cross-country in 2019. How many starters were there for that same period in the U.K.?
Scovil pointed out that, because the season is shorter in the U.K., upper level horses will sometime run a higher frequency than U.S. horses, depending on the rider’s program. This is part of why the U.K. tends to see more starters per day at an event than U.S. events.
McConnon’s favorite part about U.K. eventing that he’d love to see more of in the States is one-day eventing where all three phases are completed in a single day. Horses are able to get out in their paddocks at night and owners are able to experience the full scope of the event in a single day. However in some cases, weather and travel distance in the U.S. do make it more difficult to orchestrate one-day events.
One of the other major differences is the mass migration of eventers from northern regions of the country to southern states during the winter.
For both McConnon and Scovil, one of the things they love most about U.K. eventing are the spectacular venues with gorgeous backdrops that they have experienced in their time across the pond.
For Brown, the American English word that never fails to make her chuckle is “Porta Potty.” You’ll have to listen in to find out which European English words threw McConnon and Scovil for a loop!
McConnon and Scovil share some insider knowledge about what it’s like to be a part of Team Fox-Pitt Eventing. To hear from the man himself, check out this recent episode of the Eventing Podcast!
To close out the show, Brown asks McConnon and Scovil (who is headed back to the States after the end of the 2020 season) if either of them have plans to come back to the U.K. in the future!