It was a day filled with ups, downs, weather and excitement! And walking. So. much. walking.

Most of the show photography I do involves sitting in the same spot shooting the same jump all day. On Saturday at the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, I had the pleasure of being able to wander around the cross country course and get riders over different jumps. In my head this seemed like an amazing idea (it mostly was). My feet, however, are telling a different story.

I spent the better part of the day between the large crab water combination down to the Dubarry fence so I could capture the famed crab, the epic open oxer after the water, the ferris wheel, and the Fair Hill drop combination.

I immediately questioned that plan, though. Buck Davidson (USA) and Carvelo were first out of the start box, and unfortunately didn’t make it to my jump. I was hoping it was not going to be a trend for the day.

Will Coleman (USA) and Dondante were up next and managed to complete the course. He said it was “a true test of horses,” and that he thought we would see more tired horses at Maryland than at Burghley. His prediction seemed to ring true as many horses were very tired at the end of the course and some riders opted to retire midcourse, including Australia’s Ema Klugman who felt her ride, Bendigo, was running out of steam.

Lauren Nicholson (USA) and Vermiculus posted the first double clear of the day. When interviewed on the live stream, she echoed Coleman, joking that it was the very first time she’s ever felt her horse the least bit tired, but he still had plenty of run at the end. “I am very grateful for the bit of Arabian in him today!” she laughed.

The water rode better than I thought it would and the much discussed Crab didn’t present too many problems.

Several pairs did have a tough time with the offset house combination after the massive Fair Hill drop. From the drop riders had four to five strides to rebalance, jump a house on an angle and one stride to another angled house. Fylicia Barr (USA) and Galloway Sunrise parted ways at this combination, following a stumble after the first house. (Did you know she bought her horse for $500 on Craigslist as a two year old!? More on that later…)

Phillip Dutton (USA) also fell. Last to go, he and Fernhill Singapore seemed to crawl through a few combinations, just not looking quite on their game, before falling toward the end of the course. Dutton scrambled up to his feet, but the horse was still down when the live feed cut off. Then it started pouring. Dutton later posted on Facebook that the horse was “winded for a few minutes but has cooled down well.” PHEW!

Cross country was moved up one hour in the hopes of avoiding potential thunderstorms and footing problems. It worked out perfectly. The day started out sunny and warm, midday went to very windy, and then dark storm clouds were rolling in just as the last few riders completed the course. As soon as I got to my car, the skies opened up!

Your leaders—all of which added no penalties to their dressage scores—are Townend (GBR) and Cooley Master Class in first (21.1 penalties), Tim Price (NZL) and Xavier Faer in second (24.3 p) and Boyd Martin (USA) and On Cue in third (25 p).

Onto Show jumping! Thirty-five of the original 46 starters will present for the horse inspection this morning. Show jumping starts at 1:00pm ET. Watch it live on USEF Network.