Doug Payne: Saumur CCI3* Cross Country Course Preview

The rain in France definitely put on a show today, but Doug is still in good spirits about his trip. His latest blog includes a cross country course preview and some comments on the toughest questions. Be sure to follow Doug and Facebook and Twitter for much more on his trip to Saumur with Crown Talisman, who he owns in partnership with Larry and Amelia Ross.

Rain pours off the roof at the stables. Photo by Doug Payne.

Rain pours off the roof at the stables. Photo by Doug Payne.

From Doug:

I hate to report that the skies opened up today … and really never closed! We did our best to hunker down for the day and avoid the rain; we failed. I rode with David O’Connor first thing in the morning; Tali and I were completely soaked. He was a little less settled than yesterday, so we decided to ride again this afternoon following the first horse inspection.

Next up for the day was the briefing. Difficult to say exactly what was said, but I think we got the general gist of things. My French certainly hasn’t improved enough to determine what was said aside from the English translation given by the show manager extraordinaire Joelle Stafford.

During the briefing was the all important draw. Each nation, 20+ of them, was asked to come down and pick a bottle of sparkling wine with a number on the bottom. This indicated the order in which we would jog. We ended up with number 14, placing us just about an hour into the inspection.

Our view of the briefing and draw.

Our view of the briefing and draw.

Following the briefing, Michelle and I headed out on the cross country course. I’ve complied the course below in a collage with the size of the picture roughly indicating the importance/difficulty of each jump or combination. A quick run through with regards to striding, etc:

Fence 5: There is basically no good approach to the first element due to trees and an unjumpable fence. Once at it, the combination is a two-stride line. The challenge is really getting the first element done; once over the A portion, B shouldn’t be too much trouble.

Fence 8: You just don’t want to miss; it’s not terribly tall, but the ditch is massive.

Fence 9: This combination should ideally ride in a three-stride to three-stride line — left side of the first, again your approach is restricted, bending then right to the second skinny and more or less straight to the last.

Fence 11: This is off quite a tight turn and again on three strides (although my memory might not serve me well, if not three then four strides, but a decent distance regardless).

Fence 12: Triple brush in the water … this should ride well as long as they see it early enough and you get there with enough energy. It’s certainly not one you can just gallop on down to.

Fence 14: I don’t remember the striding, but probably four. The hill is steeper than it looks; it’s a blind approach. Luckily for Tali, he saw this identical combination two weeks ago at Jersey Fresh.

Fence 16: Four strides on a bending line.

Fence 18: The direct line, which is my intention, is the corner of the boat bending four strides to the corner of the second boat in the water. The A element is quite vertical, so make sure it gets done well! The option is the white to the second boat backwards.

Fence 21: This is a slightly long three stride, but should ride normal after a long gallop around the track.

Fences 23 and 24: The hill after 23 is significant — again, the photos don’t do it justice. It’s a bending line to 24 AB, which is a bounce, then three strides to the C element. I expect this should ride well, but will require you’re still on your A game.

Fences 25-27: With all of the rain, this was nearly a water to water with a bounce in the middle. I’m glad I practiced some bounces last week!

Fence 29: Possibly the most important fence of all!

I’m very happy with the course. I think it suits Tali well — again not to minimize its difficulty. If you’re off your line at any of these combinations or fail to get their eye on the next element soon enough, you’ll absolutely have trouble!

The day continued with the horse inspection. The rain continued to fall with some intermittent lightning. After our first time up and back on the strip, I was asked to represent, but alas all was clear, and we’ve officially begun!


My dressage test will be at roughly 2:30 p.m. local time on Friday, which is just about ideal for us. I can’t wait! Tomorrow we plan to start with a lesson at 8:30 a.m. We’re going to make a quick trip over to the Cadre Noir de Saumur at 10:30 a.m., then back to the show grounds to walk the cross country again!

More details tomorrow.


View the rest of Doug’s blog posts here. And order a copy of his book by clicking the cover image below:
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