Witnessing History

(German Eventing Gold Medalists – Photo credits to: Ken Braddick – dressage-news.com)

Yet another tale from the Pak across the pond

It had all come down to this – Day 4 of Olympic eventing competition – show jumping. Over the first three days, the horses and riders had been put through the paces in the dressage ring and out on the demanding cross country course. 15 riders had been eliminated on cross country day, and the remaining 53 horses and riders now had the chance to jump their way to team and individual medals.

The horses and riders all came out looking impressively fresh after yesterday’s grueling cross country course, though I’m not sure how much of that was actual energy, and how much was adrenaline fueled by Olympic dreams and the roar of an impassioned crowd, 20,000 strong.

The format was quite unique, as the team and individual medals are determined through two rounds of show jumping, which I’ve never heard of in any eventing competition outside of the Olympics. (New to eventing and find this whole thing confusing? Check out our handy-dandy Olympics 101 blog!)

The course was set for the team competition and the stands were filled to the brim. The jumps were big and beautiful and the ring was meticulously groomed. The course was tough but fair, with some challenging turns and some very unique-looking fences and adornments. The stage had been set, the show was about to begin, and we were all in for a real treat.

The timing on course proved to be tough to make, especially coming off yesterday’s winding, hilly XC course. It seemed that many horses either didn’t have enough gas to get in under the time, or they didn’t have the necessary stamina to really snap their legs up for each and every fence, resulting in rails down throughout. The horse and rider teams who managed double-clear rounds (no jumping and no time faults) truly were the best of the best in the eventing world. I won’t go into the details of every ride here, though I did do a full ride-by-ride live tweeting session, and you can check it out below. (I’ll be doing the same thing for dressage and show jumping, so follow me on Twitter @SmartPakerSarah.) Read some of them here.

Brazil’s Ruy Fonseca aims for the London Mural fence, aboard Tom Bombadill Too.

The feeling in the stadium was positively electric. Before each rider entered, there was a buzz through the crowd that was a mixture of reactions from the last ride and excitement as we were all eager to see who was next and how they’’d fair. During the rides, though, there was a breathless anticipation. The silence itself was almost a separate entity that you could feel weighing down on you. A light tap of a hoof on the rail echoed louder than Big Ben’s chimes, and the whir of the cable camera high above the ring (which I’d literally never heard before (even on the dressage days!)) sounded like a drill press running right next to my ear.

The only noise to be heard was the shutters of the thousands of cameras throughout the stadium snapping shut as each horse peaked over the impressive fences. When a particularly notable rider was in the ring (Phillip Dutton, Mark Todd, Michael Jung, any of the Brits), there were so many cameras firing so rapidly it sounded like I was standing in the middle of a grove of old oaks, listening to the wind rustling through thousands of leaves.

The only other break in silence came with the collective reactions of the crowd. Never before have that many people shared the exact same reactions, over and over again. We all lived and died with every fence. Every spook or stop resulted in a collective gasp, 20,000 voices strong. Every fallen rail resulted in a hushed breath of mourning for an Olympic dream that would not be. Every clear round that finished resulted in an explosion of cheers, hollers and uproarious applause the moment the first hoof hit the ground. It was beyond magical. It was riders, celebrating the absolute pinnacle of our sport. And I can’t believe I get to experience it four more times.

Stay up to date on the latest London happenings by following @SmartPakerSarah and @SmartPakerColby on Twitter!

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
BEAUTIFUL course here for the eventing SJ finals.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Here comes the first of the Algottson sisters

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Double clear!

