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Gerlinde Becker Rides Out the Storm in Thrilling AEC BN Master Amateur Championship Finale

Eventing Nation’s coverage of the 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships is brought to you by Kentucky Performance Products. We want to share the joy of eventing this week, so we invite you to nominate an AEC rider for our “Kentucky Performance of the Week” contest, happening now in partnership with Kentucky Performance Products. Learn more here.

Gerlinde Beckers & Roscommon Fagan. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photo.

The AEC Beginner Novice Master Amateur division has been putting a little tear in our eye all weekend with inspiring and emotional stories that represent the heart and soul of our sport. Each competitor worked hard to get here, tactfully played the cards they drew, and will be able to look back on the championship event with a well-earned sense of pride.

The score board’s contents got dumped into the blender on Sunday, as show jumping catapulted some combinations up and others down. A few fewer than half the division turned in a double-clear round and were justly rewarded. Our winner, Gerlinde Beckers and her own Roscommon Fagan, jumped from 5th to 4th to 1st over the course of the weekend. Area VII adult rider Michelle Cameron Donaldson and Danny Boy, the 20-year-old big red draft cross that captured all our hearts, did a 7-5-2 climb, and Stephen Fulton and DB Cooper sailed to a double-clear third place finish.

Gerlinde Beckers & Roscommon Fagan. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Show jumping isn’t typically the strongest phase for Gerlinde and her 17-year-old Connemara gelding (Balius Malachi x Lasrachai’s Blue Oak Dunlaith), but Roscommon Fagan pulled out the stops to post a clear round at the AEC and win on a final score of 28.5.

“I always have a rail, so I just figured it was coming. I am fairly new to the sport of cross country and frankly jumping terrifies me,” laughed the primarily FEI dressage rider. “When I acquired this gelding, his breeder gave him to me because she wanted him to have a good forever home, and I didn’t want him at the time but I am honestly so grateful because he has given me so much confidence and made this fun for me.”

The trek to AEC was not one Gerlinde was even sure was possible until the middle of the week. Her private farm in Independence, Louisiana was one of many affected by hurricane Ida and she refused to leave before the storm had passed.

Gerlinde Beckers & Roscommon Fagan. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photo.

“It wasn’t until Wednesday morning that I even decided to make the trip because I had to see if the roads would be clear enough to get a horse trailer through,” she explained. “My husband is still at home doing things like filling generators and keeping the farm operating and my daughters ended up coming with me to help here so I am really just so grateful to everyone who made it possible to even get here.”

The day was doubly special for Gerlinde whose daughter, Kalie Beckers had just received the third-place honors in the Beginner Novice Horse division with her self-produced mare Calla GBF.

“My daughter competed in Young Riders for many years so I have walked her down the ramp to the Rolex Stadium many times; for her to be the one walking me down that ramp was incredibly special,” she said tearfully.

Michelle Cameron Donaldson & Danny Boy. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photo.

An emotional victory was also had by Livingston, Montana resident Michelle Cameron Donaldson and her 20-year-old Percheron gelding Danny Boy. Cameron Donaldson sat tied for fifth place but she and her long-time partner pulled off a storybook finish to overtake the reserve position on 29.9. The gelding gave the performance of his life for what Cameron Donaldson says was one of his last events; according to her, Danny Boy is Kentucky-bred and she felt it would be poetic for his final few performances before retirement to be held at the iconic venue. Cameron Donaldson had a late start to her riding career, only picking up the sport in 2011 and spending a portion of her time in the hunter/jumper discipline before switching to eventing.

“I had wanted to event for a while but there were certain aspects of it that made me think I would never be able to,” she said. “One day a very good friend of mine pulled me aside and said to me ‘you are good enough to do, now go find yourself a horse’ and so I began looking.

“I only rode Danny for about 20 minutes and I just knew he was the one,” she recalled. “I have been so blessed with the best partner and team around me; I am just so grateful to everyone that has been part of this journey and encouraged me to keep going even on days I wasn’t sure I could do it.”

Stephen Fulton & DB Cooper. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Stephen Fulton of Full Moon Farm based in Finksburg, Maryland rounded out the top three with his own 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding DB Cooper. The pair skyrocketed from seventh to third place in the final few moments of the division as they crossed the timers without penalty to end with their dressage score of 30.0.

Stephen, originally a jumper rider in his earlier years, switched to the eventing track when he met his wife who was already competing in the sport at the time and now functions as the farm’s trainer.

“I have been competing in this discipline now for about 35 years, and my wife also competes, and my daughters ride so it’s really wonderful to be able to enjoy the sport as a family,” he said. “We have been to the AEC about 10 times at least and we just love it. To be a part of this event at Kentucky Horse Park has been so cool, I have always said that one day I wanted to ride in the stadium and see my name on that giant Rolex billboard and now that vision has come true.”

The TIP award for the Beginner Novice Master Amateur division was won by Emily Slaven with her 10-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Leelanau x President’s Woman) Senator Lee.

Brandy Snedden & Peaches and Cream finished 4th. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Brandy Snedden & Peaches and Cream. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Molly Adams & Caletto’s Symphony finished 5th. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Molly Adams & Caletto’s Symphony. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Molly Adams & Caletto’s Symphony. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Renee Senter & Regina finished 6th. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Meredith Hunter & Classic Imp finished 9th. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photo

Penny Welsch & Mr. Poppers finished 10th. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Massive congrats to all!

USEA Beginner Novice Master Amateur Final Top 10: 

#AEC2021: WebsiteScheduleStablingRide TimesLive ScoresLive StreamProgramLive StreamCourse MapsEN’s CoverageTwitterInstagram

Day Four at #AEC2021: Advanced/Modified/Training Show Jumping, Novice XC & BN Dressage

Eventing Nation’s coverage of the 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships is brought to you by Kentucky Performance Products. We want to share the joy of eventing this week, so we invite you to nominate an AEC rider for our “Kentucky Performance of the Week” contest, happening now in partnership with Kentucky Performance Products. Learn more here.

Friday was another busy-bee day at the USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds, with Advanced, Modified and Training champions being crowned, Novice cross country underway, and Beginner Novice dressage on the books. Here’s a recap of the action!

The podium celebrations in the $60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final. KTB Creative Group Photo.

$60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final 

Boyd Martin came to the 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds looking to defend his 2019 $60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final title and while he succeeded at the goal it wasn’t with the same mount. However, Martin’s victory lands him in the history books as the first rider to win the AEC Advanced class two times on two different horses.

After leading the dressage with Long Island T, Martin fell from him on the cross-country. He then returned and jumped a clear cross-country round with On Cue – déjà vu from the 2021 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. Martin started off his week in eighth place with Christine Turner’s 16-year-old Selle Francais (Cabri de Elle x On High) mare but moved up to fourth after adding only 6.4 time penalties to his dressage score of 27.3.

Boyd Martin and On Cue. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Bobby Murphy’s show jumping course under the lights in front of a packed Rolex Stadium proved very influential to the top of the standings and when Buck Davidson lowered a pole on both his second and third-placed mounts and the overnight leader, Fylicia Barr, dropped two rails, it opened the door for Martin and On Cue to take the win and a check for $30,000.

“To be honest, coming into the show jumping phase tonight I didn’t think I was going to win,” Martin said. “There were plenty of good horses and riders ahead of me and it is a very high-pressure event.”

