Classic Eventing Nation

Post-Test Rider Reflections: Thursday Afternoon

A big smile from Jenny Caras after scoring 46.3 in her 4* debut with Fernhill Fortitude #RK3DE #bestweekendallyear

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So … how’d it go in there? Samantha Clark has been catching riders on their way out of the Rolex main arena for exit interviews. Be sure to follow EN on Instagram (@goeventing) to watch the videos in real time as the competition unfolds!

#RK3DE Links: Website, Schedule, Ride Times, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Rolex, Live Stream, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram, Live Scores

Erin Sylvester & Metraise (60.9)

Erin Sylvester is pleased with Mettraise’s first test in the #rk3de arena

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Maxine Livio & Qalao Des Mers (44.6)

 

Le sigh…..#swoon

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Jolie Wentworth & Good Knight (59.0)

Jolie Wentworth is happy to be back in the #rk3de arena with Goodknight despite the wind!

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Daniela Moguel & Cecelia (59.1)

Daniela Moguel talks about her disappointment with today’s test on Cecilia

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Hawley Bennett-Awad & Jollybo (54.8)

It’s great to have Hawley Bennet Awad back in the #rk3de arena again

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Jenny Caras & Fernhill Fortitude (46.3)

Jenny Caras just completed her first #rk3de test on Fernhill Fortitude

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Caroline Martin & Spring Easy (51.5)

Caroline Martin has made it to #rk3de and we expect to see her here many more years to come #talent

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Kelly Prather & Truly Wiley (59.8)

Kelly Prather talks about Truly Wiley’s journey to #rk3de

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Jen McFall & High Times (55.7)

Jen McFall is back at #rk3de with High Times, a more mature & experienced horse since his first appearance

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Lauren Kieffer & Vermiculus (43.8)

 

We think @lkieffer just went into the lead on Vermiculus!!

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I Wanna Dance with Somebody: Rolex Thursday Social Media, Presented by Equithrive

Kathleen Murray and Ballynoe Castle RM head into the ring. Photo via Maralee Paul on Instagram.

It’s been one heck of a day here in Lexington, and all eyes were on Rolex Stadium as the first pairs tackled the new CCI4* dressage test. Between the emotional test ride from Kathleen Murray and Ballynoe Castle RM and the test that brought the house down to conclude the day from Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti, there is a lot to look back on. Here is today’s social media round-up from #RK3DE!

#RK3DE Links: Website, Schedule, Ride Times, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Rolex, Live Stream, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram, Live Scores

Good times copper mugs acquired! #3de #rolex3de #rk3de #bestweekendallyear #besties #vacay

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Mr. Medicott #rk3de #BadEventer #TheBadEventer

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Lauren Kieffer was thrilled with Vermiculus! They are in second on 43.8 #rk3de

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When you have work to do, but it's also Rolex weekend… #alwaysahorsegirl #rk3de #graphicdesigner

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look who i met at #rolex!! #rk3de ❤️thanks for being so gracious Boyd! 🇺🇸

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Post-Test Rider Reflections: Thursday Morning

“Leave the arena at a free walk on a long rein at A, while your mind races with post-test thoughts and emotions.” OK, that last part isn’t in the test, but it might as well be!

Samantha Clark has been catching riders on their way out of the Rolex main arena for exit interviews. Be sure to follow EN on Instagram (@goeventing) to watch the videos in real time as the competition unfolds.

#RK3DE Links: Website, Schedule, Ride Times, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Rolex, Live Stream, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram, Live Scores

Will Coleman & Obos O’Reilly (48.8)

@willcolemanequestrian’s thoughts on his dressage test on Obos O Reilly

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Buck Davidson & Park Trader (53.6)

Buck Davidson talks about his #rk3de dressage on Park Trader & his thoughts on the xc course

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Lillian Heard & Share Option (51.6)

Courtney Cooper & Who’s A Star (50.0)

Courtney Cooper IS a star! She talks about her test on Who’s A Star and compares it to last year

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Sally Cousins & Tsunami (63.0)

Sally Cousins tells us she has got Tsunami as fit as she’s ever been this year

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Bunny Sexton & Rise Against (68.3)

Go Bunnie! Rise up and Rise Against! What more can we say?!

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Selena O’Hanlon & Foxwood High (49.8)

Selena O Hanlon discusses her test on Foxwoods High, & an unfortunate incident with a dog in the daytime!

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Thursday morning leaderboard: 

Kathleen Murray All Smiles After Swansong Dressage Test on Ballynoe Castle RM

Kathleen Murray and Ballynoe Castle RM. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Ballynoe Castle RM kicked off his swansong weekend here at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event on a sweet note this morning, performing the test ride with longtime groom Kathleen Murray.

The Kentucky Horse Park is a fitting venue for the retirement of Buck Davidson’s beloved partner Reggie, a 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse owned by Carl and Cassie Segal, whose accolades include being the highest scoring event horse in history. He won the USET Foundation Pinnacle Cup here in 2013 with a third-place finish and was named Best Conditioned Horse the following year when he finished fourth.

Reggie has been the horse of a lifetime not just for Buck but for Kathleen as well. She has traveled around the world with him, attending to his health and happiness, and their intimate rapport is apparent — Reggie was even in attendance at her wedding!

