This fall has been busy. What with travel and work and the threat of ground bees, I haven’t had the chance to hunt. I almost didn’t make it today. I slept a bit late, discovered there was no hitch on the truck when I went to hitch the trailer and then, there was the weather. The forecast was rain. I hate hunting in the rain because it’s hard to see out of my glasses.
However, I soldiered on. The hunt was so close to where I keep my horses that I really had no excuse. Then I arrived at the hunt and discovered that the zipper on my right boot was stuck.
Luckily, I had just bought a new pair of boots and had brought them along (premonition?). It isn’t ideal to wear new boots for the first time out hunting, but I escaped with only some minor rubs.
Zelda was a good girl. She was a bit bouncy at first but by the time we reached the first check, she was starting to slow down and actually trotted a bit. I always have to laugh at her because while she strenuously objects to any kind of collection in the ring, out hunting she can practically canter in place.
Sportsmanship and horsemanship are two of the qualities that we hope to see at the highest levels of competition. Which is why this video has made such an impression. Johnson & Johnson heiress Jazz Johnson-Merton fell off her horse Joe Cool at the Hampton Classic last week. It wasn’t her horse’s fault, Merton simply came unseated after a jump, but after getting to her feet, she tried to kick him in the stomach before leading him out of the ring. Unfortunately for her, the incident was caught on video, which has since gone viral.
One of the class judges, Chris Wynn told Chronicle of the Horse of Johnson, “She got up, lost her temper and tried to kick the horse in the stomach. I’m not sure she made contact . . . It was one of those gray areas of, ‘Was it unsportsmanlike?’
Absolutely. Did it really hurt the horse? Probably not.”
But what she did do was highlight the how people should not act toward their horses. Certainly not adults.
Jazz Merton sent the following letter to the USEF, which investigated the incident, and shared it with the Chronicle of the Horse, which published the video. I’m afraid I don’t buy the apology. The fall was not serious (hence, I’m not sure why she was scared). She was certainly angry, and based on her horse’s response, it’s not the first time she went postal on him. Let’s just hope she really did learn her lesson and starts to treat her very nice horse with the care and compassion he deserves.
“One of the greatest pleasures in my life has been riding and showing horses, and I have enjoyed this hobby since I was a little girl.
“In the recent incident at the Hampton Classic, I had a very inappropriate emotional response to my horse’s behavior, one that I have never had before. I was scared and angry, and reacted very badly. For that I am deeply sorry. My reaction was short lived, and immediately after I realized my mistake, I got back on to jump a schooling fence in order to finish the day on a trusting note with this horse.
“I can assure you that the apology that I gave to the stewards at the time and this plea to you now is genuine. I will never again exhibit this unprofessional display of aggression and poor sportsmanship.
“It pains me to see that I have brought negative attention to our sport, the sport that is most dear to me.
“Please accept my apology. Sincerely, Jazz Merton”
It’s a thrill to cross the finish line at an event like Burghley, but rarely do we see what happens once the riders jump off. Follow Paul Tapner and Bonza King of Rouges behind the scenes after they finish their cross country round. It’s a real family affair. The pair finished 19th.
After the first rider on course, Tina Cook on Star Witness, galloped around with a double clear, speculation was rife that this year’s Burghley XC course was too easy. By the end of the day, that misconception had been put to rest as the course caught out some of the biggest names in eventing, and shuffled the lederboard considerably and leaving it open for Oliver Townend to move into the lead on a horse making his four star debut — Ballaghmor Class.
The biggest shock of the day was when Michael Jung retired La Biosthetique Sam FBW, after the gelding ran out at the first of the triple brushes at the Trout Hatchery, costing him 20 points. This was the first time the gelding had accumulated a cross country jumping penalty in his international career.
Another surprise was when overnight leader Mark Todd parted company with Leonidas II at Discovery Valley, dashing his hopes for a sixth Burghley win.
Andrew Nicholson was also eliminated after a fall at the Storm Doris combination when Quanza left out a stride but came back for a successful round on Nereo, putting him in
In the end, Tina Cook’s double clear was an anomaly. Only two other pairs made the optimum time of 11 minutes, 14 seconds. Seventy five percent of the 60 starters completed, but only fifty percent jumped clean. Fifteen pairs were eliminated or retired on course.
Today was the first day of dressage of Burghley 2017. Friday is another day of dressage and Cross Country takes place on Saturday. Don’t forget that Burghley will be live streamed, so you can enjoy a front row seat!
The first thing you notice about Always Dreaming and Johnny Valezquez is how clean they are. It’s an amazing accomplishment considering how sloppy the track was and how all the other horses and jockeys looked coming under the wire. That’s the benefit of a clean break and a skillful ride that kept them sitting pretty in second place until they were ready to make their move.
Staying up front was a good strategy. The beginning of the race had some bumper car moments and also the antics of Thunder Snow — seen bucking and spooking in the background right after the break. Reports have come back that TS is fine — he may never have run in the mud before and either didn’t like the footing or having mud thrown in hi face. Who can blame him?