Boyd Martin and On Cue. KTB Creative Group Photo.

The mare is one that Martin is no stranger to riding the victory gallop with, having come in the top-placed American horse at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day event earlier this year.

“I am just thrilled with On Cue, she is everything you dream of in a horse— she’s a mover, she’s a galloper, she’s sensitive, she’s elegant, she’s bright, and I’m just blessed to have her, she’s been on fire this year,” he said.

“I think the AEC this year has been incredible,” he continued. “It is an awesome venue, and the competition was stiff with several good competitors jumping clear just before me, but it is a brilliant event and I can’t thank the USEA enough for putting it on.”

Doug Payne and Quantum Leap. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Doug Payne and Quantum Leap made a steady climb up the leaderboard throughout the competition starting in 14th and ending in the reserve position.

“He’s a special horse,” Payne commented of his 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Quite Capitol x Report to Sloopy) who he has produced since he was a yearling through the USEA Young Event Horse program. “I think he is an incredible athlete and I’m beyond excited for the future. I’ve got to echo Boyd [Martin]’s in that I think this venue is one of the best in the country, and for the future of this sport.”

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Following a successful finish in the Bates USEA Preliminary Horse division the day before, Liz Halliday-Sharp and another Cooley Farm sourced mount, Cooley Quicksilver, rode for ribbons as the final of the top three finishers.

“He just keeps getting better,” Halliday-Sharp emphasized of the now 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Womanizer x Kylemore Crystal) gelding. “He loves a big atmosphere and I think I also got a little excited about the crowd; when I finished tonight, I got a bit excited like ‘wow we have a crowd again’.”

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver. KTB Creative Group Photo.

“This is actually my first AEC event as I have been in England for so many years,” finished Halliday-Sharp. “It has been so much fun, and to be able to have it here at Kentucky Horse Park has been an incredible opportunity for all of the horses and riders to get into these iconic rings.”

While Davidson’s rails dropped him off the podium he still finished in fourth with Jak My Style, a 16-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Kathleen Cuca, and fifth with the Carlevo LLC’s Carlevo, a 14-year-old Holsteiner (Caresino x Ramatuelle).

Boyd Martin’s groom, Stephanie Simpson, shares a moment with On Cue. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Advanced photo gallery from Shannon Brinkman:

Julie Wolfert and Namibia receiving the Modified Trophy in Remembrance of Ashley Stout. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Vetoquinol USEA Modified Championship

The inaugural Vetoquinol USEA Modified Championship at the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds decorated its first champions Friday morning with professional Julie Wolfert leading the pack aboard Namibia.

The Bucyrus, Kansas native guided her 5-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Tizway x Kitty Tracks) to top placings throughout the entire three-day competition and never gave up their first-place score. After earning a 25.2 in the starting dressage phase, the two were tidy and timely over both cross-country and show jumping phases to finish with only their first score.

Julie Wolfert and Namibia. KTB Creative Group Photo.

“One out of 1- times will this horse usually go completely clear in the show jumping so I am thrilled today was that one,” Wolfert laughed. “He really stepped up to the plate today and despite the fact that he did get a little influenced by the environment, I felt like he was listening well and almost grew wings out there!”

She was also the first recipient of the Modified Trophy in Remembrance of Ashley Stout. The trophy honors the memory of the late junior rider Ashley Stout who passed away tragically in a cross-country schooling accident in 2019 alongside her partner, Avant Garde. Ashley won the Junior Beginner Novice 14 and Under Championship in 2017 and had plans to move up to the new Modified level the year of the accident.

“I feel really honored to be the first to receive such a meaningful award,” Wolfert stated. “I want to give a big hug and shout out to that family and tell them how sorry I am for their loss but their way of honoring her is just beautiful and a lot of horses and riders are going to benefit from this new level.”

Namibia, who raced under the name Katchup Tiz and won $6,165 on the track, was the winner of the TIP award with his finish of 25.2 while Finntastic took the reserve of the TIP for the division.

Martin Douzant and Beall Spring Seahawk in the awards ceremony. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Reserve ribbon honors were received by Martin Douzant and Beall Spring Seahawk as they added nothing to their dressage score for a finish on 28.5. Douzant has built a long-standing partnership with Thora Pollak of Beall Spring Farm in Maryland and has successfully campaigned many of their home-bred Swedish Warmbloods. Just the previous day, Douzant was again in the winner’s circle with another Beall Spring Farm offspring, Olympus.

“These horses exemplify what we are looking to produce in our program,” Douzant explained. “We have a great relationship with the farm to help start and develop all of their young horses and it has been a long, trustful relationship.”

Both his top mount from the Preliminary Horse division and Beall Spring Seahawk have been under the tutelage of Douzant since the young age of 2 years old.

“Both myself and Thora [Pollak] are very excited to have two horses doing so well at this level,” he confirmed. “We are grateful to have such quality horses as wonderful representations of the bloodlines and the farm.”

Heidi Grimm Powell and Finntastic. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Amateur competitor Heidi Grimm Powell made her mark against the professionals as she and her 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (A.P. Prime x Faith Tested Raye) Finntastic leapt from sixth to third place to round out the top three. Powell was also the recipient of the Highest Placed Adult Amateur award for the division.

“Finn is just amazing and has come so far even though he had a bit of a rough start,” Powell gushed. “He has had so much heart right from the start but was very insecure and I am lucky enough to have had some fantastic trainers and coaches to help me bring out the best in him.

“I am just so happy to have been able to take this journey with him because this has been a new experience for me as well,” she added. “This is the highest level I have reached as well, and being able to be up here at the very to[ with these two professionals is very humbling, I am so pleased.”

The Highest Placed Young Rider award went to the fourth place winner Caroline Dannemiller aboard Fernhill Dreaming.

Training Riders Take Home Championships

Training Rider: Equine Veterinarian and amateur competitor Katie Sisk steadily rose up the ranks over the course of the Training Rider division to overtake the previous leader on the final day of competition. Sisk navigated her homebred mare Long Legs Lenore around the stadium course flawlessly to wrap up with a 30.7.

The victory is one uniquely special for Sisk who bred, delivered, and developed the 5-year-old Hanoverian mare (Rapture R x Demonet’s Darling) herself at her home base of Carthage, Missouri.

“I am so incredibly proud of her, she is amazing,” Sisk gushed. “We were able to qualify for this at the very last minute and this was only her fourth Training event but we have had so much amazing help from my coach Julie Wolfert.”

“This is my hobby but I try to dedicate as much time to it as I can,” she continued. “I wake up most mornings at 5:00 a.m. to ride before I have to go to my appointments and I am just so proud that all of the hard work has paid off today.”

Training Amateur: Lisa Niccolai was the first to don a champion ribbon as competitors in all divisions of the Training sections took to the Rolex Stadium for their final phase. Niccolai piloted the 7-year-old Zweibrucker gelding (Kharacter C x Tessa) KC’s Celtic Kharacter around Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course without fault to advance from second to first place on the second day of competition. The young horse then rose to the occasion to cross clean and efficiently through the timers of the show jumping phase for the win on 27.6.

“Honestly, we almost did not come this weekend because of some issues at home and then the hurricane, so I am beyond thrilled that we did in fact stick to our plans,” Niccolai emphasized.

