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Will Coleman and Chin Tonic Stay Afloat SRF Carolina International CCI4*-S After Dramatic Show Jumping

Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Marc Donovan delivered a devious show jumping track for the Yanmar America CCI4*-S riders at the 2023 Setters’ Run Farm Carolina International, presented by Lumbee River Membership Corporation. While the earlier two- and three-star divisions saw relatively little change following their show jumping performance, the four-star class had a very different fate. Will Coleman still heads up the leaderboard, though, after a dramatic afternoon that saw only six of the 25 starters finishing with a clear round.

Third-placed Off The Record surprisingly saw his jockey on the ground after a communication breakdown before the third fence that Will describes as very out of character for his 2021 Carolina International winner “Timmy.” “Really I was so shocked. I had no idea what happened. I can’t explain it. I just got a sore ass to prove it,” Will said.

After he dusted himself off and prepared to enter the arena a second time with overnight leader Chin Tonic HS, a farrier emergency further derailed his plans.

“It didn’t feel like he was jumping as well as he can,” Will said of Hyperion Stud’s 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Chin Champ – Wildera, by Quinar Z). “It was sort of an odd course I thought. A little counterintuitive in a lot of places, which can be good, you know, just to kind of keep us on our toes. But it definitely felt maybe not as smooth as some rounds. But you know, he tried hard. We had sort of just sort of a messed up day, he pulled the shoe right before I was about to go and then you know, he’s a very hot blooded horse so kind of the start-stop thing with him would be kind of not the ideal scenario for us to jump well. Maybe that contributed to just not maybe feeling as good as normal. But you know, he’s a quality horse and he tried hard. So he left them up. I think I’ll touch that last one pretty good, but got a bit lucky. And, you know, now we’ll go on to tomorrow.”

Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Will, like many professionals, has put in the hours for the mental fortitude that can make or break competitors in eventing, and he tapped into those reserves before his ride with “Chin” today. “You just got to forget about it I guess, you know? My bum hurts a little bit but other than that, I tried to just put it out of my mind. Stuff happens. You gotta be a goldfish, like Ted Lasso [says],” Will said.

They carry a score of 19.4 to the final phase where Will says he plans to be as competitive as possible as he narrows in on a potential third win at Carolina, having earned the title in the previous two editions with Off The Record (2021) and Dondante (2022).

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Liz Halliday-Sharp is keeping the heat on Coleman with her superstar Miks Master C. Debbie Palmer and Ocala Horse Properties’ 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Mighty Magic – Qui Luma CBF, by Flyinge Quite Easy 958) is normally quite a big-striding horse, but even he upped the ante for the Kentucky-based rider.

“They’re all a bit feral today. Like all my my three Star horses were wild as well, but he was really good. He’s gotten a lot better. I definitely have my hands more full than I usually do with him now. I feel like we’re pretty gelled now in the jumping, and today, he was sort of extra horse,” she said.

Liz has had the ride on Mickey for less than a year, so she says she’s just now putting the pieces together with the new ride “With Mickey it’s always tricky because you have to, like Peter Wylde says, ‘Make the time without telling him you are.’ Because if I get him wound up, he’s got such a gigantic stride. I mean, all the distances are short for him. And so I have to be careful, I don’t just let him loose, especially when he’s feeling a bit wild anyway. I knew the time was tight enough, so I had to make sure I made the time but was organized at the same time,” she said, crediting her show jumping coach Peter Wylde for the pair’s improvements.

“It keeps me chill in my head,” she said of Peter’s coaching which in the past has helped her achieve clear rounds at venues such as Boekelo. “It keeps me in a good place that way. I think for us at this level, we don’t need someone bugging us all the time about everything. We just need to fine tune details and figure out ways to help the horses be their best selves. And that’s what he’s really good at. I mean, the course walking with him is invaluable.”

Doug Payne and Starr Witness. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Doug Payne was the very first rider to show that a penalty-free performance was possible with Starr Witness, who now sits in third.

With the 12-year-old KWPN mare (Chello III VDL – Carmen, by Veneur), who is owned by Laurie McRee, Catherine Winter and the rider, Doug focused on riding his turns well to produce a good round. As the age-old saying goes: “Good turns make good fences.”

“Everything is built to spec and quite square and the difficult thing about that field is the undulation, so a bunch of the oxers were kind of off a little bit of a rollback, a little bit of a hill. So if the horses got back in the turn or not connected they could end up weak, sort of climbing up to it,” he said. “It’s deceptive. If you really had them up to your hand mid-turn I think it came smoothly, but if that fell a part then all the sudden it got a lot more difficult pretty quick.”

In addition, Doug has been focusing a lot of his energy on creating a good shape from “Ginja” over fences this winter. “She’s quite careful. Sometimes in the past she’d be ultra careful. She’d go sky-high in front and not quite as good behind, but she’s really finishing behind. I’m trying to do my best to keep her engaged and coming forward,” he said.

You won’t see Doug necessarily chasing the clock tomorrow, despite his current placing, as he aims for big things to come later this year. “I’ll go sort of efficiently fast,” he said. “It’s not make or break for her — that ultimate goal is the three-star long at Tryon to finish the qualifications for the [Pan American Games].”

Boyd Martin and Commando 3. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Despite it being their first four-star together, Boyd Martin piloted Commando 3 to a double clear result today to move into fourth place.

DSN Equestrian Ventures purchased the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Connor 48 – R-Adelgunde, by Amigo xx) for him only months ago, and Boyd was smitten at first sight. “As soon as they pulled it out of the stall that just had this championship look. It just oozed with class,” he said.

A new ride can always have its challenges, especially when facing such a testing show jumping course, but “Connor” rose to the challenge for the American stalwart.

“I just sort of went in there not knowing what to expect. This is by far the biggest, trickiest, spookiest course me and Connor have ever looked at so I didn’t quite know how we’d handle it. By the time he jumped fence one I thought to myself we’re in business. He was fantastic around the track,” Boyd said.

Two of our top four riders also joined the 25% clear rate: Boyd with Miss Lulu Herself (8th) and Doug with Quantum Leap (12th). We also owe an honorable mention to Canada’s Lindsay Traisnel who was just two seconds away from a double clear after leaving all the poles in place. She’s seventh with Bacyrouge on a score of 32.2.

Twenty-one pairs will go up against Ian Stark’s four-star course tomorrow beginning at 11:48 a.m. You can follow along live with the action on Horse & Country’s live stream. You’ll need an H&C+ subscription (you can save 15% off an annual subscription here using code EVENTINGNATION15 – the code is case-sensitive – this weekend only!), or you can also purchase a one-time viewing pass for this event for $19.99. Click here to access the live stream.

Setters’ Run Farm Carolina International: [Website] [Entries] [Schedule] [Ride Times] [Order of Go] [Live Scoring] [Live Stream] [EN’s Coverage] [EN’s Form Guide] [Volunteer]

Liz Halliday-Sharp Leads the Way in CCI3*-S at Carolina International

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Be Cool. Photo by Shelby Allen.

At the conclusion of show jumping for The Cordelia Family Foundation CCI3*-S, Liz Halliday-Sharp finds herself still in the favorable position of being in both first and second place.

Her first ride, Cooley Nutcracker, who is owned by Ocala Horse Properties, Deborah Halliday and the rider, made sure to cement her leadership position with a clear round. The 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Tolant R x Ballyshan Cleopatra, by Cobra), who was previously piloted through the CCI3*-L by French Olympian Astier Nicholas, remains on his dressage result of 26.7.

With the groundwork laid by Cooley Nutcracker, Liz was able to replicate her earlier performance with another double clear aboard Ocala Horse Properties and The Monster Partnership’s Cooley Be Cool, ensuring she’d be the last three-star rider out on course tomorrow. The 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse’s (Heritgae Fortunus x HHS Carlota) score of 23.1 is still the best of the class.

Liz, who spent many seasons campaigning in the United Kingdom, said her biggest challenge today was not the grass footing, but rather the windy, keyed-up atmosphere for her two rides.

“They’re all wild today. [Cooley Be Cool] was wild, but he’s a horse that if you don’t check in with him and reset him he can just do that to me in the ring. And this is his first event back, so he’s seeing the cross country jumps and feeling rather spritely,” she said. “I love jumping on grass because I did it for twenty years in England. Funnily enough I’m almost more relaxed on grass because it feels like what I’m used to, but the surface was amazing in there. They’ve done a great job. I think it was good for the horses — there was a lot of atmosphere and I think it prepares them for something like Blenheim or Bramham.”

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Nutcracker. Photo by Shelby Allen.

With not one, but two chances to take the division win on cross country, Liz says she’s prioritizing ridability for her top-placed partner. “I’m not going to slob around on [Cooley Be Cool], but I’m not going to hammer him either because it’s his first run of the year. He’s not a horse that goes very slow, so I need to check in with my controls too and make sure I can stop. That was my biggest issue last year was brakes. It’s all about producing him for the next level again, so if he wins, he wins. And if he doesn’t it’s not a big deal.”

On the other hand, Cooley Nutcracker may find the door open for his own top finish. “The other horse I’ll run pretty quick because I need to check in on my brakes,” she said.

Dom Schramm and Quadrocana remain on their impressive dressage score of 22.7. Photo by Shelby Allen. 

Guinea pig Dom Schramm made a very good example of how to ride the day’s show jumping course, going clear aboard Breezeway Sporthorse and Diagnostic Clinic/Friendship Mobile Veterinary Imaging and Sports Medicine CCI2*-S overnight leader Quadrocana. 

The German mare (Quadrofino x Roxana II), who is a niece to Michael Jung’s fisherRocana, was the very first entry to test Marc Donovan’s course and she navigated the twists and options with ease to keep her leading position on a two-phase score of 22.7.

Normally very levelheaded, the mare seemed to grow a few inches in the atmosphere of the Twin Gates Field  “She’s only had a rail or two down in her career but like normally she would be a lot more businesslike but I found she could just be a little bit funny about flags and things like that,” said the Australian rider. “This is great. I mean, I love coming to events where they get to get a bit of an education and remind them what the big shows are gonna be like.”

Dom plans to use tomorrow’s cross country as a test for this up-and-coming ride. Coming from sunny, sandy Florida, the Carolina Horse Park offers a much different environment. “It looks bloody nice. I like the new kind of flow to the track — a bit of turning, a bit of up and down. I think it’s a it’s a great test for being in March. If you’re down in Florida, and you go on all those shows there you’re mostly going on flat ground and jumping portables. This is the first show that I feel like they get to go out and make it feel a bit more like what’s to come. So that’s why we always like coming here,” he said.

The rest of the top five remains unchanged after the second phase. Caroline Martin is second with Redfield Champion, a 9-year-old Hanoverian (Diarado x Calinka) owned by Sherrie Martin and the rider, on a score of 24.4.

The four-star has just gotten underway, so check back this afternoon for more from Carolina International.

Setters’ Run Farm Carolina International: [Website] [Entries] [Schedule] [Ride Times] [Order of Go] [Live Scoring] [Live Stream] [EN’s Coverage] [EN’s Form Guide] [Volunteer]

Chin it to Win It: Will Coleman Bests Dressage Lead with Second Horse

Will Coleman’s exceptional up-and-comer Chin Tonic HS delivers his first 4* sub-20 to take a narrow lead. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Dressage day at the 2023 Setters’ Run Farm Carolina International was a ping pong match with the indomitable forces of Liz Halliday-Sharp and Will Coleman volleying back and forth for control of the Yanmar America CCI4*-S. Ultimately, it was Will who came out ahead with the only sub-20 result of the class.

While his first ride, 2021 victor Off the Record, took the early lead, it was stablemate Chin Tonic HS who shut down the afternoon. The 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Chin Champ – Wildera, by Quinar Z) earned a four-star personal best of 19.4 for his efforts with several scores of nine scattering his test sheet.

“He’s like riding piece of cooked spaghetti,” Will said of “Chin” who was sourced by Vicky Castegren’s Hyperion Stud. “But he’s just so incredibly elastic and he has these amazing gaits — I think there’s still things to get better at, obviously, and I missed one change, but he seems to be maturing in a good way and we’re gonna keep working to try to get a little better.”

Despite the misstep in the second flying change, Will, who trains with Ian Woodhead on the flat, earned a 72.29% from Bobby Stevenson (USA) at C and 81.90% from Andrew Bennie (NZL) at B. For Will, there haven’t been any lightbulb moments to produce the horse on the flat, but rather a close attention to detail in his day-to-day training.

“[I’m] just trying to do everything a little bit better. I don’t think there’s been one thing that I’ve decided, ‘we need to do this.’ Dressage is all about developing your horse to their physical and mental peak, and you’re never really done. So I don’t think I’m doing anything different; I’ve got a good program with my wife and my staff and my coaches. We know we’re not good enough yet. I’m just trying to get a little bit better,” he said.

If you’ve ever wondered if some horses know how truly talented they are — wonder no more because “Chin” is keenly aware of his place in the spotlight. “He’s like Mariah Carey — a total diva,” laughed Will. “He’s just kind of one of those good looking guys that knows he’s a good looking guy.”

Recent Bruce’s Field victors Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C sit in a close second at the culmination of the first phase. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Riding for Debbie Palmer and Ocala Horse Properties, Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C brought forward a score of 20.1 for second place. Partnered with the 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Mighty Magic – Qui Luma CBF, by Flyinge Quite Easy 958) for just over a year, Liz says she feels like the partnership is really starting to come together, though they certainly have already had a big start to the season with a win at the Grand-Prix Eventing Festival earlier this month.

“It’s still very much a work in progress, I’ll be honest. I was thrilled with the score and I really believe he’s capable of scores in the teens regularly. But he’s still not quite strong enough yet and he gets a little bit tired in the ring,” Liz said. “He’s just got so much power that he kind of bears down on me a little bit. Some of the marks aren’t perfect yet: the halts weren’t 100 percent. The reinback is getting better — it was something that he needed a lot of work on when I got him. That was actually quite a lot better today, so we’re heading the right way with that.”