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
And here comes Fox-Pitt. The crowd goes positively mad. Hope Lionheart got his wind back.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
He’s double clear as well and the crowd literally makes the stadium shake. Into first place now. First German in now.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Last rail down. Heartbreaker for Peter Thomsen.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Two rails and time faults for France’s Mesples

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Go Will go!! Get it done Twizz

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Two time faults for Will

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
In case you didn’t hear, sad news for Team USA, as Boyd Martin withdrew Otis from the holding box this AM. Pressure is on the remaining four

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Last fence is proving a bit tricky as Petersen takes it down for Sweden. Up next is GB’s Wilson who had a brilliant double clear yesterday.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
One rail and a lot of rubs, but this crowd LOVED Nicola’s ride. pic.twitter.com/8CTfh9Uo

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
The German horse did not enjoy meeting the lion jump, but Schrade got King Artus in double clear for a current first place.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Jorge and Josephine have just the one rail.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
PS – anyone know what these light saber war noises are, coming from the announcer’s booth? Super weird.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
France’s Kahn and Cadiz have a total of 7

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
A rail and time for 6 faults for Ireland’s Mark Kyle and Coolio. (remember Ireland has to count all three scores). Here comes Tiana!!

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
With two rails and three time faults, we’ll be dropping Tiana’s score for Will’s. But Ringwood Magister looked lovely pic.twitter.com/AIXcb3sB

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Flying Finish, indeed, with just one time fault for Lucinda Fredericks of AUS. Now Paget’s in and Clifton Promise looks great.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Clifton Promise looked great after yesterday’s grueling ride, just one rail for him and Jon. Up next, the adorably named Mister Pooh.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Two down and one for time for sweden’s Lindback. And the crowd goes wild for Zara up next!

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
After an early rail, the crowd lived and died with every jump for Zara and High Kingdom.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Germany turns up the heat, with Auffarth going double clear aboard Opgun Louvo

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
“She’s not even wearing a hairnet!!” #RecoveringHunterRingSnob

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Tanaka has just one rail for Japan, who sadly are no longer eligible as a team. Now Tim Lips shows his Dutch pride in a hot orange coat.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Three fences down for Lips. Insert “orange you glad” joke here: pic.twitter.com/jGhcFVdm

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Virginie Caultier is through with 9 for Belgium.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Marcelo Tosi had two rails and two time, and with only three riders left for Brazil, that score will count. Lionel Guyon in now

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Guyon had to work hard for that double clear, but they held it together!

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Joe Murphy and Electric Cruise make it look easy for Ireland, which is good, as that team is down to their final three. Here comes Karen!!

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Nerve-wrackingly hard rubs in the triple, but Karen goes double clear for team USA!!

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Go Karen go! pic.twitter.com/eSiojGbh

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Rutherglen looked tired with two rails down for Andrew Hoy (AUS).

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Nicholson goes double clear for NZ

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Shamwari takes two down for Team Sweden. Here comes Mary King and there goes my hearing.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Mary goes double clear and the crowd positively explodes. I don’t think anyone breathed through the last half. She’s now currently first.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Germany answers RIGHT back as Jung goes double clear aboard Sam. This is getting wild. This gold will be EARNED.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Phoenix, the last remaining Canadian rider, struggled a bit, with Exponential taking down both planks and the first of the triple.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Pretty Darling clearly tried her little heart out, but brought down two for Japan’s Negishi.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Heffernan had hard rubs all over, but left the course intact up till the triple, where Millthyme Corrolla took down the A and B.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Fence two proved troublesome again, this time for Belgium’s Karen Donckers.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Three down for Brazil’s Fonseca. Knocking down fence 1 has to be deflating.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
France’s Touzaint put together a beautiful ride, especially through the triple. Just two on the time.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Master Cruise was not too tired to peek at EVERYTHING as he and Clark hustled around the ring for Ireland Here comes big Phil!!

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Not the best go for the newish pair Dutton/Mystery Whisper with 2rails & a stop at the odd-looking Cutty Sark fence. pic.twitter.com/H6z9ltBJ

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
An unfortunate rail at the first triple for Burton and HP Leilani (AUS). And in comes the beloved Mark Todd

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Todd rode brilliantly for NZ but had one rail and three time. Still impressive after the tremendous effort they had to put in yesterday.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
The second Algottson sister enters. Let’s see if Sara can repeat her double clear effort.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
She does it! Wega turned it on today and put in a lovely ride. And here comes The Beatles! Oh no wait, thanks just Tina Cook.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
The crowd could not be more pleased with Tina’s one time fault as GB is now at worst, Team Silver. It’s all on Klimke now.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Two down for Klimke. Still good enough for Gold!! Well done to the impressive German team! GB in Silver New Zealand Bronze

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Chatting with today’s View from the Stands interview. 6 & 8 year old British brothers with impossibly cute accents and a pony named Ellie!