“I’m speechless,” she continued. “I came with the goal of just finishing our event, and there have been a number of times as we’ve been walking around the property that I just couldn’t even believe we were here. So even more so for us to win at this point of our career, it is just an amazing experience I will always treasure.”

Training Horse: The top three combinations in the Training Horse division Lauren Lambert, Lauren Nicholson, and Lynn Symansky, all produced incredibly consistent results over the course of their three-day event to keep their individual podium positions from start to finish. Lambert had the peak dressage ride, finishing on a score of 24.3 in the opening phase with Elizabeth Rader’s Biscotti. Flawless performances across cross-country left the pair on their opening score for the champion ribbon.

“Things have really clicked for him over the past few months and he is beginning to feel more comfortable in his own skin,” Lambert described of the 9-year-old Rheinland Pfalz-Saar gelding (Benidetto x Hey Nurse). “He has only been competing in eventing for about a year, and before that he was showing in the jumpers which is where Mike Huber found him, so we thought it would be ideal for him to start seeing new venues.”

Lambert credits owner Rader with much of the gelding’s experience as she is an integral part of his weekly training.

“Elizabeth is actually the one who rides him during the week and takes lessons on him and I am on the ground teaching,” Lambert explained. “However, she does not have any desire to show so I am fortunate enough to get the ride on him and AEC has been a goal for us since the beginning of the year.”

Junior Training: The trip all the way from Fallbrook, California was well worth the effort for Shelby Murray who proved unbeatable in the Junior Training division. From the start, Murray led the chase for the championship title with Laurel Ritter’s 9-year-old Oldenburg mare (Rotspon x Chatari) Reverie GWF producing a respectable dressage score of 22.0 and only added 0.4 time penalties overall for a finishing score of 22.4.

The win was Murray’s sixth of the year. “She was just truly awesome,” Murray gushed. “She was extremely bold cross-country and very confident in show jumping as well. She put on her game face and did everything I asked so I couldn’t be happier with her.”

The pair trekked across the country the previous week and debuted only their second time on grass turf. “We competed in Montana last month and that was both of our’s first time riding on the grass, but if anything I think she rides a bit better on it,” Murray explained. “I couldn’t ask for a better horse, our partnership has blossomed so much over the past year.”

Beginner Novice Gets Underway

Beginner Novice competition at the 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds got underway Friday morning with six divisions taking over the numerous dressage rings set up across the Kentucky Horse Park. Competitors of all ages from across the country put their best foot forward for the judges, with one Beginner Novice competitor receiving a score of 18.5 which is officially the lowest score of the 2021 AEC.

Jane Musselman and Engapore. USEA/ Meagan DeLisle Photo.

Novice competitors donned their safety vests and sported their favorite colors as the sun rose over the cross-country track Friday morning. With the first of six divisions kicking off at 8:00 a.m., the famous head of the lake saw rider after rider through later in the afternoon. While there was some shuffling of placings, the overnight leaders from dressage in each division held onto the coveted top spot upon the conclusion of their cross-country tests.

Novice Rider

Jane Musselman and Bentley’s Best. USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo.

A clear cross-country ride inside the time was just the ticket for Jane Musselman. She’s still in the top placing of the competitive 53-entry USEA Novice Rider Championship aboard Bentley’s Best.

Hauling in from Louisville, Ky., Musselman competes often at the Kentucky Horse Park, but this week is a different ball game. “It’s great to always to be able to show at the Horse Park, but you know it’s a totally different experience [during AEC]. Everything is just bigger and grander and all the competition and it’s pretty special,” she said.

The 14-year-old Trakehner gelding boasts an impressive 24.2 going into the final phase.

Less than two points behind the overnight leaders, Nancy Z. Wilson, of Flat Rock, N.C., and Lagerfeld, a 10-year-old German Sport Horse (Last Man Standing x Bonja), went penalty-free today to stay on 25.6 points.

Madeline Bletzacker, Galena, Ohio, stepped into third place with Drummer Boy on a score of 26.6. Her 13-year-old Hanoverian (Don Principe x Winterzauber) added nothing to his score on Friday.

Novice Master Amateur

Jane Musselman and Engapore. USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo.


Jane Musselman is two-for-two. She’s leading two championship divisions for the second day in a row. Her Engapore tops the USEA Novice Master Amateur Championship.

The 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Engapore (Singapore x Orize) stands ahead of the pack on a dressage score that carries no additional penalties of 26.

“[Bentley’s Best] is very strong. He likes to run, actually both of them are pretty, pretty much the same cross country — very bold and they like to go fast so I have to be very mindful of the time at this level.,” Mussleman said.

Darlene Walters, Franklin, Ind., and Concord Dawn, a 12-year-old Thoroughbred (Smart Guy x Della Street) stepped up one position to hold second overnight on a score of 26.6. Making the trek from Santa Fe, N.M., Jennifer Achilles rounds out the top three on 26.8 penalties aboard Excel Star Lance, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse by ​​Lancelot who was sourced by Courtney Cooper.

Junior Novice

Mia Brown and Duke HW. USEA/ Meagan DeLisle Photo

California native Mia Brown is now in a two-day lead of the Junior Novice Championship on the impressive score of 22.3. Partnered with Duke HW, her 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Delatio x Stella Girl), Brown, she finished double clear thanks to a tack change in warm-up.

“This was only my second time riding him on the grass, and the first time using studs in warm-up. He actually felt stickier than he usually does because we were both getting used to the amount of grip the studs give us. So I ended up putting on a small pair of spurs, and I think it really helps both of us just get a little quicker off the ground,” she said. “He came like super forward to everything. I was a little worried about the terrain, but it ended up helping us a lot because it made him sit down on his hind end, so I put my leg on and it was super bold to all the fences.”

They have a rail in hand heading into Saturday’s finale.

Ava Stevens and Two Against The World, a 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Reputed Testamony x Black Orchid), sit in second place. Past AEC Champions, these Indianapolis, Ind. natives are on their dressage score of 27.6.

Partnered with her own Peter Pan, Cincinnati, Ohio’s Zoe Hagedorn is third. She and the 6-year-old Holsteiner (Connor x Wanda PP) are also sub-30 with a score of 28.2.

Junior Novice 15 & Under

Margaret Frost and Euro Star. USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo.

Margaret Frost, a 15-year-old from Newnan, Ga., galloped easily around the Kentucky Horse Park to remain in control of the USEA Junior Novice 15 & Under Championship.

“Don’t take anything for granted,” was coach Julie Richards’ advice before Frost went on course, and that’s exactly what she did to go clean with Euro Star, her 12-year-old Warmblood gelding (Qredo Van De Kempenhoeve x Panama).

“[The Head of the Lake] I felt was just super fun. I mean, he was a little spooky going in but he just fared everything so well,” Frost said. “He just listened to me perfectly. He was just on his game. And he didn’t look at anything.”

Laura Voorheis and Sally Smedley maintained the top three as well, holding on to second and third place, respectively. Voorheis is on a score of 30.7 with Herbst, a 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Aldato x Miss Beckett). Smedley is partnered with Golden Ticket CR, a 13-year-old German Sport Horse (Danny Gold x Stutbuch 1), on 31.2 points.

Novice Horse

Adalee Ladwig and Argenta MSF. USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo.

