The 2019 Blenheim EquiSports show season is in full swing! As soon as the Spring Series was underway, we witnessed breakout stars, comebacks, and camaraderie in every arena.
Show jumpers experienced the revamped Derby Field, which hosted the first FEI event of the season. There, jumpers tested their skills on manicured grass, while spectators watched from comfy cabanas and a ringside Riders Lounge. The world-class arena was a canvas for course designers to create challenging tracks with stunning aesthetics and technical elements. A combination which led to the Derby Field becoming both a stage for triumph and pathway for growth.
We asked riders and trainers to share their insights and perspectives on their spring experience. Riders McKenna Norris, Lindsay Archer, Chandler Meadows, and Alexandra Murray reflected and noted how their personal experiences played a role in their riding goals. In addition, Jeni Brown and Vinton Karrasch comment on the opportunities these events offer their clients. Read on to see behind-the-scenes and into the minds of these equestrians.
Along with the rewards, horse shows are a great learning experience – what were some of the lessons you (and your clients) learned this Spring at Blenheim?
McKenna Norris: A lesson I learned at Spring Blenheim would have to be, there’s no shame in using sticky spray!
Lindsay Archer: This year at Blenheim my horses reminded me that I need to listen to them and always stick to my program even when things aren’t going well. I had one horse that jumped great at HITS Coachella but at Blenheim he stopped twice and I came off of him both times. He is a very good horse so clearly something was bothering him and now we are working on that with our vet. Unfortunately since the horses can’t talk, we have to be willing to listen when they express themselves in other ways…even if it’s a bit painful on the receiving end.
Chandler Meadows: This spring at Blenheim was a great opportunity for me to work on being a bit more competitive and apply the tools I gained during the winter circuit towards the FEI classes.
Blenheim gives you the opportunity to compete on the grass – what does that mean for you and your goals?
McKenna Norris: I think competing on the grass this early in the season will for sure give me an advantage later on this year as I’ll be attending Thunderbird and Spruce Meadows.
Jeni Brown: We had some new, and greener, horses competing at the BES Spring 1 show. It was so nice for the hunters and eq horses to get out on the Grand Prix field. There is always a great selection of classes, fence heights, courses, and ring choices at the Blenheim shows.
Alexandra Murray: Blenheim has always been (and always will be) a special venue. Since competing on a large, grass field is not a common opportunity in California, showing at Blenheim provides new obstacles that test my abilities. Whether the challenge is galloping on the field, or competing against great exhibitors, I think Blenheim consistently provides me with new learning opportunities.
What were the most challenging and most rewarding experiences this Spring?
Vinton Karrasch: Interesting question. I look at experiences at things that happen. Then they are to be meant to be learned from. We took away information that will help McKenna improve her riding.
Lindsay Archer: This winter my best horse really struggled with the footing and the environment at HITS Coachella. So my biggest challenge was trusting that his poor results were strictly environment based and I had to avoid the urge to change my program because of those results. When we arrived at Blenheim he was immediately so much happier and he jumped beautifully! In his two classes he was 2nd by .18 and then the next day won the Silver Tour GP. It was another reminder to listen to your horses!
Jeni Brown: The courses in the FEI ring designed by Leopoldo Palacios were very challenging. The small things he does make a big impact to the difficulty of the course. We had our best, and worst, moments out there, but we learned a lot from both.
Your favorite moment from this Spring at Blenheim?
McKenna Norris: My favorite moment would have to be hearing my groom, Jose Cervantes, screaming in cheer after my clear round in the 1.45m Silver Tour Classic. He’s being watching and supporting Colorado and me from the very beginning. Being able to have him there ringside meant the world to me as he’s being one of my biggest supporters.
Lindsay Archer: My favorite moment came on Sunday morning. I have a 10yr old mare that I have had since she was 7. She has always been a bit difficult but also one of my favorites. Last year here she stopped in the $40,000 GP at fence 4 and I came off and broke a rib. She’s a horse that never ever stops. She would rather go through a jump than stop. So I was pretty undone and confused. But we made some small changes and really took our time putting things back together and on Sunday she jumped the only clear round in the $10,000 1.45 Classic. That was very rewarding!
Alexandra Murray: Winning two 1.30m Jr/AO classes with my horse, Fara, was very special! She has brought me a long way in this sport and I will forever be grateful.
Chandler Meadows: We had a great time this spring at Blenheim, but the highlight was having both horses perform really well and place in 4/6 of our FEI classes. Weeks like that don’t happen as often as you wish in this sport, so I’m always thankful when they do.
Blenheim gives you the opportunity to compete in 5 FEI events this season – what does that mean for you and your goals?
McKenna Norris: Competing in as many FEI events as I can this season is one of my main goals! Blenheim hosting 5 of them makes my goals more feasible. I also believe it’s a great way to attract an even more competitive crowd to the West Coast.
Vinton Karrasch: I think the tour system is a nice introduction into FEI competition. At our current level it is good to be able to have and practice in the FEI rules and format.
Lindsay Archer: I’m thrilled that Blenheim and management groups like West Palms are putting in the effort to host these FEI shows. I know it is costly and quite a bit of effort to do it. But with their effort I think it is genuinely helping to raise the level and quality of show jumping on the West Coast. While I have no crazy goals for where I want to end up on the Rider Ranking List, it is fun to check it now and then see if I’m making progress. And one day I would love to get on a Developing Rider team and I think these shows will help to make that more of a possibility!
Chandler Meadows: I think it’s fantastic that they offer so many FEI events this year. It helps bring more opportunities to gain ranking points without having to travel as much.
Article originally published on Blenheim EquiSports.