After the Finish with Paul Tapner

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.


Oliver Townend Takes the Lead at Burghley

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.

Burghley Results after XC
The Burghley lederboard looks a bit different after cross country.

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.

Learning not to Jump Ahead

Don't jump ahead
This old article of Denny’s came up in my FB feed. What an important lesson! Click on the photo to access the article.

It is oh-so-easy to get ahead of your horse when you are learning to jump. And then you are just one step away from jumping the fence without your horse. I suspect we’ve all been there, lying on the ground on one side of a fence while your horse stands on the other side and looks at you questioningly. It’s a surprisingly hard problem to fix because, as Denny points out, your natural tendency is to lean forward.

This was my very first cross country course. Don't you love that "approved" helmet! You can't tell from the photo but it was bright blue.
This photo was taken at Pleasant Hollow but not at the event where I had that unscheduled dismount.

Many years ago when I was riding at an event at Pleasant Hollow (anyone out there remember that lovely venue?) I managed to jump the first fence of the course without my horse. Of course, my trainer got that fall on video and I had the pleasure of watching it over and over again, analyzing my fall in slow motion! Still, although I could see what went wrong, it was harder to fix it.

My trainer had an ingenious solution: She had me ride another student’s horse. One that was a fabulous jumper except, he would not leave the ground if you got ahead of him. It made him a great teacher!

Since then, I’ve also learned the “trick” of using a neck strap. Many of the trainers whom I’ve ridden with in the past few years are proponents and I wish I’d figured it out sooner. Looping a finger through the strap and remembering to lean back a bit keeps me more centered and stable. I’ve also learned that it’s sometimes better to get a wee bit behind (especially if you are holding onto that neck strap) than to get ahead.

How did you learn not to jump ahead?

Christopher Burton Leads Burghley After Cross Country

standings after xcAfter cross-country day at Burghley, where the heavy rain made for tough going in the afternoon, Christopher Burton and Nobilis still sit in the lead. They are followed by Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy in second and Andrew Nicholson and Nereo in third.

There were just 28 clear rounds and 40 completions from 68 starters today – and none finished inside the 11min11sec optimum time. The fastest time came from Jonelle Price and Classic Moet who were just four seconds over.

The course was very interesting because all of the options that were available to riders. Captain Mark Phillips designed it so that there were longer, safer routes for many of the fences; even after a rider jumped the first part of a combination, there was often an alternative way round. Many riders took advantage of those options, even on the fly.

I’m still working my way through the on-demand version of the coverage and once again thanking Burghley.Tv for making it all available.

Olympics Cross Country Shakes up Standings

Philip Dutton had the save of the day. Not only did he get his horse over the jump and between the flags, he even stayed on!
Philip Dutton had the save of the day. Not only did he get Mighty Nice over the jump and between the flags, he even stayed on! Dutton is now in fifth place, moving up from 15th after dressage.
XC course
The cross country course in Rio was long and technical with most riders reporting that it was a true 4*. Click on the image for fence by fence photos.

Everyone predicted that the cross country course in Rio would be hard and it lived up to their expectations. It really shook up the leaderboard with some top combinations falling out of medal contention and others moving way up in the rankings.

I really wish I had access to the live stream of the cross country but unfortunately I don’t have cable and while I’ve signed up for Sling, they haven’t broadcast any equestrian events yet. It’s highly frustrating to only see still photos!

Current standings
Current standings

About 70 percent percent of the field completed the course, with just 40 percent jumping clear, which is the lowest clear rate in the short-format era according to EquiRatings.  Just three combinations made the time, and they’re all sitting in the top three after cross country. Chris Burton piloted a relatively green Santano II, who has only competed in one CCI3* prior to this, to a foot perfect round, coming home bang on the optimum time to remain on his dressage score of 36.0 and move from second up to first.

— Eventing Nation

Dressage leader William Fox-Pitt picked up 20 penalty points for crossing his own line when he realized that he needed to take the long way through a combination. Michael Jung is now sitting in second place and Astier and Piaf de b’Neville’s moved  from 11th up to third place and Mark Todd moved from 17th to fourth.

Boyd Martin and Blackfoot Mystery
Boyd Martin and Blackfoot Mystery moved up from 35th to 6th place after cross country.

“That was one of the most physically demanding courses — you had to jump a jump, turn, accelerate. It was tiring, it was laboring, it was intense,” Boyd said. “Question after question after question, and you get through one tough jump and you come to another tough jump. I’m so thankful I was on an old racehorse from Kentucky because he kept firing the whole way home. He was definitely on empty coming to the last three and he just tried his heart out and jumped every jumped.”

— Eventing Nation

Unfortunately, the US team is no longer in contention for a medal at the games. Clark Montgomery withdrew after several problems on course with Loughan Glen. And Lauren Kieffer and Veronika fell at fence 24. Right now the leading teams are Australia, New Zealand, and France followed by Germany, The Netherlands and Brazil.

“Bring Your Helmet”: My Ride On Dante Maximus | The Chronicle of the Horse

Wow, this sounds like a blast. Probably the only way I’m going to get around anything bigger than a Beginner Novice course these days (why is that 30 years after my first event, I am thinking smaller rather than larger?)

I wish that I lived a bit closer to Tryon.

Imagine heading out on a four-star cross-country course with a horse you’ve only ridden for about 20 minutes. In the warm-up, you get the chance to practice his piaffe and passage, do some medium and collected trot, jump a few show jumping fences, and then you get a lead into the start box.

That was my life a few weeks ago when I got an unexpected catch ride on a big black horse named Dante Maximus. So I jammed my heels down, gave this willing horse a kick in exactly the middle of his belly, and we were off. A few times I pulled on the reins too hard, and he came to a dead halt. Another time we did hit a tree—oops, but he was fine. We jumped a two-stride combination from a walk, and I nearly got popped out of the tack jumping down the bank. Still, we made it through the finish flags in one piece!

OK. A (probably obvious) caveat. This was a fake horse—an equine simulator. And I was only “riding him” around a simulated “cross-country course.” Had he been a real horse, well, for starters, none of that would have happened or been recommended, or ahem, even been allowed, but also I probably wouldn’t have been doing any piaffe and passage in the warm-up ring unless it was by accident.

Heading Out On Course
Heading out on course, all smiles, unaware that we were about to hit some trees. Photo by Meg Banks for TIEC

Despite the fact that Dante’s not a real horse, there were parts of the experience that felt pretty real. Waiting for my simulator trainer, Barbro Ask-Upmark, to queue up the “advanced” cross-country program, I did get a little nervous.

To read the rest click on this link: “Bring Your Helmet”: My Ride On Dante Maximus | The Chronicle of the Horse

Michael Jung holds onto his lead at Rolex

After another rainy cross country day at Rolex (what is it about Rolex and rain? Those fences are scary enough without dealing with sloppy footing). Michael Jung and FischerRocana FST are still in first. Philip Dutton holds second (on Fernhill Fugitive) and third (Might Nice). Maya Black is fourth on Doesn’t Play Fair. Boyd Martin is in fifth place on Shamwari 4, and Lauren Kieffer is in sixth on Veronica.

The USEF has all the rides available to watch on demand here.

But if you want to “ride along” on the course, check out Elisa Wallace’s round on Simply Priceless.