Lexington, Ky. resident Adalee Ladwig swelled with pride after completing the USEA Novice Horse Championship cross country with Argenta MSF, a horse she produced herself.

The 8-year-old Hanoverian mare (Jesper x Callie) went double clear to keep her dressage score of 27.

“It’s pretty much a dream come true,” Ladwig said. “I love eventing so much, and be able to do it with a horse that you brought up yourself. It’s so rewarding.”

Hailing from Poway, Calif., Chloe Smyth and Michelle Donaldson’s 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Breitling x unknown) Byzantine SC made easy work of the Novice cross-country track to remain on 28.3 penalty points. Team Holling LLC’s Fernhill Copain, a 5-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Corico Z x De Zazoe VH ST Anneke) also stays in third place with Jonathan Holling, Ocala, Fla., in the irons. Their dressage result of 28.8 carries on to the final phase.

Novice Amateur

Cecilia Emilsson and Blazing Angel. USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo.

Sitting in first after dressage isn’t an unusual scenario for Cecilia Emilsson and Blazing Angel, her own 8-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Firecard x Angliana). The duo have gone into the second phase of competition in the lead at several events in the past, but with the second-place pair just one point behind her, Emilsson was feeling the pressure before her warm-up began.

“My nerves have been wracked the entire day. She felt absolutely phenomenal in the warm-up so I felt confident, but also a little terrified to mess up. It felt really good. There was a lot of pressure! She is a really good girl and is really brave!”

After a successful warm-up, Emilsson felt confident in the start box and had a plan in place – a plan that was almost spoiled when Emilsson’s watch froze at the three-minute mark while on course. “I looked down at my watch and thought to myself, ‘why is my watch stopped at minute three?’ I knew that I was fast, so I really tried to pace myself coming in, but I wasn’t sure when I crossed the finish if I ended too fast.”

Emilsson’s trainer Julie Penshorn of Sunborn Stables in Chisago City, Minnesota, laughed as she recalled the time glitch, “She was going really fast! She was probably running at 440mpm, she was close to Training speed! Thankfully, she really slowed down!”

Emilsson and the Blazing Angel will go into show jumping sitting on a two-phase score of 21.1. The remainder of the top three in the Novice Amateur division remain unchanged after cross-country with Kai Bradley aboard Diamonds Forever, her own 9-year-old Hanoverian mare (Donar Weiss GGF x Whizzo) sitting in second on a 22.5 and Samantha Schwartz and Rumble Fish, her 15-year-old Quarter Horse gelding (Pure Pauli x Miss Diamond B Okie) rounding out the top three on a 28.1.

Novice show jumping gets underway at 7:30 a.m tomorrow.

Erin Buckner and Picassi. Xpress Foto Photo.

Beginner Novice competition at the 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds got underway Friday morning with six divisions taking over the numerous dressage rings set up across the Kentucky Horse Park. Competitors of all ages from across the country put their best foot forward for the judges, with one Beginner Novice competitor receiving a score of 18.5 which is officially the lowest score of the 2021 AEC.

Junior Beginner Novice

Erin Buckner of Buckhead, Georgia, and her 17-year-old gelding, Picassi (Paparazzo x Lady Lily) put forward an impressive display to score an 18.5 for the early lead in the Junior Beginner Novice and earn the only score in the teens in the AEC this year.

“He just loves dressage, I think that is by far his favorite phase,” Buckner detailed. “He perked up immediately and was so bright but relaxed at the same time; he just did great.”

When asked about his low-penalty score, Buckner simply stated she thought the gelding’s attitude was the winning ticket.

“I think his whole demeanor was really the key, he just went in there wanting to work and wanting to please.

“We originally bought him for my sister but when she stopped riding I took over the ride,” she continued. “We started over some very small stuff like tadpole jumps and have just been taking our time moving up.”

Scarlett Peinado of Aubrey, Texas and the 11-year-old American Warmblood mare (Carrington x unknown) 50 Shades of Envy followed suit with a score of 21.6. Elkhorn, Wisconsin resident Abigail Haydam and the 7-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Noteworthy x What A Tattle Tale) C-Note added on 0.7 faults to round out the top three lineup.

Beginner Novice Horse

Kristine Burgess and Marisol. Xpress Foto Photo

Hugo, Montana’s Kristine Burgess displayed fancy footwork with her 5-year-old Trakehner mare Marisol to emerge victorious in the dressage phase of the Beginner Novice Horse division with a score of 25.5.

“We actually purchased her as a mount for my mom but because she is only 5 I have been putting some riding and training on her for now,” Burgess said. “We weren’t necessarily looking for another horse but the minute I saw her I sent the link to my mom anyways because she reminded me so much of the mare she already had that she absolutely adored.”

“We basically ended up buying her off a video,” Burgess laughed, “but she has already exceeded our expectations. She takes on every challenge and wants to figure it out and do the right thing.”

Laura Kosiorek-Smith of Hanoverton, Ohio and Crissteen Miller’s 7-year-old Canadian Warmblood mare (Schwarzenegger x Garcia) Star Quality CSF took to second place after dressage with a penalty of 28.00. Kalie Beckers and her own 6-year-old American Warmblood mare, Calla BGF (Carush x unknown) put their best foot forward to finish with 28.3

Junior Beginner Novice 14 & Under

Laura Voorheis and Hillcrest Hop. Xpress Foto Photo.

All the way from New York, New York, Laura Voorheis put forward her best fancy footwork with Hillcrest Hop, her 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Dilshaan x Queen Judy) for a first-place score of 27.1

“He is definitely my youngest horse at the moment but it has been so fun to watch him develop since buying him in December,” she commented. “He’s always been a bit feisty but he was phenomenal in the test today. His canter work has gotten a lot stronger over the past few months so I think that was one of our best movements today.”

Crestwood, Kentucky’s Larkyn Hendren showed some things really do get better with age as she waltzed into second place with her 20-year-old Arabian mare, Sandy with 29.0. Carolyn Wheeler’s 14-year-old Sport Horse mare Karisma and Maisy Sullivan added only 0.9 penalties to Hendren’s score to finish third.

Beginner Novice Amateur

Cami Pease and Vibrant. Xpress Foto Photo.

Cami Pease, Washington, D.C., leads the way for the USEA Beginner Novice Amateur Championship. She earned a respectable 24.8 with Vibrant, her 21-year-old Belgian Warmblood (Orlando x Fatima Van De Heffenk). These two are no strangers to the top of the leaderboard, they won the Beginner Novice Amateur Championship in 2018, and they’ll rely heavily on that experience in the coming jumping phases.

Emily Nichols, Greenfield, Ind., piloted Galway Girl, her 9-year-old Thoroughbred (Trifecta Scott x Blues Muse) into second place on a score of 26.3. Third place belongs to The Plains, Va.’s Sophie Ann Stremple on a dressage result of 27.3 with Dolly, the 15-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Shannon Davis.

Beginner Novice Rider

Susan Goodman and Cinna.

It’s been 23 years since Susan Goodman, Wickenburg, Ariz., competed at the Kentucky Horse Park, and she made her return a memorable one, leading the USEA Beginner Novice Rider Championship after dressage on a 26.8.

“We did the long format, [now CCI2*-L] three-day event here in 1998. So I did get to ride around here and do the roads and tracks and steeplechase, and that was very fun,” Goodman said. “That was kind of my bucket list thing. And then I really, several years ago, I lost my older horse that I had ridden for a long time, and thought, ‘I’m done. I’m not gonna ride anymore.’ And then these girls came up with this boy for me.”

