When the obsession started: Nearly the end of the cross country day at Rolex. I had spent hours upon hours walking miles and miles. Watching horse after horse, jump, jump after jump. I saw great ones, scary ones, beautiful ones. There really is nothing like XC day at Rolex. And the weather, oh my lovely! The day was nearly over. Just two horses still on course and the day was over too soon. My two wonderful daughters and my new super cool Rolex buddy M had migrated our way to jump 25, The Kentucky Cabins. I saw about 3 horses come through and each one though they made it through looked like they were happy to be closing in on the finish line. Two even giving the question a second look but in the end were obedient and cleared the combination. Then there was Rocky! Before this moment knew nothing of this horse and the only thing I knew of the rider was that her number was 74 and it was the girl that was surely just 12 years old that we noticed as we were at the Hollow earlier in the day, walking the course. I think the conversation with M went something like, "Who is that walking on course?". "Is she a competitor?". "I don't know she looks like she is all of 12 years old." "I guess she is since she is wearing a number." "That is insane, she looks so young!".
As I watched the duo near the jump I saw something I hadn't yet seen this far into the course. The horse fighting his rider to let him run faster. Libby was obviously trying to set her horse up well to the combination. Others had come through and I had heard grunting. Seen whips swatting but none having to say, hey dude chill out. He flew over them just 2 question from the end of a 4* XC course. Not to mention he was a little dude. The next words out of my mouth after I picked up my jaw off the ground was, "That HAS to be a thoroughbred!" That's it I was officially obsessed.
|Fly little guy, fly!!|
On the way to the vet box we were scouring the program to learn more of this tiny but mighty horse. He was indeed a thoroughbred. Only 15.1 hands, the shortest horse out there, 16 years old and his first Rolex. The rider Libby Head was not 12 but was just 22 and her first 4* as well and she the youngest rider out there! At the vet box the little guy stood next the great Arthur which made him look even smaller. Though Arthur is truly a beautiful specimen I could not take my eyes off this amazing little ball of fire that was still doing a bit of dancing post Rolex XC run. After Libby had taken Sir Rockstar back to the barns I asked the grooms if Libby owned him and they said yes.
I have been searching the internet since and have found all I can on the feisty pair. I have friended Libby on facebook and put in a request to Eventing Nation to interview Libby. They told me they are "on it" so I am excited to see what they learn. I have looked up his race record and have read and watched all I can find on them.
Rolex is amazing! The riders are world class. But so many at the top of the list are, yes, the best riders in the world but they have their pick of the litter. Money, though often times not their own, to spare when it comes to what they ride and how they are brought along. I do not mean to discount these riders because I too am in awe of them. But when a story like Libby and Rocky comes along I think it gives hope that the sport, while an expensive one, is not entirely ruled by the one with the fattest checking account. But a 22 year old with a rescued OTTB can bring her horse up the levels. Surely a horse no one else ever saw 4* potential in and completely WOW a crowd of people with their presence and shine like stars. Proving to the world that they belong at the top!
They were one of only a small handful of people with a double clear show jumping round and ended their first Rolex experience 19th amidst some famous names. They, in my eyes, were the true rock stars of Rolex 2014. I am sure it is not the last we have heard of this dynamic duo!
If you, like me, love the thoroughbred and like to research stuffs like this here is his race record and pedigree.
USEA article about their run at Fair Hill
EN Intercollegiate article
EN Rolex Rookies article
Their XC at Rolex