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Is there anything he CAN’T do? pic.twitter.com/yqBzZpn7

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Annnd we’re back. Mark Kyle kicks it off!

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Coolio takes down #3, which is raised and jumped backwards from last round – that may be a tricky one.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Jessica Phoenix and Exponential bring down just the second to last rail for Canada.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
After taking down the B element of 8 and stopping at C, Guyon finishes with 8 and 15

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Phillip puts in a respectable round with 8 jumping and 2 time faults. pic.twitter.com/LK8JsGLt

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
They’ve adjusted the time allowed to 60 seconds

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Brecciaroli takes down the second fence for Italy. Here comes Joe Murphy.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Hard rub on the second to last fence but Joe and Electric Cruise hang on for the first double clear!

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Andrew Hoy and Rutherglen also go double clear – hear we go!!

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Touzaint and Hildago de L’ile also bring down the tall fence 3.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Mister Pooh looked tired as he and Lindback took down two and had three time faults.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Karen Donckers tried to urge her Belgian mount on through the triple but he just didn’t have enough, bringing down the C.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
After seeing a BIG spot at the all-new fence 5, Victoria Panizzon puts in a beautiful ride. Here comes Karen!!

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Karen and Mr. Medicott take the lead with a double clear!! pic.twitter.com/ByfOrLA1

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Zara and High Kingdom HUSTLED through the course and went double clear. The crowd positively loves her.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Jon Paget and Clifton Promise rock and roll the C element of 8, but leave it up. They end with just 1 for time.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Aoife Clark put in a beautiful ride aboard Master Crusoe for a second Irish double clear.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
The rigor of the competition clearly took its toll on Shamwari, who took down five rails. Svennerstal still gave him a solid “good boy” pat

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Another case of tired legs for Christopher Burton’s HP Leilani, with three rails.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Toddy and Campino are the fifth pair to bring down the big fence 2 and they end with 8 jumping faults, but what a games it’s been for them.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Nereo tried REALLY hard for Andrew Nicholson, but ended up bringing down the plank at 6.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo go double clear under considerable pressure. And the stadiums shake as Tina Cook canters in.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Miners Frolic looked positively gassed as he brought down 2 and 3. But the crowd comes back to life at the sight of Mary King.

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
After a big spook in the canter circle, Imperial Cavalier brought down fences 1&3, just like Tina’s ride (my last tweet was off by 1 :-)

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
Though he looked halfway between relaxed and exhausted, Sam laid down a BEAUTIFUL double clear for Michael Jung!!

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
All that’s left is Sara and Wega…

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
A HEARTBREAKING rail on the last fence, which stayed up ALL day. Sara Algottson Ostholt takes Silver. Jung takes Gold Auffarth takes Bronze

Sarah Paull ‏@SmartPakerSarah
It’s raining medals! Unfortunately it’s also raining water. pic.twitter.com/PZin1Z6s

Sarah Paull

Sarah Paull is a lifelong rider and SmartPak’s Brand Manager. You may know her better as the life-size foam finger from the London Olympics, the host of USEF Network’s Live from London coverage, or “that girl from the Stuff Riders Say videos.” Prior to joining SmartPak in 2008, Sarah worked as a Veterinary Technician at B.W. Furlong & Associates in Oldwick, NJ, and obtained her degree in Equine Science from Centenary College. Sarah is the proud mom of Cody, a semi-retired, 23-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, and she’s currently looking for an eventing partner to help her get rid of all the extra time, money and energy she doesn’t actually have :-) If you're interested in her often-horsey, always-odd musings, follow @SmartPakerSarah on Twitter.

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Posted in SmartPak Features, Stories & Adventures, Travel

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One comment on “Witnessing History
  1. Laura says:

    Very well written!

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