As a gesture of appreciation for her years of devotion to Reggie and Buck Davidson Eventing, which now number a decade, Buck gave Kathleen the ride on Reggie earlier this year with the intention of a Rolex retirement. The pair has been romping around at Training Level, and have performed one- and two-star test rides, and this morning — three-star dressage, pfft! — they made the big jump up to the four-star level.

Samantha Clark caught up with Kathleen after their test:

Kathleen just rode the test of her life, & #ballynoecastlerm’s last test in the #rk3de arena #allthefeels

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Leslie Threlkeld captured the sentimental performance:

Reggie will be retired in what is sure to be an emotional ceremony on Sunday, and we’ll be the first to leap to our feet for a standing ovation! Hats off to you, Reggie, and here’s wishing you many long, happy years of lolling in green pastures and being spoilt rotten to come.

Of interest to diehard Reggie fans: World Equestrian Brands is hosting a raffle for Reggie’s tack, including his Amerigo saddle! Visit the Hagyard Pharmacy booth on Custom Made Road to purchase raffle tickets ($10 for one ticket, $50 for six tickets, or $100 for 15 tickets). The winner will be drawn on Sunday immediately following Reggie’s retirement ceremony.

All proceeds will go to FlyPups, a 501c(3) organization that transports dogs from desperate situations to fosters, no-kill shelters and forever homes. FlyPups also delivers trained dogs to veterans for service and companionship, as well as bringing aid and relief to areas impacted by natural disasters.

#RK3DE Links: Website, Schedule, Ride Times, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Rolex, Live Stream, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram, Live Scores

Rolex Thursday Afternoon Open Thread, Presented by SmartPak: Jessica Phoenix Steals the Show

Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Welcome to the afternoon session of dressage here on day one of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event! We’re all geared up for some more fancy prancing, and we’re sure to see some lovely tests this afternoon.

As it stands now, Katie Ruppel and her OTTB Houdini hold the lead on a personal best score of 46.0. First up this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. EST will be Canada’s Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High.

If you missed any of this morning’s action, catch up on our open thread here and the lunch report here. Keep refreshing this page for the latest!

3:40 p.m.: The leaderboard has been updated again and it looks like Jessica’s score is actually a 43.1. Way to go, Jessie!


3:37 p.m.: Still waiting on final confirmation but it looks like Jessica Phoenix has taken the overnight lead with Pavarotti on a score of 43.5. Lauren’s score was adjusted to a 43.8.

3:36 p.m.:

3:36 p.m:

3:34 p.m.:

We think @lkieffer just went into the lead on Vermiculus!!

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3:34 p.m.:

3:33 p.m.: Big pats for Pavarotti and a big cheer from the crowd as the final ride of the day. Now, we wait.

3:32 p.m.: Nice lateral work from “Rotti”.

3:31 p.m.: Well, Vermiculus just threw down the gauntlet in his four-star debut, earning a 43.9 to take the lead! Only Pavarotti stands in his way for today.

3:30 p.m.: Pavarotti’s last two four-star scores are lower than the leading score today. Can he do it again and steal the show?

3:29 p.m.:

Jen McFall is back at #rk3de with High Times, a more mature & experienced horse since his first appearance

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3:28 p.m.: We could well see some shuffles between Lauren and Vermiculus and now Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti, who are quite well known for stealing the show on the flat.

3:26 p.m.: No matter how high profile Lauren is, or how many horse she has, Lauren still shows so much love for each horse she sits on.

3:25 p.m.:

3:24 p.m.: Whew, Karen and Allison are tough commentators! But so educational to hear the comments from two experts.

3:24 p.m.:

Love is in the air at @rk3de_official! #rk3de

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3:23 p.m.:

Kelly Prather talks about Truly Wiley's journey to #rk3de

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3:21 p.m.: In 2010, Lauren Kieffer made her CCI4* debut aboard her Anglo-Arab, Snooze Alarm. Today, she enters the ring on his full brother, Vermiculus, whom she purchased as a yearling.

3:20 p.m.: Just two more to see today: Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus and Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti. Jen McFall scores a 55.7 with High Times. They scored a 71.5 in their debut in 2014, so that is hard work paying off right there!

3:17 p.m.: Jen did a great job holding together a strong Billy, and she looks very pleased at the end. We can’t wait to see this pair on Saturday!

3:16 p.m.: Lol, true story:

3:16 p.m.:

3:14 p.m.: “Billy” shows off his power in the extended:

3:11 p.m.: Jen McFall followed by her loyal grooms and coach Hawley Bennett-Awad:

3:10 p.m.:

Caroline Martin has made it to #rk3de and we expect to see her here many more years to come #talent

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3:09 p.m.: And another West Coast pair in the ring next, Jennifer McFall and High Times. This is their second go at Rolex after debuting in 2014.

3:09 p.m.: We think Allison Springer has missed her calling as a judge! She’s almost called the last few scores right on point.

3:08 p.m.:

3:04 p.m.:

A big smile from Jenny Caras after scoring 46.3 in her 4* debut with Fernhill Fortitude #RK3DE #bestweekendallyear

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3:03 p.m.:

Jenny Caras just completed her first #rk3de test on Fernhill Fortitude

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3:07 p.m.: A bit behind on the stretch circle but Truly Wiley has relaxed a bit more throughout the test.

