Friday, February 20, 2009

Boyd's first US training session with Captain Mark Phillips

All photos in this blog entry compliments of Emily Merrill.

I had my first official US training session with the US eventing coach Captain Mark Phillips. The Captain has been in Aiken for the last few days, and I have been lucky enough to secure dressage, show jumping and cross country lessons with him. I have focused my training sessions with my two "up and coming" horses, Remington XXV and Shatzi W. Both horses are just hitting the big time, so I thought it would be beneficial to see what Mark thought of them.

The most exciting session was yesterday with Remington. We jumped at a new equestrian facility called "Three Runs Farm" that is just down the road from Phillip's farm. Mark worked with Remi a couple of days ago over the show jumps so this was actually his second show jumping session. Mark felt I was giving him too nice of a take off distance every time, and wanted to get Remi to a deeper take-off spot to make him work a bit harder. I must say, it took me out of my comfort zone, as we were jumping bloody big fences! Bigger than I usually school over. It was very interesting, as after a few jumps with me "daring" Remi in, he just jumped better and better.

The other main focus of the session was the connection between the bit, rein and hand. This connection can be a little inconsistent sometimes, and can sometimes lead to Remington being too bold to a fence, which is were we have had a rail in competition. After all this it was encouraging at the end of the session when Mark commented very positively on Remington's potential as a top class horse.

Remington's owners, Ron and Densey Juvonen, (pictured at right with Remi and me), are staying down here in Aiken with their team of fox hunters from Pennsylvania, and were keeping a close eye on their horse's progress.

I compete this weekend at Paradise Farm Horse Trials on three horses.


Changes at Rolex Kentucky

Since Boyd will once again be competing at the Rolex Kentucky three-day event, I thought I'd share the following press release:

PRESS RELEASE-- As a result of construction projects at the Kentucky Horse Park, Equestrian Events, Inc. (EEI) is announcing some major changes for the 2009 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, the only annual Four Star Three-Day Event in the Americas. Scheduled for April 23-26, the event draws over 100,000 spectators and is seen by millions more on worldwide telecasts, including a one-hour special on NBC in the United States.

Honored with the 2008 Best of Lexington Award in the Special Events category by the U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA), Equestrian Events continues to move forward and adapt to the changes at the Horse Park that will be fully completed by the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Even before it is the Test Event in 2010 for the Eventing World Championships, Rolex Kentucky 2009 will be the first time some of the Park changes come into play. Some of the changes in 2009:

The Stadium

The arena where the Dressage and Jumping Tests for Rolex Kentucky were previously held is being totally rebuilt to create a new Stadium. This new facility, in the same location as the previous arena, will be a whole new experience for spectators, as well as horses and riders, and is leading to some sweeping changes for 2009 and beyond.

Prior to the start of construction, the Lake Grandstand-constructed from funds donated by Equestrian Events, Inc., the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation and legions of supporters of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event-was carefully and painstakingly dismantled. Located on the south side of the arena with the Park's picturesque lake behind it, each piece of the Lake Grandstand was numbered and coded and is being stored for re-assembly at a later date at one of the Park's other outdoor arenas. The Lake Grandstand has 2,325 bench seats, 1,883 of them covered and 24 spaces for disabled seating.

New Permanent Grandstand

A new permanent grandstand structure, with 7,289 chair seats, 4,630 of which will be covered, plus 102 spaces for disabled seating, is being constructed on the north side of the stadium where the Patron Club and Equestrian Club tents and their temporary grandstand seating were located. The Park Grandstand also houses restrooms and concession areas underneath the second tier of seating. There will be three entrances to the grandstand. The entry level goes directly to the uppermost row of the first tier of seating and disabled seating is on that level. Stairs at the entry level go up to the first row of the second tier of seating.

Temporary Uncovered Grandstand Seating

Rolex Kentucky organizer Equestrian Events, Inc. is renting uncovered grandstands to provide a total of 15,000 seats in the new Stadium. These stands will be located on the south side of the arena by the Park's lake and on the west side of the arena.

New Arena Surface

A new arena surface will greet horses and riders at Rolex Kentucky 2009, but the surface isn't new to the Horse Park or to the horses and riders that competed in the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany. The German company OTTO Sport-und Reitplatz GMBH is installing its state-of-the-art riding surface on the Stadium arena and the attached warm-up area and will have its inaugural use at the 2009 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. However, the same surface was installed in 2008 in the Park's Walnut Ring and used extensively last year, to wide acclaim, for Jumper classes at various A and AA-rated hunter/jumper shows at the Park.

Patron Club and Equestrian Club Tents Moved

Due to its size, the Park Grandstand utilizes all the ground from the edge of the original arena back to Nina Bonnie Boulevard, ground where the Patron Club and Equestrian Club tents and uncovered grandstand seating were previously located. The Patron Club and Equestrian Club tents are being relocated across Nina Bonnie Boulevard to the fence line surrounding the High Hope Steeplechase Course. The tents will overlook the infield of the course, where several major obstacles on the Rolex Kentucky Cross-Country course are located. Grandstand seating for Patron Club and Equestrian Club subscribers will be an additional charge, allowing these Event attendees to choose which grandstand seating they prefer and to sit with friends who are not subscribers to these two ticket options. Video screens will be located in each tent to provide almost larger-than-life viewing of each day's competition.

East Side of Stadium

The East side of the Stadium, where temporary grandstands have previously been located, will now be used for the Patron Plus tent, a private hospitality tent, along with the grandstand for Riders, Owners, Grooms and Competitor Guests.

South Side of Stadium

The configuration of the lake side of the arena is changed, and two grandstands with increased seating will be located here along with the Doggery, the grandstand targeted especially for dogs and their human companions. West Side of Stadium

The permanent Sponsor Hospitality Pavilion, previously located on the north side of the arena, has made way for the new Park Grandstand, requiring the creation of a new Sponsor Pavilion on the west side of the arena. The West Grandstand that was located near the lake remains in the same relative position, but increased in height by one row (36 rows) and in width by 6'.

Most visitors to the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Website have already been introduced to the newest ticket purchasing option from Equestrian Events, Inc., online ticket sales. While the Ticket Order Form may still be downloaded and mailed or faxed to the EEI Office, and orders may still be placed via telephone, those who like the ease and speed of placing orders online now have that option.

"We are proud of our longstanding commitment to providing outstanding entertainment as well as world-class equestrian competition," said Event Director, Jane Atkinson. "The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event has always been produced by Equestrian Events, Inc. with a strong commitment to giving spectators an exciting and comfortable experience and we believe that these changes will go a long way in accomplishing that goal.