For a powerful horse like “Mickey”, Liz says the challenge is not about producing excellent movement, but instead it’s about polishing and managing his natural ability. Part of it, too, has been about refining the tack choices she opts for.

“I’ve been riding him in the double just to try and teach him to carry himself and not just become a big freight train. It’s just all power and he doesn’t really know where to put it sometimes,” she explained. “He’s got a lot of power. Amazingly, he’s 70 percent blood. He’s by Mighty Magic, so he’s super blood, and he can gallop like no one’s business. I think we’ve spent the whole winter getting him really strong now because he was quite weak and wiggly when I got him last May, and now he just doesn’t really know where to put [that power]. Because it’s like, all there. And I’m like, ‘Come here, just come down a little, you don’t need to go that big with the legs.’ But it’s a work in progress. I think when we get it polished in another few months, he’ll be unbelievable.”

A run here at Carolina is a calculated plan on Liz’s part with even bigger goals toward a five-star debut later this spring. “He’s going to do his first five star at Kentucky, and I wanted him to get two four-star runs in before that. I actually really wanted him to do a course that’s ditchy with some really big drops in the water. That’s something he needs to practice regularly. So I just wanted to have all the boxes ticked before I went to Kentucky. I’m just tweaking a few things, but the only way I’ll really know what I have is if I really let him go on a proper course,” she said.

It’s a good day in the office for Will Coleman: though he sacrifices his morning lead with Off the Record, he remains third going into the jumping tomorrow. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Will’s World Championship silver medalist Off The Record, who led the morning session, ended the day in third on a first-phase result of 22.1.

“Off the Record, he wouldn’t be the best in cold weather — he’s such a stiff horse by nature. But I really thought he warmed up great and the test maybe was a bit safe, but it was really clean. He’s just becoming a consummate pro; I’m really, really proud of him,” he said. Still, he says, there were moments in the test where he felt he could have eked out a few more marks.

“I just think maybe I could’ve gone for a bit more expression at times. He just felt like he was maybe holding just a little bit, and I didn’t want to push him out of out of rhythm and make a mistake. So I rode just to try to execute a clean test, and oddly it makes a nicer picture, maybe, than it feels when you ride him like that — so maybe I should do that all the time!”

Doug Payne and Starr Witness sit fourth overnight. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Today’s score of 24.6 wouldn’t be and all time best for Starr Witness, but Doug Payne was pleased as punch with the little wins he achieved with the 12-year-old KWPN mare (Chello III VDL – Carmen, by Veneur).

“I think she was she was very, very good. It was freezing this morning, so I think she still was a fraction on edge, but I couldn’t be happier with her overall progress and the trend she’s setting this year. That’s really exciting,” he said.

The pair lost a couple of marks when the mare fizzed out of the corner, but nonetheless, that moment was one of Doug’s proudest: “I tell you what, in the canter medium, she went to start in the corner and she almost went to do a little spook sort of thing, and historically, that would have been a much bigger deal. So I think, although it’s probably the worst score in the test, I was actually most proud of her there because she put it right back together unbelievably quick, and then we were able to ride the rest of the movement. I think it’s a sort of indication of where she’s at in her progression, and she’s just trending better and better.”

Boyd Martin’s new ride, the exciting Commando 3, delivers in their first international together to take fifth provisionally. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Commando 3 landed in Boyd Martin’s barn just a few months ago, but the new relationship is blossoming for the veteran rider. The 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Connor 48 – R-Adelgunde, by Amigo xx)owned by DSN Equestrian Ventures was produced and ridden through the four-star level previously by Swedish Olympian Louise Romeike before finding his way stateside.

“I tried him in the middle of last year, and then again, I snuck up there when we were in Europe training for the WEG,” Boyd said. “Luckily for me, it was at the same time Louise fell pregnant, so it was sort of perfect timing on both ends that she was in a position where she’d sell him, and I was very, very grateful that I could ride the horse.”

In this, their first International outing, they produced a score of 25.8 for fifth place, and the rest of the weekend will be a learning opportunity. “We’re still very green. We’re still trying to get to know each other, and this is a huge challenge. We’ve done one Prelim and an Intermediate, out at Thomson, Georgia, so this is a big step,” he said.

Despite the unusual preparation, Boyd thinks the world of his new ride. “I absolutely love him; I feel like he’s world class in all departments. He jumps the moon, he gallops like the wind, and he moves like Totilas. Give me six to 12 months and I think the sky’s the limit. I’m very grateful to the people behind DSN Equestrian Ventures for giving me the opportunity to partner with him,” he said.

Sixth place is shared between Liz on her second ride Cooley Quicksilver and Will Faudree with PFun, both on 26.1.

Sydney Elliott took eighth aboard Carol Stephens’ QC Diamantaire. The 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Diarado – Lantana, by Sandro Hit) nailed a 26.2 — beating their previous personal best at the level of 26.4.

Kentucky-based Allie Knowles and Katherine O’Brien’s Morswood are ninth on a score of 28.3. Boyd Martin’s trailblazer Contessa rounds out the top ten on a 30.2.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Be Cool. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Liz Halliday-Sharp went one-two in the The Cordelia Family Foundation CCI3*-S.

Cooley Be Cool, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Heritage Fortunus x HHS Carlota) owned by The Monster Partnership and Ocala Horse Properties, edged just ahead on a 23.1. Liz has opted to start his season at the three-star level due to an injury that sidelined “Dave” for most of 2022.

“I’m over the moon with him. He had a weird injury in the stall actually at Bromont last year, which is why he had the second half of last year off. I don’t know what he did — rolled and whacked himself in the stall. It was minor, but it was enough to keep him out for the rest of the year, which was pretty tedious. But in a way, I really think it’s done him the world of good. He’s come out this year and he’s a completely different professional horse. He’s always been a bit cheeky and a bit of a goof, and he still has that in him. But he now goes in the ring, and he just performs. So I’m completely thrilled with him. I’m really excited for what he can do this year,” she said.

Waiting in the wings is Cooley Nutcracker, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Tolant R x Ballyshan Cleopatra, by Cobra), who is in the reserve position on a score of 26.7.

Dom Schramm and Quadrocana. Photo by Brandt Gamma Photography.

Dom Schramm produced the very best dressage score of the day to lead the CCI2*-S with Quadrocana. The German-bred mare has some recognizable heritage as she’s by Rocana II, a full sister to Michael Jung’s fisherRocana.

“She’s the first foal of any of the three full sisters — the Rocana sisters. I’ve had her since she was a four year old and she’s just such a lovely horse. She’s dead easy to ride, dead easy to train, and she does all the work for me. She just makes me look good,” he said.

“She’s been no slouch on the flat pretty much her whole career. But this year, in particular, I said to my coach, Nicholas Fyffe, that I really wanted to start to train her more like a Prix St. Georges horse. So rather than just kind of doing what is going to be in the Advanced Test or the four star tests, I wanted to take the approach, ‘What would we do if we were producing her to go and do a Prix St. George at the end of this year?'” he said.

“I really need to take that approach, not just for her, but also for me to kind of get the nuances because that’s the standard now. When you go to Europe, these guys, they’re specialists in all three phases — and that’s the standard we have to ride at. So now I go into the dressage test now much more thinking about not just one or two steps along, but even beyond what she’ll ever have to do in eventing.”

Caroline Martin and Cascadella 8. Photo by Brandt Gamma Photography.

Caroline Martin leads the 13-deep CCI* class with Cascadella 8. The German mare (Cascadello I x Chaluna, by Ciacomo) carries a 24.7 to the upcoming show jumping phase.

That’s all from the first day of competition here at Carolina International — be sure to join us tomorrow for a show jumping showdown!

You can follow along live with the action on Horse & Country’s live stream. You’ll need an H&C+ subscription (you can save 15% off an annual subscription here using code EVENTINGNATION15 – the code is case-sensitive – this weekend only!), or you can also purchase a one-time viewing pass for this event for $19.99. Click here to access the live stream.

Setters’ Run Farm Carolina International: [Website] [Entries] [Schedule] [Ride Times] [Order of Go] [Live Scoring] [Live Stream] [EN’s Coverage] [EN’s Form Guide] [Volunteer]

The top ten after dressage in the CCI4*-S at Setters’ Run Farm Carolina International, presented by Yanmar America.

Liz Halliday-Sharp Beats the Clock in 2023 $50,000 Grand-Prix Eventing Festival at Bruce’s Field

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Truth be told, Liz Halliday-Sharp was a little frustrated with her show jumping performance yesterday. Two seconds cost her a $15,000 lead. But, Liz isn’t one to wallow, she woke up today with a steely expression and one goal in mind: go fast and clear.

This afternoon she was the only rider to finish inside the time not once, but twice. Debbie Palmer and Ocala Horse Properties’ Miks Master C was her winning ride, coming in a smashing six seconds under the optimum time to make her the first rider to ever win this event three times.

“I have to say I wasn’t totally sure what horse I would have, I haven’t been with Mickey even a year yet, and he was very, very strong at Boekelo,” Liz said. “I had a new bit that I’ve never competed in him that I rode him in today, and I sort of already decided if he felt like he was getting a bit rogue on me, I was not going to go fast at all costs, because I wanted to think about the big picture for him. But actually, he was brilliant and really with me, and I had a super, super round.”

Liz Halliday-Sharp celebrates the taste of sweet, sweet victory. Photo by Shelby Allen.

“I thought the time was the tightest it’s ever been, and that was actually really great,” she continued. “I think we had a really great weekend of sport, and that’s what I think they need in these sort of things — it shouldn’t be a dressage competition, it should be a fight all the way to the end.”

For Liz, the showcase is like a pressure cooker for reproducing the kind of atmosphere that riders face at some of the biggest events in the world, and that’s why she chooses to bring her horses here year after year.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to manage [winning a third time], but that’s what I came here hoping to do. I just think this is such a great event, and — a little bit reflecting what Boyd and Doug said — it kind of puts you under pressure early. It’s not always the right track for certain horses, but for myself, I think it really gets your eye in early in the year, under pressure and trying to see a stride and you’re going fast. It’s the first run of the year for all my horses, I’ve done that quite a few times. I actually think too, for those big, bold, galloping horses, it’s good to have them have to dip around here and start to look for what’s next, instead of just racing around. This is one of my favorite competitions, I’m sad I missed it last year but I’m glad to be back.”

Doug Payne and Starr Witness. Photo by Shelby Allen.

“Could have used that rail yesterday,” Doug Payne lamented after his two cross country time penalties cost him victory with Starr Witness. The 12-year-old KWPN (Chello III VDL – Carmen, by Veneur) started the weekend on an earth-shaking dressage score of 19.9, but knowing the mare as well as he does, Doug understood that beating the clock would be a big ask around Mark Phillips’ track.

“Time for her is a little bit harder, so I knew it was gonna be a challenge, but she gave everything she could have,” he said. The petite liver chestnut was clever and quick enough for second place on a score of 25.9, a finish that should fill Doug with confidence as his ultimate goal is the Pan American Games in October of this year.

“But she was exceptional, really. Couldn’t have given more and couldn’t have tried harder,” he said.

Boyd Martin and Fedarman B. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Defending champions Boyd Martin and the Annie Goodwin Syndicate’s Fedarman B conceded a back-to-back win, but for Boyd this event is still just as sweet as Annie’s family and friends line the fences to watch their boy “Bruno” in his hometown. The 13-year-old KWPN gelding (Eurocommerce Washington – Paulien B, by Fedor) was just two seconds slow on an otherwise picture perfect performance.

“It’s bittersweet obviously. Annie’s parents and the friends and family of Annie Goodwin are in this area, and a lot of connections to Bruno, people that used to work for Annie, there’s a lady here that helped start him off as a three-year-old, and all these people that were connected to this horse and to Annie. I think they love to come to this event and cheer Bruno on, and it’s just, for me, an honor and privilege to ride Bruno. I really feel like we’re starting to gel, I’m very, very proud to ride him and continue all of Annie’s work. In years to come, he has the opportunity to be a championship horse, and what a fantastic honor it would be to just keep going the way we are now, sort of like a living memento for all of Annie’s work. It’s a real privilege,” Boyd reflected.

Phillip Dutton and Z. Photo by Shelby Allen.

The veteran partnership of Phillip Dutton and Z held on to their fourth-place position. The 15-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Asca Z – Bellabouche, by Babouche VH Gehucht Z) saw only three added seconds across Saturday’s boiled-down cross country challenge.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver. Photo by Shelby Allen.

In addition to winning, Liz also took home a slightly smaller check for fifth place aboard Cooley Quicksilver. The Monster Partnership’s 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Womanizer – Kylemore Crystal, by Creggan Diamond) joined his stablemate “Mickey” as only the second horse to manage the time allowed, finishing on his dressage score of 27.9.

Will Faudree and Pfun. Photo by Shelby Allen.

The 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Tadmus – Celerina, by Cento) Pfun was just a second too slow, but his placing was unaffected as he and Will Faudree stayed sixth. Will also earned the Annie Goodman Sportsmanship Award this weekend, as voted on by his fellow competitors.

Phillip Dutton and Azure. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Seventh place went to the exciting new partnership of Phillip Dutton and Azure. The 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Omar – Cavalier Roselier, by Cavalier Royal), owned by Anne Moran, Caroline Moran and Michael Moran, rose to the atmosphere and occasion, considering this is her first outing of the year, and we can guess that there will be more where that came from.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Boyd was again in the top ten with Tsetserleg finishing eighth on a score of 32.6. Despite this type of tight, twisting track not suiting “Thomas,” the 16-year-old Trakehner gelding (Windfall II – Thabana, by Buddenbrock) owned by Christine, Thomas and Tommie Turner, was just four seconds down according to the official watch.

Sara Kozumplik and Rubens D’ysieux. Photo by Shelby Allen.