3:01 p.m.: And now we welcome back Kelly Prather to the Rolex Arena, this time with Truly Wiley. Kelly last made an appearance here in 2011 with Ballinakill Glory, where they finished in the top 30.

2:59 p.m.:

2:59 p.m.: Raise your hand if you’re excited to see Patrick the Mini Horse this weekend!!

2:59 p.m.:

It's great to have Hawley Bennet Awad back in the #rk3de arena again

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2:57 p.m.: A tad unsteady in the bridle for Spring Easy but a lovely mover nonetheless.

2:55 p.m.: And now another debutante, Caroline Martin with Spring Easy.

2:55 p.m.:

The crowd was thrilled to see Hawley Bennett-Awad is back a the four-star level! #rk3de

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2:54 p.m.:

2:52 p.m.: Jenny had a wonderful first ride at Rolex! She’s all smiles as she does her final halt and salute. Nicely done!

2:51 p.m.:

It's awesome to have Hawley Bennett-Awad back at Rolex after a three-year hiatus. Go Jollybo! #RK3DE #bestweekendallyear

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2:51 p.m.:

2:50 p.m.:

Daniela Moguel talks about her disappointment with today's test on Cecilia

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2:48 p.m.: Next up, another rookie rider, Jenny Caras and Fernhill Fortitude. This is definitely a talented young pair to watch!

2:48 p.m.: Consistent across the board from all three judges for Hawley Bennett-Awad:

2:45 p.m.: A nice stretch from Jollybo.

2:44 p.m.:

2:42 p.m.: Jollybo with the sassy tail as always:

2:41 p.m.: And returning to this level for the first time in three years is Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo, a former ride of Justine Dutton’s.

2:39 p.m.: Karen O’Connor now joins John Kyle and Allison Springer in the commentator’s booth.

2:33 p.m.:

Go West Coast Eventers! Jolie Wentworth and GoodKnight scored 59.0 to tie for 13th place #RK3DE #bestweekendallyear

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2:32 p.m.:

Jolie Wentworth is happy to be back in the #rk3de arena with Goodknight despite the wind!

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2:26 p.m.: We’re onto a short break here before the next group is led off by Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo.

2:26 p.m.:

2:24 p.m.:

2:24 p.m.: Good luck, Jen and Billy!

Getting ready for dressage @rk3de_official !! Love my @therockhousecouture stock tie and @samshieldamerica Miss Shield 💗 @earlmcfall35

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2:23 p.m.: Sassy pants change!

2:21 p.m.: Jimmy Wofford singing Cecelia’s praises – a huge compliment!

2:20 p.m.:

Le sigh…..#swoon

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2:19 p.m.: Last to go of this first afternoon section is Mexico’s Daniela Moguel and Cecelia. If you don’t know too much about this pair, you should.

2:17 p.m.: Goodknight (“Ari”) says “Shake it off!” after his test:

2:16 p.m.:

Maxime Livio takes the lead on 44.5 giving all the credit to Qalo Des Mers #rk3de

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2:10 p.m.: And here comes another West Coast pair, Jolie Wentworth and Goodknight! This is the fourth CCI4* start for this pair.

2:09 p.m.: And we have a new leader!

2:08 p.m.:

2:07 p.m.: An interesting spot for the number on Qalao Des Mers breastplate:

2:06 p.m.:

Mettraise gets a few well deserved pats from Erin Sylvester's super groom Joa Sigsbee. #rk3de

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2:05 p.m.: A lovely, straight change at the start of the canter work:

2:05 p.m.:

Sparrow's Nio looks fighting fit with Allie Sacksen! We love this little Connemara cross 😻 #RK3DE #bestweekendallyear

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2:03 p.m.: Maxime came in guns blazing and had a break to canter in the first medium trot. This pair is so lovely to watch, regardless.

2:02 p.m.: Qalao des Mers is coming off of a win in the CCI4* at Pau last year.

2:01 p.m.: Maxime is the first rider we’ve seen so far in a top hat. We know we’re sure to see one on Michael Jung as well.

2:01 p.m.: And now a moment we’ve all been hotly anticipating. French rider Maxime Livio making his Rolex debut with Qalao des Mers!

2:00 p.m.:

1:58 p.m.:

Erin Sylvester is pleased with Mettraise's first test in the #rk3de arena

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1:58 p.m.:

Emotions for Madeline Backus after her first dressage test at #RK3DE.

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1:57 p.m.: We hate the rein back too, buddy. We get it.

1:55 p.m.: Allison Springer confesses that she’s a “sucker for Connemaras,” aren’t we all!

1:54 p.m.: Next up, Allie Sacksen and the world’s cutest Connemara/TB cross, Sparrow’s Nio. Get to know them here.

1:53 p.m.: A 61.0 for Erin and Mettraise.

1:52 p.m.: So interesting getting tidbits from the commentators. Allison remarks that managing tense horses often involves putting them into a bit lower of a frame, which can then take away from a forward, connected downward transition.

1:51 p.m.: Erin and Mettraise put together a nice looking test even with some tension. They’ll be happy to get on with the fun stuff!

1:48 p.m.:

Ballylaffin Bracken shoes off his big movement #rk3de

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1:47 p.m.:

Selena O Hanlon discusses her test on Foxwoods High, & an unfortunate incident with a dog in the daytime!

