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Quiz: Which Olympic Gold Medal U.S. Eventing Team Should You Have Been On?

Bruce Davidson Sr. (USA) aboard JJ Babu. Photo: Virginia Hill/Flickr/Creative Commons License. Bruce Davidson Sr. (USA) aboard JJ Babu. Photo: Virginia Hill/Flickr/Creative Commons License.

Take our quiz to find out! Keep track of your answers. You’ll need to tally them up at the end.

 

1. What kind of weather do you prefer?

A) Sunny and warm.

B) Chilly enough for an overcoat.

C) Sunscreen, umbrella, T-shirt, sweater — I’m prepared for anything.

 

2. What’s your favorite kind of cross-country terrain?

A) I’ve always wanted to gallop across a country club golf course.

B) Hilly and challenging.

C) Some meadow, some woods, some perfectly manicured turf … variety is the spice of life.

 

3) What is your preferred footing?

A) Dry, loamy soil topped with scrubby, greenish-brown grass.

B) Hard-as-a-brick army exercising ground compared to “concrete.”

C) Plush and green, ranging from perfect to a little bit muddy in spots.

 

4. How do you like your course?

A) Tough enough that 500 combined jumping and time penalties still lands you in the top 10.

B) “Fixed and quite formidable.” But so long as I can fall off, get back on and keep going, it’s cool.

C) Designed by a woman for the first time in history.

D) Modern course design is best but I sure do miss the long format.

 

5. Are you male or female?

A/B) I prefer the salutation “Lieutenant,” “Colonel” or “Captain.”

C/D) Why does it matter? Eventing is a gender-neutral sport.

 

6. What’s the best song?

A) “Night & Day” by Fred Astaire & Leo Reisman

B) “Twelfth Street Rag” by Pee Wee Hunt

C) “Dancing Queen” by ABBA

D) “Careless Whisper” by George Michael

 

67. What is your stance on protective headgear?

A) What’s that?

B) Nah.

C) I guess.

D) Sure, as long as I don’t have to wear a safety vest, too.

 

8. Which event would you most enjoy competing at?

A) Galway Downs

B) Badminton

C) Bromont

 

9. Which nation would you get the most satisfaction out of beating out of Olympic Gold?

A) The Netherlands — their stupid orange coats annoy me.

B) Sweden — they’re all so blonde and pretty, gah!

C) West Germany — you know that’s not even a thing anymore, right?

D) Great Britain — they invented the term “three-day event,” gotta take ‘em out.

 

10. Which international hardship would you be the most OK with enduring?

A) The Great Depression

B) Fallout from World War II

C) Apartheid

D) Really bad ’80s hair The Cold War

 

Which team did you make? Scroll down to find out …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you chose mostly As, you should have competed at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Your USA teammates:
Earl Foster Thomson & Jenny Camp
Harry Chamberlin & Pleasant Smiles
Edwin Argo & Honolulu Tomboy

Read the IOC Report.

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Image: IOC Official Report.

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Image: IOC Official Report.

If you chose mostly Bs, you should have ridden at … the 1948 Olympics in London.

Your teammates:

Frank Henry & Swing Low
Charles Anderson & Reno Palisade
Earl Foster Thomson & Reno Rhythm

Read the IOC report.

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Image: IOC Official Report.

If you chose mostly Cs, you should have competed at … the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.

Your teammates:

Edmund Coffin & Bally-Cor
Michael Plumb & Better & Better
Bruce Davidson & Irish-Cap
Mary Anne Tauskey & Marcus Aurelius

Read the IOC Report.

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Image: IOC Official Report.

If you chose mostly Ds with a few As mixed in, you should have competed at … the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Your teammates:

Michael Plumb & Blue Stone
Karen Stives & Ben Arthur
Torrance Fleischmann & Finvarra
Bruce Davidson & JJ Babu

Read the IOC Report.

#361 J. Michael Plumb from the United States aboard Bluestone. Photo by Virginia Hill/Flickr/Creative Commons License.

J. Michael Plumb (USA) aboard Bluestone. Photo: Virginia Hill/Flickr/Creative Commons License.

Torrance Fleischmann from the United States aboard Finvarra. Photo by Virginia Hill/Flickr/Creative Commons License.

Torrance Fleischmann (USA) aboard Finvarra. Photo: Virginia Hill/Flickr/Creative Commons License.

Go Eventing!

14 Faces Eventers Make When We Think No One is Watching

This post originally appeared on Horse Nation.

When your trainer tells you to drop your stirrups and you think no one’s watching …

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When your horse does this thing he does that’s soooooo cute and you think no one’s watching …

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When you start daydreaming about your horse during a meeting and you think no one’s watching …

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When you got a little bit of sawdust up your nose and you think no one’s watching …

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When something comes up that prevents you from going to the barn and you think no one’s watching …

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When the competitor in front of you goes off course and you think no one’s watching …

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When you realize the vet forgot to include a farm call surcharge and you think no one’s watching …

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When you totally nailed that jump and you think no one’s watching …

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When you’re trying to read a note that somebody scrawled on the feed chart and you think no one’s watching …

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When you read this totally heartwarming story about a rescue horse who found a forever home and you think no one’s watching …

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When you submit your entry to the area championships and you think no one’s watching …

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When the barn manager calls to say your horse has come in with a gash on its leg and you think no one’s watching …

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When your SmartPak box gets delivered and you think no one’s watching …

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When it’s down to the final three competitors on show jumping day at Rolex and you think no one’s watching …

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Go Eventing!

Third Time’s a Charm for Woodside CIC3* Winners Bonner Carpenter & Basco

Bonner Carpenter and Basco in the CIC3*. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart. Bonner Carpenter and Basco in the CIC3*. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart.

Bonner Carpenter came to Woodside looking for her first completion at the CIC3* level after a couple of unlucky attempts, but she’ll be driving home with a big blue ribbon on the dashboard. A double-clear cross-country trip was enough to move Bonner and Basco from second into first when overnight leader Bea di Grazia withdrew before cross-country.

“I went out there, honestly, just to get around,” Bonner explained in a press release. “But when I was on the early minute markers, I began to think that it would be possible, so I just kept going.”

The 26-year-old calls Dallas, Texas, home but has been in California since August in preparation for Galway Downs at the end of the month. It was her first time competing at Woodside and her first time tackling a Derek di Grazia course.

“I knew I had to be aggressive and ride forward to every jump. You have to be attacking all the way around,” she said. “But it really is a super course. Derek uses the terrain really well, and it feels like a huge galloping course.”

It’s been unseasonably toasty out there this weekend…

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Screenshot from woodsideeventing.com.

… prompting the ground jury to move the CIC3* cross-country start to 10:20 a.m. instead of the scheduled 1:20 p.m. Being a Texan, Bonner is used to the heat but was appreciative of the decision. “I think it was great that they changed it. It would have taken a lot more out of our horses to have gone in the afternoon,” she said.

In addition to glory, Bonner earned $3,000 along with the Adequan USEA Gold Cup and the CTETA Founders’ Cup, established to honor Robert E. Smith, whose vision established the Horse Park at Woodside in 1981. Since the CIC3* is a member event of the 2014 PRO Series Tour, she also walked away with a seven-dose box of Adequan, $350 in Nunn Finer products, a Smart Pak Wellfleet Eventer Bridle and $200 toward a Point Two Air Jacket. Nice haul, girl!