The crowd’s hearts were in their throats for a brief moment as Rubens D’ysieux’s fancy footwork got him and Sara Kozumpik out of a bind at the bounce, and for that the pair earned ninth place (32.8).

Sydney Elliott and QC Diamantaire. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Sydney Elliott had a smile plastered on her face after a clear round with QC Diamantaire. Carol Stephen’s 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Diarado – Lantana, by Sandro Hit) rounded out the top ten on a result of 35.9.

William Fox-Pitt and Vincent Chase. Photo by Shelby Allen.

This year’s competition mostly determined by the clock, with very few jump penalties seen across the 22 cross country starters. One victim to a refusal was William Fox-Pitt with Heather Gillette’s Vincent Chase. The 11-year-old ex-racehorse seemed to misunderstand when William asked for the direct approach at the angled brushes. But, William tactfully represented for the long route and Vinny looked all the better for it by the course’s end.

Shannon Lilley and Ideal HX. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Other special awards went to Shannon Lilley as the top rookie with Ideal HX, Amanda Beale Clement as the Top Young Rider with Carlson 119, and Campground as the High Point Thoroughbred with Erin Kanara.

Thanks for following along with us, EN! We can’t wait to see you at the next one.

GPE at Bruce’s Field: GPE WebsiteEN’s Form GuideLive ScoresTeam ScoresFacility MapH&C+ LivestreamRide for Charity Public VoteEN’s Coverage

Doug Payne Stays Atop $50,000 Grand-Prix Eventing Festival After Influential Show Jumping

One comes down, but a first place position stands for Doug Payne and Starr Witness. Photo by Shelby Allen.

For those of us in the crowd who cannot do math in our heads (ahem, me) the last few show jumping rounds of the $50,000 Grand-Prix Eventing Festival at Bruce’s Field, presented by Taylor Harris Insurance Services, made the leaderboard a little murky. The magic figure eight ball of eventing could’ve read “reply hazy, try again.” For all the mathematicians in the room, it was a quick reshuffling of the final order.

Riding earlier in the second group, fifth-placed Liz Halliday-Sharp already had two down with former winner Deniro Z. Phillip Dutton, who went fifth from the end, bettered his odds aboard Z with a double clear round which pushed him to the top five. Fourth-placed Buck Davidson saw four come down for Carlevo, dropping him from the hunt. All looked well for Miks Master C, a newer ride for Liz Halliday-Sharp, but Liz tactfully rode to control the horse’s massive stride and ended up two seconds over the time.

Boyd Martin then only had to beat himself, as he already delivered a faultless round with Fedarman B, but Tsetserleg saw two rails drop.

Starr Witness shows off her careful scope across Michel Vaillancourt’s show jumping track. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Then finally, the crowd let out a collective groan when the pole above the water tray toppled for dressage winners Doug Payne and Starr Witness. Fortunately, Doug has an engineering degree, so once he finished within the time he knew he had kept himself in the leading position.

“She’s just getting a lot more comfortable at the level, and clearly stronger every day through what would have been more difficult aspects of the course in the past. She was very, very good through the whole triple bar to the triple line. Got a little unlucky, I think, with my rail, but it’s all good,” he said.

Doug is primarily an event rider, but has spent increasing amounts of time in the pure show jumping world. “The level of carefulness and scope is certainly different, but the margin for error at the FEI levels jumping is very, very small. Honestly, it’d be the same on a horse after a long cross country, the margin is quite small. Getting practice and being more comfortable, both in a charged environment with a lot on the line, and certainly the consequences of mistakes when they’re bigger is a little bit greater, so there’s just pressure to make yourself get better, and you can’t help but get better if you’re in the ring a bunch. We’re lucky enough that, over the winter, I was showing probably nine horses at jumper shows.”

The 12-year-old KWPN mare (Chello III VDL – Carmen, by Veneur), who is owned by Laurie McRee, Catherine Winter and Doug Payne, now sits on 23.9 points ahead of the final phase.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Two-time GPE winner Liz Halliday-Sharp will be our penultimate rider tomorrow, sitting in second place with Debbie Palmer and Ocala Horse Properties’ 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Mighty Magic – Qui Luma CBF, by Flyinge Quite Easy 958).

“He’s just got this giant stride, and actually I a little bit rode the horse that I used to have, and he’s so much more trained and polite now. He used to be, if I’d let him loose early on, he would just bucked off with me. Actually, I added too much into fence 2, when I could have just gone 1 to 2, and that would have taken care of my time, but I was thinking, ‘I don’t want to let him loose here because then I’ll be screwed.’ But actually, I should just ride the horse I have now because he’s actually wonderfully polite, much more adjustable and just a very different horse,” Liz said.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver were the first pair of the afternoon to achieve a double clear round. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Her two-phase score of 24.6 give Doug just one second of breathing room on tomorrow’s cross country, and there’s no way she’ll let him have the win easily.

Liz has got not one, but two in the top five. The Monster Partnership’s Cooley Quicksilver laid down a classy clear to keep the 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Womanizer – Kylemore Crystal, by Creggan Diamond) on 27.9

Defending champions Boyd Martin and Fedarman B make a podium bid. Photo by Shelby Allen.

They are joined in the top three by the event’s most recent winners, Boyd Martin and Fedarman B, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding (Eurocommerce Washington – Paulien B, by Fedor) owned by the Annie Goodwin Syndicate. This pair remain on their dressage score of 25.6.

“Yeah he’s a legend, mate. I want to touch some wood, but he’s never had a pole down in a show yet, he’s a phenomenal jumper. Thrilled to be back here in Aiken in front of all of Annie’s family and friends and the syndicate,” Boyd said.

Phillip Dutton and Z move into fourth. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Phillip Dutton, who was awarded the key to the city of Aiken in 2020, holds fourth place with his Tokyo and World Equestrian Games partner Z. The 15-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Asca Z – Bellabouche, by Babouche VH Gehucht Z), owned by Evie Dutton, Ann Jones, Suzanne Lacy, Caroline Moran, Tom Tierney, Patricia Vos and David Vos, are on 26.3 — just six seconds away from our leader.

Will Faudree and Pfun. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Riding for Jennifer Mosing and Sterling Silver Stables, Will Faudree jumped from 12th to 6th with a clear round after this influential phase aboard Pfun, a 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Tadmus – Celerina, by Cento).

Colleen Loach was awarded the Richard Picken Style Award. She and FE Golden Eye delivered a classy clear round. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Colleen Loach has leaned into pure show jumping in the last year, and her Grand Prix practice paid off today after FE Golden Eye breezed around Michel Vaillancourt’s track. For her efforts, she was awarded the Richard Picken Style Award. The 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Goldfever 3 – Cascade, by Contendro I), who is owned by Peter Barry, Amanda Bernhard and Colleen, sits seventh on 28.6.

“Last summer when I ended up not going to the WEG, there were a bunch of show jumping shows around in Ontario and I didn’t really want to event him, so I started doing some smaller Grand Prix, and he actually won a few of them. It’s great practice, great education as an event rider,” she said. “[The atmosphere] is pretty similar — maybe even a bit more nerve wracking. We did our first 1.50m a few weeks ago, and it looked quite large walking the course I must admit.”

Of course, jumping an Advanced show jumping track must feel smaller in comparison, but as Colleen says, “you still have to ride well.”

Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Woods Baughman leapt ten spots up the leaderboard with his and his parent’s C’est La Vie 135, a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Contendro I – Anette, by Aarking xx). Their score of 30 in the dressage will carry forward to the final phase.
Of the 30 starters, 13 jumped clear today (39.4%). Seven pairs have already elected to withdraw and not run cross country: Lillian Heard Wood with both LCC Barnaby & Dassett Olympus, Boyd Martin & Luke 140, Ryan Wood & Cooley Flight, Buck Davidson & Carlevo, Will Faudree & Mama’s Magic Way, and Doug Payne & Quantum Leap.

Running under USEF rules meant that any competitors who had five or more rails faced compulsory retirement and will not be permitted to continue. Three pairs saw their weekend end under the rule: Colleen Rutledge & Covert Rights, Dan Kreitl & Carmango, and Buck Davidson & Erroll Gobey.

The 29 remaining entries face Sir Mark Phillip’s cross country test tomorrow. Keep your eyes peeled for a guided tour with EN tomorrow. The first horse leaves the start box at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, and you can watch it all on Horse & Country.

GPE at Bruce’s Field: GPE Website, EN’s Form GuideEntry ListRide TimesLive ScoresTeam ScoresFacility MapH&C+ LivestreamRide for Charity Public Vote, EN’s Coverage

Starr Witness Dazzles 2023 Grand-Prix Eventing Dressage at Bruce’s Field

How’s a sub-20 sound for superstar Starr Witness? Something tells me she’s probably pretty pleased with herself. Photo by Shelby Allen.

The old adage, “saved the best for last,” was certainly true in the dressage session at the 2023 $50,000 Grand-Prix Eventing Festival at Bruce’s Field, presented by Taylor Harris Insurance Services. The final combination, Doug Payne and Starr Witness, laid down a 19.9 for the first-phase lead.

The Ground Jury of Bea di Grazia and Andrew Bennie rewarded the 12-year-old KWPN mare (Chello III VDL – Carmen, by Veneur) for her flashy, correct movements with the pair securing a perfect 10 (!) for the first flying change. Though not an FEI sanctioned competition, this is the mare’s best ever score across her International career.

“She’s a horse that, the more you throw at her, the better she is, so if you kind of just dance around kind of placated, if that’s the right word, she just starts looking, her attention is drawn everywhere else and she’s gonna find something to be engaged with. So what we’ve found is actually the more we ask of her, the better she is,” Doug said. “Actually, our goal this year is to do our first Grand Prix dressage with her. She’s got pretty much everything, she’s got the ones, twos, got the piaffe and passage pretty good. The pirouettes are coming, that’s probably the hardest thing, but that’s been a huge, huge help because we keep throwing stuff at her and she just sort of raises to the expectations.”

Boyd Martin is looking for a third win here this weekend Aiken, this time aboard Tsetserleg. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Though they have a healthy leg up on the competition, Doug doesn’t have a rail in hand, and defending champion Boyd Martin is sure to keep the pressure on with his Tokyo and FEI World Championships partner Tsetserleg TSF. The 16-year-old Trakehner gelding (Windfall II – Thabana, by Buddenbrock), owned by Christine, Thomas and Tommie Turner, is second on a 23. Boyd credits his wife, Silva, and Bettina Hoy, for the inspiration on the flat.

“I was thrilled with him, he’s a champion horse. I’m very grateful to the German Federation, to send over Bettina Hoy to join Silva to warm us up, and yeah he felt like a dream, and fired up for this afternoon and tomorrow,” he said.

Liz Halliday-Sharp’s newest partner, Miks Master C gave a stunning effort in the first phase at Bruce’s Field. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Liz Halliday-Sharp moved into third place with her final ride of the day, Miks Master C. Owned in partnership between Debbie Palmer and Ocala Horse Properties, the 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Mighty Magic – Qui Luma CBF, by Flyinge Quite Easy 958) earned a score of 23.8.

This is not just an individual competition, though, as riders have been split into six teams, each representing a charitable organization. After dressage, Team Purple is at the top of the pile. Boyd Martin, with Tsetserleg and Fedarman B, Sarah Khun and Ryan Wood are riding for the Tri-Development Center of Aiken County.

Much more to come from Bruce’s Field today, folks. The show jumping kicks off at 3 p.m. and competitors will come in reverse order of standing. You can watch it all live with our friends at Horse & Country at this link. Until we get started, enjoy a gallery from all the top competitors here in Aiken.

GPE at Bruce’s Field: GPE WebsiteEntry ListShow Jumping Order of GoRide TimesLive Scores, Team ScoresFacility MapH&C+ LivestreamRide for Charity Public Vote


USPC Touches Down in New Zealand for 2023 Inter-Pacific Exchange

Team USPC. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Pony Clubbers from across the eastern United States embarked on the trip of a lifetime last week. Four talented riders were selected to take part in the 2023 Pony Club Inter-Pacific Exchange (IPE), which is hosted in New Zealand this year.

IPE includes two weeks of training, competing and experiencing the host nation’s local horse culture. Riders will participate in the Kangaroo Cup, a combined test, in Cromwell on Jan. 20, and a Nations Cup show jumping competition in Gore on Jan. 24th. All will be partnered with unfamiliar catch rides.

Emily Thomas rides FGF Jewel Heist. Photo by Shelby Allen.

USPC team members include Keely Bechtol (‘B SJ’), Nora Goldfarb (‘A EV’) Sierra Shurtz (‘B’), and Emily Thomas (‘HA’). They’re joined by team manager Alex Ambelang, a graduate HA/B Pony Clubber who spent nearly a decade grooming at the top levels of eventing, and team coach Jennifer Merrick-Brooks, graduate ‘A’ Pony Clubber who teaches, trains and organizes events in Michigan.

Participants are drawn from countries who border the Pacific Rim: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the U.S. The Inter-Pacific Exchange is open to Pony Club members who have attained their “B” rating and are between 17 and 25 years of age. To be selected, the riders must submit a video showing their skill on the flat and over fences. They must also have competed up to the Preliminary level of eventing or 1.10 meter show jumping.

Sierra works with Coach Jennifer at training camp. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Before departure, the U.S. team met in Georgia for a few days of training at Susan Thomas’ Full Circle Farm where the competitors switch-rode a variety of different horses, loaned generously by Susan and many of her clients. This time was not only good practice, but also an opportunity for team bonding. The riders stayed together at Sierra Shurtz farm, reviewed riding videos of one another and took on an escape room together.

Nora Goldfarb is all smiles for a spin around on “Pebbles.” Photo by Shelby Allen.

“It was so wonderful to be able to ride at Susan’s not only to get on some great horses, but also to see each other ride and get to know one another. It’s a really neat group — we’re all quite similar and get along super well. I feel lucky to have this opportunity, and even more so that I like my team so much,” said Nora.

