This past weekend, a group of my friends, fellow riders and boarders from Oakdale Equestrian Center and myself attended the Great Meadow International event. This has become a yearly tradition, where we make our two-hour trek from Central Virginia and head to one of the most beautiful areas in the country. There is nothing as lovely as the view at Great Meadows, with its green rolling hills and mountains in the distance.
This past weekend was wonderful, as the temperatures never exceeded 79 degrees. Quite unusual for August in Virginia — a taste of the cooler, fly-free weather to come. As always, the show grounds, stadium ring on Saturday evening and cross country course on Sunday looked amazing and the closer-in parking area gets a major thumbs-up from us this year! The organizers really went out of their way to make it easy to access and enjoyable for all who attended. After having organized a lower-level horse trial and knowing the work it involves, I extend kudos to the organizers, who behind the scenes dealt with major preparation, scheduling, coordination and the long hours that it took to put this event together.
But what also resonated this past weekend were the small, unknown encounters with a few of our Team USA and upper-level riders that really turned our weekend into an unforgettable memory. Within their increasingly exhaustive schedules, riding multiple entries for clients or their own programs, it is always impressive when our upper-level riders generously take the time to interact with their fans and supporters.
For instance, Emily Beshear, taking a few moments between her multiple rides to chat with her students who came to support her, or when members of the Pan American Gold Medal Team — Boyd Martin, Lynn Symansky and Doug Payne (medals and all) — took the time to pose for pictures with our group of eventing-crazy teens (and adults). Or even better, the next day observing Lynn Symansky collaborating with her fellow competitors to strategize the best option to take at a jump, and then running out onto to the cross country course to fix a flag that had fallen. This was all before she hopped on to ride to her Great Meadows victory. Priceless!
I think this all goes back to an earlier observation of generosity, support and the joy we feel about our sport, referenced in “The Heart of an Eventer.” Regardless of what level we ride, whether hopping over a monster-sized table at Land Rover Kentucky, or over a course of two-foot jumps in a backyard ring, or even taking the time to volunteer at a local or international show, we all are bonded together by a love for our horses and the sport of eventing.
I encourage my fellow-eventers to continue to come out, support and attend shows like Great Meadow International, so we have future opportunities to watch the best in the sport and learn. In what other sport do fans have the chance to brush elbows with our upper-level riders and medalists alike, stand right next to humongous jumps and then take all the pictures and videos we want? GO EVENTING (and GO WATCH EVENTING too)!
In memory of Ann Haller – a fellow eventer who worked behind the scenes at Great Meadow and loved our sport.