Second-place finishers James Alliston and Tivoli must feel like the rust has officially been knocked off, this being their second run since Rolex in 2013 and their first back at the Advanced level due to an injury.

James earned $2,250 for finishing second and, even though he and Tivoli won the Woodside CIC3* in 2012, he said he wasn’t at all disappointed.

“I figured I’d just take the time as it came, but he was right there from the start, so I just let him go,” said Alliston, who finished two seconds slow. “It’s amazing how older horses like him seem to remember everything. It was like he hadn’t had any time off.”

Like Bonner, James was thrilled with the way the course rode. “Derek is my favorite course designer,” he said. “He blends everything together into a complete course. I think he’s the best course designer in America, and maybe in the world.”

Kaitlin Veltkamp and Flashpoint D laid down a double-clear trip to round out the top three. Ashlynn Meuchel and Morning Star bested the small Advanced division.

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Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy hung on to their show jumping lead for the CIC2* win. As she mentioned yesterday, Lauren had two horses competing in the division and was hoping to get a feel for how fast the course was riding on her first mount, Ballingowan Ginger. The mare picked up a run-out but Lauren capitalized on the experience for her second ride on Castle, a new horse.

Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart.

Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart.

“I was going to be really brave today, and I got three-and-a-half strides instead of four strides to the wedge (at fence 10C), so she had no choice but to run past it. She jumped just great the rest of the way — I was bummed,” she said. “So I rode it differently on Purdy — I held for the four strides. I thought you were going to have to ride forward more to get the four strides, but you didn’t.”

Lauren trains with Derek di Grazia but he didn’t cut her any breaks on the course. “Wedges are my problem with Ginger, and his course uncovered it,” she said. “But there’s really no point on this course when you think, ‘OK, I’m home,’ until you get to the end. There are so many great questions, and he keeps you on your toes all the way around.”

She added, “I went out there with a plan, and it didn’t work out perfectly everywhere. But it still rode well, and I came off the course a little better rider because of the way he designed it.”

The 26-year-old lives in Sanger, California, but is a citizen of Puerto Rico and hopes to represent her home country in the 2016 Olympics. The next event on her calendar is CCI2* at Galway followed by a move-up to Advanced.

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CIC1* winner Frankie Thieriot had said yesterday that, this being 6-year-old Chatwin’s first FEI competition, she would decide how much to put the gas pedal down when she got out on course. Her first priority, she said, was to cement their partnership and to ride the course in a good rhythm whether that meant making it under the optimum time of 5:37 or not.

Frankie Thieriot and Chatwin. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart.

Frankie Thieriot and Chatwin. Photo courtesy of Sherry Stewart.

Chatwin came out swinging and ate up the course — Frankie even had to check him a bit toward the end.  “He was awesome,” she said. “His natural gallop is so big that we were up on the time at three minutes, so I slowed down to come home.”

Like Bonner and Lauren, Galway is the end-goal of Frankie’s 2014 season. “Even though he doesn’t have a lot of mileage, I thought Derek’s course was really good preparation for him to take the next step of doing the CCI1*,” Frankie said.

Continuing in Woodside’s tradition of rewarding its winners handsomely — a rarity in the event world! — Frankie received $1,000 for her first-place finish.

Top 15 finishers in the CIC1*:

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Frankie and her friends created a special award in 2011, the Fric Frac Berance Award, in memory of her former advanced-level horse. The award’s intent is to honor the horse in the CIC3* whose cross-country performance best emulates Fric Frac’s love for and cleverness at meeting the challenges of cross-country courses, jumping in a way that takes care of himself and his rider.

Frankie and a panel of three to five others choose the winner each year at the Woodside, and this year they chose Kaitlin Veltkamp’s Flashpoint D, a 13-year-old warmblood gelding whose faultless round propelled him to third place in the CIC3*, with no penalties added to his dressage score. The award comes with a $1,000 prize.

VIDEO:

Here’s CIC1* winner Frankie interviewing CIC3* winner Bonner after show-jumping yesterday. Perhaps now Bonner should interview Frankie?

Woodside International CIC & H.T.  [Website] [Live Scores]

Go Eventing!

Revenge Is Sweet for Colleen Rutledge in Morven Park CIC3*

A year ago this weekend at Morven Park, Colleen Rutledge was getting carted off the cross-country course in an ambulance. The horse she was riding in the Preliminary Championships toppled over a table, rolling over Colleen and fracturing her hip. The damage: surgery and a premature end to her competition year.

This weekend has been a very different narrative. Colleen and “CR” grabbed hold of the top spot in the CIC3* in the dressage and never let go, clinching the win despite a show jumping rail and 9.2 time cross-country. The twisty, muddy track took its toll on the field; there were no double-clears in either the CIC3* or Advanced divisions.

In her Morven Park preview EN fortune teller/statistician Maggie Deatrick called Colleen and CR her Dark Horse pick of the weekend, as their dressage has been competitive but they’ve had a hard to adding it all up on the cross-country. It seems to have all come together for them this weekend, though, and an extra congratulations is in order: Not only was this CR’s first FEI win, it was Colleen’s as well!

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Photo via the Morven Park International Equestrian Center Facebook page.

The pair has a neat story, which EN featured in 2012 in an edition of EN’s Got Talent. CR is a homebred and Colleen competed his dam, Let’s Get It Right, through Advanced. His sire is Lisa Reid’s BFF Incognito, a thoroughbred/Clydesdale cross, which is pretty fun fact as well — you don’t see too much Clydesdale blood at the three-star level!

Rounding out the top three in the CIC3* were Kate Samuels with Nyls Du Terroir in second and Sara Kozumplik Murphy with Fly Me Courageous in third.

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Cross-country time penalties shuffled the Advanced division leaderboard around dramatically, with the two fastest rounds of the day moving into the top two spots. Both Holly Payne and Never Outfoxed and Caroline Martin and Pebbly Maximus had just four faults apiece to move from fifth to first and seventh to second respectively. Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready won the dressage, dropped to second after a show jumping rail, and finished in third having come home with 12.8 time cross-country.

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Boyd Martin and Welcome Shadow added nothing to their winning dressage score of 42.2 to win the CIC2*. This was the horse’s second CIC2*, the first being Plantation Field a couple weeks back where they dropped three rails to finish 34th in a competitive field. Boyd had the only double-clear cross-country round in the division, and Marilyn Little and RF West Indie posted the second fastest time with just two penalties. That was good enough to move them from third to second, with Kelly Prather and D. A. Duras rounding out the top three.

Top 15 CIC2* finishers:

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Morven Park Fall CIC & H.T. [Website]  [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

 

 

 

 

How NOT to Jump Morven Park XC as Demonstrated by Adorable Animal GIFS

We thought we’d send the Morven Park competitors out of the box with a few reminders of what not to do on course. Here are some screenshots from this cool drone flyover of the course, aligned with GIFs of animals leaping similar obstacles in various states of FAIL. Take note, kids!

#5. Gate

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#6. Table

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#7A: Down bank

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#7B: Skinny

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#8. Ditch and wall

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#9A: Log roll

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#10B: Ditch

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#11: Brick wall

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25 of Japan's favorite animal fail GIFs16

#19: Trakehner

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25 of Japan's favorite animal fail GIFs4

#23: Brush jump

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25 of Japan's favorite animal fail GIFs5

#18A: Jump into water

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25 of Japan's favorite animal fail GIFs21

#18B: Up bank

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25 of Japan's favorite animal fail GIFs6

 

Morven Park Fall CIC & H.T. [Website]  [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Go Eventing!