The team touched down in New Zealand after 40+ hours of travel and have been making the most of every minute of their trip. Here’s their latest recap:

“Our last two days have been action packed! Yesterday, we attended the South Island SJ Championships and enjoyed jump crewing, helping pin the classes and attending the prize giving. We “adopted” Greymouth Pony Club as our own and were thrilled when they finished 8th out of 28!!

“Later that evening we attended a barbecue with the other teams at NZ alternate Bella Wyllie’s house, where the Kiwis tried to teach us one of their poplar backyard games called “Cub.” I’m convinced they were making up the rules as they went, since every time we started to get the hang of it they found a way to penalize us 🤣

Participants of the 2023 IPE. Photo courtesy of USPC.

“Today, we spent the morning at a local PC mounted games clinic where Sierra, Nora, and Keely got to dust off the cobwebs and show us some of their skills from their competitive gaming days, and Emily even vaulted. They said she’s a natural!

“Later, the teams went to Jess Land’s farm and rode some of her lovely horses. It was another great opportunity to ride together as a team in front of coach Jenn, discuss strategy, and watch the other teams ride as well!

”We wrapped up the day with a trip up to Hanmer Springs and spent the afternoon in the hot pools and water park (and the drive up was gorgeous)!”

Best of luck to USPC as they continue their trip and prepare for the Nations Cup. To follow their journey, give their Facebook Page a like. These four put forth a tremendous effort fundraising and if you’d like to support them, you can donate at this link.

Go Pony Club. Go Eventing.

Long Live the Long Format: Peterson Smith BarnStaple Educational Three Day Kicks Off This Week

Riders brush up on your alphabet — Endurance phase A, B, C & D incoming! Photo by Lisa Madren.

The thrill of the ‘chase lives on this weekend at the inaugural Peterson Smith Barnstaple Educational Three Day in Morriston, FL. This USEA Educational Activity has been a labor of love many months in the making by the entire PSBE3D team to bring 65 lucky riders not only a weekend of top competition, but wall-to-wall educational seminars, demonstrations and more from industry professionals.

Competition will be spread across neighboring Barnstaple and HITS Post Time Farm properties. The traditional long format event begins with a trot up today (Wednesday) for the Ground Jury of Heather Gillette and Ashley Johnson along with Peterson and Smith veterinary representatives.

Phase D features challenging cross country tracks designed by Jay Hambly. Photo by Lisa Madren.

Dressage takes place Thursday and Friday at HITS Post Time Farm, but it’s Saturday that most riders are anticipating: endurance day. Roads and tracks weave through the Ocala countryside before depositing riders on BarnStaple’s picturesque cross country course for phase D. Jay Hambly has designed championship calibre tracks for starter through training levels.

The show jumping finale will be held on grass at Barnstaple across a Brody Robertson designed course.

Day one of the Barnstaple Classic Three Day was so fun and if the first day is any sign, we will be having a fantastic…

Posted by Lisa Madren on Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The line up of clinicians, demonstrations and lecturers is hot, hot, hot! A few notable items on the schedule includes Tik Maynard’s “Good Horsemanship Techniques,” “Tour of Phases A, B, C” with Dorothy Crowell, and “Vet Box Demo” with Max Corcoran and Rachel Goth. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, the full lineup includes Peter Gray, Leslie Law, Sara Kozumplik, Lauren Nicholson, Buck Davidson, and more. Sounds like too much fun to miss out on? You can still sign up to audit at this link.

For those who aren’t lucky to be in sunny Florida this week, much of the event will be live streamed by RNS Video Media. Many thanks to Taylor Harris Insurance for providing the free live stream! Click here for the live stream link. All educational content will also be available to watch on demand after the event in the Ride iQ Library.

Tentative schedule of events: 

Tuesday, November 15:

  • 12:00 – 6:00 Arrival Exams Begin
  • 4:00 Jog Demo with Peter Gray, Jog Practice with Dorothy Crowell and Sara Kozumplik

Wednesday, November 16:

  • 8:00 – 10:00 Arrival Exams cont.
  • 8:00 Competitor Briefing, Cross Country Open for walking, Roads & Tracks open for hacking
  • 9:00 Dressage demonstration with Will Faudree and Peter Gray
  • 11:00 Ride-a-Tests begin with Debbie Adams for riders going Thursday
  • 12:30 Tour of A, B & C with Dorothy Crowell
  • 3:00 pm First Horse Inspection
  • 6:00 pm Welcome Party with “The A, B, C’s of a Classic Three Day” with Leslie Law

Thursday, November 17:

  • 8:00 am Dressage Begins
  • 8:00 am Cross Course walks begin for riders going on Friday
  • 10:00 am Steeplechase Demo with Kyle Carter
  • 11:00 am “Good Horsemanship Techniques” with Tik Maynard
  • 12:00 – 5:00 Ride-A-Test for riders going Friday with Debbie Adams
  • 12:00 – 5:00 Steeplechase Schooling with Dorothy Crowell for riders who rode Thursday
  • 12:30 – 1:30 2nd Tour of A, B & C
  • 6:00 pm Dinner with Sinead Halpin – “The Equine Connection and Communication”

Friday, November 18:

  • 8:00 am Dressage begins
  • 8:00 am Cross Course walks begin for riders going on Thursday
  • 9:45 am Vet Box Demo & Discussion with Max Corcoran and Rachel Goth from Peterson & Smith
  • 11:00 am Cross Country demo with Lauren Nicholson and Buck Davidson
  • 12:30 – 5:30 Steeplechase Schooling with Dorothy Crowell for riders who rode Friday
  • 1:00 – 2:30 3rd Tour of A, B, C
  • 6:30 Dinner with Mac Corcoran and Rachel Goth – “Horsemanship!!”

Saturday, November 19:

  • 8:00 am Endurance Begins!
  • 3:00 pm SJ Course open for walking
  • 4:30 – 5:30 “Riding your Three-Day Horse is Different” – SJ demo with Sara Kozumplik & Brody
  • 6:30 pm Boogie with the Band Competitor Party!

Sunday, November 20:

  • 8:00 amThird Horse Inspection
  • 10:30 am Omelets and Special Awards Brunch – Kyle Carter & Buck Davidson as MC’s
  • 12:00 Show Jumping begins

PSBE3D: [Website] [Schedule] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Live Stream]

“It’s About Time”: Team Silver for U.S. at Pratoni

Silver never looked so sweet. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Finally! A twenty year drought ended today for the United States as they won team silver at the FEI World Championships in Pratoni.

The influential show jumping phase decided the final team outcomes, but nothing was settled until the very last horses completed. The running tally was constantly changing — leaving us in the press tent to rely on quick math to figure just which nations would be on the podium.

The final tally of 100.3 gave the Americans that sweet, sweet silver.

Will Coleman and Off The Record. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

“It was a crazy day of competition. I can’t remember a last day of an event that had this much drama — it’s just wild. But you know, we just kept fighting, kept putting your head down and going in there and trying to keep as many rails up as we could and thank God we were rewarded for it,” said Will Coleman who was the best-placed of the U.S. riders.

He and Off The Record, the thirteen-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Arkansas – Drumagoland Bay, by Ard Ohio), were the only team members to jump clear today and finish seventh individually. “I’ve had him since he was four and it’s just kind of cool to see him go in there and rise to the moment,” he said.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Two rails ended Tamie Smith’s dream of an individual medal today, but as she said — this weekend was team above self, and the classy Mai Baum, who is owned by Alexandra Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, and Eric Markell  takes home a much deserved team gold.

“Our main goal is to medal for our team and our country and individual would have been icing on the cake, but it wasn’t to be so I’m just proud of my horse and proud of these guys and just super honored to be here,” she said. The Sixteen-year-old German Sport Horse gelding (Loredano 2- Ramira, by Rike) saw the front rail at five (the most influential fence on the course — read more about that here) and the penultimate oxer fall.

“I think that horse is unbelievable but it just is what it is. I’m proud of his fight galloped around with no shoes on half the course yesterday. So, the fact he jumped around like that was really impressive. I’m really proud of him. I obviously was initially disappointed — you know, you’re a competitor, but I came out and they said we got the silver and I was like, ‘Wait, what?’ Because so often you know you do that and you get knocked down. Yesterday was was a real test and you could see it in the jumping today,” she said.

Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Lauren Nicholson and Vermiculus, a fifteen-year-old Anglo-Arabian gelding (Sazeram – Wake Me Gently), owned by Ms. Jacqueline B. Mars, were initially the drop score for the team after cross country, but only two down late in the course (11a and 12) meant her final result of 90.86 counted toward the team effort.

“I’m not disappointed in him you know you obviously everybody wants a clean round but I think it’s a little bit like grading on a curve today. [Clear rounds] have been few and far between and you know, he really tries gets out in there and you know, he just kind of tipped those two that if caused loads of people problems at the end,” she said.

Still for Lauren this result is a dream realized at a major championship. “We’ve been working on for a very, very long time. And this is an amazing group and we’ve been supporting each other for the last couple of months and it all paid off,” she said.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Though Boyd Martin was disappointed with four rails down, he never stopped applauding the efforts of his partner Tsetserleg TSF, the fifteen-year-old Trakehner gelding (Windfall II – Thabana, by Buddenbrock), owned by Christine Turner, Thomas Turner, and Tommie Turner.

“It was the biggest, widest, most technical show jumping course I’ve ever seen it a championship. Poor old Thomas, it’s not his strongest phase. He jumped well and he ticked a couple of rails, but I was just relieved that it didn’t cost the country a medal. So I’m sort of half a bit disappointed with the round but just relieved and just happy and overjoyed that we finally pulled it off,” he said.

Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

You can hardly say the selectors made a gamble when sending Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan to Italy, the pair have four five-star completions at different venues, but hers was a new face on the team announcement, and the rising star certainly proved she was right choice.

Competing as an individual means Ariel sadly misses out on a team medal, but she was impressively the only American rider to finish on her dressage score for 11th individually.

“That was exactly what I wanted to do. He did get a personal best first five-star score. There was a 20 something in there and we’ll get that next year. But I couldn’t be happier with him to have finished on his dressage score. And that’s really all you can ask for, right?” she said.

The Canadian effort didn’t result in a podium finish, but a starting point for the team which is looking at this as a rebuilding phase. They finished in 12th place, which means they’ll have to find another route for Olympic qualification.

Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo were the top Canadian entry, though the did knock eight rails.

“I’m extremely disappointed — that was not the plan. I’ve been working really hard with Susie Hutchinson and Jolly has been jumping great. We’ve been doing jumper shows and you know, I think that course took a little bit of a toll on her yesterday with the terrain and hills. It has nothing to do with soundness or her age or any of that, you know, it’s a big track and I need to practice and get better. She didn’t feel tired, she just wasn’t as sharp as she normally is. She tries her heart out and I’ll give her a 10 for that,” she said. They end in 56th.

Holly Jacks and Candy King. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Four came down for Holly Jacks and the syndicate owned Candy King to finish 59th.

“I mean, always want to be better. But I think that as my first team experience, it was my young horse’s first team experience and I think that we’re coming out of it with the completed score that I want to improve for next time. I think he came out a more confident horse, and I’m definitely more confident rider and I’m proud of finishing,” Holly said.

As a first-timer at a major championship, this week stands as a jumping off point for her career and the Canadian High Performance program. “The group of people we have is amazing. And the team dynamics has been phenomenal. I think like five months ago, I couldn’t say a nice thing about where our sport was heading and I think these people come together and it’s been brilliant. I think we have the best group of people working for us and volunteering their time and having James at the EC office and it’s been a big, great thing for our sport,” she said.

Mike Winter and El Mundo. Photo by Shelby Allen

Mike Winter saw only one pole come down plus a second on the clock to finish 60th with El Mundo, the 13-year-old KWPN gelding (Numero Uno x Calvaro’s Bria Z, by Calvaro F.C.), owned by Jonathan Nelson, Emma Winter and the rider.

“He felt amazing, but it’s a horse that loves — well, he loves all three phases — so it’s me just making sure I make good pilot decisions and help him be as good as he can be. And stay out of his way when he needs to be brilliant for me, like today he was very, very good. I made a tiny mistake. I wanted a big jump into that long six stride so I could arrive at the double verticals shortening, but I maybe did that a little too much and had a very big jump in and then when I went to put the canter together, he arrived at the first vertical a bit hollow and maybe could have moved a bit of it to soften him down to that instead of taking both reins but you know, I have that problem of only seeing the negative in my riding but I enjoyed it a lot,” he said.

Dana Cooke and FE Mississippi. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Dana Cooke had to dig deep after a stop in the final combination, but she and FE Mississippi, a 12-year-old Württemburg mare (Cassini II x Liastra, by Legaat) completed for 67th place.

“That’s the most tired I’ve ever felt her show jumping. I think the track yesterday was tough. They were all tired and she definitely felt a little more tired than  I have ever felt before on her. And some of the strides I was seeing and the strides I was getting were not the same. But we got through it, we finished,” Dana said. “Honestly, it’s amazing because when I went to the Pan Ams, it didn’t happen  — I didn’t get to show jump, so it’s nice to finish a championship. It’s probably at the top of her game. For sure. So she did try our guts out, she was just a little bit tired.”

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Three Held, All Pass Final World Championship Horse Inspection

Lauren Nicholson and Vermiculus. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

All remaining  entries move forward after the final horse inspection at the FEI World Championships in Pratoni, though three pairs were held. We’ll see seventy-two in the forthcoming show jumping phase.

The Spanish entry Dunque HSM was the first held and then quickly passed at second presentation for Antonio Cejudo Caro. Thailand’s Uster de Chanay was also held, but went on to be accepted for Korntawat Samran. Mountbatton 2 was also held late in the order, but will continue on for Austria’s Dr. Harald Ambros.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

All five American pairs were passed, despite a quick burst of anxiety when the Ground Jury asked bronze medal positioned Tamie Smith to present Mai Baum a second time after a bit a a chaotic presentation. He was quickly through after a second trot, along with all four team members Tsetserleg, Off The Record, and Vermiculus, as well as Ariel Grald’s individual entry Leamore Master Plan.

