04 March 2008
Rappahannock Races Cause Nightmares
[guest post furnished by Kristen]
While driving to Charlottesville, the past weekend I decided to take the scenic route through the charming town of Sperryville, VA. I had convinced a friend of mine from CA that a trip to C'ville would be worth her time. So as we meandered down the country roads, we came upon signs that said, "Event Parking Vans and Trailers next entrance".
I quickly pulled in and explained to the California blonde next to me that this would be a quick stop and that the steeplechase scene is quite interesting. I also added that the riders were quite competent and at least attempted to keep their horses out of the clutches of death while navigating the course at high speeds.
The CA girl was handed a program and immediately started mocking the listed names – Augustus Edwards III, James Whitner IV, and Tinker Lyman-- I felt like someone should have added Thurston Howell III as a joke or perhaps one could name a horse after the Hollywood gentleman. Other possible names for the poor horses that have been chosen for a short life as a steeplechase mount may include: Survivor, One Life to Live, Whiplash, ALPO, Kamikaze, MYRYDRISANIDIOT, Animal Abuse, Broken Leg Pending, Bring Out the Curtain, Kill Me Now, or Last Dance.
So we climbed out of the car just in time to watch the Gentleman's Foxhunter Timber which could also be titled, I am a Total Stud, and want to try to break my horse's leg while racing over logs the size of telephone poles on a hilly track in front of a crowd.
The "field" consisted of 3 participants: 1 fat guy in a "scarlet" jacket, which means he is a field master and leads the hunt, and a VA playboy extraordinaire, who has a habit of philandering with barn sluts. The third managed to finish the race and his performance seemed somewhat tight.
It was a cool day and the horses seemed a bit fresh which means that there would certainly be entertainment- I was barely able to watch as the horses ran uncontrollably around the track. They managed to make it almost once around before the "Playboy" was literally bounced off his horse over one of the fences:
score-- Horses 1, "Gentleman" 0.
It quite a feat of athleticism on behalf of the horse- he managed to hurl himself over this rather large fence, over jumping it by at least 2 feet, at which point his total stud of a rider became dislodged and flew through the air- bouncing numerous times as he landed. I could only hope that this fall would cause him to never want to ride again or at least hinder his ability to hook up with grooms. He horse seemed quite happy that he was able to ditch his rider and continued cantering around the course.
The real reason this is being given a TU is for the fat field master on the little chestnut horse. Firstly, the rider is FAT and should not be allowed to hunt, exercise and certainly race horses with his excess weight. Secondly, due to rider error, the cute little horse was nearly killed- just image this: a fat man in a bright red jacket racing around the course. As they are entering the final downhill stretch and last 2 jumps, it is clear that the horse is completely exhausted and running as fast as it can downhill, as it approached the second to last timber jump, one notices that the rider is going to get to the large jump out of stride (also called missing your distance and not finding the spot- which is all up to the rider to gauge) they continue barreling down the hill and the rider makes NO adjustment. I was certain they would be bringing out "the curtain" to euthanize the horse that was about to crash the jump right in front of us. Luckily, the little horse had the athletic ability to make it over the fence, even though his fat rider was leaning up the neck and making no effort to prevent a total disaster. Again, the rider is dislodged in the air- the horse canters away, eyes bulging, nostrils flared, Thelwell style. The rider was injured and frankly I was happy. He attempted to get up, a few spectators ran out to help him, and then the ambulance drove onto the course to his rescue.
Score-- Horses 2: Gentlemen 0
All I could think about on Saturday night, while trying to go to sleep was this little horse racing down the hill, approaching a huge jump and crashing, flipping and breaking his neck- a normal weekend scene for the steeplechase enthusiast.
Tighten up riders--next time the horses may not be so lucky.... not that you care.