Woodside Cross Country Day | California Dreaming

A Full Day of Cross Country At Woodside’s Spring Event

 With just under 400 entries, cross country day at Woodside was pretty busy, running classes right across the spectrum. Sadly I missed the Advanced class at Woodside this morning, waylaid by the day job, and turned up half way through the training level classes, so spent a good deal of time at the cross country warm up which unlike back home is hosted in a surfaced arena.

Cross Country Warm Up On An All Weather Surface

Eagerly Watching Cross Country

I’m very glad I did as I spent a good deal of time chewing the fat with Derek Di Grazia & Yves Sauvignon, as they watched their students warm up for cross country, and learnt a lot about the eventing circuit on the West Coast, it’s challenges, opportunities, and how it has evolved over the years. We probably solved a few world crisis’ as well! Derek, as many probably know, designed the Rolex 4* course for the last few years, and designed all the courses at Woodside, which have gone through a significant revamp recently. Wearing 3 hats this weekend, Derek was course designer, coach to a handful of students, and also rode in the Preliminary Challenge (Horse Section) to finish 6th.

Today’s cross country caused no where near the level of upset seen at Rolex, and I’m told the Advanced course rode beautifully. I’d almost forgotten that over here watches are permitted at the lower levels, something that has caused some controversy over their encouragement to ride far faster, rather than as an aid to judge pace, and I have to admit I did spot a few horses being hurried along out on course, but not the pair above.

Woodside is clearly one of the big events on the west coast, and of the handful of names that I know compete on the west coast all of them were here. I even spotted a Badminton Horse Trials jacket in the warm up – it’s international appeal extends this far west. No guesses for who’s wearing it – Canada’s Hawley Bennet-Awad who has completed Badminton twice, and was here riding and teaching. Hawley’s husband Gamal was here too performing some excellent moves on the dance floor that evening in an effort to match Gina Miles’ table dancing!

As the cross country drew to a close the audience actually swelled as more people started to arrive for the Gala evening and show jumping finale of the Preliminary Challenge held in the man arena which has the most wonderful vista of the San Francisco Bay and surrounding hills as the back drop. The Los Altos hounds, mastered by an English couple, were paraded half way through the proceedings, and I was fortune enough to meet them later in the evening, making me feel more at home.

I have to spare a thought for Ruth Bley who had qualified two horses for the Preliminary Challenge, riding a wonderful grey horse called Silver Sage, and a bay thoroughbred. As she took a short cut between two fences on her first ride, the grey, he mistook this as a sign to jump one of them at a very acute angle and promptly eliminated them from what promised to be an otherwise exemplary round, and I think this unsettled Ruth for her second ride where she had two rails down dropping them a few places. Ruth explained later that evening the grey can be a little strong in the show jumping (but at least he’s an honest jumper!)

Finally I really cannot thank Yves & Cindy Sauvignon enough for their wonderful company and hospitality. I look forward to following their progress with Yves’ Advanced ride, Sanssouci, and returning the favour when they come to the UK.

I hope to make it back tomorrow for some of the show jumping but in the mean time here are links to the website and scoreboards:



ps. I even met one of the founders of Siri at a horse show – a big plus for my day job! (it’s a small world isn’t it?)

pps. Advanced Showjumping Wrap:

Epic Senior Moment With The Camera!

I couldn’t bring myself to post separately as I had an epic senior moment when I forgot to check my camera settings before snapping away (as you can see from this photo where the shutter speed is way to low).

However, I did make it back to Woodside in time for the Advanced Showjumping, and I’m glad I did as apart from the winner, there turned out to be two very interesting horses in the line up. One was James Alliston’s chestnut horse that looked every bit as scopey and ‘hot’ as Andrew Nicholson’s horse, Armada, and even more interesting was the grey horse pictured, Sanssouci ridden by Yves.

This grey is big and scopey, reminds me a little like Mr Cruise Control, although Sanssouci is clearly more difficult to ride. I don’t think Yves even warmed him up over a fence, instead gently warmed him on the flat, long and low, keeping him calm. Then, boom, they entered the arena and you could see why. The horse is a dynamite jumper, but tricky to keep in a straight line between your heels in between fences. Yves took his time and rode the perfect spot to every fence, which clearly wasn’t easy, and didn’t touch a rail all the way round. It cost them time penalties and a drop down to third place but I’d say it was worth it. Boy can this horse jump! I kept admiring the horse, and was told, he wasn’t for sale – surely every horse has his price, doesn’t he? and I am tempted to get a new horse. I wouldn’t need much persuading to sit on a horse like this!

Check the scoreboard link above for everything else, and a big thank you to everyone at Woodside for making me so welcome! It’s been a fantastic weekend.

Amateur event rider, aspiring photographer. Technologist by day.

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