In case you missed us mentioning this throughout our coverage of the Carolina International CIC3*, Jenni had the brilliant idea of a biking tour of the cross country course via helmet cam. As the resident helmet cam expert, I pulled out my cross country helmet a few days early and hopped on my tiny motorbike. Given special permission by the organizers and Marc Donovan to cruise around (thanks, guys!), we had a great time and hope that this view of the course will be a cool way to see the terrain and the size of the jumps a little more up close and personal than you can get when you’re flying over them!
My overall impression of the course is good, and I think designer Hugh Lochore and the builders Levi Ryckewaert and Tyson Rementer have outdone themselves. I like the flow of it, as it allows for some breathers at key times during the course where you can let them gallop and relax in between combinations. Every year, my favorite thing about this event is that I feel like the course makes sense; it doesn’t throw irrational combinations in at random, but rather introduces them gradually and intellectually.
The questions are challenging, as they should be for this level, and almost all of them require a horse that is attuned to your turning aids and ready to look for a jump. I think one of the hallmarks of the course here is that your horse must concentrate hard because the wooded areas are shady and distracting, and then you pop out into the field and there is a lot to look at, so your horse must be very focused on you.
There are several new complexes, most notably the Stonehenge combination, which we have to show jump around tomorrow and is quite spooky. Zoe’s Bank is incorporated into every level, and for our course it’s a good question early on to get the horses thinking. The second water is always a big draw for the public, and this year it’s almost identical to last year, which was a pretty exciting scene, so it promises to deliver again.
Please note, I apologize to Pam (wherever you are), as Jenni and I failed to read the map correctly, and we missed number 16, Pam’s Pole Spread, as you come into the infield off the track. You should also know that I am not capable of actually traveling that fast on a bike, but we sped the video up for your viewing convenience. Enjoy!