Friday Afternoon Sights & Sounds from Great Meadow

Lookin' good, girls! From left, Meghan O'Donoghie, Sinead Halpin, Lynn Symansky and Hannah Sue Burnett walking the course. Lookin' good, girls! From left, Meghan O'Donoghie, Sinead Halpin, Lynn Symansky and Hannah Sue Burnett walking the course.

Hello from Great Meadow! It’s a beautiful afternoon here in The Plains, Va., where the U.S. riders had lessons with Coach David O’Connor and ring familiarization in preparation for the start of the World Equestrian Games prep trials, which kick off tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. with dressage. 

It’s been a busy week for Team USA, as training camp began on Tuesday at nearby Morningside Farm, and the riders all did a combined test on Wednesday. Sandy Phillips, who is judging dressage tomorrow; David; and team show jumping coach Silvio Mazzoni all worked with the riders on Thursday.

Today, riders spent the afternoon walking David’s course, which we’ll have a full preview of tomorrow morning. Lots of rain in the area in recent week has made for spectacular footing, and David said he designed the course as more of a practice track than a serious test for the horses and riders.

This event is designed to be a final prep outing for the team before Normandy, just like a combination would target a final practice event before a big competition like Badminton or Burghley. With that in mind, David said he’s expecting the riders to set out at full cross-country pace on Saturday.

Watch the video interview for more of David’s comments on the course, which definitely has a French flavor to mirror WEG course designer Pierre Michelet — think mounds, three-stride related distances, and a combination loop at the bottom of the course.

And thanks to team sports chiropractor Dr. Holly Moriarty, the riders will be feeling their best when they tackle the course on Saturday. Holly was on the grounds all afternoon adjusting and stretching the riders to get them feeling their best.

Normandy will be the first major championship in which a sports chiropractor will travel with the U.S. eventing team, as David had Holly join the staff in January. She’s been working with the riders ever since, watching them ride and then adjusting them accordingly to improve their performance and comfort level.

If you missed yesterday’s post, click here for everything you need to know about Great Meadow. It’s going to be a great weekend with beautiful weather! Stay tuned for much more from The Plains. Go USA! Go Canada!

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