Three years ago, I attended the CCI4* at Pau and spent several delightful hours watching small children pilot tiny ponies over cross-country and stadium fences. You can revisit Shetland Pony eventing by checking out the post HERE. Having enjoyed the ponies at Pau, I was pretty excited to hear that there would be pony eventing at Le Grand Complet at Haras du Pin. I didn’t give it much thought at the time, and I certainly didn’t appreciate that the pony eventing I would be seeing this weekend was actually a CCIP1* – a 1* specifically for ponies. The ponies I have been watching this weekend are super little athletes who have to complete a proper CCI1* dressage test, a challenging cross-country course and a tough show jumping track.
Yesterday, the ponies in the CCIP1* ran cross-country and we were all amazed by the tough questions posed by the course, the athleticism and cleverness displayed by the ponies and what was, for the most part, some very good riding by these young riders. The course started out with several large, solid galloping fences.
The first three fences were followed by a fairly long galloping stretch and another big fence off a fairly short right hand turn. These ponies are handy and many of them can really gallop.
The first combination came at fence 5, and required the ponies to step up a bank then jump an angled bench and gallop on to a brush jump in front of the castle. This combination was also flagged and numbered for the CCI1* course.
The ponies and riders then tackled a huge log at fence 7 before tackling the first water jump on course.
The first water on course is actually two water obstacles. The ponies had to jump over the brush jump at fence 8, gallop through the water and then jump out of water at 9A before following a bending line toward a proper ramped jump at 9B into the second pond.
There were two options at 9C – the first and quickest required an angled jump over the drop into water while the second required the ponies to gallop nearly all the way around the pond – a time consuming choice. I stayed at this water for several rides, and all except one opted for the slower option.
The ride of the day, in my view, was this pinto pony’s trip through the first water. I actually watched this pony warm up prior to the start and her rider made a point of practicing an angled line over one of the solid cross-country jumps.
Her smart warm-up paid off, and she had a lovely ride through the direct route at the water.
Video – Pony Eventing First Water
After the water, the ponies galloped on to fence 10 – another brush jump. This one, however, was set on a slope and required the riders to negotiate a turn only a few strides beforehand.
There were 20 fences on course, so there was still lots of work to be done after this big brush fence. We’ll show you the rest of the course in Part II of Extreme Pony Eventing at Haras du Pin.
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