Axel and I arrived home from Budapest, where it had been grey and drizzling for a week, spent about 36 hours in sunny, warm San Diego, and repacked our suitcases. I headed for Dressage at Devon…. where it was grey and drizzling. Axel went off to teach clinics in northern California, and definitely got the better end of the weather deal. I think I had more fun, though!
After a grey, drizzly Friday and Saturday, it briefly rained during the Saturday night Grand Prix Freestyle. Not so much that it dampened the crowd’s enthusiasm, but I did hear some complaints about wine getting watered down by the elements. As far as I could see, it just meant that the wine glasses were never empty. Well, maybe it wasn’t just the rain that was keeping the glasses full!
Footing-wise, the horses seemed to handle it better than those who had to deal with the Dixon oval on foot, regardless of their fab footwear. I paused and thought long and hard about walking into that ring to photograph the award presentation and honor round…. and then chose to stay on solid ground.
After overnight thunderstorms, the footing had gotten even sloppier. There were a lot of scratches in the Gold Ring classes, even though the ring crew worked tirelessly to encourage both it and the Dixon to drain. Conditions were improving by Sunday afternoon: we even saw a few brief moments of sunlight! But it was followed by a very, very dark cloud, so I scurried to the Press Room to watch the Intermediare Freestyle from under cover.
We were five horses away from completing the whole show when the skies opened up. Chris Hickey was about a minute into his freestyle when the deluge began, and he and Bugatti Hilltop continued as if nothing was out of the ordinary for a great test, which scored over 70%.
The rain came down in buckets. There were a number of scratches. We checked the wine supplies, just in case we were stranded in the Press Room. The gate keepers, already soaked through, danced a jig in the puddles. Then Endel Ots came in with Bentley, ready for his turn to compete in synchronized swimming – I mean dressage.
Chris Hickey said that as he watched Bentley’s first flying extended trot, he knew his own lead was in trouble. Endel rode (to music from Ocean’s 13 and Beetlejuice) as if he was in a perfectly dry ring, and Bentley didn’t miss a beat. They won it with a 72.2%. Good for you, guys! I hope your hats, shadbellies and saddles recover!
Stay tuned for a Highlights Gallery from Dressage at Devon!