We are back again with another Sunday afternoon grand prix in the Caledon Equestrian Park. This week we will feature the $20,000 Caledon Equestrian Park Grand Prix. This will be the second week with the grand prix set at the national level and not FEI. This is a good thing. The national level GP gives up and coming riders and horses the opportunity to compete at a smaller height and width and compete for good prize money and gain valuable experience without the pressures of the FEI pre-competition rules and regulations.

The height has been published and the course will be set at 1.35m. The speed will be set at 350m/m, which is different from our usual 375m/m and will have a major effect on the riders’ approach to the course.

In the beginning, it occurred to me that maybe I would not do our walk of this course because my first impression was that this week was not as important as some of the other weeks. Then I realized that this week was maybe more important than some others. The statement that I made last week really rings true this week. “It is easy to be hard, but really hard to be easy.” The job of the course designer at this level of competition is not easy. The height restrictions are published and the CD must work within these rules. The course must reflect the quality of both the horse and rider and the CD must read the start list and create a course that will have some challenges and also be entertaining and exciting for the spectators. This is somewhat easier when using the national rules and the main concern of the CD is to have a course that is focused on the entries in the class.

Michel Vaillancourt

Michel Vaillancourt

Our course designer for the week has been Michel Vaillancourt, and there is no one better qualified to be our CD this week than Michel.

The starting field will show 22 starters and all will compete. With $20,000 in prize money and the height published at 1.35m, I am disappointed that we only have 22 starters. The height of 1.35m is not even to the Jr. level of the young riders, which is 1.40m, which will take place in two weeks in New York state.

The weather has been great, but maybe a little windy.

On the course we will not have a water jump, no plank jump (the wind will not support this obstacle today) and there will be no short pole vertical. We will see a closed Liverpool vertical, one triple combination, one double, one triple bar and (surprise) a wall. The TA is set at 83 seconds and will not be changed. The speed is 350m/m (comments to follow the walk). The course will consist of 13 numbered obstacles and 16 efforts. The material count this week will show 46 poles, eight planks, eight fillers and one wall. It is now time to begin the walk of the $20,000 Caledon Equestrian Park Grand Prix.

#1 vertical 1.35m or 4.3ft. The first fence should be a factor for someone and it was a long way to the finish line for one rider.

#2 oxer 1.35/1.45m or 4.3/4.9ft and comes from #1 on the right rein with no given distance and was an early end for three competitors.

#3 vertical 1.35m or 4.3ft comes on a full left turn from #2 and was never faulted on the day.

#4a oxer 1.35/1.45m or 4.3/4.9ft comes from #3 on the left bend with a distance of 29.6m or 97ft and kissed mother earth four times.

#4b vertical 1.35m or 4.3ft with a distance of 7.90m or 25.9ft from #4a and was the cause of one refusal.

#4c oxer 1.35/1.45m or 4.3/4.9ft with a distance of 11m or 36ft from #4b and fell from grace three times.

#5 vertical 1.40m or 4.6ft comes from #4c in a straight line with a distance of 21.6m or 71ft and was pushed from the top cups only one time.

#6 triple bar 1.35/1.70m or 4.3/5.6ft comes from #5 on a full turn left and was never faulted.

#7 closed Liverpool vertical 1.35m or 4.3ft comes from #6 in a straight line with a distance of 22.6m or 74ft and splashed down four times.

#8 oxer 1.35/1.45m or 4.3/4.9ft comes from #7 on the right bend with a distance of 25.3m or 83ft and here we had three rails and one fall with elimination.

#9 oxer 1.35/1.45m or 4.3/4.9ft comes from #8 on a full turn right and not a factor today.

#10a vertical 1.35m or 4.3ft comes in a straight line from #9 with a distance of 18.9m or 62ft. #10a was dashed to the dirt thee times.

#10b oxer 1.35/1.45m or 4.3/4.9ft with a distance of 7.70m or 25.6ft from #10a and tumbled to the turf one time.

#11 vertical 1.35m or 4.3ft comes from #10b with a bending right rein with a distance of 28.9m or 95ft and touched down three times.

#12 THE WALL 1.35m or 4.3ft comes on a full turn right from #11 and was torn down one time.

#13 oxer 1.35/1.45m or 4.3/4.9ft comes from THE WALL on a bend left with a distance of 32m or 106ft and the last fence on the course today ended the day for one competitor.

The results of this really good class are as follows. There were six clean rounds, six rounds of four faults and five with eight faults. We again have a GP that had over 50 per cent of the entries within four faults of the jump off. We had two vw’s and saw one fall resulting in elimination. The TA was never a factor and the speed of 350m/m was the reason.

Talking with Michel we both agree that at a certain level of competition this speed is no longer realistic in our sport. The TA has become an important tool in the art of course design and in the future of competition. The speed of 375m/m is the new norm and should be recognized as such.

I would love to hear from readers about this topic and this means that pros and cons are all welcome. The circuit now moves to Ottawa for two weeks, but there will be no walks there because I am off for a week and then will be assisting Beth Underhill at the North American Young riders. Jr and Children’s champions in Saugerties, New York, but we will return to Caledon and Angelstone for the fall circuit. We would love to hear from you if you have any comments about the walks.
Until then I am Dave Ballard.