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|The site below was placed online in July & August, 1996, and has largely been left in its original form|
My girlfriend and I arose zombie-like at 3:30am, endured a two hour trip by bus, two trains, and a shuttle to the most distant venue served by MARTA for a 7am event start time. But the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers was well worth the trip. It's a gorgeous venue, and that day we saw its finest side, the cross country course.
The cross country portion of the Equestrian 3 Day competition is the equine equivalent of the marathon. Various Humane Societies like the SPCA have loudly condemned this event as dangerous to the animals, because [SARCASM ALERT!] not only have we never ever had a summertime horse competion in Georgia, but we don't even allow horses in the state between June and September because of the heat. I mean, it's not like horses have been living in this area for thousands of years.
They went to great lengths to protect the horses, using fans, misters, and cooling down periods, and there were lots of volunteers in shirts that said "Veterinarian" all over the course getting in the way of my shots. Most importantly, as anyone who's owned a horse will tell you, the bond between rider and horse is very special, and these world class riders would never unnecessarily risk injury to these valued long-term partners. And in the end, there were no problems.
Most amazingly, while the riders were allowed to walk the course, the horses were seeing it for the first time, negotiating over 6 miles of varied terrain and dozens of difficult jumps, some with water hazards. The horse had to have complete trust in the rider, that, yes, we can jump this obstacle and this is the course to take. Yet some riders absolutely beamed as they galloped past.
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