I got there about halfway through the jog up, and paused to watch Clark Montgomery lunging Loughen Glen in one of the arenas. It was really cool to watch them. Since I had never seen a jog up before, it was great to see all the outfits and how beautiful the horses looked. Everyone laughed at Maxime’s horse. He was trotting away and nearly pulling Maxime along like “Let’s get on with it!” Then Boyd Martin appeared very close to where I was standing and was playing with what I believe was his son. A girl came over and met him, and once she left I heard one of the ladies talking to him say that he’d probably made her whole trip. And he probably had. And I just kept my head down, not looking at him and trying to be invisible.
After that was done, I headed down to a booth that I’d seen that did engraved plates. I had asked them before and they did plates for halters other than their own – which was really convenient. While you could tell their halters had better quality leather than the one I bought (more on my haul later), they were of course more expensive. At the moment I couldn’t pay that much for a halter after all the other things I’d bought, so I stuck with getting plates.
The girls and I went to do the horseback tour of the park, but because of all the cars coming in for stadium and just how busy it was, they were cancelling the rides. So we walked around and chatted for a bit, went in to the official RK3DE booth and bought (more) stuff.
We proceeded to the stadium, got lunch and mimosas (of course) and got hit by a very sudden but quick rain shower. It cooled things off, thankfully, and we headed to our seats to watch stadium start. I really liked the opening ceremonies, and I’m really not one for ceremonies. I loved that they’d gotten pony club girls as the flag bearers. It was so fun to see them and I’m sure they were thrilled and proud to be there.
The first one out was from Australia. None of the riders accompanied her, but I think perhaps it was because they were going at the start? I can’t quite remember.
The next one was for Canada, and the Canadian riders followed her. I was really glad to see 3 riders from Canada here this year.
Next came the French flag and Maxime Livio. I’m pretty sure he got some of the largest applause out of everyone that walked out.
Next out was Zara Tindall for Great Britian. She got some loud applause as well, and it was really great to be able to see her (and other riders, of course) up close.
After that was none other than Michael Jung from Germany. I’m pretty sure he got the loudest applause out of everyone, and why not? He was the overnight leader for cross country, and wouldn’t it be great if he could win Rolex a third time on the SAME horse?
Ireland came after that, and the guys were a little far away to take a great picture, but it was funny since they both started goofing around passing the stands.
Next was the Mexican flag for Daniela Moguel. She didn’t accompany the rider either, but it was really good to see so many other countries competing here.
The New Zealanders came after that, waving and smiling and looking like they were having a great time.
And last but certainly not least, came the American contingent. So many people were cheering and waving; it was awesome to see so much excitement for everyone.
Once that was done, Dan from Double Dan Horsemanship came out and did a routine – all bridleless and bareback with even a mini thrown in there! Unfortunately, no pictures of that, but I wanted to watch it more than take snapshots. One of the horses brought out really enjoyed seeing the sights and crowds and jumps and galloped around until they finally decided to join the action. I noticed it was the only mare in the lineup, and I snorted and laughed. She was like OMG LOOK AT EVERYTHING I MUST GO AND SEE and then when they went to subtly catch her, she looked like Fine, fine, I’m ready; I’ll join. And that’s one of the reasons why mares are my favorites. I just love their personalities. Most of them, any way.
Next came the retirement ceremony for Ballynoe Castle. He looked great, full of himself, and eager to go out there and jump. It was great to see so many people surrounding him. Plus, I think he had a great time looking at his reflection in that beautiful silver plate.
After that, stadium was underway! There were no clears for a while, but most of the horses looked eager and ready to go tackle the course.
Then things really started heating up when we got to the top of the leaderboard. Zara Tindell 3rd, Maxime Livio 2nd, and Michael Jung 1st. Michael could afford 1 but not 2 poles. Maxime couldn’t afford a pole to stay ahead of Zara. Clear round for Zara and High Kingdom and everyone cheered.
She put the pressure on for Maxime, but he and Qalao de Mers answered it with a clear round of their own.
Rocana can have the occasional pole, so the tension in the ring was palpable. We were all (I’m sure) hoping Michi would be able to win it again and make history. And he proved he could! One pole down but it was enough to clinch the win!
A standing ovation greeted him after his lap around the arena, and I packed up my stuff and headed out to grab my newly plated halter. Like I said, I’m not one for ceremonies. It’s on my list of things I can live without. But my halter looked gorgeous, and while we hoped a tour may still be on for the park, it was a no go. So the girls and I made plans to meet up for dinner.
We picked a local restaurant, and it was definitely good good food. And the coconut cream pie afterwards hit the spot. Come Monday it was time to leave, and I suddenly realized it had all passed much too quickly. Oh well. It left me pumped to start doing things with Amber, that’s for sure.