Whether you're a longtime spectator, a first-time volunteer, or an official at the event, the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Mars Equestrian is a truly special place to be. We asked people at this year's event to share their thoughts about their favorite LRK3DE experiences and what they love about the event that many consider to be, as the competition's motto puts it, "the best weekend all year."
Amy DuKate (Franklin, Ind.), show jumping ring steward since 2014
“I’ve been coming since 2008. I think the thing I love the most about eventing is the people. They’re very open, they’re very friendly, and everybody helps everybody.
“My favorite thing about LRK3DE is how many people I run into, even from out of state—people I went to college with or people from Indiana that I showed with when we were little. Everybody comes together. I love walking around on cross-country day and running into people you haven’t seen in years or since last year at the event.
“Being in the ring on stadium day is also incredible. Everything is up so close! I love that, and a lot of people don’t get to do that, so I’m a little lucky. I’m assigned a jump, and if that pole gets knocked down or the jump gets moved, I go out and re-position the jump. One interesting thing I’ve found about being a ring steward is how specific they are on their jumps. I can’t just throw the pole up there; I have to rotate the pole 360 degrees and make sure it’s even in the cups and a certain inch away from the standard—it’s very intricate.”
Jane Hamlin (Cornish, N.H.), an FEI five-star eventing judge and USEF ‘S’ judge, longtime spectator, and 2018 LRK3DE dressage judge
“I love the cross-country. It’s so exciting and you can get so close to the action. To me, that’s really the essence of our sport, and it’s beautifully done at Kentucky. If you can, watch a little bit of the warm-ups [for the dressage and show jumping phases]. That’s really fun. The warm-up rings are out back, behind the Rolex Stadium grandstand, and it’s pretty open. And always wear multiple layers, because you never know about spring in Kentucky! It can be warm and cold and everything in between, all in one day!”
Peg Landwehr (Villa Hills, Ky.), first attended in 1978, cross-country interior crossover guard since 2004
“I started volunteering shortly after I became a pony club mom volunteer because I think Carolyn [Borgert] came and spoke at one of our meetings. With her being the organizer [of several groups of cross-country volunteers], she asked if we would volunteer, and it seemed like a lot of parents did, and that is the way you volunteer for a lot of things your children are involved in.”
“Well I love cross-country that has always been my favorite. I really love when the competitors who are walking the [cross-country] course before the competition starts say thank you for volunteering. That means a lot because, to me, I want the rider and the horse and the spectators all to be safe. On a small scale for my own daughter, I know what it takes to get to an event on a lower-level scale. The commitment, the time, the work for horse and rider to get there, I want it to all come off safely and give them a chance to do well. I also love talking to people from all around the world.”
“Whether it is sunny or rainy or cold or hot, it just seems like everybody, from the person I am working with opposite me at the crossing to the person who delivers my lunch to the judges at the nearby jumps, is all so positive, nice, and supportive of one another. It is just interesting that these people from all over the U.S., many from Kentucky, can come and work together for such a wonderful event.”
Robin Foster (Hempstead, N.Y.), spectator since 2006
"Without a doubt, my favorite part of Land Rover Kentucky is the cross-country. I first came to this event in 2006, and I still remember how the hair on my arms stood up when I heard a whistle blow and saw a horse and rider come galloping over the crest of a hill. They barreled by me and down to the Head of the Lake, splashing through what seemed like an impossible series of jumps. When they made it through and the cheers erupted, I actually got tears in my eyes.
"I love going to different events, and each has its own character, but I think the word for Land Rover Kentucky is 'majestic.' Last year I took a picture of Sara Gumbiner and Polaris soaring over the Keeper’s Brush, which is enormous, with the crowds gathered in the foreground and the stadium towering over everything in the distance. It’s all pretty awe-inspiring.
"Even though everything is on a grand scale here, I also love the more low-key moments, like getting a candid shot of riders Tim Price and Lynn Symansky talking just outside the arena before show jumping one year. That’s one of my favorite memories."
Emily Plant (Missoula, Mont.), spectator since 1986
“I definitely remember cross-country and how fun it was to go shopping; it was every horse thing possible. I remember being absolutely amazed by the old Lexington Bank and then the Head of the Lake. ... I think it really sealed, for me, that appeal of eventers just being so tough and so exciting, and that you have women competing on the same playing field as men when most sports that we’re exposed to are gender-segregated. Just being that the ladies could do everything that men could do and even beat them was really inspiring to me as a young kid.
“The Kentucky Horse Park feels like home to me and I have a connection with this place in terms of everything from winning Pony Club rally here through competing in my first Preliminary-level event. I just have so many ties and memories personally to it that I think it just seems so cool that you have the best riders from the world on your home turf. I think the ability to see all the great riders in one place and in a place that is so familiar that you know the cross-country course and it is like seeing an old friend every year.
“I love seeing the old fences that are no longer in use, and remembering, ‘Oh my gosh, I remember when the trade fair was just a row of tents on the grass,’ and now it is in [the covered] arena. There were wooden planks to walk across creeks. It is impressive how it has grown, including the whole Rolex Stadium. I remember riding in the grass show jump arena and watching [the event] on a hillside grass arena, so it is just cool to see it now and the history of all those horses and all those greats who have galloped down the same galloping lanes for 40 years.”
Steve Swift (Buffalo, N.Y.), first attended in 2000
“My first Kentucky Three-Day was in 2000. I took my daughter for her 10th birthday, and it kind of became a special tradition for the two of us for a few years while she was still little. This is my first year back in about 15 years. I don’t ride or have any connection to horses beyond my daughter, so it’s nice to be back here together years later. My wife and I like to see every jump on the cross-country course, it’s my favorite day of the event. It’s incredible to see what [these horses] can do up close.”
Ellery Duvall (Oxford, Ohio), spectator since 2015, and her mom, Wendy Duvall
Ellery, age 12: “I do eventing, but mostly just dressage. I like the show jumping. I think it’s just really exciting because there’s a lot of pressure on everyone in the jumping, and I think it’s fun to watch, seeing everything done at really high standards. Right now I have a horse who’s really nervous about everything. I would like to do jumping, but he’s nervous, and I want to get used to that first. So right now I’m only competing in dressage or over very little jumps.”
Wendy: “I like for my kids to come and see the people who are at the top of the sport. They know how hard they’ve been working, especially because this is a sport where you’re not going into it for the fame or the money. I love that this is a sport where men and women compete on an equal playing field, and riders in their 50s or 60s are still competing, so, unlike soccer, you don’t tap our when you’re 22. They can be in the sport a really long time. And there are a lot of really good role models in this sport for my kids. My daughter’s trainer is 61, and she’s just brought a horse up through prelim, and it’s just amazing to watch them go out. … I think each day of this event is so interesting to see. I love the cross-country, and probably that’s my favorite, but we’ve developed an affinity for dressage because it’s so interesting to see people come in and put their horse together and try to keep him together for five minutes doing all these things.”
This article is original content produced by US Equestrian and may only be shared via social media. It is not to be repurposed or used on any other website aside from USequestrian.org.