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1:46 p.m.: Next up with be Erin Sylvester and Mettraise, making his CCI4* debut. Frankie Thieriot Stutes mentions that is is beginning to rain now.

1:45 p.m.: A very exuberant change! This pair scores a 62.9.

1:43 p.m.: Rox got a little stuck coming off of his left half pass but Kristin is doing a great job here. This is a big, strong horse and Kristin is keeping a lid on any tension quite expertly.

1:41 p.m.:

Selena O'Hanlon and Foxwood High just kicked off the afternoon session of dressage! #RK3DE #bestweekendallyear

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1:41 p.m.: Rox shows off his moves on the extended trot.

1:39 p.m.: “I hope for a lot for (Kristin) this year,” Jimmy says. Kristin and “Rox” really strike a lasting impression together.

1:37 p.m.: A 50.1 puts Selena on her personal best with this horse at Rolex – their official personal best at this level is a 49.5 earned at WEG in 2014. Next up will be Kristin Schmolze and Ballylaffin Bracken.

1:35 p.m.: Selena looks pleased with her test. A couple of tiny mistakes in the canter work but such a nice looking test overall and their final centerline was very smooth.

1:33 p.m.: Woody looking lovely and relaxed in his walk work, which is often quite difficult for these horses. Selena has worked very hard on the flat with this horse, and the work is paying off with some really nice work today.

1:31 p.m.: This is Woody’s fifth CCI4* start. He was 10th here in Kentucky in his debut in 2014 and also represented Canada at WEG in Normandy that year.

1:31 p.m.: And we are back underway with Selena and “Woody”!

1:28 p.m.: Guest commentator Jimmy Wofford says “We don’t have a talent deficit in this country, we have an experience deficit.” John Kyle is joined by Jimmy as well as Allison Springer for the afternoon session.

Rolex Day 1: Katie Ruppel and Houdini Hold Lunch Break Lead

Katie Ruppel and Houdini. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Katie Ruppel and her own Houdini delivered a personal best performance in the sandbox on the first day of dressage this morning at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day event, scoring 46.0 to just edge Rio Olympic bronze medalist Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready for the lead at the lunch break.

Houdini, a 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Hot Rock X Nacy’s Star), scored 48.3 at Rolex last year, and he shaved two more points off that score today on the way to taking the lead. Bred in West Virginia, “Hewie” is one of 15 Thoroughbreds competing here at Rolex, racing five times before Katie pulled him off the track. You can learn much more about the Thoroughbreds competing at Rolex in this preview.

Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready, a 13-year-old Dutch gelding (Lupicor X Jarva) owned by John and Kristine Norton, scored 46.1 in the horse’s four-star debut to sit in second place. This is the first of three rides for Phillip — Buck Davidson and Jessie Phoenix also have three horses at Rolex — and he’ll be giving the ride back to Kristen Bond after Rolex, as she’s ready to get back to competing after welcoming her second child, a beautiful daughter named Berkley, with her husband Drew.

Will Coleman was over the moon with OBOS O’Reilly (OBOS Quality X Omard Clover Queen) after scoring a personal best of 48.6, a full four marks better than their test in the horse’s CCI4* debut here at Rolex in 2015, to sit tied for third place. They did incur an error for entering the ring late, but that shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Oboe, a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by the Four Star Eventing Group, overcame his penchant for nervousness in this phase to deliver a beautiful test.

Boyd Martin and Crackerjack, a 14-year-old New Zealand Sport Horse/Thoroughbred (Aberjack X Santa’s Slave), scored 48.6 to tie Will Coleman and OBOS O’Reilly for third place, just off the pace of their personal best of 47.7 from Pau last fall. Courtney Cooper and her homebred Who’s A Star, a 14-year-old Irish/New Zealand Thoroughbred (Aberjack X I’m A Star), scored 50.0 to round out the top five, just edging their score of 50.9 from their four-star debut at Rolex last year.

In tracking scoring for the dressage phase, the ground jury of Christina Klingspor (SWE), Nick Burton (GBR) and David Lee (IRL) have been nearly bang on our expected averages for these combinations so far today, marking just 0.58 lower overall than expected for the first two sessions.

It’s definitely been an emotional day so far here at Rolex, with Balleynoe Castle RM and his longtime groom Kathleen Blauth Murray performing the test ride ahead of his official retirement ceremony on Sunday. Click here to watch Samantha Clark’s interview with Kathleen after her ride. Rolex Rookie Madeline Backus and P.S. Arianna definitely had the loudest and proudest cheering section so far — Go Rookies!

Kathleen just rode the test of her life, & #ballynoecastlerm’s last test in the #rk3de arena #allthefeels

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We still have much more action to come here on the first day of Rolex, and Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High will be the next to go after the lunch break at 1:30 p.m. EST. If you haven’t read Maggie Deatrick’s analysis on the dressage powerhouses of day one, now is a good time to get caught up. We’ll be watching 2016 Pau winners Maxime Livio and Qalao des Mers (2:02), Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus (3:20) and Jessie Phoenix and Pavarotti (3:28).

You can watch live in the U.S. on USEF Network and on FEI TV outside the U.S. If you can’t watch live, be sure to follow along with EN’s open threads presented by SmartPak — click here for our morning open thread — and on Twitter @eventingnation. Be sure to also check our Instagram, where Samantha Clark is posting interviews with the riders as they leave the ring.

