I’m with the Band Eventer










Google Places and Platypie

Pony Club Nationals
By Sophie Gary

Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event

Sophie Gary

Well what a month it has been! So last time, I wrote a story about me, Erin, Calli, and Char traveling to the Kentucky Horse Park to watch the one and only Lillian Heard complete the RK3DE! It was quite an experience, and one I will never EVER forget…

So anyway, during the week of July 14th, a group of four of us traveled to Lexington. It was Olivia’s first time in the park, and the second time for Char, Calli and I. It was awesome!

Wait a second, I am getting ahead of myself… Let me start at the beginning.

Our week started on Saturday, with an endless day at Bascule cleaning tack and packing the trailer. On Sunday, the intense packing and cleaning continued. We returned home for an early bedtime, due to a 2 am wakeup and a 3 am departure from the barn. Char spent the night, and although we had planned to go to bed by 9, that didn’t exactly work out… we fell asleep around midnight, and got two hours of sleep! It’s ok though, because we bought some double shot expressos which got us through the morning. We got to the barn around 3, loaded all 6 ponies, and then got in the truck with Julie! We played games, chit-chatted, sang songs, and took some short naps. It was also SO COOL to experience a trailer ride with the horses for that long! We got to stop, give them water, apples, and treats!

So anyway, we arrived at THE KENTUCKY HORSE PARK around 2, and I have to say, passing the big sign that said "Welcome to the Kentucky Horse Park" was a great feeling – especially after having been there less than five months ago. This time however, we got to enter through the competitor’s entrance, instead of the visitor’s! Anyway, once we pulled into the barns, we immediately unloaded the horses, and put them in their stalls. We bedded them, put up their feed and water buckets, and waited for them to settle in. In the meantime, we unloaded the enormous amount of tack and supplies we had packed, and brought them to our stalls.

Oh, before I continue, let me clarify something quickly. Charlotte and Calli were on the same team, Olivia was on a different team, and I was also on a different team.

So anyway, we were each reunited with our team members, and some of us met them for the first time. They were awesome! They helped us "newbees" and we couldn’t have gotten through the week without them. Anyway, after settling in, at around 5:30, we fed and picked out their stalls. Char, Calli and I stayed together at the Clarion. Even though we only spent one night together, it was quite the adventure! No, it wasn’t quite as crazy as Rolex, but we did get a minimal amount of sleep and sing to some Frozen songs!

So anyway, we had a 5 am wakeup to be at the barn by 6 am to feed our perfect ponies and muck their stalls (shoutout to the Bascule resident students who have to do this every day), which was followed by a quick ride to get our horses used to the area. Davie settled in great as usual, along with Tank and Rascal. Ty was a little excited, and as Julie said, he took some "settling in," but he calmed down towards the end of the ride! This was followed by some down time with our teams.

Oh, I forgot to mention, this certain day was Tuesday, which was jog day! Jogs started at around 1 (as far as I can remember), and so we spent the remainder of our morning making our horses look good, along with our dressage bridles which we used to jog in. All our horses passed, and it was quite an experience! I have to say, I was quite nervous though.

So anyway, we returned to our team areas and hung out. My team had an ihome, through which we blasted music (NOT EXPLICIT!) My team had previously made up a song about horse management judges to the song "Dark Horse" by Katy Perry. It went a little like this… "I’m coming at you like an HM judge. Are you ready for ready for? A perfect score perfect score? Cause you’re not done, you’re not done! There’s still turnbacks!" Oh, another popular song on our playlist was "Sherry" by the Jersey Boys! "Sheeeery, Sherry baby…" It was hilarious!

