First-Person Perspectives from the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by Land Rover

The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover is a thriller for spectators and equestrian fans, whether they’re on site at the Kentucky Horse Park or watching the action live on USEF Network. For a different perspective, we asked several participants behind the scenes at Rolex Kentucky to describe what their experience at this eventing championship is like.

Lauren Kieffer, Athlete

Lauren Kieffer, riding Veronica, won the 2016 Rolex/USEF CCI4* National Championship after finishing second overall at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover. (©Ford McClave)

Olympic eventer Kieffer finished second overall at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover in 2014 and 2016 with Veronica, earning the Rolex/USEF CCI4* National Championship both times. This year, she’s riding Jacqueline Mars’s Vermiculus, an Anglo-Arab full brother to Snooze Alarm, Kieffer’s first Rolex mount.

“Rolex is really special. For a rider, it’s unlike any other three-day event. They do such a great job of taking care of the riders and horses, and the facilities, barns, and arenas are amazing, but there’s also so much history there.”  Read more

Carl Segal, Co-Owner of Copper Beach and Park Trader

Segal and his wife Cassandra started off as Rolex spectators before getting involved as event-horse owners about 15 years ago. Since then, they’ve campaigned such Rolex competitors as My Boy Bobby, who finished third in 2009, and eventing’s all-time leading points-earner, BallyNoe Castle RM, who finished third in 2013 and fourth in 2014. Both won the Pinnacle Cup as the event’s top-placed American finisher. This year, the Segals have entered their Park Trader. Carl Segal also co-owns Copper Beach with Sherrie Martin. Buck Davidson rides both horses.

“We started in eventing at a very low level and never had any expectation or hope of having a horse at Rolex. We would go to Rolex and marvel at these horses that could make it to that level but never anticipated that would be one of ours! We still enjoy going to the lower levels, too.

“When we got to go to Rolex with My Boy Bobby, it was incredible to be there. It was the first-four star he’d ever done. And we had no expectation he’d do as well as he did. Buck did a phenomenal job. It was kind of a miracle weekend. We came to appreciate how unusual it is for a horse to get that far. Read more

Annie Jones, Co-owner of Fernhill Fugitive

Jones has owned a number of Rolex horses for Phillip Dutton, eventing bronze medalist at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, and this year co-owns Fernhill Fugitive with Thomas Tierney. When she’s not cheering on her horses, Jones can often be found out on the grounds with her camera, taking pictures of cross-country fences for friends and family.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of horses run there and some in the top five. I haven’t won it yet, but I’ve had one second and others who have done well. If you’re lucky enough to get there, it’s very exciting.

“The thing that makes me most nervous is the trot-up. You always hold your breath, because you never know what’s going to happen in the trot-up, and there always seems to be some slight crisis. But if you hold your breath long enough, you get through it! The horses are well prepared, and obviously Phillip is a brilliant rider, so I don’t worry about that. Read more

Robin Corr, Volunteer

Robin Corr, a Rolex Kentucky volunteer since the 1990s, leads the team that decorates the cross-country course’s Head of the Lake. (Photo courtesy Robin Corr)

Corr, a dressage rider and retired teacher from Cincinnati, Ohio, has been a volunteer at Rolex since the early 1990s and now leads the team of volunteers who decorate the cross-country obstacles at Rolex Kentucky’s iconic Head of the Lake. Decorating the grounds for Rolex takes about 950 flats of flowers, 212 hanging plants, and a small army of about 125 volunteers led by Sheila Woerth, the chief steward of course decoration, over the course of several weeks.

“I love it. We’re creating beautiful little gardens.

“We get diagrams that tell how we’re supposed to mulch the fences, so we then know how to plant the flowers. Everything goes directly in, the whole cell pack. We don’t take things out of the pots. The course designer decides what he wants in terms of height and width, and Sheila and a couple of others pick the flowers that would fit that. We get a list that says how many flowers we have, what we’re supposed to do or not do, and then you’re on your own to plant it however you want to plant it. When the ground jury goes through and when [cross-country course designer Derek di Grazia] goes through, we sometimes get word that we need to change something. Derek and Mick [Costello, the course builder] and his crew are down-to-earth, and they’re like family now. You can talk to them. Read more

Janis Linnan, Licensed Official

Linnan, the Fédération Equestre Internationale Eventing Steward General for the USA, has volunteered at the Rolex event since the early 1980s. She got her start as a licensed official under the famed horseman and Olympic eventer Major General Jonathan “Jack” Burton. At Rolex, Linnan will be one of a number of stewards posted in various locations, including the barns, at warm-up locations, and with veterinarians.

“The role of the FEI steward is to help the competitors and look out for the welfare of the horses and the welfare of the competitors. You observe, you help, and you intervene if necessary. We’re there when the horses come in and help the veterinarians check over the horses’ passports, we assist at the jog, and we go into the barns and always have a presence there if someone needs anything. We steward the warm-ups and check the bits and saddlery for dressage, and it’s basically the same thing for the warm-ups for cross-country and show jumping. For the dressage phase, for example, we follow the FEI dressage rules for bitting and for saddlery. We check to make sure there are no earplugs in the horses’ ears, and we check to make sure the bit matches what’s legally allowed in the dressage arena, to ensure a level playing field for everyone. The spurs can only be a particular length, so we check that they’re not a type that’s prohibited. Read more

How to Follow the 2017 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Presented by Land Rover

The only place to catch all four days of the action-packed competition is the USEF Network live stream. Please see the schedule below for dates and times of competition.

Date Event Time Calendar Link
Wednesday, April 26 First Horse Inspection 3 p.m. Add to Calendar
Thursday, April 27 Dressage 8 a.m. Add to Calendar
Friday, April 28 Dressage 8:30 a.m. Add to Calendar
Saturday, April 29 Cross-Country 10 a.m. Add to Calendar
Sunday, April 30 Second Horse Inspection 8 a.m. Add to Calendar
  Champions Live! 9:30 a.m. Add to Calendar
  Jumping 1 p.m. Add to Calendar

Schedule subject to change. All times listed are Eastern.

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