Ever wonder what it must be like to prepare a horse for Rolex? It is equal parts invigorating, nerve wracking and just plain old-fashioned hard work.
First the invigorating part. I still remember the first time I filled out that Rolex entry form and mailed it in. Way cool. It is actually the least expensive event you will ever enter. $100. Go EEI and the great job they have done attracting sponsorship to keep the costs down for riders. And if you start xc on Sat, you get a $500 travel grant. Yeah! Entry fees covered. A rarity in eventing for sure. You have booked travel plans for your horse, yourself and your groom and have booked yourself into a hotel or the campground. Check marks in all the detail columns. This must really be happening.
Now the stressful part. Making sure your horse is both fit enough and sound enough to complete the event. Each one seems to be diametrically opposed to the other. If you left Bullseye locked up in his padded cell wrapped from head to toe in bubble wrap for the last six weeks before the event he would arrive there sound but probably wouldn’t be able to make it past jump number 2 on the cross country. On the other hand, getting over-excited and galloping Bullseye for 12 minutes every other day might have him finishing the 11 minute course in under 6 but probably wont get you past the ground juries watchful eye on Wednesday’s jog.
Ah, finding the balance.
And then there is the hard work part. This is what event riders are made of. There is probably many hours spent driving to extra dressage lessons and dressage shows, the Achilles heel of equines athletes poised to run a 4 mile track. And the hours spent driving to qualifying competitions. And the extra icing, wrapping, magnetic blankets, Infared therapies and just about anything that promises it will make your horse sounder, fitter and more capable of performing at his best. And the extra trot sets for hours on end or walking endlessly on the trail or staring at your horse on a treadmill or whatever slow form of torture you pick to make sure Bullseye has enough base of long, slow distance fitness to keep his bones and tendons strong. And then the galloping work. Every 4-7 days depending on Bullseye’s breed and natural affinity for speed work. Usually involving more trailering to appropriate locations with hills or if you are based in Florida a rare piece of rising ground or even just somewhere with footing good enough to risk moving Bullseye out of a walk.
And then of course the trips to the vet. If you are like most of the other four star hopefuls out there, you will have developed a very close relationship with your vet and probably have his or her number on speed dial ahead of your spouse or significant other. Every day when Bullseye has a new bump or swelling on one of his precious four legs when he comes in from turnout, you will have said vet on the phone freaking out over how Bullseye is trying to foil his trip to the Bluegrass state yet again.
And then the day rolls around and it is time to put Bullseye on the trailer and you pull into the glorious Kentucky Horse Park. Your pulse runs a little quicker and Bullseye knows the time is here. You settle Bullseye into his stall and pick up your packet with your number.
You have arrived.