Our day came to an end at 6 pm, after feeding the ponies their dinner and mucking out their stalls again. We all went to our hotel rooms with our parents (all our mom;s were there now!) and had dinner. I’m not sure about everyone else, but I know I went to bed around 8:30… boy was I tired! I also had to get some extra rest for the first day of competition…

DRESSAGE DAY! All our ride times were around the same time in the afternoon, so we got there bright and early to feed and muck again, and then we bathed and braided. Oh, I forgot to mention, we also had our formals on this day! For those of you who don’t know, formal inspections are when an HM judge inspects both your attire and your horse’s tack, along with the horse itself. Bottom line is, your horse must be SPOTLESS! Shoutout to Olivia who has a paint which makes this task quite difficult! So after braiding and bathing, we cleaned our tack and polished the metal, washed their tails to get all the dandruff out, cleaned our own boots, tacked up, and changed into our dressage attire. After one last check to make sure everything was on point, we all headed over to the formals. We said our introductions, they inspected our horses, tack, and attire, and then it was done! Everyone did really well! Afterwards, we headed over to the dressage rings… it was quite far away, and I got lost once but a volunteer pointed me in the right way! There were five rings, plus two more which were in different locations (the covered arena and the annex). Olivia was in the annex, and the rest of us were in the regular rings. The dressage warmup was PACKED! It was hard to do a twenty meter circle without having to halt and let another rider pass.

So anyway, the tests went well for the most part. Calli and Davie put in a great test (no surprise there!) and landed with a very good score (the usual for Mr. Dovid). Tank and Charlotte put in one of their best tests ever. I watched it from my warmup, and it looked fabulous! Although their score didn’t reflect his improvement, it was definitely one of their best tests and it can only go up from here! Olivia and Rascal had their best test ever, and although I didn’t see it, Julie said "Rascal’s finally starting to get the dressage thing!" Ty and I didn’t have a great test, but I couldn’t be anything but happy due to his situation. We all returned to our teams, exhausted and all, and prepared for our turnbacks (an hour after your ride, you go to the HM judges with clean tack and a clean and cooled-out horse) in hopes of getting no points off. Everyone did great, especially due to the stress levels of having only an hour to present everything as if you hadn’t ridden! After that, we received our scores and placings so far. Calli was in first, Charlotte was in seventeenth, Olivia was tied for fifteenth, and I was in fourteenth.

So anyway, after all the tests were done, all the pony clubbers went to the opening ceremonies to participate in a parade (it was almost like the Olympics!!!)

After that, all four of us returned to our hotels EXHAUSTED and basically passed out and went to bed to prepare for the phase that lies at the heart of our sport… CROSS COUNTRY! On most days, I am super nervous for this phase, but on this certain Thursday, I felt excited more than anything! Just the idea of competing on the same ground that four star riders such as William Fox Pitt and Phillip Dutton and our own Lillian Heard, was just amazing!

We all prepared for our rides, and the day started off with Calli riding first. She and Davie had a clear round but put in a few time penalties, but no big deal! Charlotte was next, and although Tank was very forward, they went clear and looked amazing out there. Rascal and Olivia also put in a clear round (DEFINITELY no surprise there!) Ty and I didn’t have the run we were hoping for. We had a little incident in warmup that frazzled me a little bit, as well as Ty, but we relaxed a lot when we walked up to the starting box. We had a good course, and landed ourselves with a stop at a down bank, but I was fine with it!

All our horses were very well prepared, and they were all super fit (Ty scared the vet a little bit when she checked his pulse, because it was so low!) As I said before, it was such an honor to simply be riding on the same grass that Rolex riders competed on a few short months ago, and no matter what had happened on course – we were all so grateful. So anyway… xc day was done!

The placings after our cross country runs were as follows: Calli remained in first, Charlotte moved up to 14, Olivia stayed steady in 15, and I moved down to 19. It was a pretty good day! Shoutout to Julie Hagen for walking to cross country and back to the barns multiple times – you rock!

So anyway, after xc we all met up to talk about our runs and figure out how everyone else from Capital region was doing. We spent the rest of the day doing what we usually did; taking care of the ponies and just bonding with our teams! After that, Char, Calli and I went out to dinner at the cracker barrel. It was quite an adventure! I mean, it is not a trip to Kentucky without going to ONE bad restaurant (last time it was Don Jose Cuervo).