If you’re just checking in to EN, click here to catch up on our coverage. Voting for EN’s inaugural Rolex Groom Award is open until 3 p.m. EST, and we also posted our cross country course preview this morning here. Stay tuned for much more — including a full dressage photo gallery from Leslie Threlkeld at the end of the day — and don’t forget to download the EN app!

#RK3DE Links: Website, Schedule, Ride Times, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Rolex, Live Stream, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram, Live Scores

 

Thursday Video From Standlee Hay: Surprise Well-Wishes for Jordan Linstedt!

Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Jordan Linstedt and her 2017 Rolex mount RevitaVet Capato have a lot of fans rooting for them from afar. Jordan is based in Redmond, Wash., some 2,400 miles from the Kentucky Horse Park — EN chronicled the journey she took to get here earlier this month (see “It’s a Long #RoadToRolex for Jordan Linstedt.”)

Jordan: Your family, friends and fellow Area VII riders sent us this video of well-wishes to surprise you with!

Best of luck to Jordan and Capato, who will canter up the centerline on Friday at 1:56 p.m., and to all of Rolex 2017’s competitors. Go Eventing!

#TBT: Dandelions in the Park (2012)

Rolex week is the most frenzied week on the U.S. eventing calendar, hands down. It’s easy to get caught up in all the bustle and excitement, but it’s also worth taking a moment to step back and reflect on the bigger picture. Originally published in 2012, this essay is one of the most viewed Rolex week posts in EN history — and its relevance remains. As Rolex 2017 begins, we thought it appropriate to re-share it as a reminder that this collective experience we know as Rolex is much bigger, and more complex, than we sometimes give it credit for.

In memory of Avery Klunick’s In It To Win It, whose successful four-star debut at Rolex 2016 would be his final FEI run. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Some people believe there are spiritual vortexes scattered around the world, energetic super-centers so powerful that you can practically feel the stuff circulating in the air. Mystics and metaphysicists flock to them — Stonehenge, the Giza pyramids, ancient Inca ruins — hoping to catch a whiff of the divine.

I don’t know how much I buy into that crystal visions claptrap, but I do think there’s something to the idea of a place retaining its history in mysterious ways. The Kentucky Horse Park, in particular, is a plot of earth that I’ve always sensed had more going on than meets the eye. There’s a magic to it, and it’s more than just the pastoral combination of majestic oak trees, plush bluegrass and pristine rural air. Rather, it’s layers upon layers of emotion, saturating the soil and rustling through the leaves.

The poetry of a flawlessly executed dressage test, the cheer of a crowd gathered round the Head of the Lake, the thunder of a victory gallop — that energy lingers in the air long after everyone has packed up and gone home. But the source of the Park’s magic is more multidimensional than that.

On Jimmy Wofford’s cross country walk at WEG in 2010, he told the crowd that there was a dandelion on the course for every heart broken at the Park. I remember looking down, seeing a patch of the weed’s sharply scalloped leaves, and wondering in earnest whose tears had fertilized them.

I’m sure I’ve got a few dandelions out there myself, not from Rolex, but from other Horse Park events that felt equivalently serious at the time. When you’re 13 and you’ve saved your $4-an-hour stall mucking wages all summer to compete at some event, only to have your pony jump out of the dressage ring … dandelion. When you’re 17 and your horse hangs a leg in the water complex at Pony Club championships and you feel like you’ve let down your entire team … dandelion. When you’re 29 and you pull up halfway around the course with the sinking realization that you’re simply not prepared … dandelion.

I could go on and on, and I’m sure some of you could, too. Certainly these moments weren’t the end of the world, but perspective is a function of the mind, not the heart.

This weekend at Rolex, there are going to be riders who don’t make it around the course. They’ll make the same long walk back to the barn that so many have before them, replaying a split second over and over again in their minds, trying to figure out what went wrong. Some of them will get a leg up on their next ride or have the opportunity try again next year. Others might not get a second chance.

If you’re at Rolex this weekend, take a quiet moment at some point to look around you. Acknowledge the dandelions and the horses and riders who planted them there. Remember that it’s all connected. Without attempt, and the risk of failure that goes with it, there can be no glory. The hit and the miss both begin with a leap.

Go Eventing.

Rolex Dressage Day One Morning Dressage Open Thread, Presented by SmartPak

Katie Ruppel and Houdini. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Good morning from Lexington! We are getting in position for day one of dressage at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, and I could not be more thrilled to watch Kathleen Murray and Ballynoe Castle RM do the test ride at 9:40 a.m. EST. This is a moment not to miss, so I highly suggest pulling up a chair and tuning in!

I’ll be updating this post throughout each ride, so keep refreshing to stay up to date with the latest. I’ll also start a new thread after the lunch break this afternoon, so there is a ton of exciting content coming your way. Enjoy!

#RK3DE Links: Website, Schedule, Ride Times, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Rolex, Live Stream, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram, Live Scores

12:39 p.m.:

12:39 p.m.:

Go Bunnie! Rise up and Rise Against! What more can we say?!

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12:16 p.m.: And we go to our lunch break with your first 13 horses done for the day. Here is your leaderboard, with Bunnie Sexton in 13th on a score of 68.3. We’ll be back with a new open thread this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. EST, so stay tuned!

