Another guest blog post from Chestnut Hill rider Madison Bradshaw, this one featuring her second week at Spruce Meadows.
The first week finished up really well as far as the horses were concerned however, the weather continued to deteriorate.
The storms held off for all the divisions except the 1.40m and everyday it poured for the 1.40m.
The worst came when Katina 12 (Kat) went on Friday. The sky opened up and there was a torrential downpour as we stepped into the ring. It was so bad that I couldn’t even see fence two. The following two riders after us pulled up because the visibility was so bad.
Despite the conditions Kat still qualified to compete in the final four, a class where the top four rider from each division ride each of the top four horses over a shortened course. We however opted out of competing in the final four because of Kat’s upcoming trip to Kentucky.
Sunday was back to normal competition. Fellow Chestnut Hill rider and 1.0M team member Kris Loewenthal and Solo put in a double clean round to finish 5th in the 1.00m Barrage, a fabulous conclusion to the first week at Spruce.
The competition week two didn’t begin until Thursday. Fortunately, the rain ceased for the second week, however the absence of rain brought out the giant Spruce Meadows mosquitoes. Thursday Ithaca (Moofy) was clean in her class and finished 7th in the 1.20m Jr welcome class. Kat put in a 4 fault round and finished just out of the ribbons in the 1.40m. Friday Moofy was clean and finished 3rd in the accumulator and I had a rail on Kat, but we were the fastest of the 4 faulters so we finished 11th. Just Moofy showed Saturday and she had a rail in the first round, but no one jumped clear so we jumped off four faulters, and although we had the fastest time a rail at the last fence resigned us to 5th.
Although putting in solid trips and placing doing well was amazing, the Spruce experience was even more incredible. The caliber of horses and riders is unmatched at every level, especially in the higher levels. Every horse there is normally one of the nicest horses on the show grounds but at Spruce they are just average. I learned so much by watching the best in the world compete in the 1.60m everyday. Both the US and Canadian teams were there preparing for the Olympics. It was incredible to watch the best in the world tackle some of the most challenging courses in the world.
Another unique factor at Spruce is the community support. Spectators from Calgary come to all of the Grand Prixs. It is cool to have the local support and be able to share our sport beyond the equestrian community. The caliber of Spruce is unmatched by any other show in the Americas in every aspect and that is why it draws riders from all around the world.