The Rotational Fall at the Eventing Showcase

They say that money is the root of all evil. But in equestrian sport, money is essential to funding the endless supply of bills that go hand-in-hand with horses- vet bills, shipping, show fees, and of course the everyday costs of simply owning a horse.


So in theory, something like the Wellington Eventing Showcase provides a rare opportunity to put our sport in front of an audience that is well known to shell out dollars for equestrianism. It’s been discussed many a time how we need to be able to educate future fans, inspire potential patrons, and draw new upper-level owners to eventing, and the showcase’s intention seems to be just that.


But there are some differences between the polish and ponce of the Wellington event and your typical event. Instead of thousands of people lining the gallop lanes at Rolex, instead there was a sparsely populated hillock lining one of the sides of the derby field. And there were other differences, too. What I want to discuss today is the falls and near-falls of the cross country field.


Watching the cross country, it was clear that the bogey fences were not the gimmicky, entertaining obstacles like the tent jump, or the fence at the top of the Land Rover embankment. Instead it was a massive corner coming out of the water combination, a skinny at the base of a hill, and a pair of brush fences that could either be angled or, being numbered separately, could include a circle in between to allow for a straight approach to the second element. There were some run outs, to be expected for a course of this level, and that was okay.


What was strange to me was the difference in the way the couple falls were treated after the fact. I include the above fall sequence only as a result of both horse and rider walking away fine. The miraculous recovery of Woodge Fulton garnered the cheering and applause of a typical eventing audience. But the rotational fall of Marilyn Little and RF Demeter has been oddly swept under the rug from a media standpoint.


The pair jumped beautifully over the cabin in front of us, out and over the water combination with the corner, and then proceeded to the angled brushes like a bat out of hell- I mean this lady was hell-bent for leather on making time, and was easily moving faster than anyone else was at that stage on course. I cannot say for sure what happened at that next combination, as it was at the opposite end of the course from me, but there was no denying seeing 4 legs in the air and a definite rotational fall. Luckily Demeter trotted away, and an ambulance came over for Marilyn, who we could see was having trouble sitting up. In the end she opted for a ride on a golf cart rather than the ambulance, all the while the announcer attempted to assure the spectators that all was well between awkward pauses.


Trying to understand exactly what happened, my friends and I scoured the internet looking for some mention of the fall. And, nothing. The impression to us was that the fall was a stain on the showcase, and so nary to be mentioned, nor discussed, in public. The only mention I’ve seen so far of the fall has been in this article by the COTH.

There is no explanation of what happened, no mentioning that the horse went ass over teacups and landed on its human rider, who fortunately seems unscathed by the accident. Just a casual shout-out to sponsors, a week off in a paddock, and a lamentation of not being able to run the other horse.


While I am not trying to point fingers, I must admit that for me, the whole situation leaves me wanting. Wanting to be able to understand why something as scary and dangerous to both horse and human life as a rotational fall happened at a showcase event, with one of our top riders. Wanting to be able to learn from the scenario so that the sport is made a safer discipline for future generations. And wanting to be left feeling like the showcase really is a great way to bring in the support that the sport so desperately needs.

Thoughts on the Eventing Showcase

Eventing is typically seen as a fairly “gritty” sport- where results are less about polish and more about the combined determination and skill of a horse and rider to tackle the obstacles ahead of them. So seeing a cross country course that winds through fountains, expensive cars, and big screens is an interesting experience.



Just like at the American Eventing Championships in Tryon this past year, it’s obvious what stamp the Bellissimo brand has on an event. Even the simplest hanging log was emblazoned with the Tryon logo, and the elegant mansion fences made their appearance on an immaculately groomed (read: vacuumed) grass footing.


Big screens made sure no one missed any of the action, which in itself is an interesting addition that is so far unique to a Bellissimo event to my knowledge. And as a showcase, well, it does help to be able to see everything at once. It was obvious from the crowd that not only eventing fans were in attendance at the showcase- many a polo player, dressage queen, and U25 jumper star was there to catch the cross country phase.


It was a pleasure to see some of eventing’s greats up close and personal, and the course walk with Boyd, William, and Sir Mark Todd was enlightening and entertaining. I use the word entertaining to really describe much of the showcase, because really that’s what it seemed like in many aspects- the stars, the jumbotrons, and the stage tricks (such as dodging Land Rovers, and running through the VIP tent) all playing a part.


And yet, despite being an invitational for some of the biggest names in the eventing sport, the cross country phase was still one to be respected- this was no derby class. The gimmicky tent fence caused not a single issue, instead, the bogey fences proved to be one giant corner coming out of the first water combination and a combination later in the course that allowed itself to be angled brush-to-brush or jumped, then circle to get a straight approach to a rather vertical brush fence.


All in all, the showcase seemed like a great way to display our sport in a condensed fashion that invited spectators of a kind that may bring more owners and patrons to the eventing discipline. And while it was an enjoyable experience for most horses, riders, and spectators alike, there were a couple drawbacks. But more on that later in the week.




First Impressions from Adventures in Wellington

Florida is a mecca for winter equestrian sport in all of the english disciplines. And why not? It’s warm, it’s relatively dry, and you can’t beat that sandy footing.


So when my friend J made her second trip down to Ocala to work and train with Schramm Equestrian, it didn’t take any much convincing to cobble together a plan and visit for the Wellington Eventing Showcase.

Since highlights of the trip include a marked lack of sleep, the introduction of multiple patches of sunburn, and a lot of wine, I’m feeling a bit foggy this morning trying to process everything.

He wanted to come home with me. Oh yes he did.

He wanted to come home with me. Oh yes he did.

Wellington specifically though… made me feel poor. Here live the ultimate .001% surely, since nowhere else would you be caught wearing stilettos at a horse show. It was eye-opening to see the practices of the equestrian elite, including pruning their palm trees to the nines, hand grazing their horses in lieu of turn out, and so much more.


I will say, the only obvious commonality I have with the residents of Wellington is a love of horses, and wine. For once, my group was not the only ones to be found carting about coolers filled with arrays of chardonnay and pinot grigio. We made plenty of friends with fellow spectators who in true eventing style, were more than happy to share the shade of a palm tree and pass glasses of wine to and fro.


While I can’t wait to share with you the thousand photos I took, some really exciting portrait sessions (at least to me), more stories will have to be saved for future posts!