March is finally here, and every eventer starts thinking of Kentucky. The Rolex Kentucky Three Day event will take place April 27-May 1, and is the premier eventing competition in America, as well as the only four-star. Those not lucky enough to be competing will be attending as spectators, or following from home on the webcasts. NBC will also have a live broadcast on Sunday, which is really exciting. This year, I will be in the second category, as I will be aiming my new horse towards a Spring Three Star instead, but hopefully if all goes well, I will be in the first category next year.
I thought I would share some of my favorite tips. Maybe it will inspire you to attend if you never have been before, or maybe you will discover something new to do. First of all, arrive early and attend the first horse inspection. It is your best opportunity to see the horses up close, and appreciate their beauty and athleticism. It is also the time when self-appointed fashion police are on hand to administer “fashion felonies,” and “style kudos.” I think it is my favorite part!
Arrive early, get a good seat, and don’t miss it. Next is the Three Day Shop, which has the best merchandise of any sporting event. Make this your first stop in the trade fair, as you will want the best selection, and sizes will sell out after the mad rush on xc day. This year, with Ariat being the official apparel sponsor, it is bound to be especially great. Block out some time to spend in the trade fair. It has grown each year, and is time for some serious shopping. If you plan ahead, you can probably knock out all of your Christmas shopping and be done early. It is also the time of the year that I eat a funnel cake. Yum!
Plan to walk the cross-country course. Seeing those obstacles up close will give you a huge appreciation for the bravery of the athletes, both equine and human. It will take about one and a half hours to two hours to walk, so you may want to break it up into two segments. Think of it as walking off the funnel cake. On dressage day, spend the extra money, and rent the headsets with commentary. It is very informative, and usually a bit entertaining considering that these horses are performing a fourth level dressage test when they are fit to gallop 25 miles an hour over a 10 minute country course. Enough said!
Visit the Kentucky Horse Park Museums. They are so well done, you shouldn’t miss them. It is also a good way to get out of the sun/rain/cold, or whatever weather we get that weekend. While you are on that side of the park, be sure to visit the United States Pony Club offices. They have the best bookstore ever. I can almost guarantee that you will walk out of there with a gem of a book. The USPC will also be hosting the Prince Phillip Cup again. Listen for announcements, but they are usually held in the Walnut Ring below the main stadium. These talented young riders will be racing through gymkhana-type games, and having a blast. Many event riders got their start in Pony Club and you may even catch some of them riding in the “celebrity games.” For the first time this year, there will be tailgating on cross-country day. How fun to have a picnic and enjoy the action up close. I think this is going to be very popular.
Also, new this year is the Reining competition. It will be a five-star reining class, and the first ever World Championship freestyle competition. One of the great things about the WEG last year was bringing together all 7 FEI disciplines. I think this is a great way of continuing that legacy. I am getting excited already! Book your tickets, and I will see you there!