Chattahoochee Hills Transforms to Host Music Festival TomorrowWorld

TomorrowWorld 2013. Photo via Wikimedia Commons. TomorrowWorld 2013. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Like a teenager hosting a raging kegger while the parents are out of town, Chattahoochee Hills took advantage of the eventing world’s mass exodus to the American Eventing Championships in Texas last weekend to stage — wait for it — a music festival.

And not just any music festival. A three day long superparty with well over 100 artists and 150,000 guests, many of whom camped on the grounds in a trippy pop-up city called “Dreamville.”

TomorrowWorld is a spinoff of TomorrowLand, a popular EDM event held annually in Belgium. EDM (that’s cool-kid speak for electronic dance music) has blown up over the past decade, the crest of the wave being a surge of EDM festivals all over the world. The scene: a  freak show of costumed young people exploring the cliff edge of sensory experience via a glow-stick illuminated fantasy world.

The whole thing is geared toward audiovisual overload, from frenetic light shows and psychedelic backdrops to neon-colored, well, everything. The centerpiece is the music, a mash-up of dance-y earworms and “doosh-doosh-d00sh” beats that some DJ named Skrillex or Diplo or whoever digitally stapled together on his laptop.

I’m not explaining it right. Just Google it or ask a college kid, OK?

The point is, this thing is held at Chattahoochee Hills, the otherwise bucolic Georgia event venue we eventers all know and love. Farm owner Carl Bouckart is from Belgium and, being a music enthusiast who has dipped his toes in the festival business on and off again over the years, had an idea after being shown around the original TomorrowLand by some festival-producer friends: What if Chatt Hills hosted an American spinoff?

It made sense. The farm is just a stone’s throw from Atlanta, which has long been a hotbed of the electronica scene. I could definitely incriminate a few now-professional eventers with a recounting of our capers as working students outside the city in the early 2000s, when the underground EDM scene was running full-throttle. We would duck out to raves in the warehouses and clubs of downtown Atlanta, returning to the farm just in time to feed the horses breakfast and get on with our day. Ah, to be young.

Carl Bouckart may not be the stereotypical rave kid you’d find bouncing around in front of a speaker in cutoff jean shorts and a headdress, but he’s young at heart — and his energy is infectious. He liked what was going on at TomorrowLand — he told Atlanta Magazine“TomorrowLand is a place where youths from all over the world can share [music and happiness]. It’s the Olympic Games of the music world” — and wanted to see it in his backyard.

The ball started rolling and, after reviewing nearly 100 potential sites, the large-scale EDM production company ID&T announced that Chatt Hills would be the venue for TomorrowLand’s American cousin, TomorrowWorld. The inaugural festival in 2013 was a hands-down success, drawing 140,000 visitors from more than 75 countries and all 50 states. It even earned a nomination for Best Music Event at the International Dance Music Awards.

According to Atlanta’s alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing, “The site was selected because it recalled the pastoral beauty of the Belgian countryside where it all began.” And weird as it might seem to us us horse people, the venue works. Chatt Hills’ “mythical grounds,” to quote the website, have been widely praised both by festival-goers and the media.

In a review of the 2014 event, Vice wrote of Chatt Hills’ “stunning setting in the hills of northern Georgia, parallel to none in terms of lushness beauty … Like TomorrowLand, TomorrowWorld makes good use of its natural environment, tucking stages into wooded areas and nestling others around ponds and other bodies of water. At night, the effect of lights and sound is enchanting as cool breezes guide ravers to roam across the sprawl of the grounds.”

Among the roaming ravers were Ashley Kehoe and her eventing crew. She kindly sent us a few photos …

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Ashley writes, “VIP pool deck built over the XC course? CRAZY.”

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That thing that looks like a mountain in the background is actually a stage.

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Recognize this pond without the cartoon fish and lily pad fountains?

Throw your hands in the air like you just don't care...

Throw your hands in the air like you just don’t care…

Magic mushroom forest, nbd.

Magic mushroom forest, nbd.

Naturally, Carl was in attendance as well. When Atlanta Magazine asked him whether he’d be out there dancing with glowsticks, Carl’s response was classic: “You bet you will. We have a lot of friends coming, and we plan to have more fun than anybody.”

Go check out some crazy festival photos on the TomorrowWorld Facebook page. Go Eventing.

Hat tip to Hannah Reinke for the tip!

Well Wishes For Beloved Area VIII Trainer Nadeem Noon

Photo via the Nadeem Noon Support Fund Facebook page. Photo via the Nadeem Noon Support Fund Facebook page.

The eventing community is rallying around Nadeem Noon, a cornerstone of Area VIII eventing who is suffering from a serious condition called Amyloidosis, which has caused serious damage to his heart and other vital organs.

Nadeem is a warm, friendly presence at events who has guided countless students toward accomplishing their riding goals from his Up-n-Over Stables in Bloomington, Ind. In addition to competing through the three-star level in eventing and Prix St. Georges in dressage, he is a USEA Level 3 Certified Instructor and coached the Indiana University Equestrian Hunt Seat Team for over 20 years.

Photo via Nadeem Noon's Facebook page.

Photo via Nadeem Noon’s Facebook page.

From the Nadeem Noon Support Fund Facebook page:

“A group of area eventers/dressage riders are coordinating efforts to assist a well-known member of our equestrian community, Nadeem Noon. Nad is suffering from a condition called Amyloidosis. This condition causes serious changes in virtually every organ of the body, including the kidneys, heart, and lungs. Nad has experienced significant damage to his heart, but is unable to be placed on the donor list for a new heart, as his other organs have also been compromised.

“In an effort to offset the significant medical expenses and loss of income, Nadeem has become eligible to receive funds via the Equestrian Aid Foundation (EAF). For those who are not familiar with the EAF, it is a 501(c)3 organization started by prominent equine professionals in 1996. Its mission is to provide grant-based assistance to horsemen and equine-related professionals suffering from illness or catastrophic injuries.

“The EAF is dedicated to helping people of all ages and from all backgrounds and disciplines, offering funding for medical, rehabilitation and essential expenses. Financial support from EAF is provided directly to the petitioning equestrian or their representative. Funds donated to EAF are used to provide various essentials that may include medical needs, health insurance, food and housing, transportation, physical therapy and more.

“Last weekend at the Flying Cross event, trainers donated their time by holding course walks in which all proceeds went to the EAF. We hope to continue this and other EAF fund-raising efforts at events over the next several months.

“In a note read at the Flying Cross Competitor’s party, Nad wrote, ‘We are all so very fortunate to enjoy the camaraderie, fellowship, and support of the wonderful people who surround us today. Take a moment to look around and notice all that we have here: caring generous instructors, devoted hard-working students, sacrificing parents, tireless volunteers and, of course, the horses that elevate us to dizzying heights. I am thankful beyond words to be part of the community of incredible individuals.’

Please join us in our support of Nadeem Noon. We love you, Nad!”

You can help by making a donation to the Equestrian Aid Foundation. Please leave the memo line of the check blank and send to Attn: Nadeem Noon Support Fund at Bearded Dog Farms (20761 County Line Road / Sheridan, IN, 46069),  Mary Lowry at Alta Vista Farms (2114 Liberty Lane / Goshen, KY, 40026) or Flying Cross Farms (9220 Hwy. 42 / Skylight, KY, 40026), or to Linda Kimbell or Chris Duke. Please mark “Attn: Nadeem Noon Support Funds” on your envelope only.

