The Galway three-day and horse trials is just a few days away and Chelan Kozac, Eventing Nation’s Canadian Olympian and guest writer extraordinaire, is already on scene and we are all looking forward to a great weekend of coverage. Click here for the Galway entries and check out Chelan’s website for more about Chelan. Thanks for writing this Chelan and thank you for reading.
Last year I sat in the stabling area at Fair Hill looking at the river running through my Advanced horse’s stall. I chose to scratch my horses and then I made a phone call. That call was to Robert Kellerhouse of Galway Downs. It went something like this;
me- ‘Robert buddy, how about a CCI3* in two weeks?’
Robert (laughing)- ‘Kristy (Nunnik) already called me Chelan’
Other west coast riders called him too. Who would even CONSIDER the possibility of upgrading their CIC3* to a CCI3* in two weeks time? It never actually transpired, as Robert felt (and rightly so) that although they could come up with the right stats on paper to make it a 3 star in such a short time, they would not be able to pull off a ‘real’ 3 star. As we all know you only get once chance at a first impression.
Every event organizer should be revered respected and thanked again and again and again! Robert is no exception.
The weather is spectacular generally at Galway. Not a whole lot wrong with 75 degrees and sunny with a light breeze in November. Not to mention proximity to good wineries! Temecula is situated inland about an hour and almost equal distance between San Diego and LA. It is an hour or so from Thermal, home of winter HITS jumper land. There are two other events within and hour who host INT events- Copper Meadows and 3 Day Ranch. So there are many XC schooling options. Like many California events, Galway is not blessed with natural terrain, but the course makes the most of the berms and now goes through the infield of the mile racetrack. The footing is always sublime. That is because it is prepared footing. There are many little ‘critters’ who make tiny holes at the surface but in the sandy footing those holes often hide a much larger hole underneath. So we stay on the beautifully harrowed and watered tracks that are prepared for each division. I remember one spring our team had sent David out for a pre-CIC3* clinic and he walked the course with us. He commented in one area where the obvious choice would be to cut a few seconds off and take and inside turn which brought you off the prepared track. Somebody (probably big mouth me…) let him in on the little secret- stay ON the paths in Southern California. I am particularly fond of the footing and don’t generally wear corks. It’s like riding on wet sand in a ring, so what’s the point?
There is not a blade of grass in Southern California by the time November rolls around, so spring is more beautiful in that regard, but there is nothing like the smell of the pepper trees. I actually take a little branch home for one of my clients every time we go down if she is not able to come. Shhhh don’t tell the Canada customs agents at the border!
Ian Stark is the course designer and in a recent interview said the comments below- pretty standard stuff for all designers.
“I’ll be the one hiding in the corner, sweating all day,” said Stark with a laugh. “To be honest, you feel pretty ill with anxiety the entire day, until the last horse is home safe.”
The part that did not get printed (or more likely stated in the interview) was the part I will kindly add here on EN. “Then Robert, Christina Gray and myself have giant G and T’s and celebrate the great day of sport in the office.”
I inadvertently stumbled upon this little bit of festivities one year and so now I just ‘accidentally’ show up with an empty glass and hope for the best. Note- the ice cooler, as is often the case, is very close to the secretary trailer. Also, the limes in southern California are fantastic.
Seriously, Ian builds like he rides. Forward, horse friendly, and brave. I can’t wait to see the course! I actually can’t wait for the whole thing. This is a huge moment for eventing on the West coast. Remember the excitement when Rolex became a four star? (some of us are old enough to have been there riding) This is a similar feeling for us on the west coast. I am sad not to have a 3 star horse to rip it up with, but I will watch (and report for EN) the whole weekend. Happy to say though, my feet will not be on the ground all weekend this time. Since the WEGs I have secured the ride on a lovely client’s horse called Escalade. We are plotting our way to Bromont 2 star in June and qualifying for the Pan Ams next year.
Funny story about Ian- a couple of years ago a good friend of mine Glynis Schultz brought a greenie down for his first novice in the spring. His jumping was totally on track, but he was shall we say a ‘little lean’ in the exposure to water part. She asked me if i would be her eyes on the ground for a few minutes to assist if needed to get him in the water at Kingsway farm (across the street from Galway) I was in the jump ring nearby, riding or helping a student or something. Meanwhile Glynis rode up on her horse Nelson and points him at the water jump. His reaction was far from positive. I finished what I was doing in the ring, with the intention of making my way over to the water jump. I turn around and just about the time I see that Nelson has no interest in getting his toosies wet, somebody comes flying out on a golf cart. Wouldn’t you know, Ian Stark leaps out of the golf cart and starts muttering in Scottish (yes it IS a foreign language…) grabs Nelson and helps him into the middle of the water, points at Glynis and says, ‘Now DON’T come out!’ Without another word, he hopped back on the golf cart, and zoomed away. We still howl with laughter at that story! Especially the ‘now don’t come out’ part. Obviously, she did eventually come out, and then go back in a bunch of times. I’m happy to report that Nelson is now a lovely prelim horse with no water issues to speak of. Thanks Ian.