12:13 p.m.: Ecko got quite offended coming off of his left half-pass. Bunnie does such a great job taking a breath and asking again without losing composure. We could all learn something from her style and tact. You’ll see she also tries to leave the curb rein alone so as to keep the peace.

12:12 p.m.:

Courtney Cooper IS a star! She talks about her test on Who’s A Star and compares it to last year

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12:12 p.m.:

Sally Cousins tells us she has got Tsunami as fit as she’s ever been this year

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12:10 p.m.: “Ecko” is not a fan of the dressage, but if anyone can squeeze points out of this horse, it will be Bunnie with her tactful rider. You will not want to miss this pair on Saturday! Also, Bunnie’s groom, Taylor Ravenscroft, is currently leading our Rolex Groom’s award! Go vote here.

12:09 p.m.: Next in is fan favorite (and my personal hero) Bunnie Sexton and Rise Against. Bunnie is an inspiration to us all, completing her first Rolex at the age of 50. #BeLikeBunnie

12:09 p.m.: #cheeringsectiongoals

12:08 p.m.: And, I’m crying again. THANKS MADELINE.

12:06 p.m.:

A score of 50.0 for Courtney Cooper and her homebred Who’s A Star #RK3DE

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12:05 p.m.:

12:03 p.m.: Madeline looking so calm and mature beyond her years for her first Rolex test. I remember talking to Madeline in 2013 when she was competing in the Junior Training division with P.S. Arianna, and thinking that this kid was going to go somewhere.

12:01 p.m.: Two of our Rookies are the youngest riders this year: Madeline (21) and Woodge Fulton (22). When I was 21, well, let’s just say that I wasn’t riding at the four-star level. #noviceforthewin

12:00 p.m.: Our first Rookie of 2017 is in the ring! Madeline Backus and P.S. Arianna are ready for their Rolex debut.

12:00 p.m.:

11:58 a.m.:

Happy Rolex Y’all!! #rk3de #workperks #lovemyjob

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11:58 a.m.: Sally Cousins and Tsunami finish their test and are ready to move on to the fun stuff!

11:57 a.m.:

11:56 a.m.:

11:56 a.m.:

Boyd Martin all smiles after his test with Crackerjack. 48.7 for fourth place #RK3DE

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11:54 am.: “Sue” is making her sixth CCI4* start this year at the age of 18 years young. Tsunami raced 24 times back in her race days.

11:52 a.m.: Still waiting for Courtney’s score, now we’re going to see Sally Cousins and Tsunami, who are definitely Rolex veterans.

11:51 a.m.: A quiet pat for an old friend.

11:49 a.m.: Get to know Courtney and Who’s A Star here.

11:47 a.m.: Lovely extended from Who’s A Star, who is a homebred from Courtney.

11:46 a.m.:

Katie Ruppel showers Houdini with praise after taking the current lead on a 46.0 #rk3de

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11:46 a.m.: Next in will be Courtney Cooper and Who’s A Star, back for their second Rolex run.

11:45 a.m.:

11:44 a.m.:

11:42 a.m.: Crackerjack takes a moment to casually grab a nose scratch after a lovely test.

11:40 a.m.:

11:37 a.m.: We will now see the first of Boyd Martin’s ride, Lucy Boynton Lie’s Crackerjack. This is the second Rolex start for Crackerjack, who finished 10th at Luhmühlen last year.

11:34 a.m.: Katie Ruppel’s score has been adjusted to a 46.0 which will put her in the lead. Lillian scores a 51.6 with Share Option.

11:33 a.m.: Lillian shows off one of the most stretchy canter circles that we’ve seen so far. I’ve been really interested to see how this movement rides, and so far I’ve noticed that the stretch is a bit difficult to really achieve, but Whitey is really demonstrating a lengthened frame here.

11:32 a.m.:

46.1 for Katie Ruppel and Houdini to tie Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready for the lead #RK3DE

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11:31 a.m.: Lillian and “Whitey” looking professional. A bit of a sudden halt at C for their reinback, but otherwise they’re doing a great job so far.

11:30 a.m.:

11:28 a.m.: Katie and Houdini earn a 46.1 to tie with Phillip and I’m Sew Ready. This is a personal best at this level, besting their former best of 48.3 in 2016. Next up is Lillian Heard and her first of two, Share Option.

11:26 a.m.: “I think Katie did a great job with him,” coach Clayton Fredericks says of Katie’s ride. He’s had the ride on this horse this spring and Katie has taken the ride back for Rolex.

11:24 a.m.: Houdini says, “Ok, I feel I’ve done enough here, cross country now?” Katie doing a lovely job squeezing every point she can out of her test. This pair is ready to go!

11:22 a.m.: Ok, Houdini is definitely #OTTBgoals. If I could get my little Thoroughbred to move like this for our Training test, that’d be awesome, k thanks.

11:20 a.m.: And we’re back underway with Katie Ruppel and Houdini, an off-track Thoroughbred gelding making his fifth CCI4* start this weekend. Hang onto your hats, it looks a bit windy right now!

11:19 a.m.:

11:18 a.m.:

11:18 a.m.: Are your credit cards ready for their toughest weekend all year?