In addition to direct donations, other fundraising efforts are underway. Visit the Nadeem Noon Support Fund Facebook page for details. Our thoughts are with Nadeem, his family and friends during this difficult time. Up ‘n’ over, Nadeem!

Welcome to Eventing Nation, Total Saddle Fit!

We are very excited to announce our newest member of the EN sponsor dream team, Total Saddle Fit.

Eventing Nation “residents” live all around the world and represent every riding discipline imaginable, but there’s one common denominator that ties us all together: Our love for our horses and a shared desire to keep them happy and healthy.

That extends to making sure they feel comfortable in their tack… even if it means losing our own minds in the process.

Illustration by Morgane Schmidt/The Idea of Order — check out her comics every Wednesday on Horse Nation!

Illustration by Morgane Schmidt/The Idea of Order — check out her comics every Wednesday on Horse Nation!

Thankfully, technology is fast evolving to meet our efforts in the middle. Enter Total Saddle Fit, a manufacturer of high-end equestrian products with an emphasis on intuitive designs that make horses happier and more comfortable.

“Whether it is improving saddle fit, protecting a horse’s back or simply a more comfortable piece of tack, everything we do just makes sense. And you can always be sure you are getting top-shelf quality. We stand behind our products’ function and quality so much that every item carries a 30-day 110% money back promise… yes you read that right, we will give you more than you spent if you aren’t satisfied!”

That’s a company that believes in its products, and we do too.

Total Saddle Fit understands that correct saddle fit involves more than the saddle proper. You’ve got to take into account the big picture — girths and saddle pads included.

Total Saddle Fit’s Shoulder Relief Girth line emphasizes shoulder freedom, utilizing an intelligent design that allows for full range of shoulder motion under saddle. It promotes elbow comfort as well, thanks to recessed ends that move the girth away from the horse’s shoulder.

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Less expensive and longer lasting than a flocking adjustment, it’s the best $124 you’ll ever spend on saddle fit. The girths are available in black, brown and chestnut in both jumping and dressage styles — check out the full line here.

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Shoulder Relief Girth in Limited Edition Chestnut.

Saddle pads are also a critical component of proper saddle fit. Total Saddle Fit’s Six Point Saddle Pads are anatomically designed to adjust saddle balance and weight distribution to the shape of your horse’s back. They feature 100% sheepskin and a whopping six shimming options so you can fit your saddle to your horse just like a professional saddle fitter would with a flocking adjustment.

The pads are available in half…

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Six Point Saddle Pad – Sheepskin Half Pad

… and full-pad styles, in dressage and jumping shapes with and without sheepskin.

Six Point Saddle Pad

Six Point Saddle Pad – AP/Jump

Have a high withered horse? Check out the optional Wither Relief Technology, which removes pressure from the withers and trapezius muscles and allows for more pommel clearance.

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Wither Freedom Sheepskin Half Pad (also available in Full Pad style)

We’re excited to welcome Total Saddle Fit on board and we know our readers are, too! We encourage you to learn more and shop on Total Saddle Fit’s website here, and be sure to “like” them on Facebook as well.

Go Total Saddle Fit, and Go Riding!

Burghley at 300 Frames Per Second

Screenshot from Screenshot from "Burghley Horse Trials 2014" by Centaur Biomechanics.

Watching cross-country in realtime, everything happens so fast that it’s hard to comprehend the countless turning cogs that ultimately produce a successful — or unsuccessful — jump. The more experienced and educated your eye, the better your ability to deconstruct that blur of motion into an assembly line of actions that culminate in a specific result. But even the best eye in the world can’t physically slow down time in order to get a better look. A high-speed camera, however, can.

Centaur Biomechanics made a big splash when it came onto the equestrian scene in 2006 because its purported purpose was to do exactly that: take horse and rider performance analysis to a new level using the latest video technology.

Led by British biomechanical scientist Russell Guire, the company uses high-speed cameras 20 times faster than the human eye to objectively quantify equine behavior. The footage Centaur has gathered has helped advance research and further our understanding of the equine biomechanics. For instance, did you know that the force going through a horse’s limbs on landing from an Advanced-level jump equals about two-and-a-half times its body weight?

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Centaur was out in full force at Burghley — check out their footage:

[CentaurBiomechanics]

Go Eventing!

Event Horse Names, Part 5: Celebrity Edition

Eventers name their horses after the darnedest things. Thus far in this series, we’ve singled out hundreds of USEA-registered event horses named after  literary references, boozeeventing empires and monster trucks. Today we turn our gaze toward horses named after celebrities and other pop culture icons.

Let’s kick things off with a few event horses whose namesakes are Hollywood stars: George Clooney, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Redford, Tom Cruise, Bridgette Bardot, Jimmy Stewart, James Dean, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Cosby and Charlie Chaplain. I bet hearing over the horse show loudspeaker that you’re “riding George Clooney” just never gets old.

Others have named their horses after characters rather than actors. While combing the USEA horse database I stumbled across a Ron Burgundy, Cosmo Kramer, Napoleon Dynamite, Jack Sparrow, Tony Stark, Forrest Gump, Vincent Vega, The Fonz and Austin Powers.

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Sorry Jessica.

There’s a whole subset of  horses named after bands and musicians: Lady Gaga, Mazzy Star, Mick Jagger, Ringo Star, Coldplay, Bruno Mars, will.i.am, Will Smith, Steeley Dan, Johnny Rotten, Johnny Cash, Elvis, Snoop Diggity Dog, Bob Marley, Tina Turner, Jimmy Buffet, Eminem, Cher, Springsteen, Bono, James Brown, Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra. I went to one horse trial where two horses named after rival jam bands, Widespread Panic and Phish, just happened to be competing against one another. And we’ve got to give an honorable mention to horses named after bad song puns (I’m Rexy and I Know It) and Katy Perry lyrics (Shake The Glitter Off).

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Fashion designers are another popular source for names: There’s a CoCo Chanel, Jimmy Choo, Calvin Klein, Dior, Ralph Lauren, Giovanni Versace and Georgio Armani.

Moving right along, let’s hit up the oval office — is there anyone more famous, really, than the president? I found an Obama, Ron Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Mister President, Jackie O and — wait for it — a Monica Lewinsky.

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I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface here. Does your horse have a celebrity-inspired name? Share in the comments section below!

WEG Remix: A Pink Coat Among Pinque Coats

Sanna Siltakorpi and Lucky Accord at WEG 2014. Photo by Leslie Wylie. Sanna Siltakorpi and Lucky Accord at WEG 2014. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

World championship competition is not generally the time when riders let their fashion freak flag fly. But that didn’t stop Finnish eventer Sanna Siltakorpi from donning a hot-pink coat, blinged out helmet and purple stirrups in the show jumping phase at WEG.

The 27-year-old and her Swedish Warmblood gelding, Lucky Accord, pulled one rail to finish in 27th place individually. I stalked her a little bit online and it appears that pink is a recurring theme in the girl’s life — her cross-country helmet cover has big pink stars and a pink pompom, and a photo on the homepage of her website shows her rocking some fuchsia breeches. I guess since Finland did not field a team, she was like, “What the heck, I’m gonna do me.”

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Photo by Leslie Wylie.

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Photo by Leslie Wylie.

