Wow, it’s been awhile! I have had quite the workload the past couple weeks, which is why the blog hasn’t been updated as much as I would have liked.
I know this is old news now, but I had the opportunity to go out to the Kentucky Horse Park twice during the FEI World Equestrian Games here in Lexington over the last couple of weeks. First I went on Sept. 29 to see my husband, Steven's band play in the Experience area:
Then, on Saturday, Oct. 2, I had the pleasure of watching Becky Holder and her ex-racehorse Courageous Comet compete in eventing cross country.
I had never seen this discipline in person, and really didn’t know what to expect. My friends and I decided to dress up a little bit, but that turned out to be a mistake. Between the extreme weather that day (considerably hot in the afternoon, then chilly with gusty winds later on), all the walking we had to do in order to see multiple jumps along the course, and the huge crowd we were weaving in and out of (50,000-plus!), I was definitely wishing I had worn something more comfortable.
But the event itself was nothing short of amazing and breathtaking. We stood at one of the water jumps when we first arrived, which is where I saw Holder and Comet coming through the course. There’s usually around a 10 minute or so gap between riders, and then suddenly, whistles are blown, the crowd is parted, and a hush settles over the throng of people who are all straining for the best view.
After extensively interviewing Holder for a pre-WEG feature, it was so neat to see her and Comet in person, galloping along the course, splashing through the water, gliding over the jumps. I imagined the 14-year-old gray Thoroughbred back in his racing days and was in awe of his handsome stature as he concentrated on his task at hand. The pair seemed to float along the course with such ease, and later when I watched their entire run on TV, it was all the more impressive to witness their seemingly flawless performance.
Becky Holder and Courageous Comet
"The Head of the Lake series of fences was fun and rhythmic and the help we got from the crowd was a lifeline as well,” said Holder in a release following the event.
Holder was referring to the series of fences from which we viewed her and Comet, so I was happy to be a part (albeit a small one) of one of her most enjoyed portions of the course.
Sadly, even though Holder and Comet ended up in third overall as individuals by the end of the day, it was announced the next morning that following a veterinary inspection, Holder had decided to withdraw her horse.
According to a U.S. Equestrian Federation press release, "Courageous Comet lost a front shoe on the early part of the cross-country course on Saturday and appears to have overcompensated in the opposite leg. He is happy and comfortable back in the stables and is getting the best care available by some of the best veterinarians in the world to ensure a full diagnosis."
More details about the condition of Courageous Comet, who US eventing team veterinarian Brendan Furlong said would make a "full recovery," can be found here on TheHorse.com.
While I was certainly disappointed for Holder and Comet, the fact they had even made it as far as they did—the fact they were even named to the US team—certainly deserves some accolades.
We stayed for most of the afternoon at eventing cross country, and I have to say I was quite nervous seeing some of the horses barely grazing over the various jumps and fencing. Some lost their footing, while others refused certain obstacles, which made it all the more impressive when another horse-and-rider pair glided over a particular jump with no hesitation.
A WEG contender makes his way over one of the more challenging jumps
Toward the end of the day, as we were walking down a hill and away from the course to grab some food, we suddenly heard whistles blowing furiously and people screaming for a medic. Iman du Golfe, an Italian horse, had been injured at fence 20, and I immediately felt my stomach go in knots. There was blood, there was a screen put up around the horse. But…it turned out he was okay, as was his rider, Juan Carlos Garcia, who was taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries.
Iman du Golfe had a suffered a deep laceration and a small bone chip in his left elbow region, but veterinarians at Rood & Riddle reported the next day that the horse would most likely make a full recovery, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
I will have more coming for you next week when I talk about another fun encounter I had at WEG—meeting Ron Turcotte, jockey of Secretariat, who was signing autographs at the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation booth. Such an honor!
In the meantime, I would like to hear more about some of your own experiences at WEG. Was it all you had hoped it would be? Was there anything that surprised you? What was your favorite event or best part of the experience?
Read more behind-the-scenes stories about WEG on this blog on TheHorse.com.