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Biltmore Blues

> This FEI "event" was not at all what I expected.  I thought that it>
would be a "normal" ride,> Instead, FEI "took over" the ride.  Special
rules were imposed that
> applied to all of us, I fell "harassed" at times, and generally 
> didn't> like the atmosphere.  

OK, lets take the problems one at a time.  First, the one that seemed to
gall people the most...Parking.  When you enter Biltmore first you pass
the *far* field and it had a sign that said, non-FEI and large rigs. It
also said FEI *and* open parking ahead. You could come on down nearer the
main tent...just the immediate field at the tent was FEI reserved, *but*
guess what?  We were required to get there Thursday, so on a first come
basis chances are it would have been taken anyway.  In case you didn't
notice, we had to deal with parking requirements open riders did not. 
the lots were marked off exactly 24' wide.  It was like being in a
subdivision.  We were allowed extra width according to the number of
horses so if you see the Kanavys with extra slots it was because they had
more horses did Darolyn Butler.  We were also required to
remove our tow vehicle from the parking "area".  Fortunately for me, I
was able to just drive my truck over the line on the ground with the
trailer inside and the truck outside along the road, but those parked on
the inside of the field had to unhook and move their trucks out along the
road...even if all their water was in a tank on it, etc.  I thought it
was a silly rule until I saw that it actually left the center of the
field open for EVERYONE to use.  The open riders who were able to park
just past the reserved area didn't have to deal with that and the center
lane was quickly clogged with lots of vehicles. Hope this explains why
there were so many trucks and cars lined up down the road.  As far as
them not letting vehicles go set up vet checks in the morning hours, come
on!  I was surprised she allowed any up there at any time that morning. 
There are nearly 200 horses all wound up and milling around and people
want to drive their vehicles up and down that darned road clipping your
knees with their mirrors and stirring up a huge cloud of dust.  There was
plenty of time to set up vet checks the night before the ride and we had
no trouble driving the truck around back of the field to unload.

As far as "extra rules".  The walk through they gave on the vet check
helped me a lot and I think they should have had them all evening to let
the open riders see the differences, because it was really minimal.  I
was irritated by the idea of it being different t first, but the
difference in the "arrival slip" or whatever instead of using our card
was actually a good idea.  When we would come walking in from the trail,
6 riders together, there would be someone well out from the gate and
they'd call our numbers back to the timer and she'd write them on little
yellow slips of paper.  This totally eliminated having the horses all
bunched up and riders climbing over each other to hand in their cards,
they just had them written out when we got there and handed them to us as
we kept moving.  I just stuck it in my bra and kept walking (found a
spare after the ride, very confusing. >g<)  That way you didn't have to
get your card out till you got to the vet and it didn't get so wet and
torn up since by then you're done with the sponging, etc.  No big deal if
you have it explained to you.  The 60 pulse criteria was a pain, but
they've done it there before when it wasn't FEI.  The lanes looked more
complicated but with 200 horses there I never once had to wait for
anything and so I'm all for whatever causes that.  As far as the "FEI
people" (which one FEI person laughed and gave me a very nasty acronym
for) they all seemed to be AERC endurance riders who were assuming the
roll.  No, I'm not crazy about the hoopla.  Yes I whined about the collar
and short sleeves (didn't make you do that did they Jim >g<) but the
darned things were warmer than a tank top when it started raining; and
nobody narced on me when I  rolled them up and tucked them under my bra
straps going down the trail. :-)  

The weird BC times were due to the fact that they had the finish on the
hill where it was safe, and allowed 30 minutes for us to walk our horses
down to camp, so timewise, they pretended the end was at camp.  Maybe
that was a problem and not well thought out, but it was to get the finish
on top where it's possible to race.  I did not agree with weighing in on
top, but planned ahead and had a blanket waiting the second we whipped
the saddle of and had Bill start walking him down to keep him moving.  I
was warned so I lived with it.
I'll tell my story better kid hits the ballfield in 15 minutes
and I've got to go, but I got news for ya.  With or without FEI, the
parking and the crewing areas are cramped at Biltmore simply *because*
it's such a popular ride.  What did you LIKE about it?

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