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Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Equestrian fashion is slowly liberating itself from the conservative, George Morris-approved dress code of yesteryear. Europe is leading the charge but hints of “self-expression” are starting to show up here in the States as well. Love Sanna’s look? Here are a few items inspired by her look:

Top row: Animo Leon Jacket, $642 from Animo; Alexis Riding Top by SmartPak, $79.95 from SmartPak; Lorenzini Original Aluminum/Titanium Stirrups in Purple, $265.95 from SmartPak. Bottom Row: Sox Trot Socks in Rae, $8.95 from SmartPak; Tredstep Symphony No. 1 Argenta Full Seat Breech, $229.95 from SmartPak; Custom Samshield Helmet in Pink Flower Swarovski, $1,418 from Samshield.

befunky_artwork.jpgOr, if you really want to take it to the next level…

befunky_artwork.jpgGo Sanna. Go Eventing.

Le French Chinch’s Adventures in Normandy

The world’s most well-traveled chinchilla added yet another stamp to his passport when he made a celebrity appearance last week at the World Equestrian Games.

Chinch has always had a keen interest in WWII…

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…so he jumped at the opportunity to accompany EN on its WEG journey.

After making a brief public appearance…

…he headed to the press room, where he was fawned over by the foreign press…

…tweeted by the FEI…

…and cursed by IT.

Undeterred, we sent him out into the field on some top-secret missions, including helping William Fox-Pitt win the dressage…

… taste-testing local cuisine…

…and generally serving as an ambassador for ‘Murican cheer.

Where in the world will the Chinch show up next? There’s no telling. Be the first to find out by following him on Twitter and Instagram.

Go Eventing!

Was WEG Cross Country Too Tough, Too Soft or Just Right?

Joseph Murphy and Electric Cruise gettin' it done at the first major combination on Pierre Michelet's WEG course. Photo by Jenni Autry. Joseph Murphy and Electric Cruise gettin' it done at the first major combination on Pierre Michelet's WEG course. Photo by Jenni Autry.

To call a four-star cross-country course designer’s job “tough” is like calling the footing on last weekend’s WEG course “damp.” These people have one of the hardest jobs in the sporting world, imagining and then bringing to life a gauntlet of obstacles that rewards the best while weeding out the under-prepared — ideally without causing bodily harm.

The stakes are even higher with a world championship course. And, to further complicate matters, there is less precedent upon which to base design decisions since WEG rolls around just once every four years. How do you know how far to push the envelope? The job requires more than experience and knowledge. It’s a test of instinct.

Challenging without punishing is a balancing act that, if executed poorly, could result in a “dressage show” at one end of the spectrum and tragedy at the other. According to the FEI’s Course Design Guidelines (updated February 2014), the ideal course is doable but not so doable so that every horse/rider combination makes it through the finish flags:

The goal of seeing as many finishers as possible is desirable for all levels, but the degree of difficulty must not be compromised in order to achieve this, for example by the overuse of alternatives.

But what does “as many finishers as possible” translate to? There is no hard and fast rule for what percentage of the field, ideally, should be expected to finish, nor of what percentage of those finishers should complete with no jumping faults. Add to that a revolving door of variables and the equation grows even murkier:

As a general philosophy, the numbers of finishers is more important than the number of clear rounds. It has to be accepted that the quality of the field and the weather conditions can impact on the statistics and that, particularly at the higher levels, many Athletes now choose to retire once they are clearly out of contention or are not going to achieve a qualifying result, and that these issues are reflected on the scoreboard with more retirements and less ‘cricket scores.’ Similarly the ‘elimination after an Athlete fall’ will create many more eliminations.

Pierre Michelet’s massive, technically challenging WEG course had the absolute respect of the world’s top riders. While acknowledging its difficulty, they also unanimously praised it for being fair and rewarding a forward, attacking ride. The game changer turned out to be the deep going, a variable that felled what seemed like competitor after competitor and wreaked havoc on the scoreboard.

In a press conference at the end of cross-country day, one journalist asked Pierre how he felt about the way his course rode. He responded that he was pleased, that it had been an “exciting” competition. He noted that while issues on course abounded in the morning, the rounds steadily improved throughout the day, despite the deteriorating footing, because of smarter riding: Riders were starting out slower to conserve energy and were taking more options.

Pierre’s cheerfulness surprised me — the course’s toll on competitors had seemed severe. Upon what was Pierre drawing his analysis? From a course designer’s perspective, what is the benchmark for a successful cross-country day versus an unsuccessful one?

Here is what the day looked like on paper:

2In a nod to the FEI Course Guidelines’ emphasis that “the numbers of finishers is more important than the number of clear rounds,” 73 percent of WEG 2014 competitors who started the course completed it. That percentage surely would have been even higher had the footing been decent, as many of the competitors’ issues on course stemmed from their horses’ exhaustion due to the heavy going rather than the obstacle itself.

Despite the footing wild card, the percentage of finishers at WEG 2014 is just slightly less than that of the last WEG in Lexington, which saw a 76 percent completion rate.

4To further put the WEG completion percentages in context, let’s compare them to those of regular four-star events. You might guess that there would be fewer finishers at a WEG because of the increased difficulty of the course, but you’d be wrong — the course may be stiffer at WEG, but so is the caliber of the competition, so it balances out or even falls a little short. All three of the CCI4* events that have taken place thus far this year had lower completion percentages than the past two WEGs.

First there was Rolex in April, which had a 71 percent completion rate:

3Next was Badminton in May, which thanks to treacherous footing coupled with a tough track had one of the lowest completion rates of any CCI4* in recent history, 44 percent:

1Luhmühlen fared slightly worse than Rolex but significantly better than Badminton with a completion percentage of 68 percent. Not reflected is the tragic rider death that also occurred here.

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Looking back to 2013 for the other three CCI4* events on the calendar, Pau had 60 percent completion, Burghley had 69 percent and Adelaide had 85 percent. What that all looks like together:

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So, WEG actually had the second highest completion rate of any four-star event in the last 12 months. Surprised? I was.

It was also surprising to see how close together most of the percentages were with the exceptions of Badminton, which had a fluke year, and Adelaide, which had far fewer entries than the other events and thus may provide a less representative sample. It’s not like course designers just sit down with a pen and piece of paper and say, “I’m going to design a course that approximately 70 percent of competitors will be able to complete.” So how do they do it?

I don’t know, but I’m impressed. Go course designers. Go Eventing.

The ‘World Queuing Games’: 13 Livid Facebook Stories from Eventing Spectators

The line outside one of three food vendors at Haras du Pin on Thursday. Photo by Leslie Wylie. The line outside one of three food vendors at Haras du Pin on Thursday. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Can’t say we didn’t see it coming. All week the Games had been struggling to accommodate crowd numbers that were less than half of 50,000 spectators Haras du Pin was anticipating for cross-country day. Jenni and I experienced our fair share of logistical hassles…

… but the stories we’d heard coming from spectators were positively nightmarish in comparison: horror stories of overflowing bathrooms, nonexistent food, rough security guards and mob crowds.

One American woman I started talking to (while waiting in a line, of course) told me that for the opening ceremonies at D’Ornano Stadium, attended by 20,000, there was only one open entrance into the stadium. It quickly became bottle-necked and, when it became clear that no other entrance was going to be opened, some ticketholders lost their patience and began surging forward, knocking over gates and creating a dangerous situation for those at the front of the queue.

“I looked around for a security guard to help re-establish order, but there wasn’t one, and the one person who was working the entrance was on her phone,” the woman recalled. “I’m not exaggerating; I was scared for my life.”

