My American adventure | An Eventful Life

My American adventure

 

 As I write this I am getting on a plane to come home after a month away in America. I have spent the last 4 weeks at Boyd and Silva Martin’s property in Cochranville Pennsylvania which funnily enough is like a mini Australia with Phillip Dutton, Ryan Wood and Dominic Schramm living nearby. It has been a busy month with a competition on every weekend and the final weekend was spent at Rolex Kentucky 3DE.

Boyd and Silva have a very busy yard separated into eventing (Boyd) and dressage (Silva) horses. It is situated on 80 very pretty acres with plenty of area to hack the horses out in surrounding fields and laneways. They have a trotting track with a great surface for getting the horses fit, a dressage arena, jumping arena, and cross country course. This would have to be the best set up XC schooling course I have seen with everything ranging from 60cm fences right up to 3* questions. They are currently in the process of conducting some major earthworks for a future indoor arena and stabling area which is going to be quite impressive once finished.

 The competition scene here is quite competitive with some very nice horses and many imported from Europe. From what I experienced it seems the overall quality of the horses is higher in America, especially in the lower levels. Not too many amateurs riding around on off the track thoroughbreds! I had the opportunity to ride some really nice dressage and eventing horses while at Windurra including World Equestrian Games and Olympic mount Shamwari 4.

 

 

They have a great program with the horses with an emphasis on getting the horses out of the arena to keep them fit and provide variety to their work. I was able to catch up with Boyd’s tough Australian bred 4* horse Neville Bardos who was the only survivor in the barn fire that happened whilst they were based at Phillip Dutton’s place. During the second week of my stay Boyd’s main stable rider had a fall resulting in 5 fractures to his face. While he was out of action I had the opportunity to compete his 3 rides at the event for the weekend at Training level (similar to out Pre-Novice) – I managed a 3rd and 7th place finishing on their dressage scores.

My final stop was Lexington Kentucky for Rolex 3DE. I spent a day with one of the Equine Reproduction vets from Hagyards which is a well known and regarded equine clinic and is located directly across from Kentucky Horse Park. We spent the day visiting a large number of the Thoroughbred studs which were unbelievably beautiful and really did look like they do in the movies. For a horse person this has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. The area is well known for the Kentucky Blue Grass which is lush and green – funnily enough I was admiring the quality of the grass when one of the property owners commented that they were looking forward to the grass ‘greening up’ – I didn’t know it could get any better!

 

 

 Kentucky really is the epicentre for horse breeding and seems to be the perfect landscape for horses to grow up. One surprising difference for me being an equine vet is that they don’t routinely use a crush (stocks as Americans call them) to scan the mares. They are normally twitched and sedated if required, and the vet stands behind them to palpate and scan. I don’t think I will start this practice back in Australia!

 

 

 Rolex 4* was a fantastic event – huge crowds, amazing venue and a proper 4* cross country track. America has a rich culture and history with horses so the general interest in the sport is quite high – I was told that Kentucky 3DE has the second highest number of spectators cumulatively out of all sporting events in America each year. Much to our surprise Boyd won best dressed male at the first trot up with the prize being a pair of Dubarry boots. Silva and Boyd generously gifted me the boots as a thank you for helping look after their son Nox while at Rolex – these will be very handy come Melbourne 3DE!

 

 

Cross country day provided plenty of excitement with the first couple of horses not making it around. The course seemed to reward the accurate, brave and fit horse with forward riding required for all the direct routes. It was great to watch some of the masters of the sport live and there was certainly much excitement about the possibility of Michael Jung winning his third consecutive Rolex Event on the same horse. Phillip Dutton was the best placed of all the Americans placing 4th with his 18yr old mount Mr Medicott – this really is a credit to the team involved in keeping this horse in top condition.

Boyd had a great round cross country on his mount Cracker Jack to finish 7th overall. He had an unlucky slip between fences on cross country on his second mount resulting in elimination of his Australian Thoroughbred Steady Eddie. The Showjumping provided much excitement with 3rd placed Zara Tindall and 2nd placed Maxime Livio both jumping clear rounds on the final day to put the pressure on Michael Jung. I think everyone was sitting on the edge of their seats as he only had one rail in hand to remain the leader.

Michael had a fence down in the last line and I would say Maxime Livio would have been watching on in anticipation to see if another rail would fall for him to clench the win. It was an amazing feat for Michael Jung to win his third Kentucky 4* on the same horse consecutively and the crowds certainly appreciated and celebrated this achievement. I had VIP tickets to the sponsors’ tent while at Rolex which was money well spent providing food, good viewing, and the chance to have a chat to Michael Jung and Zara Tindall!

 

      (Note from Editor Mattea - Where's the selfie with Michael and Zara? )

 

While I have been away Shane has been kept busy working and competing all the horses at home. He had two weekends away competing at Elysian Fields with a team of horses and had some great results. I could not have gone away without this support and confidence that everything is getting looked after. It will be a busy time when I get back – my flight gets in on Thursday morning and I am competing at Toowoomba ODE this weekend with 4 horses.

The next week we head off to Sydney on the Wednesday for the CIC classes and then Melbourne 3DE in June.

Till next time…