Mike Winter and El Mundo. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The remaining Canadian contingent of Candy King, El Mundo, Jollybo and FE Mississippi have also all been approved to continue to the show jumping, though Hawley Bennett-Awad’s Jollybo was asked to trot twice for the Ground Jury.

Four combinations were withdrawn ahead of the final inspection: Jan Kaminski and Jard (POL), Jordy Wilken (NED) and Burry Spirit, Hanne Wind Ramsgaard (DEN) and Amequ Torino, and Ryuzo Kitajima (JPN) and Cekatinka JRA.

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The North American Report: U.S. in Silver Medal Position after Pratoni Cross Country

It’s been twenty years since the United States was on the podium at the FEI World Championships, but the foursome here in Pratoni has been hell-bent on making it happen again, and now as the sun sets on cross country day, the American flag stands in silver medal position.

Will Coleman and Off The Record bring back valuable intel for the U.S. as pathfinders. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Pathfinder Will Coleman set the tone — delivering a classy round with Off The Record just two seconds above optimum time.

“I thought he answered all the questions very confidently. You know, he’s kind of a bulldog out there. He takes a bit and he really wants to go but I was really pleased with just how, sort of almost arrogant he was out there. He was really strong and it was almost like he was telling me to ‘let me at a dad,'” Will said.

He’ll be 11th overnight with the 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse Off The Record (Arkansas – Drumagoland Bay, by Ard Ohio) on a score of (27.2).

“He’s not the fastest horse, to be frank. He’s a very efficient horse. And he’s quick, but he doesn’t necessarily have a tremendous gallop. He loses a bit of step as he tires. And, you know, I think he was really fit and I’m super happy with how he ran and I couldn’t fault him for anything. He did his absolute best,” Will said.

Vermiculus finds his way through all the flags for Lauren Nicholson. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Backed by course intel from Will, Lauren Nicholson was next out, with her eye on her watch. “I knew all the questions were there for him and it was more for me trying to hammer at the time from the get go because he doesn’t have a huge gallop. And just try not to — the more of the course for me was more about chasing the time than the actual fences,” she said.

Her five-star veteran Vermiculus delivered what was most important: a round with zero jump penalties. The two added 5.6 time penalties in the end, which removed their result from the team tally, but that just proves the depth the United States has brought forward — that a 32.7 after cross country is the drop score.

“It’s always a different kind of pressure riding for the team and you still want to be toeing the line of being gutsy, but try not to do anything stupid that’s going to affect the team. So I’m just very glad to have it done. And Coleman has it done and that takes a lot of pressure off,” she said.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Tamie Smith, who was third in the rider rotation, became the first U.S. competitor to catch the clock, finishing not only double clear, but in individual bronze medal position with Mai Baum. Tilly Berendt’s full report will share much more detail on the shining star for the Americans, but in the meantime, I’ll leave you with this: “I have an unbelievable magical unicorn and all three phases. He’s a horse of a lifetime and he’s made a lot of dreams come true. I will take care of him tonight. He felt great to the end, and I know his heart is as big as mine. So I know he’ll give me everything he has.”

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

A team score without jumping penalties was cemented by this point, but team stalwart Boyd Martin knows nothing at a championship is guaranteed, so he went around clear and bang on the optimum time with Tsetserleg TSF.

“I’ve been on these championship teams so many times and luck comes into it a bit,” Boyd said. “I’m just proud to be American. We hung in there and, you know, ups and downs, highs and lows, and we’re far from finished yet. We’ve got a massive day tomorrow and it’s good to have five clears.  It’s just a sigh of relief and I think in the past it’s been a bit of everything but today just seem to come together.”

Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

This may have been Ariel Grald’s first Championship, but you’d never have known it from watching her today with Annie Eldridge’s Leamore Master Plan. “I mean, this is this horse’s best phase,” she said, and it’s arguably hers too, and if you’d been following the pair, today’s result wouldn’t come as a surprise.

“This is my first horse at Advanced and four- and five-star. He’s gone overseas multiple times, and to be able to just keep producing. Honestly, being here isn’t any more pressure than I’ve ever put on myself before. Obviously there’s an extra support of the U.S. team and all that, but I always come to be competitive. But I do think being here in the World Championships was a bit of an incentive for me to take a risk. Because I’m gaining mileage too, I go to these big events and I’m like, ‘jump clear first, then try to be as fast as you can’, so I end up being conservative and then kind of hammering him home at the end. Today I was like, ‘what are we here for?’ My dressage wasn’t the strongest, but I’m gonna finish on it,” she said.

She didn’t simply come inside the time — she was the fastest rider of the day coming home with ten seconds to spare.

Hawley Awad and Jollybo lead the way for Canada. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Though Canada saw mixed results, their team result was improved to 12th place. Stalwart Hawley Awad is the highest ranking with the 18-year-old British-bred Sport Horse mare Jollybo (Jumbo x Polly Coldunnell, by Danzig Connection). She added 20.4 time penalties for 47th place individually.

“I was proud to go out first. For them to have that much belief in me to go around is kind of special. You know, to be on Jolly — she’s absolutely amazing,” Hawley said. “I lost my rein coming down the Slide. I literally came down the Slide with one rein. Any other horses would have run out and looked for an out; she went straight. And, you know, that’s why we give her carrots, right? You know, it’s just that bond and relationship I have with her.”

Holly Jacks and Candy King. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

A pin came down for Holly Jacks and Candy King at the entry to the coffin, and they picked up 32 time penalties for a two-day score of 75.4 for 59th place.

“Honestly like it’s probably one of the best rides I’ve had on him. I think it was set up for success where I had the uphill to kind of blow some steam off and I was able to let go and it’s been awesome,” she described. “I have to say, Matt Ryan’s been our new technical advisor and he was on the phone to my coach, Buck, a lot and it was just like having Buck here. So I think I’m really appreciative of having a new technical advisor come in who has spent the time learning how I need to learn.”

Mike Winter and El Mundo. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Mike Winter added penalties for deploying a frangible device and having a runout with El Mundo. The pin went on the triple bar at six and a surprising runout at 26b, a skinny brush, moved them to 65th place. Though he’s completed two five-stars, Mike thinks this track may not have suited the 13-year-old KWPN gelding (Numero Uno x Calvaro’s Bria Z, by Calvaro F.C.), but he shares the blame for the late 20 penalties.

“I think he was better than I expected in places and not as easy to ride in other places. He’d be a more a big parkland horse — like a Badminton horse or Burghley horse. I think this maybe didn’t totally suit him,” he said. “He was very, very good. He just at the end there got a bit strong and I probably made a miscalculation — it wouldn’t have taken much longer just to jump the other one. And but, you know, I listen, I’m lucky to ride him.”

Dana Cooke and FE Mississippi. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Dana Cooke ran into two issues around the track with FE Mississippi. They first glanced off the final element at the bottom of the infamous Pratoni slide, and then had another error at the sharp-angled brush coming out of the first water. She’s 70th on the leaderboard.

“I just got a little bit, that three rides so tight down the hill at the Slide there. And I just got there a little bit too close, unfortunately, and being on a long rein you don’t have as much kind of control where they’re going. We just got there a little bit too tight. And honestly, it’s the same coming out of the water. I just thought I was there, and again on long rein and left the door open and we had the runout. But everywhere else, she was awesome. She was a bit tired at the end, so I played safe at the end and took the long routes.  But otherwise, I’m pretty thrilled with her,” she said.

It was a long walk back for Karl Slezak, who retired Fernhill Wishes at the double of corners (fence 11). He rerouted to present to the alternate route, but “Chocy” had decided he’d had enough for the day.

“He just needs to get out, do more big events like this,” Karl said. “He was galloping really well, I think he just got to the top and if anything, he was eating up the distances almost too well. We got to the bottom of the Slide, and I thought he’s gonna leave in two. And at the top of the hill there, I think he got there on the kind of two-and-a-half, and just wasn’t really focused on it. So he just stepped out. And then I just couldn’t get his focus back after turning away from the crowd there.”

Want more Pratoni news? Head over to our Ultimate Guide to FEI World Championships for Eventing, and be sure to sign up for the #Pratoni2022 Daily Digest email, which will be delivered straight to your inbox each day through Sunday, September 18.

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Homegrown: Meet The Competitors Who Bred Their World Championship Horses

Belgium’s Lara de Liedekerke-Meier and Hermione d’Arville. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Bringing a horse along in the sport to the very top level is one thing, but breeding the event horse is an entirely other heroic effort. For three riders, dreams are realized this week as their homebreds are competing on the world stage at Pratoni.

Lara de Liedekerke-Meier’s Hermione d’Arville is one of many successful event horses from the hefty Arville Sporthorses breeding program in Gesves, Belgium.

The mare, Kyra du Relais Pachis (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Fleur de Chez Nous), landed in Lara’s stable as a one-off after she seemed to not take well to sport. “Her dam is quite a story. I received it from a breeder, which I worked for. And he said to be had some falls with her and he had always bad luck with the falls. And as I had a lot of fields in Arville why should I not try [to breed her],” Lara said. “And shed really nice breeding eventing, she has Kashmir [van Schuttershof], which is jumping with Heraldika xx behind which is Thoroughbred.”

The breeding opportunity from the stallion, Birkhof’s Royaldik,  also came about due to circumstance. Lara describes something of a trade as she was working for the breeder at the time.

The FEI World Eventing Breeding Championships at Le Lion was a goal Lara always had for this mare, but qualifications were missed by one too many rails show jumping qualification. “At seven-years-old she won [Strzegom CCI3*-L] just a week before Le Lion, so she didn’t go to qualify, but she proved that she was a good horse,” Lara said.

“And then at eight-years-old, she started four-star and she was really consistent, really reliable. You need to know her, she really doesn’t feel safe with a lot of horses in the warm up. So I had to know that but my daughter can hack around in the stables even hacking in the field at home. She’s the most polite and lovely horse I’ve ever had. I always loved this horse from the first time [I saw her]. I know her inside out.”

Sanne de Jong (NED) and Enjoy. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The striking grey KWPN Enjoy (Cartano x Next Joey, by Haarlem) is the pride of Sanne de Jong, who rides for The Netherlands. She and the thirteen-year-old mare grew up together in the sport.

“So I’ve had her my whole life — I’ve broke her in myself,” Sanne said. “I will say we kind of grew up together because I broke her in, and when I was a junior, she went to the young horse championships. Further, my first four-star, my first Nations Cup, last year the Europeans and now here.”

Enjoy is a product of Sanne’s family — her mother evented the mare’s grandmother.

“My mom used to event the grandmother. And then the mom was never meant for breeding, but she got an accident as young horse. She [went] blind in one eye, so then she became a broodmare, luckily,” Sanne said. “She’s, she’s given a lot of foals, and unfortunately, this is the last one. But I’ve written some brothers and sisters and they all have the same mentality — they love cross country and so does she.”

Hanne Wind Ramsgaard presents her homebred Amequ Torino in the first horse inspection. Photo by Tilly Berendt.Representing Denmark, Amequ Torino was bred by his rider, Hanne Wind Ramsgaard. Hanne is also an amateur and mom to a 3-year-old. Read more about her fairytale story at this link.

At 10, “Lillefisen,” who is by Tolouse, is among the younger horses in the field considering age and experience. He’s Danish warmblood out of another of Hanne’s horses, Stugaard’s Flying Colours (Cosmeo x Fabina, Prince Mab xx). Though this mare went on to compete in the sport, Hanne went with a gut decision to breed her before her first competition.

“You don’t ride them much when they’re three years old, so I bred a foal,” she said. “And then I went to the young horse championship on her when she was six, and that’s something about the mind because she already bred a foal, then she’s a year behind.”

This horses is something of a family pet for Hanne, who fits in riding at the end of the day after work. Lillefisen has a notorious soft spot for her son, Robin, and is calm enough for Robin to pony around the stable.

Want more Pratoni news? Head over to our Ultimate Guide to FEI World Championships for Eventing, and be sure to sign up for the #Pratoni2022 Daily Digest email, which will be delivered straight to your inbox each day through Sunday, September 18.

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A Mixed Bag: Riders React to Guiseppe della Chiesa’s Championship Cross Country Course

The straight route out of the water is directly out the other side and over a stiff challenge of angled brushes on a curving three-stride line. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

With 88 riders in total, a consensus wouldn’t be expected, but opinions of Guiseppe della Chiesa’s cross country course are all over the board. Some applaud it, others dislike it, but everyone respects its significance. EN’s Tilly Berendt has followed the Mad Hatter down a rabbit hole of comparative research of the track, which she’ll share in a forthcoming course preview, but in the meantime, check out what the riders have to say:


Boyd Martin: “It’s a pretty testing course, and World Equestrian Games — there’s always a lot of pressure. I think it’s a proper, what they call it a four-star that feels like a five-star course over nine minutes, fifty [seconds]. But like you said, I’m on a veteran. And he’s done bigger and badder and longer courses. So I’ve got some comfort knowing that he’s dealt with harder fences. But any jump you can make a mistake and it can all go wrong, as I found out at Tryon.

Tamie Smith: “I think it suits him perfectly. It’s a very riders type course — the horses need to be fast, but they need to be rideable. And he’s all those things, and he’s smart, and he’s brave, so I’m looking forward to getting out there.”

Lauren Kieffer: “It suits him. The jumps are big and it’s a proper championship track, and I think everybody expected that and planned for it. [Vermiculus is] very seasoned at this point, but hey anything can happen it’s cross country day, but I’m very confident in the horse I’m sitting on.

Will Coleman: “It’s a really intense track. So my job is to go out there and bring back some good feedback for the other guys. It’s a it’s a kind of a mongrel track, especially in the beginning, you’re just kind of weaving up and down these Pratoni hills. He’s not the most blood, but he’s a real fighter, and I think he’ll hopefully bring that same kind of Bulldog like attitude to the cross country.

