October 2, 2010 — World championships cross-country day: the day we have been waiting for. I am up super early, because I have to make sure I get to the NBC studios before the traffic jam starts. I just want to get a few thoughts down before I have to concentrate on the x-c rides.
Speaking of traffic jams, I am in the media corner of the arena. Whenever there is a break in the dressage, all the people in my section head for the stairs. They all whip out their smart phones and start checking their email. Of course, this means they are not looking where they are going, so at the gate a huge, slow-motion human traffic jam forms. Everybody understands what is going on, everybody apologizes, everybody keeps their feet moving, but nobody looks up. “Oh, look,” I thought to myself when I first noticed this phenomenon, a “Blackberry Jam.” (I know, I know, but you got to keep your mind occupied, know what I’m saying?)
There are some interesting opinions floating around in the stable area about the cross-country course. Most riders think this course is the real deal. One or two have stated that they have seen easier courses at the European Championships. Maybe so, but I am sticking to my guns. After I walked it I said it was a doozie. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. I can tell you that the riders out getting a final look at the course look like they are sucking on a pickle.
I saw Mick Costello, the course builder here, right after I walked it. “So, Woff, whaddaya think?”
I said, “Holy cow, Mick, I retired just in time!” I wouldn’t mind jumping this course, but I would be riding Carawich, that’s for damn sure.
I’ll write more later, but I need to leave. All over Lexington right now, riders are waking up, peeking through the motel window curtains and checking the weather. I can’t tell you which exact ones, but one or two of them are going to take a deep breath and think to themselves, like Joan of Arc, “I am not afraid. I was born to do this.”
Those few horses and riders are the ones we will be talking about tonight, and for as long as horse lovers get together and play “remember when.”
Read Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 5 | Part 6
Jim Wofford has represented the U.S. in eventing at three Olympics and two World Championships; he has won the U.S. National Championship five times on five different horses. As a coach, he has had at least one student on every U.S. Olympic, World Championship and Pan American team since 1978. He is a regular columnist for Practical Horseman magazine.
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