So …

It’s about an hour drive from the main venues at Caen to Haras du Pin without traffic. The motorway is wide-open, but once you get off the exit, the route narrows to winding back roads through quaint villages. The organizers claimed to have “a special traffic plan” in place for handling the influx of traffic: They’d set aside some 148 acres of meadow for parking; made some roads one-way; set out police officers to direct the flow; and sectioned off certain roads for officials, organizers; national federations and “special invited guests.”

The plan didn’t work — or at least not well enough. While early birds who arrived well in advance of the cross-country start had no problem getting in — the EN team arrived at about 6:45 a.m. to beat the traffic — those who waited until mid-morning to drive in were met with brake lights as far as the eye could see.

Throughout the afternoon, we kept hearing stories of ticketholders who had been stuck in gridlock for four, five and six hours, some of whom missed or almost missed the event completely. Actual parking wasn’t an issue as the lots didn’t even fill up (on a side note they parked the earliest arrivals in the furthest lots, which makes very little sense); the problem was getting there.

A few angry ticketholders took to venting on the WEG Facebook page:

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And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Just click here to see the laundry list of Facebook reviews with grisly details — the descriptions of the toilet catastrophes are barely fit to print. In addition to traffic complaints there are disturbing comments from volunteers, like this one from a cross-country jump judge …

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… and a host of other grievances. WEG itself, however, seems happily oblivious, acknowledging the problems but offering no recourse. From a press release issued this morning:

“The Dressage and Cross-Country competitions in the Eventing were fully booked at Le Pin National Stud : 22,600 spectators watched the Dressage and 50,000 followed Cross-Country on Saturday 30 August. Le Pin’s arena demonstrated that it was perfect venue for hosting sporting events of this calibre. Despite the poor weather of previous days, the quality of the track was particularly appreciated by the competitors.

All the meadow car parks were open from 06:30am, accommodating a steady flow of 14,500 vehicles and 120 coaches. Significant work went into preserving and preparing them for heavy use on the day. Despite the best efforts and good will of all, traffic became significantly congested from 09:30am with the journey time to reach the site ranging from 1hr15 to 3hrs. The Organising Committee regrets the amount of time it took for some spectators to access the site.

Delusional.

Of course, as one Facebook commenter put it:

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WEG can spin it however they wish, but it’s our job to make sure that WEG Organizing Committee understands that a repetition of this year’s fiasco will not be tolerated at Bromont in 2018. Email them at jem@normandie2014.com and let your voices be heard on Facebook and Twitter.

Furthermore, it’s worth starting a discussion about how feasible it is to continue on with the eight disciplines, one venue format, as opposed to separately held championships for the various disciplines. The current system has been in place since 1990, and while the past two WEGs have been (arguably) well run — Aachen in 2006 and Lexington in 2010 — how many other venues in the world have the infrastructure in place to pull off such a feat? It’s a great idea in theory, but the execution, as we’re seeing in Normandy, is easily botched.

What do you think, Eventing Nation?

[Starving to Death in a Mud Pit: WEG 2014 Is the Woodstock of Eventing]

#WEG2014: WebsiteFinal Team ScoresFinal Individual ResultsEN’s Coverage@eventingnation

Final Press Conference: Sandra, Michael & William Discuss Being Awesome

There were more top eventers in the press room than you could shake a jumping bat at following today’s competition. All three medal-winning teams were in attendance to field questions about how they felt the competition shook out.

Gold medalist Sandra Auffarth was all smiles, and while Michael Jung and William Fox-Pitt presented themselves with typical composure and grace you can bet they were silently grinding their teeth a little, William dropping to Bronze after a rail and 2010 WEG champion Michael having to relinquish his crown. World beaters almost have to have a “second place = first loser” sort of mentality, and these guys never let themselves off easy. They’ll be back at the drawing board tomorrow — OK, maybe Tuesday — plotting how to close that 0.3-point (between Sandra and Michael) or 2.3-point (between Saundra and William) gap between Gold and Not Gold.

I made a sincere attempt to transcribe the press conference but Sandra and Michael’s Denglish just didn’t sit right on the page. Instead, I present to you the full video, which is almost as unwieldy thanks to lengthy French translations and my caffeine-shaky hands. For all you diehard WEG followers, have at it!

Go Eventing!

Sunday Video: FEI TV Eventing Show Jumping Recap

It’s been a nail-biting day here at D’Ornano Stadium complete with the sort of surprise ending that makes eventing such an exciting sport — it’s never over until the last jump of the last competitor on the last day. The FEI just posted a quick video recap of today’s grand finale, replete with dramatic music, slow-mo sequences and British accent that (almost!) do justice to the day that was.

In the spirit of the sport, Eventing Nation’s WEG coverage isn’t over until the last security guard kicks us out of the press center. So keep it locked here!

Go Eventing.

WEG Show Jumping: The View from the Stands

When I heard that WEG’s eventing show jumping was being held in a giant soccer, er, “futbol” stadium, I cringed, imagining a sad-looking sea of empty seats. But equestrian sport in Europe is an entirely different beast than it is in the States — less a mysterious niche and more a source of fierce national pride.

The energy in the stadium today was palpable, a electric current that ran through everything. It was manifest in billowing flags and the forward lean of fans in their seats. The announcer’s voice foamed with enthusiasm, rousing the crowd to a fever pitch again and again. There was an earthquake rumble of gasps when rails fell and cheers when they didn’t. Each clear round was rewarded by a voluminous surge of music that almost, but not quite, overwhelmed the boisterous roar of the crowd. My surprise that the horses and riders were able to maintain their composure never did wear off.

As the afternoon wore on the intensity grew, the atmosphere becoming indistinguishable from any other action-packed game in any other stadium on any other continent. Ultimately, sport is sport. Fans are fans. Everyone craves something to root for, a partaking of something shared, the assurance we’re not alone.

Go eventing.

And Our New World Champion Is Sandra Auffarth!

Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo. Photo by Jenni Autry. Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo. Photo by Jenni Autry.

One rail was all it took for Germany’s Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo to steal the lead from Britain’s William Fox-Pitt and secure a place atop eventing’s most prestigious podium. We’ll have a full report coming shortly, but here’s the quick play-by-play.

William dropped to bronze with Chilli Morning and Germany’s Michael Jung moved up to silver with fischerRocana FST. Germany takes team gold, following by Great Britain with silver and the Netherlands with bronze.

For Team USA, Sinead Halpin and Tate had two rails, Boyd Martin — who ultimately finished eighth — pulled one rail. Kim Severson and Fernhill Fearless laid down a double-clear trip to huge cheer from the crowd. Peter Barry and Kilrodan Abbott jumped a clear round for Canada, with Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High and Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti both pulled four rails.

Kim Severson and Fernhill Fearless. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Kim Severson and Fernhill Fearless. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

It was a bigger atmosphere that most of these horses have seen — a brighly-lit European soccer stadium full of screaming, flag-waving fans. The announcer had the enthusiasm of a game-show host and every clear round was rewarded with a burst of dramatic music on the loudspeaker. When a French rider entered or exited the ring, the stands practically shook with home team spirit.

The top 15:

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Stay tuned for much more from WEG.

#WEG2014: WebsiteFinal ScoresTeam ResultsSchedule & ResultsEN’s Coverage@eventingnation

 

4 Examples of French Eventing Insanity

What’s red on right, blue on left, white in the middle and insanity all over? French eventing.