The 9-year-old draft gelding, who was picked out by one of Goodman’s daughter’s students, turned out to be the perfect fit for Goodman, who at 73 is the second oldest competitor this weekend.

“I’ve had a lot of fun on him. I’ve just, I’ve just taken it real slow. And I haven’t evented for a long time, but I’m now in my 70s and so I just have this new-to-me horse, and we’re just having fun,” she said.

Second place in the division belongs to Purcellville, Va.’s Leigh Wood and Dollar Mountain, her own 16-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Forestry x Formal Tango) on a 27.1 and Katherine Rutherford of White Heath, Ill. with Amazingly Lucky, her own 13-year-old Paint gelding sit in third on a 27.8.

Beginner Novice Master Amateur

Penny Welsch and Mr. Poppers. Xpress Foto Photo.

The 2021 AEC is also somewhat of a renaissance for Penny Welsch, who leads the USEA Beginner Novice Amateur Championship after dressage on a score of 25.1 with Stuart Brown’s Mr. Poppers, a 13-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding.

“It’s been almost 40 years since I evented,” Welsch, from Ocala, Fla., said. “ I never thought I’d ever step foot on this ground with a horse. You know, I just evented as a teenager, you know, and not big time then either. It was the small stuff up in New Jersey. So this is a dream come true.”

Renee Senter, Overland Park, Kan., is the second-placed rider aboard Regina, the 14-year-old Holsteiner (Regulus x Nellina), on a score of 27. Just behind on 27.8 is Amy Winnen, Rochester, N.Y., and Galatea HU, a 15-year-old Rheinland Pfalz-Saar (Galant Du Serein x Rohmanie), on a score of 27.8.

Now that dressage is over for the Beginner Novice riders they are on to cross-country tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.

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Day Three at #AEC2021: Intermediate & Prelim Champions Have Been Crowned!

Eventing Nation’s coverage of the 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships is brought to you by Kentucky Performance Products. We want to share the joy of eventing this week, so we invite you to nominate an AEC rider for our “Kentucky Performance of the Week” contest, happening now in partnership with Kentucky Performance Products. Learn more here.

Woof, what a day at the 2021 USEA American Eventing Championships, presented by Nutrena! It was, quite literally, a 17-ring circus, with Novice through Advanced divisions completing one phase or another, and final scores being posted for the Intermediate and Prelim divisions. Let’s recap the action.

Fylicia Barr and Galloway Sunrise. Photo by KTB Creative Group Photo.

$60,000 Adequan® USEA Advanced Final

The Advanced leaderboard enjoyed a good ol’-fashioned shakeup, with Fylicia Barr of West Grove, PA, overtaking the lead with Galloway Sunrise after cross country. We posted a play-by-play of the action here.

The story of Fylicia and her horse is the stuff of little girl horse movies — she bought the now 13-year-old American Warmblood mare (Duty Officer x Coco Chanel) for $500 off Craigslist.

“She was a feral 2-year-old when I got her,” Felicia recounts. “Like, wasn’t even halter broke at the time. You know, it’s been a really, really long journey. And obviously, as a kid, my dream was always to go Advanced with her. And now she’s here. And it’s a little bit of that dream come true moment.”

Nobody made the time today, and this combination picked up only 2.4 time penalties to move from sixth into first on a score of 28.9.

“It’s thrilling. You know, to know that I brought a horse from nothing all the way up to the top level is one thing, but to be able to be competitive – it’s incredible for me to feel like all my training and time and energy is really paying off in a big way,” she said. “We grew up together, and I know this horse as well as I know myself. Heading out cross-country, I knew I had a chance to be at the top if I could be fast. And that’s where she shines.”

Buck Davidson jumped up the leaderboard with both his Advanced rides, Carlevo and Jak My Style, who hold second and third place, respectively. The Carlevo LLC’s Carlevo, a 14-year-old Holsteiner (Caresino x Ramatuelle), was the first out of the startbox and posted a clear round, adding 6.8 time penalties for a score of 31.5.

Buck put the pedal to the metal with his second ride, Jak My Style, a 16-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Kathleen Cuca. They were the fastest pair of the 39-entry division, picking up just 1.6 time penalties to sit on a score of 32 and moving up from 17th to third.

The 2019 champions, Boyd Martin and Long Island T, had been looking to defend their title, but a fall at the C element of the Kentucky Classique Coffin dashed those dreams. Martin returned later in the class with Christine Turner’s On Cue, a 16-year-old Selle Francais mare (Cabri de Elle x On High), and added 6.4 time penalties to move up from eighth to fourth. The Kentucky Horse Park has been happy hunting ground for On Cue who was the highest placed U.S. pair at the Kentucky Three-Day Event.

Buck Davidson and Carlevo. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Doug Payne and Quantum Leap, his and Jessica Payne’s 10-year-old Zweibrucker gelding (Quite Capitol x Report to Sloopy) moved up from 14th to round out the top five on a 34.7. Quantum Leap was the 2018 recipient of the Holekamp/Turner Young Event Horse Lion d’Angers Grant and to compete at the FEI World Young Horse Championships.

Out of the 39 starters, only nine pairs ran into trouble on the course although no one managed to finish under the optimum time of six minutes and 24 seconds. Thirty-five pairs will move forward to show jump under the lights tomorrow night at 7:15 p.m in the Rolex Stadium. In 2019 only 20 percent of the field managed to show jump clear, so the phase should prove to be influential again. However, nearly half of the previous 15 winners (7 of 15) have knocked a pole in the show jumping phase and still earned the win.

Buck Davidson and Jak My Style. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Intermediate

Leslie Law and Lady Chatterley. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo.

The Intermediate division ended on a one-two finish with early favorite Leslie Law. The veteran professional had a flawless weekend on Jackie and Steve Brown’s 10-year-old Holsteiner mare (Connor x Jucy) Lady Chatterley having never missed a beat and finishing on her original dressage score of 25.5.

“She was more lit up than usual so I had a bit of a different horse today than I normally do,” Leslie said. “She was a bit sharper and more wired but she came into the ring and did her job and did it really well.”

“We have had to take our time with her because she certainly can have a mind of her own some days,” he continued. “This past year she has really come into her own though so I think she is ready to move up.”

In his first ride in the show jumping phase, Leslie went clean and steady in order to earn the reserve champion ribbon with Craig McCallum’s Typically Fernhill.

“I only got him two years ago but he too has come along quite quickly,” Leslie said of the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Dondoctro Ryal K x Castlefield Sarah). “He only had about 12 months of Preliminary schooling and then he went into Intermediate at this time last year so he is very exciting as well.

“This is a wonderful venue and you know you are going to get a great course because Derek [di Grazia] is the course designer and you’ve got the terrain as well which produces a good test,” he said. “For me, it is a good measure of where my horses are and what they are ready to do.”

Karl Slezak and Hot Bobo. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo.

Karl Slezak rounded out the top three on the 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse horse mare (VDL Arkansas x Taneys Leader) Hot Bobo by also producing a fault-free show jumping round for a final cumulative score of 30.7.