11:17 a.m.:

Buck Davidson signing autographs for some fans at Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by Land Rover. #bestweekendallyear #rk3de

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11:17 a.m.:

Crackerjack’s dressage tack is ready for action. #RK3DE #bestweekendallyear

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11:15 a.m.: While we’re waiting for our next rider, enjoy this hype video! #feels

11:03 a.m.: We love this shot!

11:03 a.m.:

Buck Davidson talks about his #rk3de dressage on Park Trader & his thoughts on the xc course

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11:02 a.m.:

@willcolemanequestrian’s thoughts on his dressage test on Obos O Reilly

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11:01 a.m.: Here are your leaders following the first group. Live scores can be found here.

11:01 a.m.:

11:01 a.m.:

46.1 for Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready in the horse’s 4* debut to take the lead! #RK3DE

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11:01 a.m.:

11:00 a.m.: Don’t forget to support the online auction for Lee Lee Jones, Phillip Dutton’s stepdaughter. There is so much good stuff to bid on, check it out here.

10:57 a.m.: Rain, rain, stay away! At least it’s not too much on the radar.

10:56 a.m.: A couple of bobbles for Buck and Park Trader but he looks happy and gives the horse big pats after his salute. They earn a 53.6 which will put them into provisional third at the moment. We go onto a short break now and will see Katie Ruppel and Houdini at 11:20.

10:52 a.m.: One tiny bobble in an otherwise lovely extended for “Kobe.”

10:50 a.m.: Buck Davidson nails the first halt with Park Trader and is off to a great start.

10:50 a.m.:

10:48 a.m.: Guys, I am an emotional MESS right now. I’m crying again. What the heck.

10:46 a.m.: A beautiful change from the extended canter across the diagonal for this pair.

10:45 a.m.:

Let’s do this #rolexkentucky2017 #rk3de #dressage

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10:44 a.m.: Oboe looks keen and sharp but so far is putting in a very accurate test.

10:43 a.m.: We’ll be adding in these signing/course walk announcements throughout the day!

10:41 a.m.: New in we will see Will Coleman and his first of two, OBOS O’Reilly, a 14-year-old Irish gelding contesting his second CCI4*. He was sixth here in 2015.

10:41 a.m.:

A personal best for James Alliston and Parker – 56.7! Go OTTBs! #RK3DE #bestweekendallyear

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10:40 a.m.:

10:39 a.m.: Big marks surely on the way for Big Phil’s first ride.

10:36 a.m.:

A personal best for James Alliston and Parker – 56.7! Go OTTBs! #RK3DE #bestweekendallyear

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10:35 a.m.: And that’s JUST the medium trot!

10:33 a.m.: And we’re getting underway with our first U.S. competitor of the day with Phillip Dutton and John and Kristine Norton’s I’m Sew Ready. This is the first CCI4* for this horse, but we should be in for a treat right now.

10:29 a.m.: Ok, Reggie/Kathleen obsession done (for now). Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Kathleen just rode the test of her life, & #ballynoecastlerm’s last test in the #rk3de arena #allthefeels

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10:32 a.m.: Joe looks thrilled! Some really nice moments from Clip Clop in a very difficult test on a windy and what looks to be a bit chilly of a day!

10:29 a.m.: The feels!

10:28 a.m.: This is the second CCI4* start for Clip Clop, who is 14 this year. They completed last year with one runout on cross country.

10:27 a.m.: Next in will be Joe Meyer and Clip Clop, who looked stunning and full of himself at the jog yesterday!

10:27 a.m.:

Dressage is underway! First in: James Allison and Parker #rk3de

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10:26 a.m.:

10:20 a.m.:

10:24 a.m.:

10:23 a.m.: Jessie has an error after missing her canter stretch circle. A Little Romance is looking a little short and tense in the canter work, but if anyone can coax relaxation out of a horse, it’s Jessie.

10:19 a.m.: Next in is Canada’s Jessica Phoenix and her first of three, A Little Romance. This is Jessie’s 2016 Olympic mount.

10:17 a.m.: A 56.7 for James and Parker to get us started. If you want to follow along with the new CCI4* Test A, click here. This is a personal best for this pair at the level; their previous lowest score was a 62.5 in 2012. Well done!

10:16 a.m.: James demonstrates a new movement in this test, the stretch canter circle. This will be an interesting movement to watch for these super fit event horses! James looks pleased with this test, which commentator Liz Halliday-Sharp remarked was one of the more relaxed she’s ever seen this horse do.

10:12 a.m.: So far looking cool and collected for this pair, who is one of the most experienced in their field. This is their seventh CCI4* start.

10:11 a.m.: James Alliston and Parker are getting us underway! James has pinned the tails of his shadbelly today to try and keep Parker as relaxed as possible.

9:49 a.m.: We will be back in just about 20 minutes with the first competitive ride of the day, James Alliston and Parker!

9:47 a.m. : And, I’m ugly crying. The cheers. THANK YOU, EN, for filling this stadium for this ride. It means so much to the BDJ camp and the Segal family.

9:42 a.m.: Looking like the pros they are. If you missed this special story, catch up here.

9:40 a.m.: And entering Rolex Stadium, Kathleen Murray and Ballynoe Castle RM. Reggie has his game face on, and I am crying. This is not going to be pretty (for me, not Kathleen. You do your thing, girl).