Ariel Grald: “There’s plenty to do but the hills and the sort of terrain actually will suit him. So I’m excited to give it a crack and go as fast as we can and have a good round.”


Michael Jung: “I’m not so happy about the cross country because when you see and when you know the cross country place, it’s just a beautiful place. But it’s — he didn’t use the whole course, so he make it very twisty, many turns where you have to slow down and it’s difficult to find a really nice rhythm on this high level. So it makes it much more complicated. This is a very beautiful cross country place, but I didn’t like how he used to track. It’s very twisty and it’s not really to get a nice feeling around there, but maybe in the end is better to gallop, better to ride than I saw. But it’s just sad that he didn’t use the part [in the back] so you can have a really nice, open gallop.”

Julia Krajewski: “There’s a lot to jump out there, which will hopefully suit us, but of course it’s a proper test. It’s technical. It’s everything you want from a championship course. It offers quite some options, which you can take but they will spend too much time. I’m third to go [on the team], so I can watch quite a few and probably decide a few things then.”

From 24AB, the direct route goes to a beefy brush corner in the water at 24CD. Photo by Tilly Berendt.


Laura Collett: “We need to know our alphabet. It’s a proper championship track and yeah, I mean, I came here in 2005 for the Pony European, so I kind of knew roughly what to expect. Sadly it’s not gonna be a dressage competition. But yeah, I think from start to finish it’s full on. There was a lot of head scratching about, you know, when we first walked in, actually what the direct route was. There’s so many options. So that takes a lot of thought to figure it out.”

Yasmin Ingham: “It’s very clever. And it’s fun to have strong combinations — they come out throughout all the way until home really, so you’re definitely never off the hook. Mine can get quite strong, so I’m hoping that by the second hill he might not be trying to pull my arms out. So that’s that’s the hopeful. But no, I’m looking forward to writing it and I’m very pleased to be sat on my hands.”

Oliver Townend: “It looks like a very tough place to ride around in terms of the terrain. You’re always climbing up a hill, and a few places that you’d like to go a little faster he’s got a combination that you have to slow down for, so it’s gonna be an interesting day. A few too many things for my liking for cross country, it’s more like a show jumping course around a field but at the same time, very, very happy to be here. I always enjoy Giuseppe’s courses and technical questions.”

Tom McEwen: “The thinking rider will come out on top, I think, tomorrow whether it’s regarding horses, how they’re feeling underneath you, or how the course could change because even now [with all the] people that seemed to be walking the course, like walking up the water coming out the first water, I mean that bank is already broken up. I mean, it’s one of the first shows for a long time where there’s actually been eighty- eighty-plus horses in the class. So yeah, it’s gonna be by three-quarters of the day, it’s gonna look different I would have thought.”


Jonelle Price: “I think time is probably gonna be the biggest factor. You know, you’ve got to remember we’ve got such a high caliber field of horses here that I think, you know, no matter what you’ve built, they’re gonna make light work of it. You know, the British team — they’re the best in the world, those horses, and they’re all experienced five-star horses and this is nowhere near five-star track. So I think some of the horses are going to make light work of it. But you know, suddenly the hills and a lot of congested jump efforts will see the clock coming.”

Tim Price: “It’s a funny course because it’s perched on the side of a hill and it’s got all sorts of portable jumps stuck everywhere. So you know, I’ve just come from Burghley, which is one of the biggest, most beautiful courses in the world as we know, and it feels like it’s a little bit of a downgrade, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less difficult. The time is going to be extremely tight, that’s my forecast, and that’s gonna put a lot of added pressure on all the riders. Especially they’re trying to look after their teams.”

Amanda Pottinger: “I think I think it’ll cause a lot of problems but I think it’s probably cuz some of us are used to five-stars now. It’s a shame there isn’t a bit more galloping space.”


Andrew Hoy: The terrain that Giuseppe has put in I think is good. There’s a section in the middle that I just won’t go too quickly across where we’re running across the across the hill on [an angle sideways]. For me, that’s something that I just want to take a little bit of time with to make sure that I have a good and healthy horse when I finish.”


Holly Jacks: “It is absolutely beautiful. I think they’ve done a great job of asking proper championship questions, but they’ve put options out though that still ask the same questions in an easier manner to get everybody home.”

Dana Cooke: “It’s tough. It’s definitely not going to be a dressage show. Yeah, it’s there’s a there’s a lot to do out there. The combinations, I think, you know, he’s really used the terrain quite well on the camber of the ground. And so there’s there’s definitely going to be some, some tricky questions out there.”

Riders will do a wide, swooping turn back over an open trakehner at 23.

Karin Donckers (BEL): “A big course as always. I rode here last year in autumn also with Fletcha. It’s especially I think the ups and the downs in a 10 minute course. You have to ride clever from the first moment till the last moment. But it’s definitely will be no dressage competition. That’s for sure.”

Esteban Benitez Vallei (ESP):  “The [cross country is] very hard and long with the with the hills and so on — it’s gonna it’s not gonna be easy, and it’s not gonna be a dressage competition. But we have to feel how the horse is in that moment for every combination. Like the last combination of the water is a drop down and then a corner — it’s not [an] impossible combination, but I know that the horses will be very, very tired. We’ll say how, how much is rains. Luckily I am at the beginning of the of the class so the ground will be okay for me, especially on the number [the Pratoni slide]. I think after 30-40 horses it’s going to be very, very difficult in there.”

Astier Nicolas (FRA): “It’s not any more advanced [than you’d expect]. You can see that [where] a lot of the fences are pretty forgiving and pretty small or medium sized. But there are a few combinations that could do the job. It’s a bit twisty surprisingly with all the big cross country ground they have — [there is] never really a good place to gallop.”

Korntawat Samran (THA): “It’s very technical and goes up and down [hills] all the time. We just have to be careful with that. Our horses been prepared well, so I think the fitness will not be the problem for us.”

Fouaad Mriza (IND): “I would say it’s, it’s tricky. There’s a there’s a lot of alternatives, a lot of options. You can definitely get home, depending on what route you choose, but I think it’s about how much risk you want to take. If you really want to go there and give it a good shout or if you want to go in there  and just bring it home.”

Sam Watson (IRE): “I think I’d be I think we’ll be surprised by how many make the time could be could be over 50 and up towards 20 which will make it a very competitive cutting edge competition. And that might force more mistakes later on in the competition when people see that actually, you’ve got to gotta go out there and perform. That’s That’s what he’s asking. There’s a lot of a lot of shoulders for glance offs, which I think is the right way to, to ask questions these days.

“We need tomorrow to be important. It is the focal point of the sport. Like for me as a rider, and for other riders, other manages, no one wants to under play the course. No one wants to be complacent. As a rider, I know there’s no risk of that, like when I’m when I’m on the horse, I’m one hundred percent focused. So all the jumps are jumpable by themselves. It reminds me a little bit of Tryon — I think the quantity is what gets you.”

Want more Pratoni news? Head over to our Ultimate Guide to FEI World Championships for Eventing, and be sure to sign up for the #Pratoni2022 Daily Digest email, which will be delivered straight to your inbox each day through Sunday, September 18.

FEI World Championships for Eventing: [Website] [Definite Entries] [FEI TV] [ EN’s Ultimate Guide ] [EN’s Form Guide] [Live Scoring] [XC Order of Go] [Daily Digest Email] [EN’s Coverage]

U.S. Holds Bronze: Catching Up with the North American Contingent at Pratoni

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg power to a 26.2. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The United States of America is in bronze medal position at the conclusion of dressage at the FEI Eventing World Championships.

Tamie Smith is in fifth place as the best of the bunch and very much in the hunt for an individual medal with Mai Baum on a score of 24. You can read more about her day in our lunch report.

Team anchor Boyd Martin brought forward an individual mark of 26.2 with Tsetserleg TSF, who is owned by Christine Turner, Thomas Turner, and Tommie Turner, to help the U.S. stay in third place position.

“He’s such a trier, this little horse, and you know, he’s so reliable in there. He was a little bit quiet and backed off and I wish maybe I had one less ride so he was a bit more excited — but that that can backfire as well in these big championships when they get a bit nervous. All in all I was pleased, could always be better, could always be worse. 26 is a pretty good score though,” Boyd said.

“Thomas,” the 15-year-old Trakehner gelding (Windfall II – Thabana, by Buddenbrock), is a veteran campaigner for Boyd, and their partnership is rock-solid, which should play to their advantage on tomorrow’s intense track. Despite their five-star experience, Boyd said he won’t take a single fence — or the current team standing — for granted.

“[Bronze now] doesn’t mean anything. I’ve been on so many teams where I’ve been sitting pretty after the first day, and after the cross country, I think, is when the competition really starts,” he said. “I think it’s a proper, what they call it a four-star that feels like a five-star course over nine minutes, fifty [seconds]. But like you said, I’m on a veteran. And he’s done bigger and badder and longer courses. So I’ve got some comfort knowing that he’s dealt with harder fences. But any jump you can make a mistake and it can all go wrong, as I found out at Tryon.”

The time will likely already be influential, but even more so for Boyd who currently shares a three way tie for 14th place with Tim Price and Ros Canter.

Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan enjoy a magical championship debut. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Ariel Grald was the first U.S. rider in the area this morning. Competing as an individual, she and Annie Eldridge’s Leamore Master Plan gained invaluable championship experience in this weekend’s pressure cooker, but the level-headed debutant rose to the occasion to score 32.5 for 50th place.

“I’m just happy to be here and the horse has worked pretty well this week. He is a bit exuberant and gets a little nervous. He tries really hard, but dressage is not his strength, and he does worry a little bit. So my main goal was just to go in and keep him with me. And I think for the most part, he really did that,” Ariel said. “Obviously, the competitive rider in me wants to go in there and knock it out of the park, but this is not his strength, and we’re just building each time and getting a little better every year. So that’s all you can hope for.”

Ariel has been an injection of fresh talent to the top of the U.S. program, and to see her at a major championship is a huge success story for her and all her supporters. “I tried to just keep pausing and looking around and soaking it in because as a rider, it’s so easy to just sort of get laser-focused and put tunnel vision on and so I just kind of try to keep taking a breath and looking around. I just have great teammates and I’m really, really honored to be here with all of them. I’m learning a lot and enjoying it,” she said.

Holly Jacks is the best-placed Canadian aboard Candy King. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Two Canadian pairs came down the centerline today to produce the teams best two dressage scores. Holly Jacks is the top placed of them in 49th place on a score of 32.4 with Candy King, a horse who she nearly had to sell last year. Fortunately for her (and team Canada!) friends rallied to form a syndicate to let Holly keep the ride.

“I was really proud of him. He went in their and definitely felt the atmosphere a little bit and sucked back with the crowds, but as the test went on he thought about what we were doing and came back to me. He’s a young horse and exciting for the future and this was a great experience,” she said.

Ringside with Holly is longtime dressage trainer Tom Dvorak. “I cracked a joke last year that if this horse was on the World Championship team that he would come, so as soon as I got he call I called him. It’s great not only to have his support as a coach, but as a person, too.”

 Canada made it here to Pratoni thanks to the efforts of the ‘Pratoni, Let’s Go!’ fundraising efforts, which were headlined by a major contribution from Kelly McCarthy-Maine and Shane Maine. “You finally have a horse ready for a Championship and you hear we might not send a team… to have all these people come forward to help us, you kind of keep waiting for something bad to happen because you can’t imagine how exciting it is. It’s a dream come true. I hope this horse learns a lot here, and in two years time he’ll be a fabulous horse for Paris,” she said.

It is absolutely beautiful. I think they’ve done a great job of asking proper championship questions, but they’ve put options out there that ask the same kinds of questions to get everybody home.

Mike Winter and El Mundo. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Mike Winter will be the team anchor as the final rider aboard El Mundo, who is owned by Mike, his wife, Emma, and Jonathan Nelson. He’ll hold 58th position overnight on a score of 33.3, which, he admits, was higher than he had hoped.

“I just don’t think it’s fulfilled my potential or his potential rather, but you know, it’s happened,” he said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with him and our whole High Performance team, I just would like a bit more I from myself.”

The Britain-based rider has been a vocal advocate for representation and diversity within the sport — as well as promoting awareness of human rights issues outside of it. This week, he rides with a lapel pin honouring Canada’s First Nations, designed by Kwakwaka’wakw artist Curtis Wilson. It’s part of a push for a unified Canada that sees indigenous peoples enjoy the same rights and representation as their compatriots.
“I think it’s really important that sport is involved in social action and picking the causes that are important,” says Mike.”Our sport is wonderful but we’re not always engaged with diversity and equality issues. The pin I’m wearing represents the role that First Nations play in Canada. It’s important that we recognise Canada’s history of wrongs in the building of the country and how still today, that affect the human rights of those indigenous people. There are opportunities in equality — things like clean drinking, water, education, health care. I think those things need to be talked about, and being Canadian, if I can do a small bit to make people aware of then, I hope that helps.”

As a team, Canada is 14th on a score of 100.5.

To catch up with the rest of the North American riders, check out our Thursday report.

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Friday Pratoni Lunch Report: Tamie Smith Throws Down the Gauntlet, Britain Bests A World Record

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum are the best of the Americans. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Stars and stripes, baby! Tamie Smith put an American flag in bronze medal position during the Friday morning session of the FEI World Championships at Pratoni with Alex Ahearn, Ellen Aheard and Eric Markell’s Mai Baum.

A disappointing bobble in the first medium trot wasn’t the first impression Tamie was hoping for, but nothing could derail her steely determination. That combined with “Lexus’s” dreamy, correct way of going — and several nines in the canter work! — gave the pair a result of 24.

“I think he just tried a little bit too hard and you can’t fault him for that. He doesn’t have the best medium trot — I’m pretty sure that’s the best medium trot I had before I cantered, but I think he was pretty spot on everywhere else so I’m really proud of him,” she said. “I do feel like it was better than Badminton. And he’s in much better self carriage and relaxation — really most of it was all brilliant. Just unfortunate to have that one little mistake but you try to go for it, and you know, it’s a 24, so I’ll take it.”

