Equestrian U: Riding for college credit

This week, North Caroline State University student Breanne Long reveals how a field trip to watch the Duke Children’s Hospital Benefit Horse Show earlier this month blew her mind a little.

From Breanne:

This week I have a report of a different nature: the $30,000 Duke Grand Prix!

It was a packed arena Saturday night when my friend and I went to the Duke Children Hospital Benefit Horse Show Grand Prix. The lead line class is up right before the Grand Prix and those kids were pretty cute! The ponies were adorable and very well turned out–most were clipped and braided and one even had a heart clipped into its hindquarters. There was one little boy on a miniature horse who couldn’t have been more than two years old. It was a good thing the mini was so small or his mother’s arms would have gotten very tired holding onto him. He was such a ham though, he knew how to wave and blow kisses and it got him a very loud applause. As is traditional with lead line classes, the judges couldn’t decide who was the best, and all the entrants got a blue ribbon and a stuffed toy horse to take home.

After the lead line class the course designer, Bernardo Cabral, came out and told us a little about the course. I thought the most interesting combination was a triple bar then four tight strides to a flimsy vertical. The oxer really flattened the horses’ jump, and the rider had to be very quick to get the horse back before the vertical. It caused a few problems overall, but the most problematic fence was right after the triple, vertical combination. Set on the short side of the arena, it was right next to the VIP area which hosts a big dinner each year. I think that, and the combination of being on an angle meant the jump crew spent a lot of time picking up those rails.
The highlight of the win–it was an OTTB! And the only TB in the class! Arkansas, owned by Hillary Simpson, sped through both the first round and the jump off traveling noticeably more quickly and turning more sharply than the warmbloods. It was Arkansas’ first Grand Prix and boy did he do it in style.

This is his first round, clear and well within the time allowed. He rubbed the green striped vertical, but it didn’t fall!

I have a particular affinity for thoroughbreds, since I owned one, and because they’re such versatile horses. The announced was very quick to point out that this was not another Hanovarian, Selle Francis or Oldenburg, this was a home grown American Thoroughbred. If that didn’t make Arkansas a crowd favorite, his speed certainly did!

Megan Nusz and Dynamo in the jump off.

Megan Nusz, who won the Grand Prix last year, also competed on two of her horses, Dynamo and Cilantro. She came in second with Cilantro and also placed with Dynamo. During the awards ceremony she brought Dynamo over to a little girl seated next to me and let her reach over the wall and give Dynamo a pat. I didn’t get a picture, but it was definitely the highlight of the little girls night!

It was an excellent evening of show jumping with no falls and only a few refusals. Everyone finished fit to ride another day and the spectators finished geared up for another Grand Prix!

About Breanne: I started riding at age 8, following in my older sisters footsteps. My first horse was a cranky 32-year-old appaloosa and my last horse before college was a bay TB mare. I showed hunters but stopped riding once I started college. Now I’m slowly getting back into the horse world and would love to try eventing in the future.

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