By the way, as much as I tried to convince the parents to take us BACK to the one and only Don Jose Cuervo, they were not interested. We then returned to our hotels and went to bed SUPER early after a tough xc day, and woke up super early again to do the usual morning routine for the final time L It was Friday, the final day of competition, and the stadium phase! Olivia rode first, and had a super round on Rascal! She knocked one rail, but Rascal was a star.

Charlotte rode next, and had a clear round on Tank! She was ECSTATIC! She was so happy that when she finished she almost fell because she was hugging Tanky so much :) Calli was next, and she and Davie had a good round, even with a rail and a small amount of time penalties. They looked like a hunter pair going over the fences! Lastly, I was up. Now, for those of you that don’t know, I have super long hair, and so Charlotte came over to help me try and fit it in my helmet. We were having no success with mine, so she grabbed hers (a bigger size) and attempted to do the same with that helmet. IT WORKED! She is the first person (besides Jen) to ACTUALLY fit my hair in a helmet. KUDOS TO YOU, CHAR!

Ty put in a great effort and put in a clear round, even with me flapping around on his back like a jellyfish. We were all so proud of our ponies, even though each one had their errors, they tried so hard to please us, and we couldn’t be anything but happy. After all our rides, we grabbed lunch and then explored the vendors. Also, my team decided to play a game of "chubby bunny" with the leftover lollipops we had. My buddy Reagan (she was at champs for show jumping) invaded out tack room and joined the game. She ended up winning by fitting 9 lollipops in her mouth! It was hilarious! We then started to get ready for the awards ceremony, just as it started to downpour.

The ceremony was delayed for a while, and during the delay, Julie decided to leave with the ponies. We loaded them onto the trailer in the downpour, and the proceeded to load our tack. They seemed to know they were going home, and they looked so cozy in the trailer. We said bye to our ponies, and away they went! Then, we went to the awards ceremony, which was being held under a small tent, which was barely big enough to fit us all. We sat with our teams, and my team and I joked about how we weren’t getting any ribbons because nobody did too well riding wise. It was at that moment that the judges started announcing the horse management placings, which rely solely on how many points you got off over the week. We whispered to eachother "HAH no way we are getting any of these…" and then out of nowhere we heard "in eighth place, CAPITAL TAILS!" We died of laughter because we were so surprised! We got a nice brown ribbon (Why brown? Why cant they change it to a teal or something?)

So anyway, the ceremony continued, and Olivia and her team got THIRD FOR HORSE MANAGEMENT!

Then they proceeded to do the team RIDING awards. Calli and Charlotte’s team got SECOND! AMAZING! After that, they started the individual awards. None of us placed in the top ten, except for Calli who was in first the whole competition until moving down to second after stadium – WHICH IS STILL SO AMAZING! I MEAN none of the rest of us placed in the top ten! Good job Calli!

So anyway, Charlotte ended up finishing 12th, Olivia ended up finishing 17th, and I ended up 19th. I was a little bummed out by my results, but the one and only Lillian Heard texted me to cheer me up! To sum it all up, she said "don’t worry about the results – I had a stop in Kentucky at Rolex like you, and I also ended up third to last. Don’t worry!" Well, we both ended up third to last, so we are twins! Not really because she’s AN AMAZING RIDER :-) but it sure did cheer me up!

What a week it was – a week full of experiences! It was filled with hard work, tears, stress, laughs, and smiles. It was not only a good learning experience, but it was also the experience of a lifetime! Just thinking about how Lillian and other amazing riders did the same things as us (but on a very different level) gives me chills. We got a taste of real eventing, and all the work that goes into it. Everyone worked super hard to get there, and we all did it together. We got rated together, went to rally together just a few weeks later, and then went to champs together. Im going to quote high school musical here – "WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER"

SO ANYWAY, congratulations to all my friends who crushed it out there. Thank you Julie Hagen for the amazing amount of coaching, support, tips, trailering, and everything else. We couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you to all the people who donated to help make this trip possible, and thank you Peg for the great pictures! And most importantly – thanks to all our horses who took great care of us, and carried us across the Kentucky Horse Park.