Mai Baum is right at home in the championship environment. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Pratoni is the place for dreams to be realized for Tamie and the 16-year-old German Sport Horse (Loredano 2- Ramira, by Rike), who came tantalizingly close to a major championship appearance as traveling reserves for the U.S. last year in the 2020 Olympic Games.

“Going to Tokyo last year really gave me some experience just being there. So you try to categorize it and just another horse show, but it is a team competition — it’s the World Championships, so it feels awesome. It’s been a lifelong goal of mine to be here, and to be on that horse is extra special because I think he’s one of the best in the world,” Tamie said.

With final combination Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF still yet to come, the U.S. is in silver medal position (77.5) at the lunch break only 6.4 points behind Great Britain.

Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Britain’s Tom McEwen suffered a misstep similar to Tamie’s in the first medium trot, but earned marks back with his strong canter work to put a 25.6 on the board for tied fourth place, shared with New Zealand’s Monica Spencer and Artist. Partnered with the Pau CCI5* winner Toledo de Kerser, Tom was the third to go for Great Britain’s powerhouse squad, putting them in gold medal position on 71.1 points — a new world record for lowest World Championship team score after dressage, overtaking Germany who held the previous record of 73.4 in Tryon.

“I would say overall Badminton would have been a higher quality, a better frame, probably been a little bit better rhythm, but I’m really pleased with him,” he said of the 15-year-old 15-year-old Selle Français gelding (Diamant de Semilly x Ariane du Prieure II, by Papillon Rouge), who he thinks was on more of a disadvantage having the first phase on footing. “It’s always been the case that he’s — for whatever reason, he loves the grass and on the surface he can just every now and again go a little bit like this. So yeah, looking forward to next two phases on grass and with him,”

Julia Krajewski looking smart in her German Sport Army uniform with Amande de B’Néville. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Reigning Olympic gold medalist Julia Krajewski is in striking distance of an individual medal as the best of the Germans to come forward so far. Her Tokyo partner Amande de b’Neville, an 11-year-old Dutch Riding Horse mare (Sir Shutterfly – Zaramba, by BMC Kigali), owned by Svobodova Adela, looked every bit the professional, and Julia said, it was just the test she intended to have.

“I said I want to be around 25 and we managed that,” she said, and they are just a hair north of that on a penalty score of 26.

“It’s not her favorite thing to go in the white rails. It’s a very long test. Lots of twists and turns but yeah, she was she really kept herself together. she I think she did amazing extended trot extended canter. I think the flying changes were good. The halts were quite good for her.”

Competitors from all nationalities lined the arena for the Tokyo legend, but Julia is too cool a customer to be affected by outside pressures. “To be honest, actually [the pressure is] even less because I mean, before last year, people were actually waiting for me to do not good and you always had to prove yourself. And now, well, I have that in the back and I’m trying to enjoy it a bit more. But still, of course there’s pressure and you want to do well, but heaviest thing is off my shoulders since last year, to be honest,” she said.

Kevin McNab and Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam. Photo by Tilly Berendt.A five-star personal best of 25.7 puts Kevin McNab in sixth individually and the top Australian so far. The 14-year-old KWPN Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam flourished in the championship atmosphere as if he knew exactly when to put forward his best work.

“He went in then he grew a little bit, which worked for me,” Kevin said. I haven’t had a clean change from right to left today. So he saved them for in there — that it was good.”

Jonelle Price goes for a championship PB in the first phase with McClaren. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

New Zealand’s Jonelle Price delivered her best ever Championship dressage test (26.1) with McClaren for eighth place as it stands.

“It’s crazy to think that at the age of 15, I’m just getting him where I want him. With how his life journey has been, you know, he’s been a frustrating horse because I’ve felt like I’ve made progress but not been able to reflect it in the marks. And as I walked out, I really didn’t know if I was on 31 for eighth time this year, but it wasn’t until I saw the board I was able to breathe a sigh [of relief],” Jonelle said of David and Katherine Thomson’s Holsteiner (Clarimo x Toni 1, by Landjunge). “He’s a cheeky little bugger, and his body has probably developed in a less than ideal way, so trotting a straight line is quite difficult. Some things that other horses have naturally from from day one, he hasn’t had.”

OTTB power! Shenae Lowings and Bold Venture make their World Championship debut. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The last of the morning session to sneak into the top ten is ex-racehorse Bold Venture, piloted by Championship debutant Shenae Lowings. The Aussie rider, who is competing as an individual here in Pratoni, earned a 26.3.

“He’s pretty consistent in this phase. I had a few little blips in the first movement, but got ourselves back together and he executed the rest of the test really well, so I’m really happy with him. He’s not a normal Thoroughbred, he is a bit of a warmblood when it comes to dressage. You’ve got to kick him along a bit. He definitely could be affected by atmosphere, but he manages to block it out. And then as soon as the job’s done, he’s like ‘I’m done!’ and he realizes everyone’s around,” Shenae said.

We look forward to many potential game changers to come forward in our final afternoon session, including Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH, Boyd Martin and Tseterleg, and more. Keep it locked here.

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The North American Report: United States in Bronze Position, Canada 13th After Thursday at Pratoni

Will Coleman and Off The Record. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

At the conclusion of day one, the United States is happily in bronze medal position with scores coming forward from Will Coleman and Lauren Nicholson.

Will Coleman leads the team effort in the morning session with Aachen winner Off The Record (Arkansas – Drumagoland Bay, by Ard Ohio), owned by the Off the Record Syndicate. The Ground Jury of Christina Klingspor, Peter Gray, and Christian Steiner awarded the pair a 26.4 as the best-placed Americans as it stands.

“I thought my horse tried very hard today and I’m very happy with him,” Will commented. “I thought we just squeezed every point out of it that we could. When he came out this morning, that’s sort of what was my mentality was: to see if we can ride as clean a test as we can, and leave as few penalties on the table as we can. And I think we did that. And so in that respect, I’m happy and I don’t know if there are any highlights in it, but it was clean and relatively mistake free.”

Pathfinder place comes with a great deal of responsibility for a team that is eager to qualify for the 2024 Olympics, but Will’s up to the challenge. “It’s a tough job. I’ve been first before, I’ve been last before in some instances, so I think we all have the same sort of approach that we want to go out and execute and just give our horses the best chance of coming home clear. And with as few time penalties as possible,” he said.

A championship is all about putting team above self, and the Americans have certainly prioritized that here in Pratoni. This lot has been consistent in their aims of the first phase: a good score without taking any major risks that would jeopardize their team result. Lauren Nicholson spoke of this following her test Thursday, “I was happy put down a good score for the team. That was our job not to go in there and do anything amazing. Just try not to mess it up.”

She and Ms. Jaqueline Mars’ Anglo-Arabian Vermiculus (Sazeram – Wake Me Gently) sit seventh on 27.1, an improvement from their 4*/5* average which is 29.6.

“I think everyone kind of knows the Arab can throw in some moments, but it did not aggravate the Arab and he did quite well in front of the crowd and he does love a big moment. He’s always best at a bigger competition,” she said. “The judges want to like him — they always have even when he’s been naughty, but when he’s not naughty he just goes in and is very workmanlike.”

While Lauren won’t be the first U.S. rider out on course Saturday, she has been a wealth of knowledge for the team due to her attendance of the test event here on foot in May. You can read all about her thoughts on the venue at this link.

Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo lead the way for Canada. Photo by TIlly Berendt.

Canada is thirteenth in the team rankings after performances from the first two members. Hawley Bennett-Awad is the pathfinder for the Maple Leafs with her longtime partner Jollybo (Jumbo x Polly Coldunnell, by Danzig Connection). The British-bred mare owned by the Jollybo Syndicate earned a 34.8, which is just a hair above her 4*/5* average of 33.7.

“She was a good girl. You know, she’s not the flashiest horse around, but she tries her heart out,” Hawley said. “It’s unfortunate she cantered out of that first halt, but it didn’t affect her for the rest of the test. You know, she’s a little worker bee. We tried to climb our way back with the scores [after that] but it is what it is, and I don’t think it’s going to be dressage show, and if I can end somewhere near that score, by the end of the weekend, I’ll be thrilled.”

Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Karl Slezak came next with his own and Kirk Hoppner’s Fernhill Wishes (Chacoa x KEC Galway Bay, by Gildawn Diamond). Similarly to their compatriots, “Chocy” floated just north of his usual performance at this level on 37.8.

“I was pleased with him. He was very good. We’ve been working hard on all the flat work and especially the changes,” he said. “Unfortunately the changes weren’t perfect today but we got the last one which I was happy about.”

It will be a steep climb to a medal for Canada, but they’ve got a track record for such a massive effort. In 2010, the team clawed their way to team silver after starting in ninth place after dressage.

Dana Cooke and FE Mississippi. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Canada’s Dana Cooke, who is competing as an individual, was the final North American to take the centerline. The stylish FE Mississippi carried her to a penalty mark of 34.3 for 28th individually. “I wish were a little more forward but in all honesty, she went in she put a good consistent test and she think everything was clean and accurate,” she said.

It was a last minute call-up that brought her to her championship debut as she was subbed in for Colleen Loach and Vermont, but Dana prepared year-long for such a chance, even relocating to Ireland this spring in her efforts.

The remainder of the North American contingent comes forward tomorrow:

  • Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan 9:38 a.m. local/3:38 a.m. eastern
  • Holly Jacks and Candy King 10:41 a.m. local/3:41 a.m. eastern
  • Tamie Smith and Mai Baum 12 p.m. local/ 5 a.m. eastern
  • Mike Winter and El Mundo 3:19 p.m. local/9:19 a.m. eastern
  • Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF 4:38 p.m. local/10:38 a.m. eastern

Want more Pratoni news? Head over to our Ultimate Guide to FEI World Championships for Eventing, and be sure to sign up for the #Pratoni2022 Daily Digest email, which will be delivered straight to your inbox each day through Sunday, September 18.

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“If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It”: Pratoni Is A Fairytale for Hanne Wind Ramsgaard

Hanne Wind Ramsgaard and Amequ Torino. Photo by Shelby Allen.

No one had more fun during their dressage test at the FEI World Championships for Eventing than Danish amateur rider Hanne Wind Ramsgaard. Her megawatt smile stayed stretched ear to ear from the first movement to the last in their championship debut.

Her partner here in Pratoni, Amequ Torino, is one she knows very well as she bred him herself. He is a Danish Warmblood, by Toulouse and out of  Hanne’s former event horses, Stugaard’s Flying Colours. Hanne bred the mare when she was three, before her competitive career began, but despite being a year “behind” due to foaling she still completed at the FEI World Eventing Breeding Championships as a 6-year-old.

“You don’t ride them much when they’re three years old, so I bred a foal,” she said. “And then I went to the young horse championship on her when she was six, and that’s something about the mind because she already bred a foal, then she’s a year behind.”

Hanne Wind Ramsgaard and Amequ Torino. Photo by Shelby Allen.

They earned a 45.1 in the first phase. “Dressage is definitely not his favorite discipline, but he was very sweet in there actually. So, yeah, I’m very pleased with him. We’re still working on it. He’s a young horse, and he’s actually doing his first five-star program ever, so I’m really pleased with him.”

Though this is her first time representing her country in a championship, Hanne is no stranger to top level competition, having gone through the five-star level with previous ride Vestervangs Arami. There’s much to be said of anyone who has the mettle for the top of the sport, but even more so for those few amateurs who climb those ranks while managing a job outside of horses. As Hanne is not rider full time, she must train in the saddle around work, where she is responsible for maintenance in schools, having trained as a carpenter. “I do maintenance work in kindergartens — fixing desks, fixing everything!” she said.

Hanne Wind Ramsgaard and Amequ Torino. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Hanne hails from Denmark, a nation without much of a robust eventing scene. She and her compatriot, Mia Hastrup, have both traveled as individuals, but without financial support from a national federation, they elected to team up and fundraise their efforts. They gathered corporate and grassroots support through their social media page.

“Eventing is not the biggest sport in Denmark, but it’s growing,” she said. “And if we want the sport to grow… we’re not coming here to win the medals. We need to show that this is actually possible. If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Want more Pratoni news? Head over to our Ultimate Guide to FEI World Championships for Eventing, and be sure to sign up for the #Pratoni2022 Daily Digest email, which will be delivered straight to your inbox each day through Sunday, September 18.

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“Our Job is to Put A Team Score on The Table”: North Americans Weigh in on World Championships

Ariel Grald gives Leamore Master Plan a cuddle after presenting for the USA. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

It’s all systems go for the United States and Canada as they prepare for the dressage portion of competition at the FEI World Championships for Eventing. We unfortunately saw a premature end for the stateside-based partnership of Daniela Moguel and Cecelia, but the ten remaining North American competitors have their blinders on now for a top performance.

Ahead of the start of the dressage phase, EN catches up with friends from back home for their thoughts on the event, their prep and all things Pratoni:

Bobby Costello

“Chef Bob,” as he’s known to some, is at the helm for the stars and stripes in his role as interim Chef d’Equipe. He’s been given a uniquely challenging role, to oversea an operation as massive as Olympic qualification in such a short term role, but Bobby’s taken to the role with pride.

“I think it’s a mixture of giving everybody the latitude to continue with their own programs, because that’s what got them here, but there’s so much structure that has to happen around this competition,” he said. “So I think it’s just all been about building the trust from the riders over the last few months.”

Riders for the most part have stayed true to their teaching and training principles, and Bobby’s made it his mission to achieve team cohesion amid that.

“I think I think our time in France was time really well spent. Because everybody really started to relax into the weekend in a positive way. And I could just feel the focus improving every day, and almost, actually, the relaxation. I think when you go into when you go into a training camp like that, when you’re used to riding tons of horses a day, and then all of a sudden having one horse to ride, there’s so many other things that can come into your mind. And I thought everybody just did a good job as the week progressed, really just focusing and relaxing, and concentrating on the things that were really important. I think they’re all in a really good place, mentally,” he said.