“We got this mare as a 4-coming-5-year-old and she had only done a couple of Novice events at the time but once we got her she moved along really quickly,” Karl said. “She is really just the best— she is lovely to be around in the barn and she tries her absolute best. I expected her to be a lot more impressed with the environment but she was in such a work mode.

“I was thrilled with the cross-country phase this weekend,” he continued. “She was absolutely spot on and proved to me that she is up for the task. I have several horses that do not have much Thoroughbred in them and she actually does, so, there are several more gears in her that enable her to go faster.”

Bates USEA Preliminary Rider

Sophie Miller and Quarlotta C. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo.

At the finale of the Bates USEA Preliminary Rider division, Sophie Miller claimed the first tricolor ribbon of the competition. She and Laurie Cameron’s homebred mare Quarlotta C (Quite Capitol x Merging), a 12-year-old Oldenburg, produced a flawless round in the Rolex Stadium leaving all rails standing and clearing the timers with room to spare.

Sophie, who was in third following the two prior phases, kept careful consideration of both the fences and the time to step out of the ring on her original 35.5.

“I was really happy with her today,” said Sophie. “She came in the ring and was a little bit lit up today with the atmosphere, but I think it actually worked in our favor for time. She can be a little bit lazy and casual sometimes but I think she grew an extra hand from all the excitement, so I was able to just stay back and out of her way while she carried a good pace.”

The victory was extra special for the pair as it was Sophie’s first time being a part of the AEC.

“It is just so awesome to be here amongst all of the top horses and riders in this sport,” she enthused. “It was really wonderful to be able to jump in the stadium and just be part of such an electric environment.”

The pair have had a busy season of preparation, only starting at the Training level at the beginning of the year but feeling confident after successfully winning their very first Preliminary event in Aiken, South Carolina.

“We competed in two Training events down in Florida before moving up to our first Preliminary which she won,” Sophie added. “She also had super runs at Pine Top and Stable View, and we were even able to squeeze in a two-star event this year so it’s been a great year and I’m so looking forward to doing more now.”

Sallie Johnson and Fernhill DiCaprio. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo.

Sallie Johnson and her 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Finnanloon Flight x Finnan Scarlet) Fermhill DiCaprio made an impressive leap from seventh place to second by crossing the finish without adding any additional penalties to their prior score of 35.8.

“To be honest, I didn’t feel like that was my best piece of riding,” said Johnson. “My nerves definitely got to me, but my horse is amazing; he just absolutely tried his heart out and was careful enough to leave all of the fences up.”

Rebecca Hunt and Snowflake Lane. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo.

Rebecca Hunt and Snowflake Lane joined Miller and Johnson in a clean show jumping round finish to advance from the 13th position and round out the top three on a final 37.2. The 9-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Dunkirk x Correoso) mare was also the recipient of the Thoroughbred Incentive Program (TIP) high point award based on cumulative points acquired over the previous days of competition.

“I got my mare straight off the track as a 3-year-old and it has really been a journey since she is 9 years old now,” Rebecca said. “She is very special to me.”

Bates USEA Preliminary Junior/Young Rider

Vienna Allport and DHI Zatopek B. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo

Determined to hold on to her pinnacle position on the final day, young rider Vienna Allport fearlessly navigated the show jumping phase with DHI Zatopek B to maintain her previous score of only 28.3 for the win.

“We had a bit of a hard rub at the first fence, but other than that the round felt great,” explained Vienna. “He was a bit of a live wire with the atmosphere, but he has a lot of experience so while he was forward, he still felt like he was riding great and jumping amazing.”

Vienna is no stranger to the competition at the AEC, but both the Preliminary height and the partnership with her gelding are new developments for her.

“I came straight off a large pony to him so it has been an adjustment, but he has all of the experience,” she stated of the 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Lando x Scaramouche B).

Cassie Sanger and Danger Mouse. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo.

In an impressive feat, Cassie Sanger snatched up the remaining podium positions with Caroline Martin’s Danger Mouse and her own Redfield Fyre respectively. Cassie had taken over the early lead of the division with the experienced 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Kannan, Danger Mouse, after the dressage phase but dropped into fourth the following day with an unfortunate eight time faults. The pair picked up the pace today to make their way to second place with no penalties in the show jumping.

“Danger Mouse is an absolutely incredible horse, and I’m so lucky to have him as I’m coming up the levels,” Cassie emphasized. “He is used to the energy and excitement here because he has done it at the upper levels so many times that as long as I can help keep him from getting tense he will perform great.”

Cassie Sanger and Redfield Fyre. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo.

On a roll, Cassie then calmly piloted her self-produced 8-year-old Warmblood gelding, Redfield Fyre, across another clean round which was efficient enough for the third-place honors.

“This is Redfield Fyre’s first season doing the Preliminary height so he is quite green but nothing really phases him,” she said. “I have produced him up the levels and he has really gotten so much stronger this year so as long as I ride well he is definitely able to produce a clear round.”

Elle Kay Lane and the 17-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Silver Charm x Do It) Double Dare earned the TIP award in the division as the top placed off-the-track Thoroughbred.

Bates USEA Preliminary Amateur

Arden Wildasin and Southern Sun. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo

Holding tight to her lead from the combined dressage and cross-country scores, Arden Wildasin defended her title as the Preliminary Amateur division champion, this time with Southern Sun. She and Sarah Wildsain’s 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Boherdeal Clover x Birdhill Lady) moved up in the placings from third to first after the previous day’s cross-country efforts and performed a tidy round in the show jumping phase to land on a final 24.2.

“Today’s show jumping phase was definitely nerve-wracking and we had had the technical error of not quite finishing under the time yesterday,” she detailed. “I really rode forward today especially because he can be a bit spooky if allowed to look around, but he was really right there with me the entire time today which was an incredible feeling to have after the years we have put in together.”

As for the gelding’s future, Arden plans to continue to compete him up to whatever level he is most comfortable, stating that he would tell her when he had reached the end of his comfort zone and she would always base her plans off of his best interests.

Lisa Borgia and Silmarillon. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo.

Lisa Borgia moved up from third to second place to earn the reserve championship ribbon after a flawless round left her and Silmarillon on a total of 27.4

“He is extremely honest, but he has a little bit of first-fence phobia,” Lisa said of the 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Joey Franco x Lil Mo Rhythm). “I was really pleased to see the first fence was as inviting as it was and that gave me a lot of confidence coming into the round itself. Overall, he has been phenomenal this weekend from his dressage test Tuesday in the pouring rain to his performance today.”

Silmarillon was also the TIP winner of the division with the lowest score of 27.4.

Michelle Koppin and Calcourt Valley. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo.

With one unfortunate rail in the final phase, Michelle Koppin and the 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Carass x Z-Whitney) Calcourt Valley dropped down to the third place position on a finishing score of 29.6.

“I am disappointed about the one rail we had but otherwise I feel like we had a pretty solid round today despite that,” Michelle affirmed. “He jumped super and unfortunately I think just took a peek at the grandstands and got a bit flat on fence four. Even so, he gave me the best feeling to be able to jump around in this big ring with how little we’ve done so far and being relatively new to each other. I’m very blessed he is such a genuine horse.”

The winning Preliminary ATC Team. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo.

Arden managed to manufacture a double-victory in the Adult Team Championships as team Wild Kat Nellies consisting of Arden Wildasin with Southern Sun and Tokyo Drift, Wisti Nelson and Mr. Barron, and Katlyn Hewson-Sleazak with Fernhill Choco Royale totaled a final team score of 95.9 for the win.

