Rutledge of Turnabout Farm in Mt. Airy just got back from competing
at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (September 1-4) as one of six
U.S. entries. She finished the event in 37th place aboard her off-the-track
Thoroughbred Shiraz (aka Luke or HRH) and was the third highest placing
U.S. rider to finish the event. Before tackling this prestigious four-star
event, Colleen and horse got the mileage and experience they needed
competing at Fair Hill International.
Colleen has competed at FHI for the past three years, both in the two-star
and three-star events with Shiraz and her other Advanced horse, Dillon.
“If I had not ridden at Fair Hill, I would not have been as prepared
for the ground at Burghley as I was,” she said. Colleen added,
“The ground at Burghley was a combination of Fair Hill and Stewart,
up in New York…up and down.”
She said that sort of ground, not to mention the actual fences, makes
it hard for the horses to get into a rhythm on their own. Having ridden
the FHI course several times helped Shiraz gain the confidence he needed
to perform well over the same sort of terrain at Burghley. “If
the horse can handle Fair Hill with that ground and those fences, then
they will run better at Rolex and on from there,” Colleen stated.
Colleen traveled to the UK with Shiraz on her own as his “groom.”
Which meant she got to stand in the back of the plane with the horses
as they were taking off and landing. “It was really cool,”
she remarked. While in England, Colleen said she had a lot of time to
watch really good riders work really nice horses. She commented that
“We breed in this country because we love our horses. Over there,
they breed to create athletes.”
Colleen’s family arrived in England for the actual event to help
out, take photos and lend their general support and cheering. Her husband
Brian remarked that the people he met were incredibly courteous, saying
that all he had to do was mention that his wife was coming to the fence
he was watching and the seas of people would part and spectators would
move him closer to the jump to take photos and watch.
When the trip was over and both Colleen and Shiraz had landed safely
back in the U.S., Colleen laughed, stating, “I definitely want
to go back. Now that I’ve ridden the course once, I’d like
to go back and enjoy it!”
Although Shiraz will be sitting out this FHI, having just completed
Burghley, Colleen is entered again with Dillon in the CCI**.
As for Shiraz, Colleen said, “Ideally, I would like to go back
over to England with Luke in the spring for Badminton. Burghley is known
to be the biggest four-star event in the world. Badminton is known as
being both big and technical.”
Excerpts from Colleen’s Burghley Blog
18 – Sitting in the vetport [in New York] waiting to
load the horses has turned into the longest exercise in patience that
anyone could have ever dreamed up. There are seven or eight horses here
waiting to be transferred out, some of them on our flight, some of them
on later flights. At about 7 p.m., Luke and the rest of the horses get
loaded on the van that takes them to the staging area. They are loaded
on the containers, and then trucked by flat-bed out to the plane. The
containers are just like the stalls in my trailer, only self-contained.
I get dropped off at the front of the airport, so that I can check in
and get a bite to eat. While I am sitting in the waiting area, with
all of the other passengers, I see them sitting out on the tarmac. As
I walk down to get on the plane, I realized it’s huge. Here’s
to the second leg of our adventure!
August 21 – After being stranded in Amsterdam for the
better part of two days, we finally got under way. Next time the statement
will be “yes, I need to get to England as soon as possible,”
not “whenever you get a chance.” Luckily, I could at least
ride HRH [Luke] while we were waiting for our ride to magically appear.
Currently, we are on our way across the channel, soon to land at Dover.
Unfortunately, we were unable to get on the earliest ferry, which means
we won’t get to the stables before about 4. That’s a.m.
We have been on the road for an extreme amount of time, most of it sitting,
still waiting to get on the ferry. Luke is an absolute champ about this,
and has been a perfect gentleman about everything.
August 30 – We have arrived at Burghley! After checking
the horses in, I went to get Luke settled in to his new digs with the
rest of the Americans. I managed to be the first one here! For once
I am not only on time, but early! I let HRH settle in for a bit, then
decided that a hack around to scope out the place was in our best interest.
Well, there are no words to describe the [Burghley] House but “wow.”
It’s absolutely beautiful. I rode around for a bit in the warm-up
area with Blyth Tait and Mary King and went on a short hack with Boyd
[Martin]. This is so much fun, I have almost forgotten my nausea. The
best part about being here is the history that saturates the atmosphere.
Every little village is older than anything we have back home. It almost
September 5 – I have completed the Burghley 4.5 star!
Just kidding. It’s just the biggest four-star. It goes down as
the absolutely most beautiful event I’ve ever ridden at. The House
is visible from almost anywhere on the grounds and it is just breathtaking.
I feel so privileged to have competed here, not just because I did well,
but because of the history of the grounds and the event.
Dressage is and will always be a work in progress, but it was much improved
from Rolex. Our changes are still hit and miss and [in] this test, they
were misses. Even though they were still late, they were better late
changes, not explosive but unfortunately still my fault. I am just still
a half a stride late when I ask. I will persevere. They will be right.
The quality of our work is much better, but we are still lacking in
our confidence in the ring. If the horse that I had outside of the ring
were to show up in the ring, we would have been low 50s.
Cross-country was awesome. There aren’t enough words to describe
it; besides, until you stand on top of the “Leaf Pit” looking
down and getting that same feeling of vertigo as standing on the edge
of a building looking at the street below, or walking up to “Cotswold’s
Leap” and realizing that you can drive a large car through the
ditch and still get out the door on either side if you were to stop
in it, or limboing any of the rails on any of the oxers anywhere on
course, you just hear words. [Jimmy Wofford] had the best saying of
the year, “only the paranoid survive.” Just meaning that
[you] don’t take anything for granted about this course, ever.
That was definitely the case for me; I made damn sure that I was where
I was supposed to be no matter what. Luke was amazing. I could have
asked him to jump anything, anywhere. Never a waver, never a question,
just “yes” and go.
Jogs (or trot-ups, as they are known here) were good; Luke was an absolute
gentleman and so very pleasant. Then the sprinkling started. Not too
bad, just a light misting (soft, for those of Irish heritage). It helped
to walk the show jump course, first by myself and then with Sinead [Hapline]
and Captain Mark Philips, because it just solidified what the voice
in my head was saying.
Luke felt great and as we went into the ring, I was filled with awe.
This is the conclusion of Burghley. Luke jumped absolutely fabulously
and the one rail we had down was me just being a microsecond ahead of
him in the triple. This was one of our best show jump rounds, simply
because we both came to play. I was feeling quite fortunate that we
show jumped early because when we went back for the parade of champions
(where you pay your respects to the royals), it poured. And I mean poured.
Everyone was absolutely drenched. It seemed to have quite an effect
on the leader board.
This week has flown by and every time I went to write on the blog or
even text someone, there was something else to do or somewhere else
to go. I am thankful for all the new people I’ve met, all of the
experiences I’ve had and the memories that I will always treasure.
Thank you to all of the people who helped me to get here; you helped
make this trip a huge success.