bromont · combined driving

Bromont International Combined Driving Event 2017

Last weekend, I moved heaven and earth to go up and watch marathon day at the Bromont International Combined Driving Event. We’ve been up to Bromont before for the eventing – it’s an easy drive, a gorgeous venue, and one of my favorite special equestrian things to do.

A friend was driving her pony in the Prelim division, and at one point I had the chance to be a navigator. Schedule problems prevented that from happening, but I was determined to get up and cheer her on for at least one day. I fought through thunderstorms, a missing passport, an insane work schedule, and found an AirBnB room at the last minute to make it happen. I’m so glad I did!

If you don’t know, combined driving is like the eventing of the driving world. Day 1 is dressage, patterns in a ring. Day 2 is marathon, with a timed “roads and tracks” section (much like eventing used to be) and then an obsctacle course. Day 3 is cones – driving through cones with tennis balls perched on top, as a timed exercise in precision.

Obstacles are large intricate built environments that drivers have to navigate in a specific way. The pass throughs are lettered: you go through gate A, then B, and so on. You cannot cross a future gate (can’t go through C to get to A) but once you pass through, they’re dead, and you can reuse them (so you can go through A again to get to C). There is no set path, and part of the course walk is to decide what route you’ll take. Drivers make decisions on how their horses move – better to left or right? – the ground they see that day, the way their carriage handles, and where they can shave a corner to get better time versus take a slower route to set them up better for the next turn.

Much like cross-country, marathon day is judged by time and penalty: an overall optimum time for the course, and then penalties within the object. You accrue 1/4 penalty point for each second you spend in the obstacle, and those points are added to your score. So you’re incentivized to spend as little time as possible in the obstacle.

I got to see all the obstacles driven but one (which was really far across the lake, no thank you) with singles, pairs, and then four in hand. The four in hands were INSANE. I really think that driving a four in hand through a course like this might be the ultimate expression of horsemanship. There is so much power and precision that you have to balance so exquisitely!

Below, some photos I took during the day.


Bromont Picspam

Here’s a smattering of pictures I took this weekend. My photography skills aren’t the best, but I tried to take enough to get a good overview! (They’re not really in chronological order.)

Friday dressage, with the 1978 Olympics logo on the hillside.

Selena O’Hanlon on Foxwood High sporting some nifty quartermarks.

VIP viewing area.

XC vet box with the VIP tent and some of the course in the background.

XC course.

Front end water.

Backside water.

One of the combined driving obstacles across the lake from the front side of the XC course.

Galloping downhill into the arena.

Last jump on the course.

Buck Davidson taking the 2* drop.

Sharon White on the 2* showjumping. Check out her stirrups!

Team Canada walking the 3* showjumping course.

Jessica Phoenix on Pavarotti, who was an incredible, extravagant jumper.

Will Coleman and Phillip Dutton on their joint victory lap. 
Long view of part of the XC course.

Sloppy morning showjumping in the 1*.

Oxer over a liverpool; these rails came down all day and in fact two of them broke and had to be replaced.


Bromont Stadium

Rails, rails, everywhere, and more Han a few riders who wanted a drink.

I don’t think I have ever seen such a decisive series of show jumping rounds. Lots of very tired horses, dropping rails every which way. There were only a handful of clear rounds across all the divisions, and several major changes in standings.
A few rounds stood out in particular for me. Selena O’Hanlon did an absolutely beautiful job with her CCI3* horses, looking cool and elegant over fences that had rattled nearly everyone. I loved Jon Holling’s horse Zapotec B’s extravagant jumping style – I’ve been eyeing that horse all weekend, in fact. Gorgeous.
Will Coleman’s singleminded focus was really something to see. He was the last rider off the course walk, leaving practically as the first rider entered the ring, and his ride on Obos O’Reilly was a portrait of intensity.
One beautiful grey in the CCI2* pulled up just a few fences from home after tripping a bit in front of the jump and them coming up practically three legged a stride or two after landing. It was worrying to see. Eventing Nation is speculating it was a twisted shoe. I hope so, because it’s scary to see a horse go so off, so quickly.
Tonight I’ll work through my pictures from the trip and do a bit of a picspam over the next few days.

Bromont XC

Whoooo, cross country day!

We got to the parc equestre just as the 1* division started, the first of the day, and got on course just in time to wait for a very long hold that ended with the rider taken away by ambulance. (She was ok, and I am 99% sure we ended up sitting next to her later that day to watch the water, based on eavesdropping…)
We wandered a bit of everywhere for thy division and then settled in by the back water, and stayed there for the beginning of the 3*. Then the arena, then the drop, then the front water, where we stayed through about half of the 2* division – until it started raining in earnest. 
Now we are in Montreal, full from a dinner of poutine and tired from walking several miles exploring the Grand Prix atmosphere.
I will put up photos and talk more about cross country when I get back home – I decided against bringing my netbook on this trip which means no uploading photos for me!

Bromont Dressage

Some really wonderful rides today – despite the weather, which is vile. Cold, cloudy, and rainy.

My highlight of the morning was Kyle Carter’s ride on Madison Park, which was a really beautiful example of perfect harmony. This is the horse that came back from slipping a tendon off his hock on XC, and Kyle was clearly thrilled with the test, giving a huge hug after the final salute. Just a really wonderful accurate, fluid test. Real partnership.
Highlight for the afternoon was Lauren Keiffer on Veronica. Holy mackerel, what an amazing test. I know there has been grumbling on the COTH forums about how often the mare has run, and she has been around an awful lot, but she looked phenomenal today. I was holding my breath for the last minute or so for her, because it was obvious that if she continued as she was, she would win the dressage – and so she has!
Now back at the campsite to warm up and rest, and possibly do some looking about and shopping, and then tonight to a brew pub for dinner and to watch hockey, where my boyfriend will attempt to get himself shanked by being That Bruins Fan in Quebec…

WHOO, Bromont!

At the end of my workday today, I will hop on a bus to head up to Burlington, meet my boyfriend, and we will continue driving up and across the Canadian border for our trip to spectate at the Bromont International Three Day Event.

I’m really excited – it’s just started to sink in today. We went a few years ago and had a wonderful time, and since then Bromont has gotten bigger and better. There will be some serious names there riding some serious horses, and the event itself is much friendlier to watch than Rolex or Fair Hill.

Saturday night we’ll head into Montreal to soak up some of the Grand Prix atmosphere and stay in a hotel instead of a tent, and then we’ll head home Sunday night after showjumping.

I’m looking forward to beautiful event horses, poutine, and Tim Horton’s, though not necessarily in that order. (Poutine might be winning right now.)