Lucinda Green Reviews Rolex Kentucky Cross Country

    Phillip Dutton and Mr Medicott. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

I was lucky enough to catch up with Lucinda Green after the final horse inspection and ask her about her thoughts on yesterday’s cross country at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Lucinda, of course, is passionate about the sport, safety and training, and not afraid to speak her mind, so we’re grateful that she took the time to speak to us earlier.

“I thought it was a fantastic course. The individual fences weren’t particularly enormous, it felt like quite a lot of the fences were 3* dimensions but I thought the lines were very 4*, and the thing about 4* is the way they come up on you, and come up on you, and come up on you so you’ve never really got time to take a breath. You’ve got to have an enormously brave horse that keeps saying, ‘Yes, give me more!’.

“The ground was as good as I’ve ever seen it, and yet there were still a lot of tired horses, and tired early too. I don’t know why…it was humid? Going away from the water up the hill a lot of horses look tired here, and they certainly did this time; there were a few notable exceptions, regrettably for those of you with warmbloods, they were mostly Thoroughbreds who looked like they could have gone on and on.”

“I thought Mr Medicott was an absolute credit to all those around him — 18 and he was just absolutely spring-heeled around there! He did look a bit tired at the end but just about all of them did.”

Zara Tindall and High Kingdom. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

“The thing I think that disappointed me most was the riding. I think Zara Phillips, and it’s nothing to do with her being English, but she just shone a torch on what cross country riding is all about. It’s not about counting five strides here and four strides there, it’s about riding what you feel underneath you. The Americans aren’t the only ones, I find it throughout the world when I teach, riders are absolutely mesmerised by the stride pattern that they’ve counted when they walk.

“A particularly good example was the two brush fences out of the water which measured whatever it measured, and many a rider just hooked for the stride that they’d walked, when their horse just needed them to sit down, run up that hill and jump that fence, and they’d have saved a second as well as given their horse some fun.

“These horses are looking pretty bored, they’re dominated, and High Kingdom has shone a real torch and I hope a lot of the American riders start to realise that cross country is not all about counting strides and keeping the stride pattern that you’ve counted; it’s about getting in there and riding what you feel and making sure the horse sees the fence — quite a lot of horses didn’t even see their fences— and then takes you to it. It’s as simple as that: he’s got to see the fence and take you to it.

“But it was a great day, no bad, bad sights which is super.”

Erin Sylvester and Mettraise. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Walking back afterwards we happened to pass Erin Sylvester taking Mettraise out and I pointed her out to Lucinda, and mentioned that Erin had won the Land Rover Ride of the Day Saturday, and that Missy was a 10 year old TB mare at her first four star, but that Erin had a ton of experience in the racehorse world, and Lucinda admired both the horse, and wished that more riders could do the same.

“That’s what a few more of them need to do: ride racehorses. And ride Phase B actually. Learn that it is ok to gallop to a fence and sit up and hold; you don’t have to be picking for a stride. I think that’s what’s happened — the skinnies have come in which has made people ride like this, the dressage has got more difficult which has made people more dominating, and the steeplechase has gone so over a period of time they’ve lost that too.”

Many thanks again, and as always to Lucinda for her time and wisdom, both hugely appreciated. We’re looking forward to catching up with her next week at Badminton, and we’ll enjoy watching her watch her daughter Lissa compete there for the first time — I can’t quite imagine the emotions of having your daughter compete on the biggest stage, and also have that very stage be somewhere that holds such an enormous place in your heart; Badminton and Lucinda Green will always be synonymous to me, but I digress…! That’s all to come in next week’s Eventing Nation!

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