Of course, top form is what matters most for the team at the end of the day. “What really counts now is starting tomorrow through Sunday. And we’ll see, we’ll see. But everybody’s feeling very positive. I think we have a very good shot at doing well, if we just kind of keep doing what we’re doing and, and not get distracted. And I think the riders have been showing that they’re not going to let any distractions get to them this week.”

“I mean, the priority does have to be an Olympic qualification. But I’ve said, and I’ll say it again, a quarter of a step behind that, as far as I’m concerned, is medaling because we have the horses and the riders to do that now. And not two to six years from now, right now. So Olympic qualification is absolute, but hot on the heels is a medal because these guys deserve it,” he said.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg 

“It’s been a trip to the horses from great meadow to JFK to Frankfort to Vittel. And as he’s getting older, I think the key is to drill him less and less in preparation for good performance. So I’ve tried to leave him quite fresh. And his energy levels get quite high and looks like I’m going the end of the day on Friday. So I had my first workout on the flat today and he felt good. I’ll do a bit tonight here and give him a little jump tomorrow. I think he I think he should do a good test,” he said.

Boyd has been cemented as team anchor, so he’ll be the final team member to leave the start box Saturday. “It’s an unbelievable amount of pressure and nerves. And it seems glamorous, but it’s, you know, it’s a tough process just because you’re really trying to do every single thing you can for top performance. The biggest thing here is to ride really, really well and and give a performance of a lifetime — something that keeps you up at night.

“We’re close now — certainly crunch time — but I feel like we’re in a good place and it’s maybe it’s getting a little bit easier over the years because you sort of understand the process, but it’s still nerve racking process.”


Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus 

“He’s right where we want him,” Lauren said of the Anglo-Arabian.

“Vittel was amazing, and they were so welcoming to us. And it was perfect place to prepare but very quiet for the horses and they got to kind of stick to their normal at home routine, so it’s not like they’re gone traveling as much.” Lauren describes their French team training with such idyllic detail, she made us wish we had joined along.

The facilities included steeplechase tracks, competition arenas and a grass jumping arena, which should lead to their advantage come Sunday. “They really had anything we could want,” she said. And of course, the cherry on top was conditioning work along the facility golf course. “I think a lot of people saw the videos of us galloping on the golf course, and I’m not sure that golfers loved it, but it was perfect for us,” she said.

Lauren and Bug have been around the world together, and that wealth of experience helped in the planning for this Championship. “I think it’s always toeing that line of, you know, you want to do your best ever, but you also have to keep it realistic knowing that our job is to to put a team score on the table,” she said.

“It’s also preparing the best way for the horse and being competitive, but not drilling them past the point of their abilities and actually going the wrong way with the competitiveness. So, I think everybody’s found a really good balance of that. And with the training camp everybody really stuck to their normal plans, what they know works for their horse, and it was really cohesive group in that way. Like, nobody felt like just because someone was jumping, they had to jump that day. We all really stuck to what we would normally do with our horses leading up to a three-day, which I don’t think has always been the case in the past.”

Canada’s Karl Slezak presents Fernhill Wishes. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes

“[The lead up] has been great. He’s been has been in England all summer, and I’ve been going back and forth,” Karl said. “Chocy” has been based at Rodney Powell’s farm where he says, “the hills have been phenomenal for him.”

He’s also taken the summer to rethink their dressage performance with the help of Alex Franklin. “We’ve been changing his shape a little bit. And so I’m hoping it’ll peak this weekend, but maybe, maybe. We’ll see.”

Canada’s Hawley Bennett Awad shares a moment with 18-year-old Jollybo. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo

Hawley, a west-coaster based in California, says Jollybo has settled in pleasantly following their lengthy journey.

“It was a long haul from California. We flew with Apollo Equine, and flew from L.A. to Belgium and then stayed in the Netherlands. We stayed there for like five days, and then drove to Germany picked up Holly Jacks, and then drove from Germany to here, which was 32 hours — such a doozy,” she described.

“We’ve been here for about a week, [based just up the road at Italian eventer Mattia Luciani’s farm], so they’ve had a chance to settle. It’s hands down so nice — his whole family. It really gives me goosebumps — the nicest people I’ve ever met in my entire life. And his dad’s actually the vet here. So it’s really cool, and we love it so much. I really could move here. [I’m] blown away by the people the food and how beautiful it is.”

For Hawley, the tropical weather and ground conditions feel like home. “With the ground being dirt and it being hot, I think it’s good for us West Coast kids. It was it was 116 degrees when we left, so heat won’t bother us. But I mean, the first half, of course, is pretty hilly, so I think it’s going to be a true test. And it’s a World Championship course. Nothing’s easy when you put World Championships in front of it. So I’ve walked the course I think it’s gonna be tough,” she said.

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Three Held, One Withdrawn at FEI World Championships First Horse Inspection

Daniela Moguela and Cecelia. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The field has thinned by one after the first horse inspection at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Pratoni, Italy.

Dramatics swirled at the start of competition with three horses send to the hold box. The Ground Jury asked Joystick, the Swedish entry for Aminda Ingulfson, to trot up twice before being held. Ballypatrick SRS, Ruy Ronseca’s entry for Team Brazil was similarly held along with Daniela Moguel and Cecelia for Mexico.

Aminda Ingulfson (SWE) and Joystick. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Both Joystick and Ballypatrick were accepted upon second presentation, but sadly Daniela elected to withdraw from the hold with her mare Cecelia.

Ending the competition before it has even begun was an especially rude gut punch for Daniela who supported nearly her entire trip over through fundraising.

“I tried to put her in a bubble wrap, but you know things always get out of control. These horses pick the right timing,” she told Rick Wallace and Jon Holling on their podcast in the leadup.

“Two weeks ago the girl who was going to come with us to groom, she quit. So two weeks ago I was groomless. And then the farrier put a hot nail on Cecelia so she was soft for more than a couple of days. Almost a week. And then finally we put the shoe back on and the first night she goes out she gets cast in the pasture and she has a puncture on her shoulder. And this is ten days before the games.”

Daniela posted after the trot-up that Cecelia had come down with a bout of cellulitis in her left hind leg this morning. “We gave her everything in our power to help her feel better, and she is feeling better than she was this morning, but I think we always think about the best for our horses and she is the most important part of our team,” she said in a video update posted to her social media. Daniela says she’ll have a new plan sorted soon, so stay tuned (we think you’d just love France, Danny!)

Posted by Daniela Moguel on Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Sam Watson (IRE) and SAP Talisman. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Additionally, Sam Watson’s entry SAP Talisman and Mélody Johner’s Toubleu de Rueire were feeling the Championship air and acting quite wild, so the Ground Jury asked them for a second trip down the jog strip. Neither were held, though, and breezed through on second attempt.

Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

All other North American pairs happily skipped through. The United States retains its full line up of Ariel Grald with Leamore Master Plan, Tamie Smith with Mai Baum, Will Coleman with Off The Record, Boyd Martin with Tsetserleg, and Lauren Nicholson with Vermiculus. 

Canada, who is third in the draw order, also brings forward five members including: Holly Jacks and Candy King, Mike Winter and El Mundo, Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes, Hawley Bennett-Awad and Fenrhill Wishes, and Dana Cooke and Mississippi. 

Countries will shortly announce team and individual competitors, so stay tuned as we bring you that news + more from Pratoni.

FEI World Championships for Eventing:[Website] [Definite Entries] [FEI TV] [ EN’s Ultimate Guide ] [Daily Digest Email] [EN’s Coverage]



Touchdown in Pratoni! Sights & Sounds from Sunny Italy

Sanne de Jong (NED) and Enjoy. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Chinch is jet-lagged and hungover, but he’s buzzing to be at the 2022 FEI World Equestrian Games in Pratoni. There’s a very laid-back vibe around the park, and if you ignore the still-growing trade fair, you could be fooled into thinking this is any other four-star. Fortunately, that’s just the thing these top athletes need early in the week — time and space to settle in for the challenge ahead.

Antonio Cejudo Caro (ESP) and Duque HSM. Photo by Shelby Allen.

On Tuesday, the main dressage arena was open for schooling. Countries filed in and out throughout the day while grooms took horses for a snack in the grassy surroundings.

The event, which hosts horse trials year-round, has a convenient set up with all the mainstays (media center, food, trade stands) only a quick walk from the arenas. You can even see the cross country start and finish from the grandstand where dressage will take place starting Thursday.

Mai Baum (USA) shows the hacking path from the stables. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Just up the hill from the main competition zone are the stables, making the venue easily accessible for busy grooms, who have accommodations onsite. Officials gave the cross country course their final nod Tuesday afternoon, and teams swarmed the Pratoni hillside throughout the morning to get their first peek at Saturday’s challenge.

The competition officially gets underway today with the trot up taking off at 1:30 pm local (7:30 am eastern). The official team order was drawn yesterday with Germany assuming pathfinder duties.

The first horse inspection will not be live streamed, but you can follow our live tweeting of all the action here. In the meantime, take a gander around the Pratoni paradise we’re enjoying this week.

FEI World Championships for Eventing:[Website] [Definite Entries] [FEI TV] [ EN’s Ultimate Guide ] [Daily Digest Email] [EN’s Coverage]

Monday Video: All Hail Jumping Royalty Henrik von Eckermann & King Edward

All hail Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward, newly crowned as the best show jumpers in the world after earning individual gold at the  Agria FEI World Jumping Championship. Henrik is the first Swedish rider to ever claim an individual medal at the world championships.

Already ranked the best jumper in the world on the FEI World Rankings, Sunday’s performance solidified this pair’s place in history. Not to mention their team gold clinched for Sweden just a few days earlier. Take a look at their nail-biting final round:

Go jumping.

Nicolas Beshear Turns Up the Heat in CCI3*-S + More from River Glen Summer HT

Photo by Shelby Allen.

Nestled along the Holston River in eastern Tennessee, River Glen welcomed riders from starter through intermediate level this weekend for their August event.

Running for over 30 years, River Glen has been a labor of love for Bill Graves and the loyal community that always steps up to support their local event. In 2020, the event saw a five-year dream of hosting International competition come to fruition with the running of their first FEI classes, helpfully filling a gap in the late summer calendar. This year they made another addition with a modified level.

The aftermath of summer storms at River Glen. Photo by JJ Silliman.

The success of the weekend didn’t come without its challenges as quick-moving summer storms plagued the show schedule nearly every day. Despite this, and the flood that descended on the arena during Saturday’s show jumping, the event worked double time to keep the event on track.

Nicolas Beshear and Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Nicolas Beshear is going on something of a hot streak, winning the CCI3*-S aboard the striking grey Rio de Janeiro. This is a new partnership for the 19-year-old, and though this is the pair’s first season together, this is their second win at intermediate, their first being in the Open Intermediate at Loch Moy last month. This weekend the duo finished on a 36 after adding just 1.2 cross country time penalties and one pole down in the show jumping.

A few errant time penalties scooted Lindsay Traisnel from her overnight lead with Patricia Pearce’s Bacyrouge. They finished in second with a score of 37.6. Third place went to Keirsten Miller with her own Mama Mia on a final result of 39.7.

Sharp Decision (top) ridden by Elisa Wallace. Photo via Elisa’s Facebook Page.

The CCI2*-S was claimed by Elisa Wallace with the Susan Day’s Sharp Decision who finished on a score of 28.4 with only one extra second on the cross country added to their score. Hannah Warner maintained her lead in the CCI1* from start to finish with her own Drombane Dynamite.

Many thanks to the River Glen team for a successful event. Go eventing.

Click here for results.


Ms. Poppins, Ventura de la Chaule JRA Euthanized at Bramham International

Allie Knowles and Ms. Poppins drop into the first water at Bramham.  Photo by Tilly Berendt.

We are very sad to report that two horses, Ms. Poppins and Ventura de la Chaule JRA, have been euthanized during the CCI4*-L cross country at Bramham International Horse Trials.

Katherine O’Brien’s Ms. Poppins, ridden by USA’s Allie Knowles, retired on course between fences. The mare was transported back to the barn via horse ambulance where the decision was made to euthanize “as a result of irreparable injuries.”

“Poppy,” an 11-year-old Westphalian (Congress x Copa Cabana) started her eventing career with Allie in 2016 and the German-bred mare continued to climb with the Kentucky native, making her Advanced debut in 2019.

Allie released the following statement:

“I am heartbroken to report, after sustaining a traumatic injury on the gallop near the end of what had been an amazing course at Bramham International, my wonderful horse Ms. Poppins has been euthanized. After several opinions from top vets and surgeons, our team decided the most humane decision for her was to let her go. Everyone one at AK Eventing loved this little mare, and she will be missed dearly by me, grooms, and her owners, Jim and Katie O’brien.”

Allie and Poppy recently helped Team USA finish second at the Houghton Hall Nations Cup. Since then, they have been based with J.P. Sheffield, from whom Allie sourced the mare for owner Katherine O’Brien.

Toshiyuki Tanaka and Ventura de la Chaule JRA. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The Japanese Equestrian Federation’s Ventura de la Chaule JRA was also put to sleep after a fall with Toshiyuki Tanaka at fence 7B, the Bramham Leap. Toshiyuki was uninjured in the fall.

The 13-year-old Selel Francias (Diamant De Semilly x Hand In Glove), who was placed 16th after the first phase, was 7th in the order on cross county this morning. This was the Japanese rider’s first season with the gelding, who was previously ridden by Nicolas Touzaint and most recently compatriot Atushi Negishi.

The Bramham Leap was a skinny arrowhead followed by a ditch and brush at the B element. After a number of issues the entire combination was eventually removed from the course.

Bramham International: [Website] [Schedule & Orders of Go] [Live Scoring] [Saturday XC Live Stream] [EN’s Coverage] [EN’s Instagram]