Well I can officially say I’ve completed Fair Hill cross country … on foot … while panting embarrassingly and praying no one saw me in such an unfit state. But I did it. And I can tell you with certainty that we are in for a treat this weekend as Derek di Grazia has done what he does best once again.
Fair Hill is affectionately (and respectfully) known as a mini-Rolex, a solid prep for horses and riders who are eyeing Kentucky next year and a formidable test as the headlining event to close out the fall season. Walking the cross country course, it’s easy to see why; with the rolling terrain that is at times deceptively difficult and the technical questions that come rather unrelentingly, this weekend will certainly be anything but a dressage show.
The CCI3* course starts off with three nice questions to get into a rhythm and jump out of stride. Fence 4 begins to ask the listening questions, as it’s a small cabin on an incline that may have some funny looking shadows on it depending on the time of day. Truth be told, it should still serve to establish the rhythm that has been generated at the first three fences, and then riders have a good gallop with time to prep for the first water question. At fence 5, the Frog Pond, we start to see the technical questions pop up and then the going will get progressively tougher from there.
There are a few galloping stretches in which horse and rider can take a deep breath, but many of these stretches are positioned on terrain, so balance and rhythm will continue to be of utmost importance.
Seema Sonnad has an honorary fence on course, a beautiful ditch and brush at fence 9 decorated in none other than purple. Seema also has a portable fence dedicated to her that we’ll see on the Young Event Horse course this week — we’ll be sure to grab some photos of it!
The fences are all decorated beautifully, a true testament to the hard work and dedication of the team of volunteers who has tirelessly worked to get ready for this weekend. Janine McLain and Holly Covey have been in charge of decorations and have done a tremendous job in getting these fences to shine. Eric Bull and Jamie Gornall have ensured the brush fences are ready to go for the weekend. We salute all of you and cannot wait to see this course in action on Saturday.
This is also the second year without much loved and fondly remembered Judy Thayer, who lost her battle with cancer in July 2014. Judy dedicated 25 years to this event, organizing cross country schoolings and horse trials as well as serving as the cross country coordinator and lead volunteer for the big fall event.
We’ve just gotten underway with the First Horse Inspection here at Fair Hill, so Jenni will have your full report once the jog is complete. Go Fair Hill!