The home team is sitting in fourth heading into show jumping and it’s no surprise — their riders turned in some of the most brave, tactful cross-country rides we saw all day. But there is something else about the sport in this country you need to know: It’s insane.

1. French eventing fans are insane.

I’m serious. I’ve never heard so much screaming as I did yesterday when a Frenchie was out on course. These people would press up to the galloping lanes a dozen deep, start cheering and waving flags around before the horse even came into view, politely pause for about three seconds while the horse prepared for liftoff, then lose their minds completely the instant the horse’s feet reconnected with the ground. Also, everyone is totally decked out for the occasion — here are a few photos I snapped while walking around on course.

2. The French horses are insanely cool.

My favorite horse to watch of the day was Cedric Lyard’s Cadeau du Roi, a 12-year-old French-bred thoroughbred who looked like he was having the time of his life from start to finish. He hunted down each jump with pricked ears and the earnest, over-the-moon expression of a kid opening presents on Christmas morning. His expression changed only once, to a look of surprise when he glanced off a skinny, but gamely leaped over it on second attempt and galloped on with a smile — or as close an approximation to a smile as an equine can muster — on his face.

Here’s the full video of his round:

3. The French riders are insanely charming.

No one was working the crowd more shamelessly yesterday than Rodolphe Scherer, an individual competitor for France. Who gallops around a world championship course waving and blowing kisses at fans? This guy. (On yet another cool-looking grey French horse nonetheless.) Rodolphe knows his way around an international caliber course — he represented France at the ’96 Olympics, placed 12th individually and won team silver at the 1998 WEG in Rome with Bambi de Briere, and he nearly won an individual Olympic medal with her at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, placing fourth. Currently sitting in 26th place, Rodolphe may not win a medal this weekend — but he definitely won our hearts.

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4. The top-placed French rider, Maxime Livio, is insanely hot.

I distinctly remember Jenni and Kate coming back from covering Pau CCI4* last year clamoring about this attractive young French rider, Maxime, who had finished third. He’s officially got the world’s attention now, being the top-placed French rider here in Normandy (he’s sitting in 8th heading into show jumping). We’re not encouraging you to stalk Maxime on Facebook, but if you want to, we won’t stand in your way.

Here’s the video of his ride from yesterday:

Go France. Go Eventing.

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Canada Survives Brutal Cross-Country Day

Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti. Photo by Jenni Autry. Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti. Photo by Jenni Autry.

When Peter Barry set out on course at 10:24 a.m. local time on Kilrodan Abbott, he just wanted to make it through the finish flags. Of the six riders who’d gone before him, there were two retirements, one elimination, one 60-faulter and a sole clear round from Australia’s Sam Griffiths and his 2014 Badminton-winning mare Paulank Brockagh. No pressure, Peter.

His objective, he explained when we caught up with him after coming off course, was simply to show his team that it could be done so they could head out of the startbox with confidence. Peter and his big-hearted Irish Sport Horse gelding accomplished what they set out to do, calling upon every ounce of their partnership to pocket just 20 jumping penalties and a chunk of time.

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Peter celebrates his successful go through the third water, which was the end of the road for many riders. Via FEI TV.

At the end of the day their score set them in 49th place but, as less-lucky riders before and after him came to find out, sometimes finishing is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Next out was Jessica Phoenix on Pavarotti, the alternate she subbed in when A Little Romance suffered an injury in her final gallop prior to shipping out to France. Since Jessie withdrew Pavarotti after dressage at Rolex this year, it would be his first attempt at four-star level cross-country. And while of course there are no “move-up” four-star courses, debuting as part of a team on the world stage is perhaps not the most ideal situation — especially considering the additional challenges that today’s course posted. Thankfully, Jessie and her horses have a history of rising to the occasion.

“I think for a horse’s first four-star this was a serious question,” Jessie says. “When we walked it we were thinking this is, like, a four-and-a-half or five-star event. Pavarotti is more the horse that just takes the bit and is like ‘Grrrr, let me at it’ even if it might be a little above his level. I think A Little Romance is more of a lady — she’s a little bit smarter than the boys. So I think given the conditions and the way the course rode, you know, everything happens for a reason. I’m sorry I couldn’t be here on A Little Romance but with Pavarotti as my backup, I’m a lucky, lucky girl.”

A spectator with Canadian pride! Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Canadian pride! Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Jessie and Pavarotti made short work of Pierre Michelet’s course, which she described as “beautiful.” She and Pavarotti had an opportunity to preview the lay of the land last year when they participated in the test event. “It was a forward, galloping, bold, safe … it never felt trappy and it just really rewarded good, forward, positive riding,” she says. “It was so well suited to my horse — I couldn’t have picked a better course for him.”

Thankfully Pavarotti’s fitness proved to be on par with the challenge. They finished with 33.6 time penalties, which was in line with the dozens of time penalties other riders were racking up. Still, she says she was relieved when officials cut out a one-minute loop late in the course to help compensate for the heavy, tiring footing.

“I think that 11-and-a-half minutes would have just exhausted these horses,” she says. “I think it would have been almost unattainable if they had left it in.” At one point, she says Pavarotti’s legs turned to jelly a bit, but that he caught a second wind and took off again with ears pricked.

“I could just cry, that horse is so incredible,” she says, looking a little teary-eyed as she says it. “He is mature beyond his years and, oh man, I’m just so excited for his future.”

Selena O'Hanlon

Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High heading to the startbox with Canadian coach Clayton Fredericks. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Jessie and Pavarotti are Team Canada’s top-placed pair heading into the show jumping. Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High picked up 20 jumping penalties and 39.6 time for an overnight position of 43rd. Hawley Bennett and Gin & Juice weren’t quite their usual cross-country machine selves.  A sticky moment followed by a lengthy hold on course snowballed into eventual elimination.

Only eight teams remain intact in the wake of today’s cross-country carnage, and Canada is one of them. They’ll head into show jumping placed seventh in the standings.

As Jenni pointed out yesterday, Canada has some serious WEG mojo in its court and a 2010 team silver medal to defend, and here at EN we’ll be flying our #CamericanPride flag high tomorrow at WEG eventing’s grand finale. The jog takes place here at Haras du Pin at 7 a.m. French time (that translates to an ungodly 1 a.m. EST), after which the competition will pack up shop and move to D’Ornano Stadium in Caen.

Keep it locked here for the livest updates in town, er, the world, and Go Evening!

#WEG2014: WebsiteLive Scores, Schedule & ResultsEN’s CoverageEN’s Guide to EventingFEI TVFEI TV’s YouTubeWEG FacebookEN’s InstagramFantasy Eventing@eventingnation

Harry Meade’s Wild Lone Collapses, Dies After Clear Cross Country at WEG

Harry Meade and Wild Lone. Photo by Jenni Autry. Harry Meade and Wild Lone. Photo by Jenni Autry.

We have just learned that Wild Lone collapsed and died after jumping clear cross country this afternoon with Great Britain’s Harry Meade at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Our thoughts are with Harry, Alf’s groom Jess Errington and owner Charlotte Opperman, as well as Team Great Britain at this very sad time.

The following statement has been released:

It is with great sadness that we announce that Wild Lone, ridden by Harry Meade (GBR) and owned by Charlotte Opperman, collapsed and died approximately 16.15 today after completing the Cross Country at Haras du pin (FRA) at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy.

