Spectating the Maryland International 3* Cross Country

Loch Moy is just the best venue.
This weekend the temperatures skyrocketed. Walking outside felt like jumping into a pot of boiling water (and based on my sunburns, my lobster jokes weren't far off). Riding my own horses seemed like the worst idea, so instead Emma and I headed over to Loch Moy Farm to tailgate the Maryland International 3* cross country.
BadEventer was there!
We packed a huge cooler, and resolved to stick around until it was empty and our media cards were full. Based on the fact that we were the last spectators on the property, I think we succeeded. (Total aside. If you walk into the VTO Saddlery tent "on your way out" you will definitely get stuck there for a long time and maybe buy things that weren't on your list. Whoops!)
Lauren Kieffer and the always adorable Anglo-Arabian Vermiculus
Enough about us and our adventures (of which there were many), what we and everyone else flocked to rural Maryland to see was the US Pan Am team in their final outing. We were not disappointed.
The 3* winners Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg made quick work of a brush fence midway through the 3* XC.
While my eye is still adjusting to the reordering of the levels, this particular 3* had some questions that seemed particularly interesting from a spectator point of view. Loch Moy has worked hard to put in a new sunken road complex, where many horses seemed quite green when it came to negotiating the jump in and out.
Courtney Sendak and DGE Kiss Prints leaping into the sunken road.
But the sunken road wasn't the only terrain question that proved interesting to watch. Loch Moy's property is rather hilly on its own, and the terrain and heat looked to be a formidable opponent for everyone all day. In fact, the time on the 3* cross country proved to be rather influential. I assume plenty of riders were making the choice to ride more slowly due to the extreme temperatures and (completely absurd) humidity.
Speaking of making the time. We overheard a hilarious moment in the woods when Doug Payne and Starr Witness came galloping down to this big trakehner. Starr Witness must have felt backed off in the woods, as Doug reached back and cracked his whip, encouraging the horse to get to the jump on a forward stride. At that moment, Doug and this horse were sitting in a close second to Boyd Martin (pictured here watching Doug and Starr Witness). As they passed, Boyd made a comment about Doug's encouragement, all in good humor. Doug ended up having 20 more seconds of time than Boyd, leaving Boyd the lead and eventual win. I love seeing these moments in competitions. Horse sports are all about a bit of good natured ribbing and camaraderie. 
The most influential question on course for many came quite early on course, at jump four. Nestled deep in the woods, a down bank combination resulted in a few refusals and even ended the day for some.
Not Phillip Dutton and Sea of Clouds, though! I swear to god, Phillip didn't move an inch as he and his horse plummeted down this massive downhill.
I can't imagine what riding up to this thing must have felt like for both riders and horses. Walking by you could barely see the drop. Judging by the horses who noped right out of that situation, they weren't thrilled by the prospect of leaping down into the steep AF "Leaf Pit".
Covert Rights said he'd rather not today, thanks. But rider Colleen Rutledge tactfully convinced him to take a chance. Once Covert Rights tapped his way down the front of the drop, they were on their way with narry a problem, finishing in second. They were also the only pair to finish without time faults!
While plenty of pairs came to trouble at the drop, many negotiated it smoothly. I have to hand it to every one of the riders. The level of confidence I'm sure they had to maintain for that particular part of the course seemed exhausting, especially with the conditions of the day.
Alexa Gartenberg and the absolutely stunning Louis M came through the Leaf Pit looking like complete stars. 
Thankfully, the rest of the course was more galloping and straightforward questions. Two water complexes kept things interesting, though I never saw a single problem at either all day. With the heat, I assume all the horses were more than happy to leap and splash about. I know my huskies were... well, okay. Only sorta.
Tamra Smith and Mai Baum taking a cool dip in the main water complex.
The course was a long one, winding the entire length of Loch Moy's back field. It even dipped into the new arena complex for a hot minute. Horses had another opportunity to splash through some water before charging up (another) hill and leaping the fence line of the arena in first a corner and then a log. I love the way Loch Moy is building their arenas into the XC, but didn't make it over to see these jumps. If you're interested, be sure to click through to Emma's awesome recap video. She made sure to get a clip of ever jump on course, so you won't want to miss it! (I'll put it below, too.)
Lynn Symansky and RF Cool Play looking amazing.
I want to give a shout out to the people of Loch Moy. I was here almost exactly a month ago showing Bast at the dressage show, and it looked completely different. Since then they have finished a grandstand area for the smaller competition ring, installed wash stalls in the parking lot, and overall done a lot of regrading and turf maintenance, not to mention the course layout and design. This facility is so fabulous, and they just keep getting better. The fact that it's 20 minutes from where I board makes spectating or volunteering at these events a no-brainer. I was so excited when my schedule cleared enough to make this weekend possible.
Seriously. This trakehner was so massive and airy. Made for great photos, but it was definitely a rider-frightener of a fence. Here is Will Faudree and Pfun soaring over it like NBD.
I'm so lucky to have so many really amazing events within close distance here, including Fair Hill and Great Meadow. I always try to make it out for at least one of the "big ones." Do any of you have plans to get out and watch any big events this year? Do you spectate in disciplines that you don't ride in? I feel like eventing is super popular, no matter what. I'm not sure if that's my own bias talking there, though.
Mia Braundel and Cashmere motoring up one of the many hillsides at Maryland International.
If eventing is your thing, you'll definitely want to catch Emma's recap of the 3* below. See if you can pick out some of the moments I talked about above. I hope I did an okay job of describing them! I feel like photos and video can tell a very different story sometimes, so it's really cool to have her video to reference alongside my photos! What do you think?


  1. Great shots!!! That last one of Will Faudree jumping that huge thing one-handed...yeesh - such confidence! Sure makes for a sweet photo though.

    1. Honestly I only saw one horse have a problem there. It was big, but seemed to ride really straightforward! And made for a hell of a photo! Haha

  2. Great photos, love the downbank one!

  3. Your photos are so fantastic, I feel like I was there! Nicely done. :) I am not going to make it to an event this year but I adore spectating at them. Have been to XC day at the Olympics, and Rolex/Land Rover twice. 4 or 5-star eventing is just about my most favorite horse sport to watch. Still love Grand Prixes, too!


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