Meghan O'Donoghue and Pirate. Quite possibly my favorite American pair of the weekend. She looked like a seasoned pro even though this was their first 4 star. Great story as well - she bought Pirate (an OTTB) when she was 15 and he was 3. Loved them!
Becky Holder and Can't Fire Me. So sad she fell so close to home.
Lynn Symansky and Donner. My second favorite pair of the weekend and the highest placed American's. Just in case you didn't know, Donner's an OTTB. Go OTTBs!!!
Andrew Nicholson and Calico Joe. How annoyed was I to only see the them gallop by. Hard lesson learned - pay attention to the order of go.
Cute appy outrider.
Buck Davidson and Park Trader. All of Buck's horses are incredible jumpers.
Kristi Nunnick and R-Star. Lovely mare but wholly cow did she look strong.
Crowds. Lots of people and everyone said this was a light year - can't imagine what it looks like when it's really "crowded."
Pirate in the vet box. Let me tell you, he was ready to go again!
Unfortunately we were just too far away to get good pictures in SJ. To be honest, I was really disappointed in the majority of the American riders. It's pretty apparent that most of them (including the big names) need to spend some time in the jumper ring - especially if they want to be competitive against the likes of Andrew Nicholson, WFP, Michael Jung, and all the other amazing event riders from Europe and the lands down under. Peter Barry of Canada was great as was Hawley Bennett. Lynn Symansky was a shining star for the US and Andrew Nicholson is a master! Honestly, after this, I can't even remember who William Fox-Pitt is...
Just some general, overall impressions of the event - they need signs, something, anything, telling you where to go. On Thursday, we had no idea where we were going when we left the car. We just sort of followed some people hoping they were going to the event. And it would have been nice if there were some signs pointing towards the XC start. The horsepark is really, really large (I think I mentioned that before) and some more shuttles would have been nice along with signs saying where they stopped so you could maybe wait for one if you were beat and really didn't want to walk. Also, I wish they had sent riders out at 3 minute intervals instead of 5 and the hour and a half lunch break kinda sucked. I really like Phillip Dutton's idea of adding some sort of 3 star - would have been awesome to see more ponies. At the end of the day, 40 or so horses isn't very many.
Now for the good things! The stadium is beautiful and made for a lovely time watching dressage and SJ. Everyone working the event was super nice and very helpful. While many on the COTH forum poo-poo'd the shopping, I thought it was fine. I don't know why folks expect things to be marked down 90% just because they're at a big show. There were some deals to be had but I just enjoyed being able to touch and see bunches of stuff that I normally only get to see in a catalog or on my computer. The weather was perfect - not too cold, not too hot, and not really rainy. The decorations on the XC jumps were amazing. A lot of time and effort was put into the design of each jump and they were lovely. All in all, we had an amazing time. Feel very lucky to have been able to go and going with SuperMom just made it that much better!