The 13-year-old gelding had completed the Cross Country course clear with 26.4 time penalties to go into 25th place. The rider had just dismounted and shortly afterwards the horse tragically collapsed and died.

As per FEI Veterinary Regulations, a post mortem will be carried out on the horse to establish the cause of death.

Lully Des Aulnes (no 2), ridden by Joris Van Springel (BEL) has been taken to a referral clinic for further investigation after a fall at fence 30, the Rolex Water Trough. An X-ray taken on-site has established there is no fracture, and the referral clinic is now treating wound on the left hind fetlock.

Professor Yves Rossier, the Foreign Veterinary Delegate, reported that horses were finishing the course in good condition.

At every FEI event, the maximum consideration is given to the safety and welfare of horses and athletes.

A press conference is presently being held in concert with the announcement. Check back soon for more details.

Godspeed, Wild Lone.

Willliam Fox-Pitt Leads ‘Badminton 2.0′, Team USA’s Medal Hopes Dashed

William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning. Photo by Jenni Autry. William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning. Photo by Jenni Autry.

It was survival of the fittest, literally, today on the cross-country course at Haras du Pin. Galloping hooves quickly churned the saturated turf into a muddy pulp, exaggerating the physical toll of an already long and hilly track. Despite yesterday’s removal of a one-minute loop late in the course, the heavy going coupled with a true championship caliber course rewarded grit and punished even the slightest mistake — and no one made the optimum time of 10 minutes, 32 seconds.

As the result of myriad falls, retirements and eliminations, at the end of the day only nine out of 16 teams remained intact: Germany (1st, 177.9), Great Britain (2nd, 186.8), Australia (3rd, 226.8), France (4th, 235.5), Netherlands (5th, 238.8), Ireland (6th, 294.3), Canada (7th, 324.0), Brazil (8th, 347.7) and Spain (9th, 263.8).

While there wasn’t much movement at the top of the leaderboard — William Fox-Pitt/Chilli Morning (GBR) moved from 2nd to 1st, Sandra Auffarth/Opgun Louvo (GER) moved from 1st to 2nd, and Michael Jung/fischerRocana FST (GER) moved from 4th to 3rd — cross-country carnage left the rest of it up for grabs.  Yesterday’s 3rd place finisher, Jonathan Paget and Clifton Promise (NZL) retired on course, and fellow Kiwi Jonelle Price rode Classic Moet all the way up from 26th to 4th after posting the fastest go of the day.

Comparisons to this year’s Badminton Horse Trials, a sloppy mess that claimed several of the sport’s most experienced event riders as victims, began early. Badminton winner Sam Griffiths (AUS), the fourth rider out and the first of the day to turn in a clear round on his tough mudder mare Paulank Brockagh, drew it himself after finishing: “It’s just like riding Badminton again. I threw my watch out and let her pick her pace.”

New Zealand’s Mark Todd, who came unattached from his Leonidas II, said the course rode to plan — he attributed his spill to not to fatigue but to a lack of unresponsive on course — but still cautioned against speed. “You can’t go quick around it,” he said. “You go quickly, you won’t get home.”

Germany’s Michael Jung, who sits in third place heading into the show jumping on fischerRocana FST, added that it was important to have a good feeling heading out on course: If the horse is too fresh, it will wear out; if it’s too slow, it will lack the aggression to get the job done.

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New Zealand’s Tim Price and Wesko preparing to set out on course, where they unfortunately met elimination. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM had the unenviable position of being first out on course, both for the competition and Team USA. As one of the squad’s most experienced horse/rider combinations the placement was a logical choice, but playing guinea pig for a field of 90 has its perils. In this case, no one could have anticipated just how dramatic a drain the course would have on its equine athletes.

The stalwart trailblazers started out strong but Reggie grew visibly tired mid-course. Buck nursed him along until they finally ran out of steam at the third water complex, a technical combination late on the course that had spectators gasping throughout the day as horse after horse scraped its way through — or not. Buck could barely coax Reggie out of a trot on the re-approach, and after two attempts to make it through he called it quits.

“Poor Reggie, he gave me every ounce that he had — he always does,” Buck said. Ever the conscientious horseman, Buck wasn’t willing to push his longtime partner past his limits and risk an accident later on course. “Yes, it’s the World Championships, but he’s still my pet, and he’s still one of the greatest horses I’ve ever ridden, and I would never want anything to happen to him.”

Buck said he doesn’t blame the course and he certainly doesn’t blame Reggie — just mother nature. “I’m really, really proud of him. He jumped perfect, he tried his heart out … I’m disappointed but look, somebody had to go and be first out, and you’re just not really sure what you’ve got.”

All things considered, Buck seemed hopeful: “We’ve got more information for the team, and my horse is healthy and happy.”

Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Buck’s unhappy result foreshadowed a steady stream of horses and riders who would fall prey to the course, teammates included. Individual rider Sinead Halpin was the next American out of course and while her go wasn’t foot-perfect, she and Tate never gave up and scrapped their way to the finish, collecting one runout along the way. The issue arose at a combination; Sinead says he never got his eye on fence 4.

“The rest was just get-it-done,” Sinead said. Of the course: “You have to fight for everything — you’re on plan B before you know it.” Like Buck before her, Sinead made a smart decision not to be overambitious with regard to speed, giving her horse a strong ride at the fences but letting him set the pace in between.

Game faces: Coach David and Sinead head to the start box. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Game faces: Coach David and Sinead head to the start box. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Hopes were high for veteran Phillip Dutton, the next Team USA rider out, but he and Trading Aces met a premature end as well. He described the course as a test of endurance that was just a bit much for his young horse. “It wasn’t a problem with the fence,” Phillip said. “He’d just had enough of the day.”

Phillip and Trading Aces looked great early in the course...

Phillip and Trading Aces looked terrific through the first water…

Phillip and Oscar looked great early on...

…but hit a wall later on course.

Even with no chance of medaling, Team USA continued forging forward throughout the afternoon. Kim Severson, who is competing in her third WEG, ran into trouble with Fernhill Fearless at the last water, where they collected 20, but got through the finish flags. Lynn Symansky and Donner met their match at #16, the Land Rover water complex, and fence #27, a big brush corner, but made it home with 40 jump penalties.

Lynn Synasky and Donner. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Lynn Synasky and Donner. Photo by Jenni Autry.

On a bright note: Boyd Martin and Shamwari 4 came through in the clutch to do America proud at the end of the day. He said it wasn’t the smoothest round by far, and he wishes he had pushed a bit harder for time because his horse was full of running at the end, but nonetheless his clear round and time of 13.6 moved him from 17th after dressage to ninth heading into show jumping.

Boyd Martin and Shamwari 4. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Boyd Martin and Shamwari 4. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Boyd and Shamwari at #4 and #5.

Boyd and Shamwari at #4 and #5.

Riders who made it through the finish flags, jump penalties or no jump penalties, were treated to a hero’s welcome.

Great Britain's William Fox-Pitt gives Chilli Morning a big pat beyond the finish flags. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt, who is currently in Individual Gold Medal position, gives Chilli Morning a big pat beyond the finish flags. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

The top 15 competitors heading to Caen’s D’Or Stadium tomorrow to face off in WEG eventing’s grand finale:

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As Buck said, walking back to the barn with a happy, healthy horse is worth more than any medal. Our thoughts this weekend are with Great Britain’s Harry Meade, whose Wild Lone collapsed and died after the finish of cross country, and his team.

Go Eventing.

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