2017 Rolex Kentucky Cross Country Course Preview

Hello from the first day of dressage at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event! We have two full days of sand dancing ahead of us, but of course we are already look ahead to Saturday when horses and riders will tackle Derek di Grazia’s cross country course. The total distance of the course is 6,430 meters, with an optimum time of 11 minutes, 17 seconds.

While the course starts and finishes in the same location as last year, Derek has re-arranged the path of much of the rest of the course, shifting the galloping lanes just enough to find even more terrain on the rolling hills of the Kentucky Horse Park. Riders will need a very fit horse to successfully tackle this track, especially if rain saturates the ground on Saturday.

Fence 4 – Mighty Moguls. Photo by Jenni Autry.

The first three fences on course are bold, straightforward jumping questions to help the riders and horses settle into a rhythm, then they reach the first question on course at fence 4, the Mighty Moguls. Horses will jump over the rails at 4A, then navigate a related distance down the hill over the brush at B before continuing down the hill to a right-handed brush corner at C. It’s a beefy technical question early on the course.

Next we have two more bold, galloping fences before the first water at the Frog Pond at fence 7. There is quite a big drop in over the brush at A, and the log on the way out at B is set at a sharp angle. Accuracy will make all the difference here.

Fence 10A – Rolex Head of the Lake. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Two more galloping fences, including the imposing Ditch and Brush at fence 9, will then take horses and riders on to the famous Rolex Head of the Lake at fences 10 and 11. Horses will be galloping right into the crowds as the jump a large table at 10A before a quick three strides takes them to a massive drop in at B. Then it’s a quick re-organization before the fish in the water at C.

Riders won’t have anytime to take a breather here at all, as they will have to quickly navigate a left-hand turn to the double brushes at 11AB. With the first brush set in the water and the second brush set on the way out and up a slope, these fences will require forward, positive riding to guarantee success. The Rolex Head of the Lake is sure to provide many thrills from spectators, so this is definitely going to be an awesome place to watch once again.

The Hollow. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Then it’s on to a maximum-width table (6-foot-3 top spread) at fence 12 before the Teton Rails at fence 13, a new combination on course this year. The A element is a very vertical set of rails, then on to a big open corner that leaves no room for error. The Open Oxer at fence 14 doesn’t provide much of a let up as riders make their way on a long uphill pull to The Hollow, which has received a facelift.

The cabin at the top of the mound at The Hollow will demand a forward ride, then it’s down a very steep slope to a brush at B, then a lefthand turn to a wide cabin set at C at the top of the mound. There is just a half-stride of flat ground before takeoff over the cabin, so accuracy and scope are paramount to succeed at The Hollow. There is an option here that will prove costly on the clock.

Fence 18 – Land Rover Landing. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Two more bold, galloping fences take us to the Land Rover Landing at fence 18, a chevron brush with an incredibly narrow face set on the land and then another chevron brush with a slightly wider face set in the water. The chevron brush is very similar to the question we saw at the Head of the Lake two years ago, when horses and riders navigated the narrow front on a slight angle to provide a wider face to jump.

The Footbridge at fence 19 then takes us on another long uphill pull to the Normandy Bank at fence 20. Horses and riders will jump up the bank at A, then one stride on to a log drop off the bank at B before making a right-handed turn to a skinny log at C. At this point in the course horses should be settled into a good rhythm and locking onto the flags, but there is an option here for pairs that encounter trouble.

Fence 22 – Fox Den. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Another open oxer at fence 21 then leads to the Fox Den, which always tends to be a tricky combination that should not be underestimated. The A element is a big brush table set right on the tree line, and riders will follow the sweeping right turn along the trees to a large corner at B. Horses that are tiring by this point can take a longer option that once again will prove costly on the clock.

One of the most difficult combinations on the course then comes at fence 23, the Park Question, which has also received a redesign this year. The jump in at A will take horses and riders to an angled brush at B, followed by another angled brush at C separated by just one stride. Riders that drift off their line by even a small margin will face the possibility of a runout to the left here.

Fence 23BCD – Park Question. Photo by Jenni Autry.

The Stick Pile at fence 24 takes us on to the Water Park at fence 25, the final water complex on course. This is a straightforward question, with a jump in over the first boat at B and then a right bending line to the second boat at B, but it will still require respect and a forward ride, especially as horses tire with the end of the course in sight.

The iconic Wattle and Daub Cottage at fence 26 then leads on to the final combination on course, the Offset Barns at fence 27. While the fastest route will save valuable seconds as riders are hunting for the optimum time, jumping these angled tables on a straight line means tired horses are navigating a very wide and imposing question this late in the course. Finally the Lucky Horseshoe at fence 28 will welcome horses and riders to the finish.

Fence 27AB – Horse Park Barns. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Looking to the footing, many parts feel perfect, especially the spots that have been aggravated by course builder Mick Costello and his awesome team. There is some rain in the forecast, but if we don’t get much rain ahead of  Saturday, Mick said he will likely aggravate the entire course to give the horses “five inches of fluff” to gallop across.

The EN team must tip our hats to Derek, Mick, and Sheila Worth and her decorating team for their hard work on what is truly a beautiful course. If you have a chance to walk the track before Saturday, take some time to admire the handy work at fence 8, the Market Table. All of the vegetables and fruits are real and and arranged so beautifully!

Go Eventing.

#RK3DE Links: Website, Schedule, Ride Times, Live Scores, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Rolex, Live Stream, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram