Canadians and other competitors from the north may have felt like they were at a different competition this morning. Temps were in the low 40s at 8 a.m., but the sunshine dried things quickly and by afternoon it was quite pleasant. It rained hard last evening but waited until the Horse Inspection was over. However, the dressage ring shows no sign of wear. It is as lush and green as it has ever been. It looks like the going might be heavy, but I asked Suzy Stafford, one of the first to drive this morning, and she said it was fine.
Stafford, who is standing second to Tracey Morgan in the FEI Single Pony class, said she loves the ring. This year it the far side is filled with sponsor signs. Stafford says she likes that there are so many markers to use to when driving her test. She was very happy with her test, “some parts were really good, some not.”
A big electronic scoreboard is centered along the far long side. The announcer is in the very far corner. They seem to move him farther and farther away every year. Two sets of bleacher seating are up for spectators. One with three rows has a tent cover, the other with 10 rows in uncovered.
Michael Freund, the coach for the Advanced long-listed drivers is running back and forth between the warm-up and the ring. Peter Tischer is here as well. “Live Oak every year they get new ideas – they do everything with more flair,” said Freund. He said the hazards were “unbelievably decorated.”
Unfortunately Josh Rector had to withdraw. It is a huge disappointment to us all that he will not have the opportunity to drive after looking forward to this first big event of the season after so much preparation and anticipation by Josh and his family and supporters.
Competitors are getting ready for the infamous Stella Artois course walk. Smart competitors get to the front of the long line of golf carts, ATVs so they will eat as little dust as possible until they get to the beer stop.
The marathon schedule won’t be ready until a decision has been made about the walk section – how long it is going to be and what the time will be – for the FEI division.
Maybe not so important to some, but to others it is very important – at Live Oak they do a great job keeping the trash cans emptied and the portable toilets cleaned!