Bates USEA Preliminary Horse

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Shanroe Cooley. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo.

Seasoned professional Liz Halliday-Sharp and her talented mount, Shanroe Cooley, held the lead all the way to the very end in the Preliminary Horse division. From the start, the 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Dallas x Shanroe Sapphire) set himself apart from the crowd, picking up a lead of almost two points over the rest of the division with 28.5 and maintaining flawless performances in the remaining phases.

“He is an incredibly unique young horse in the way that he is not phased by a big atmosphere or energy,” said Liz. “This was a huge class and obviously I came here hoping to do well but it’s even nicer to have been able to lead from the start.”

No stranger to producing top horses, Liz has big goals for the Ocala Horse Properties’ gelding. “I think the world of this horse and there is no doubt in my mind he has a really big future. Richard Sheane of Cooley Farms looked me dead in the eye when I got him and said ‘you aren’t going to want to sell this one’ and he was definitely right.”

Martin Douzant and Olympus. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo.

Martin Douzant piloted the 6-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding Olympus (Ferro x Kallisto) up to second place from the sixth position by clocking in under the time allowed with no jumping faults to maintain his original score of 30.4.

“We have had Olympus since he was a 2-year-old so he has been a part of our program for a long time now,” Martin stated. “It is so rewarding to see him being successful at this level now

After a successful upbringing with Douzant, plans are in the works for Olympus to return to owner Gillian Kingsbury at the end of the season.

“I am so thrilled, this has been a wonderful way to finish our partnership and season,” Douzant finished.

Dana Cooke and FE Quattro. USEA/Meagan DeLisle Photo.

Dana Cooke and FE Quattro made the biggest leap of the division, trading in their position at the 12th spot to take the yellow ribbon. She and Diana Crawford’s 7-year-old German Warmblood gelding rounded out the top three fault-free scores with a final penalty of 31.4.

“I acquired FE Quattro basically the first week he got to the United States as a 5-year-old and he has quickly proven to be a very fancy little guy,” commented Dana. “He has taken a little bit of time to mature mentally but he really stepped up this weekend and was quite good everywhere.”

Dana added, “I think he has hopefully a good career ahead of him to return to this event and then potentially to be on the team for the Canadians at some point down the road.”

Vetoquinol USEA Modified

Julie Wolfert and Namibia. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Though Julie Wolfert says dressage is Namibia’s best phase, the 5-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Tizway x Kitty Tracks) stepped up to the plate on cross-country Thursday, achieving a double clear round to hold the lead of the inaugural Vetoquinol USEA Modified Championship.

“He was pretty good out there. Yeah. I mean, he was stellar — foot-perfect. Probably his best round ever,” said the Bucryus, Kan. resident of her ex-racehorse. “There were a few jumps still early on that you really couldn’t see until about two strides away because of the sun. And so I was a little worried you wouldn’t read it, but he was on game. It was really great exposure for him.”

Wolfert and Namibia carry a two-phase score of 25.2 into show jumping.

The top three remain the same after the second day. Fall Creek, Ore.’s Audrey Ogan and Second Amendment, a 6-year-old Dutch Harness Horse (Colonist x Allie) owned by Ogan, added nothing to their score of 27.6. Martin Douzant, of The Plains, Va., keeps third on a score of 28.5 aboard his own Beall Spring Seahawk, a 6-year-old Swedish Warmblood by Shakespeare RSF.

Training Amateur

Lisa Niccolai and KC’s Celtic Kharacter. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Lisa Niccolai almost didn’t make the trip from East Thetford, Vt. due to concerns about the weather following Hurricane Ida, but after Thursday’s cross-country, she’s pretty glad she did. Piloting her own KC’s Celtic Kharacter, a 7-year-old Zweibrucker gelding (Kharacter C x Tessa), she steps into the lead of the USEA Training Amateur Championship.

Lisa has had the big-bodied chestnut since he was 3, and now she feels like the partnership is rock solid. “That’s made a huge difference for us to like. We’ve done everything together. So we know how he’s going to respond to things, and he’s really stepped up this year and kind of said, ‘I get it. I understand the game now,’” she said.

The pair went fault-free to stay on their dressage score of 27.6. “We’ve had trouble making the time in the past. And I was a little nervous about that, but he was beautiful galloping, and he just opened up and had a great time,” she said.

Tracey Corey and Katherine Rivera share second place on the identical score of 28.3 with both having gone double clear on cross-country. Corey, Ocala, Fla., is piloting Byrnwyck West, a 15-year-old Thoroughbred (Devil His Due x Heirloom Wish), and Rivera, Hempstead, Texas, is partnered with her 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Dream Boy M x Highland Lady C) Hvl Hocus Pocus.

Training Horse

Lauren Lambert and Biscotti. Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Laurent Lambert and Biscotti, Elizabeth Rader’s 9-year-old Rheinland Pfalz-Saar gelding (Beniditto x Hey Nurse) held on to their first place position in the day’s cross-country phase. Confidently navigating Derek di Grazia’s turf track inside the optimum time of 5 minutes and 31 seconds, Lambert held on to his dressage score of 24.3 and will attempt to do so in tomorrow’s show jumping element.

Both Lauren Nicholson and Lynn Symansky successfully piloted their mounts to an uneventful finish over the track to hold on to their second and third place titles respectively. Nicholson is aboard Jacqueline Mars’ 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Windfall x Ferari) Windchase Starfire in tomorrow’s show jumping phase while Lynn Symansky rides Linda Graves and Alice Lawaetz’ 7-year-old Oldenburg gelding Bounce 6 (Balou Du Rouet x Fillana).

Junior Training

Shelby Murray and Reverie GWF. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Yesterday’s leader in the Junior Training division Shelby Murray and Laurel Ritter’s 9-year-old Oldenburg mare (Rotspon x Chatari) Reverie GWF added 0.4 to their original 22.0 but managed to maintain a five point lead following cross-country.

The runner-up was previous third-place holder Isabella Novak and Jessica Novak’s 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Cobra x Don Diamond Girl) Dreamliner on a total of 27.2. Riegelsville, Pennsylvania’s Juliana Cassar tied with Novak for the title on her own 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding.

USEA Training Rider

Amanda Ruane and Castle’s Boy. KTB Creative Group Photo.

Amanda Ruane overtook previous class leader Lauren Alexander in the day’s Training Rider division with her own Castle’s Boy. Ruane and the 9-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Windsor Castle x Ladies) made it through the track without fault to hold on to their original dressage score of 29.7.

Katie Sisk and the 5-year-old Hanoverian mare (Rapture R x Demonet’s Darling) Long Legs Lenore elevated their position from third to second after also producing a fault-free effort over all obstacles and finishing on 30.7. Amanda Smith and Martha Lambert’s 7-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Majestic Warrior x Gaslight Gossip) landed in third with 31.1 penalty points.

Tomorrow the attention turns to the Rolex Stadium as the Modified and Training riders finish their weekend with show jumping.

