We arrived bleary eyed (at least I was) but were greeted by warm sunny skies, much better than the cold rain back home in PA. It was a who's who of riders and it was fun to see so many up close, many wearing their barn's "team" jacket. It was an impressive turnout of riders, many using it as a final outing before Rolex. The Fork is an amazing farm and the turf used for the cross country was foot perfect, due to it being maintained all year for this event. To have the opportunity to gallop across the fields is a special one and I can see why riders look forward to competing there. Canadian Team rider Rebecca Howard is lucky to have this as her farm to work out of!
Unfortunately the cold and rainy weather in Pennsylvania found us as Saturday dawned cloudy, cold and damp. Not the weather we were expecting but good for the horses. We walked cross country on Friday in order to avoid the crowd of thousands that we heard were coming in for Saturday. That would be the crowd that never materialized. Maybe they were at the Azalea Festival along with the wine bar that was supposed to be on course? Disappointing, but the lack of spectators meant we were able to claim an unused tent right next to the water complex as our own "VIP" section. It was a real treat to be able to see so many quality horses and riders gallop through the water complex and the good ones made it look easy.
Five Star rider Doug Payne and Camerlingo. Doug has one of the best riding styles out there and dare I say George Morris would love his following hand!
The really interesting part was watching chef d'equipe Capt. Mark Phillips, "The Captain" observing the riders as he was often parked right in front of us. We quickly found out who was on his list to watch. If you were an important rider than he would speed past us on his golf cart to watch as much of the ride as possible. For a somewhat important rider he would slowly drive from one side of the water complex to see the rider as they looped back past the water complex and well, let's just say if you weren't important you didn't get a passing glance.
"The Captain" between fly-bys. Is he catching a nap?
Sunday dawned gray again but we were in for another display of good riding. It was show jumping day for the two star and three star riders. It was a classic Sally Ike designed course with alot of turning and technical questions. You needed not just a horse with good jumping style but one who's stride was easily adjustable. You can tell many of the riders are getting coaching from show jumping riders. At the end of the day it was Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda who won the three star. Doug and Camerlingo won one of the Intermediate divisions which I believe was the horse's first outing at that level!
Doug and Camerlingo on their way to a win in the Intermediate division! Camerlingo is wearing Five Star Tack's Chelsea bridle and Five Point breastplate.It is a shame though that more people don't come out to these big events as there is so much that can be learned from watching good riding. When you think of what it costs to audit a clinic with a big name rider the cost of admission to one of these events is nominal. There is always something more we can learn. Ask any one of these riders and they will tell you they are constantly working to improve their riding. Watching the skill of many of these riders and horses should inspire all of us to learn more and ride better no matter what level we ride at.
I love this shot of Tiana Coudray and Ringwood Magister. He has the most gorgeous tail!
We were sad to see our weekend end so quickly but as they say, "time flies when you're having fun!"
Let's just say what happens at The Fork stays at The Fork!Next stop, Jersey Fresh!