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Written and photographed by Erica Larson

Overview of the Event

Each spring, eventing enthusiasts from around the world

descend upon the Kentucky Horse Park to witness one of the most prestigious three-day eventing competitions in the world. The only “Four-Star” event in North America, the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event takes place over five days and showcases the most talented event riders and some of the most stunning equine athletes in the world.

On the first day of the competition, always a Wednesday, each competitor must present their mounts for approval from the ground jury and the veterinary committee. Should the horse be deemed unsound or not healthy enough to continue, they will be eliminated from the competition before even beginning. At this year’s “first jog,” as it is known, only two horses were declined to continue.

Dressage, the first phase of eventing, takes place over the course of two days – the Thursday and Friday of the com- petition. Each horse and rider combination will perform a four-star test (roughly equivalent to a Fourth Level test in regular Dressage) and be scored by three judges. The scores are averaged and in eventing Dressage, the lowest score will sit atop the leader board. This year’s leader after Dressage was Bettina Hoy and her stunning Irish Sport Horse Ringwood Cockatoo. The pair received an unprece- dented score of 28.8 from the judges.

The most exciting phase of the competition takes place on Saturday. This is the day that the horses and riders gal- lop around a four-mile cross-country course with at least

35 jumping efforts, all in about 11 minutes. Cross-country day at Rolex typically attracts more than 50,000 specta- tors. This year, only ten horse and rider combinations came in double clear (with no jumping or time faults). Bettina Hoy and Cockatoo had a few time penalties on their cross-country run and relinquished the lead to Australian sensations Lucinda Fredericks and the adorable and athletic Headley Britannia.

Before the final phase (show jumping), the riders must once again present their horses to the ground jury for inspection. Only one horse was eliminated at the “final inspection” this year.

Show jumping is the final phase that determines the out- come of the competition. It is the most suspenseful of the three phases, as one rail dropped could shift the leader board dramatically. Fredericks and “Little Brit” (Headley Britannia) had a rail in hand coming into the show jump- ing, but they left all the rails in the cups to take the title of 2009 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Champions. Headley Britannia also became the first mare to win the prestigious event at Lexington. Hoy and Ringwood Cockatoo remained in second place, and American team Buck Davidson and My Boy Bobby rounded out the top three.

Warmbloods Today presents you with a photo gallery of some of the horses that competed April 22 - 25. Sometimes they are at their best and sometimes not. Please enjoy the pictures!

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