Land Rover Great Meadow International

I don’t know what it is, but life seems to be pretty exciting these days with every weekend bringing some crazy new experience.  And this past Saturday?  Well…it was no exception.  I’ve been to horse racing and polo matches before, but never a competitive equestrian event.  So when I head about the Land Rover Great Meadow International, a friend and I decided to head down to Virginia and check it out.

Being out of touch with reality per usual, I came dressed in slippers and a green linen blazer that I quickly chucked into the back of the car after about five minutes in the miserable humidity (you suck Mother Nature).  With rolled up sleeves (and pants), we ran over to the Land Rover booth, grabbed the keys to the new 2015 Range Rover, turned up the a/c on full blast, and took the beast on an off-roading obstacle course.  From driving on a 45 degree incline to plowing through a three and a half foot pond, the experience was AWESOME.
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After leaving the luxury of air conditioned cabin (God I want one so bad), we walked around the gorgeous park that was set in the heart of Virginia horse country.  The event was actually a three-day experience, but with classes and other things going on we settled on coming down for the day.  The cross county course (featured below) is about four miles in total that each competitor traverses as quickly as they can.  Unfortunately this was on Sunday so we didn’t get to see it live…Land Rover GMI 15

As the afternoon went on, we headed to the Land Rover hospitality tent for a court-side seat (along with great food and drinks) for the jumping competition.  Before it started each rider paced the number of steps that their horse will take between jumps in order to figure out the best – and quickest – way to get through the course.  Below is one of the riders – in a kick-ass jacket that I just might steal – doing just that.

Land Rover GMI 2At five sharp, the competition began where we watched approximately fifteen riders complete the course one after another.  Witnessing it was really pretty spectacular.  I’ve never really been a fan of the outdoors – or horses for that matter – but the grace and elegance behind the sport was really quite captivating.  Definitely something I would never have the patience (or courage) to do…

Land Rover GMI 5After all that…well…THAT’s when the fun began.  In typical Dean fashion, I somehow landed myself at the table with Land Rover and the editors of Washington Life Magazine.  The tent was filled with some of Virginia’s finest dressed in pastel blazers and floral dresses.  Our table was next to the Mars table with Mrs. Jacqueline Mars herself present  in an all-pink outfit (with some of the largest pearls I’ve ever seen in my life).  Don’t know the name?  Well…Mrs. Mars is the heir to the American candy company, Mars Inc.  She’s currently worth a cool $22 billion and – from my research – doesn’t have a granddaughter who’s near my age.  *sigh*

As we sat in the tent enjoying our meal, the wind started to pick up and rain began to fall.  We knew there was a chance of thunderstorms, but as the weather turned from bad to worse to nasty, we decided it was time to head out and go back to the District.  But that lovely lady Mother Nature had different plans for us that evening.

Land Rover GMI 11As we were making our way to the exit, the rain came down harder with thunder and lightning booming from above.  We knew there was no way we were getting to our car, so we headed back to our table when all of the sudden one of the walls of the tent ripped open blasting half a dozen of the closest tables with buckets of water.  A couple brave men (myself not included) and some of the staff jumped up to attempt to secure the flaps back to their original state with the wind providing no relief.

And then…well…things turned from nasty to “oh God we’re gonna die.”  More of the flaps began to tear open and the semi-dry tent was soon soaked with the wind increasing in speed and force.  Before you knew it, tables were falling over, china was crashing to the ground, and the lights that had been carefully hung above began to flicker as the generator lost power.  Women started to scream – some even hid underneath tables – with the wait staff continuing to make rounds with cold bottles of chardonnay in hand in an attempt to dampen the hysteria.

Land Rover GMI 12As the tension continued to rise, one of those brave gentlemen mentioned above (who was a guest may I add) thought it was brilliant to shout, “Everyone! Out of the tent now!”  While his efforts were from a good place, this was no time to be Super Man.  Did he really think that Mrs. Mars – and the rest of Virginia’s upper-crust society – were going to leave the tent in the middle of a storm?  Where were we going to go…the Oak tree that’s currently been torn apart by the wind?

But some chose that route.  Before you knew it, Range Rovers began pulling up to the tent with their respective drivers attempting to figure out how to put their vehicles into that all-tertain mode that they probably have never used before.

One women (who was in a fantastic Kay Unger dress) ran to her father’s – or perhaps her husband’s – car that was pulled up to the tent, face planted into the passenger side of the vehicle, and consequently slid underneath the belly of the blacked out Rover with the grass acting as a muddy slip-n-slide.

Land Rover GMI 3And then there was me…standing there in the middle of it all trying to contain my bewilderment.  As I watched this all unfold, it reminded me of Titanic: wealthy, white people with nowhere to go fearing the wrath of Mother Nature.  The only thing that was missing? Some life boats and an orchestra playing depressing music… (goodbye, Jack)

The moment the rain started to make a break, I slipped off my now waterlogged slippers (prayers for their survival are appreciated) and we all made a rapid dash to car.  The rain continued to dump from the sky throughout the entire ride home, but we made it back to DC in one (wet) piece.  Exhausted, I opted for cheap Chinese take out and early night in after a day that I will NEVER forgot.

Jokes and puns aside, I had an awesome time at the Land Rover Great Meadow International.  The sport really is an art and I felt #blessed to be asked to come.  While the latter end of the event may have been ruined, the team there did a great job to keep everyone safe – and calm- with the not-so-pleasant circumstances occurring from above.

But one thing is definitely for certain…this event is most definitely going on my calendar for next year.

PS:  Special thanks to the people at Land Rover for the awesome experience.  The off-roading experience was epic!


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  1. Those red coats you want so much unfortunately don’t come as easy as swiping a credit card. The are called Pinque coats and you can only get them (and should only WEAR one if you’re an equestrian) after winning some sort of Olympic medal or World Wide competition. And cross country is possibly one of the most impressive horse sports, it’s a true athlete’s sport! I ride horses, and those jumps are NOT for the faint of heart! Glad you enjoyed your first equestrian experience, even though you didn’t get to make a potential match with an heir to the Mars fortune, you’d be surprised just how uncommonly wealthy equestrians are so there’s always another chance to make a match at another event!


  2. Christine

    Loved this post, Dean. I’ve been following along for a while and I’m an avid Equestrian of 14 years. Glad you got to experience the show jumping and see the cross country course! You even captured the winner of the 3*, Jennie! (She’s in the photo of the two riders walking the course on the right without her jacket)

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