This blog originally appeared on coth.com.
Bom dia from Rio!
It’s been awhile since my last check in because Mollie and I have been going full throttle writing for the website and writing two magazines stories on a deadline for mid-week.
I’ll back up to cross-country day—the best day of any horse show if I say so myself!
It was warm, but overcast, and quite a large crowd came out to have some fun. From the very beginning though, it was clear it was going to be a tough course.
I spent the first part of the day shooting the first and last water, and got some great shots, then wandered towards other parts of the course where there was absolutely no announcing, so I felt utterly lost as to what was going on and why people weren’t making it to where I was.
It was weird feeling so disconnected from the action, so I was texting with a co-worker back at the office who was watching the live stream. She was about 10 minutes behind the live action, but she still knew before I did that U.S. rider Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen had retired on course.
Bummer! I’m a huge fan of Clark and Glen after having spent so much time chatting with him over the last couple of years, and finally meeting him and Glen in person this summer, so I was just gutted for them.
Lauren also had some terrible luck, but looked good when I saw her, and Phillip and Boyd gave masterful riding demonstrations. Blackfoot Mystery, and Boyd, looked exhausted coming through the last water, and Boyd nursed him home expertly.
It says a lot about a course when a guy who rides 10 horses at a one-day event in the middle of summer is exhausted riding one horse around a four-star!
As usual, Michael Jung was masterful, although he had a bit of a save on Sam through the last water when he wanted to bow his right shoulder over one of the fish.
I think I shot some of my best photos ever on cross-country, which you can check out here.
Eventing show jumping day went by in a blur. We had to cover two rounds of jumping, plus team and individual medals.
The French team, who are all very handsome and charming, won gold and our hearts!
Mollie and I fell into bed that night, but no rest for the weary as we went straight into dressage the next two days with the Grand Prix and team medals. I saw Valegro! OK, so a lot of people have seen him, but I’ve never seen him in person, so I was super excited.
He was just as round and cute as I’d expected!
We rallied one more day to cover the Special, but for me, it was a tough night as I got food poisoning from our media village dining hall and spent all night with severe stomach cramps that continued into the next day.
Luckily we had shots of all of the riders who would be in the Special, and they ran in reverse order, so I spent the morning in bed and found enough strength to go over to the venue and shoot the afternoon. I couldn’t miss Valegro again!
I almost doubled over in pain as Steffen Peters was riding, another I didn’t want to miss, but I held it together for a few more riders until Charlotte went.
We’ve been subsisting on basically bread and cheese since we’ve arrived because we haven’t been able to go to any restaurants or find a grocery store until Saturday.
Mollie and I get up every morning to the sound of idling buses and military men doing drills, grumble about how the breakfast at the media village hasn’t changed, and load up our plates with the same rolls, cheese and thankfully some fresh fruit.
We’ve also started packing cheese sandwiches because the venue only has, well, more bread and cheese sandwiches with meat that aren’t so tasty.
We grumble again as we eat in the dining hall at night, but we’re usually so hungry we stuff our faces with rice, pasta, often crunchy, and iceberg lettuce, then pass out to the sound of guns going off fairly close by and rowdy rugby journalists.
We had a day off on Saturday, and while all of our journalist and photographer friends were off having fun at the beach or sightseeing, we had to hunker down and write our eventing and dressage stories for the magazine.
After writing from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., we decided to give ourselves a break and head to Barra where a couple of photographer and journalist friends are staying.
We hopped on a bus to the Main Media Center and were soon being escorted down the Olympic road by military guards. Our bus driver told us another media bus had a rock thrown through its window. Lovely.
We took a quick bus from the MPC to Barra and had a wonderful evening of actual food, capped off by a lovely walk past all of the main venues like the diving arena.
It was cool to be in the middle of it all, if only for a short time.
We grabbed some healthy snacks at a grocery store and made our way home, feeling refreshed and ready to shoot the first day of show jumping.
The weather has been up and down, from very pleasant to downright hot the last two days, but the crowds showed up in full force for show jumping.
It was absolutely deafening when a Brazilian rider came in the ring, and when they went clear, watch out!
The locals are all wonderful, and the military are all friendly. Unfortunately it seems that what we’re allowed to bring in through security each day changes, but we’ve learned to adapt!
We’ve been keeping the TV on at night and watching some of the other sports while we write, and even saw a five minute blurb about the horses last night. It’s weird not having access to NBC and their instant replays. I guess I’ll just have to wait until I get home to find out what actually happened on cross-country!
We’re in the home stretch! I’m counting down the days until I can cook my own food and see my horse, but until then, Mollie and I figured out a way to order pizzas to Deodoro Village, and I have to say, American bread and cheese tasted heavenly!