Today in Damascus, Maryland, competitors at the Waredaca Training 3-Day and Novice 3-Day ran their cross-country phases as a part of the Smartpak Equine USEA Classic Series. Despite the gloomy skies, the temperatures were warm for late fall, the footing was perfect, and all the elements were aligned for a perfect day of long-format competition. The camaraderie was palpable as competitors and family members left their tasks in the barns behind and lined the galloping lanes to cheer on exhibitors tackling each phase.
For those who are unfamiliar to the demands of a long format competition, each entrant in the three-day is required to complete three endurance-type phases before the final cross country phase. Phase A, called “Roads and Tracks,” is a warm up, done in trot or canter, before Phase B. Phase B, the steeplechase, entails several laps done at a fast gallop over brush fences. Finally, Phase C is another round of Roads and Tracks, after which the competitors visit the veterinary box where the horse’s temperature and heart rate is monitored. If all is well, horse and rider are cleared to start Phase D, cross-country.
This weekend’s Training Three-Day was divided into two divisions, with Alyssa Ford and Bold Discovery leading Division A after the dressage with a 29.8, followed by Katie Bibeau and North Astor Beau in second, and Morgan McCue and Havanna’s Ophan Annie in third. In Division B, Autumn Rae and Raya Del Sol lead after dressage on a 30.0, with Dorry Gascon and Craughwell in second and Denise Connelly and Cat In The Hat in third.
Due to an unfortunate run out by leaders Alyssa Ford and Bold Discovery, Katie Bibeau and North Astor Beau, a 10-year-old bay Irish Sport horse gelding, were able to move up in to the leading position at the end of the day. “I’ve had him for a little over a year now and I got him from England,” said Katie of her mount. “He’s just such a sweetheart. He’s so good and he takes a lot of care of me.”
Demands on horse and rider are rigorous during cross-country day of a classic-format 3-day, and Bibeau had her work cut out for her when she set her sights on this particular competition. “I did a lot of conditioning,” she said. “Near my barn, there’s a big preserve where there are a lot of hills, so I’d trot around that for a good twenty-five minutes, then I’d canter around each way for three minutes, and just made sure to go up and down the hills. He’s getting stronger and he definitely got fit.”
Katie said she enjoyed every part of the Training level 3-day, but most enjoyed phase B, the steeplechase. “It was funny because he kept getting the really long distance, and I’d get flung back,” she admitted. “But it helped me to be more willing to go faster and allow him to move, because I’m bad about feeling like I have to find a distance, so it taught me to just let him figure it out, and it felt really good.”
Katie wanted to make sure to thank her riding instructor, Justine, who helped her get to where she is.
The Waredaca Novice and Training 3-day divisions will wrap up their weekend tomorrow with the show jumping phase. For more information on the Smartpak Equine USEA Classic Series, visit http://www.useventing.com/programs/classic.