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New Horsemanship Award at Chedington Bicton Park CCI5* Celebrates Excellent XC Riding

William Fox-Pitt and Oratorio II. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

At the 2020 FEI Eventing Risk Management Forum, it was noted that more could be done to positively emphasise good quality cross country riding, rather than only call out bad or dangerous riding. Now one company has acted on the discussion, creating a new Horsemanship Award to be made at this week’s Chedington Bicton Park CCI5* Horse Trials.

2TheBarn has worked with Andrew Fell, the Event Director of the UKs first CCI5* competition since that FEI meeting, and William Fox-Pitt, Rider Representative on the FEI Eventing Committee, to establish this Horsemanship Award.

The Horsemanship Award will be presented to the rider, who, in the opinion of Captain Mark Phillips, the Bicton 5* course designer, demonstrated excellent cross country riding, appropriate to the course, their horse and the conditions, showing good judgement, riding with
respect and using their head. In addition to a trophy, the rider presented with the Horsemanship Award will also receive a £300 cash award.

Andrew Fell said that “this year has been a year of firsts and I am delighted that we will be the first 5* competition to highlight and praise exceptional equestrian ability in the phase that is unique to our sport, the cross country. We would like our sport to be more widely viewed and
as such it is important that we encourage and show the best of our sport to this wider audience. I hope that this Horsemanship Award, kindly presented by 2TheBarn, will go some way to highlight to those aiming to compete at this level what is expected of them.”

As an experienced and successful competitor at this 5* level, William Fox-Pitt concurred that “whilst it is correct that officials warn against or even sanction poor cross country riding, until now there has not been a formal way to recognise, celebrate and make an example of those cross country rounds that should be held up as an example of ‘what to do and how to do it’.”

2TheBarn is the Global Equestrian Platform for equestrian transactions and information. It is used by organisations, groups and riders to manage bookings, facilities hire and training; as well as being a unique marketplace for equestrian lifestyle brands to showcase and retail their products direct to consumers.

The Inclusion & Accessibility Legacy of the 2020 Tokyo Equestrian Park

The Baji Koen Equestrian Park was the venue for the majority of the equestrian events during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Photo by FEI/Christophe Taniere.

The Baji Koen Equestrian Park has won plaudits from the international equestrian community for the top notch facilities that have played a key role in the high quality of competition during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. But the Japan Racing Association (JRA) which owns and run the facilities, has far reaching plans to ensure barrier free access to equestrian sport.

JRA has worked towards the development and preparation of the Equestrian Park, not just with the delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in mind, but also with a view to boosting the long term development of the sport.

“We began planning the re-development of the venue even before Tokyo won the right to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” adviser to the JRA’s horse-affairs division Takahiro Nishio explained.

“The Equestrian Park was not initially built to cater to the specific needs and requirements of people with disabilities. But through our preparations for the Paralympic Games, we have gained a better understanding of what we need to do to create a safe and welcoming structure which allows people with different impairments to fully enjoy all that equestrian sport has to offer.

“All our development plans have been created to include accessibility requirements for people with disabilities so that the Equestrian Park, which also functions as a city park, can bring clear benefits to our community even after the Paralympic Games have ended.”

Opened in 1940, the Equestrian Park was created to provide training for riders and horses, and to host equestrian competitions as well as educational and training programmes. The venue was scheduled to host the equestrian competitions at the 1940 Olympic Games which were cancelled on account of war. It was a natural choice for the equestrian events at the Olympic Games that were subsequently held in Tokyo in 1964.

While the original plan for equestrian put forward by the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee was for a temporary venue in the Tokyo Bay area, the JRA and the Japanese Equestrian Federation (JEF) pushed for the alternative which was to reuse the 1964 Olympic equestrian venue at Baji Koen. The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) were in full support of this as the Equestrian Park would deliver a more tangible and useful legacy for equestrian sport in Japan.

Post Paralympic Games, the JRA has ambitious plans to create pathways and programmes that allow riders engaged in therapeutic programmes to gradually move into Para Dressage competition. There are currently only a few therapeutic riding clubs in the country and the JRA wants to put in place the necessary structures that will allow these programmes to develop across Japan.

“The JRA has provided athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games with some incredible facilities in which to compete,” FEI Director of Games Operations Tim Hadaway said.

“JRA has gone over and above with their support and have provided specialists like veterinarians, farriers, footing maintenance staff and equestrian instructors. Through their  affiliated companies, the JRA also provided feed and bedding, transportation of competition horses and turf maintenance advice for the field-of-play on the Sea Forest Cross Country Course to ensure the best possible conditions for the equestrian competitions. 

“All the work the JRA has done to date is laying a solid foundation for the development of Para Equestrian sport in Japan and they have led the way by example, through their support of the Japan Para Dressage team.”

Mitsuhide Miyaji, Sho Inaba, Katsuji Taskashima and Soshi Yoshigoe are the four members of the Para Dressage team who trained and prepared for the Paralympic Games at the Equestrian Park and with the full support of the JRA.

Mitsuhide Miyaji, 63, used to work as an assistant trainer at the JRA before he suffered a stroke in July 2005 and was left without feeling on the right side of his body. Tokyo 2020 is his second Paralympic Games after Rio 2016, where he was the only equestrian representative from Japan.

A former jockey with the JRA, Katushi Takashima, 28, was injured during a race that left the right side of his body paralysed. He participated in the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 and Tokyo 2020 was his first appearance at a Paralympic Games.

Twenty six year-old Sho Inaba, who made his Paralympic debut in Tokyo 2020, was born with cerebral palsy that affected his lower limbs and he took up riding at the age of eight for rehabilitation in his hip joint. He represented his country at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 where he finished 14th.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games was also a first for 21 year-old Soshi Yoshigoe who is a student at Nippon Sport Science University. He took up horse riding as part of his rehabilitation programme but it was not until high school that he became interested in Para Dressage. Encouraged by the President of his University and colleagues, he has made his mark on the Para Equestrian scene in Japan.

All four athletes hope that the Paralympics will be the catalyst for the continued development of Para Equestrian and other disability sports in Japan.

“Until now, there has been little recognition of Para Sports in this country,” Mitsuhide Miyaji said.

But the Paralympics have been a good opportunity for many people to learn about Para Equestrian and for them to see how people with various disabilities can get involved in the sport.

“There was no coverage of Para Equestrian Sport in Japan when I took part in the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016. But in the build up to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, there have been many live broadcasts in Japan because of the collaboration between the JRA and Green Channel, the Satellite Broadcasting Foundation for Horseracing, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

“This has allowed people to see for themselves what the sport has to offer. Also by having so many people in Japan involved in the organisation of the Paralympic Games, it has helped change the perception of Para Equestrian sport in the country.”

US Equestrian Announces Re-Opening of Bidding for 2023-2027 CCI4*-S, CCI3*-L & Advanced

Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 at the 2020 Tryon International Three-Day Event. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

The CCI4*-L competitions on the 2023-2027 U.S. Eventing Calendar have been approved by the USEF Board of Directors and publicly announced via press release. The USEF Eventing Bid Review Group is continuing to evaluate the Bid Applications received for the CCI4*-S, CCI3*-L and Advanced levels for 2023-2027.

USEF has approved an additional round of bidding to occur. A bid process will open on Friday, August 27 and close on Friday, September 3 for the following weeks:

Week 7: Week 7 will re-open for bidding to one Advanced level event in Area 6.

Week 14: Week 14 will re-open for bidding to one CCI4*-S and Advanced level event in Area 2 or Area 3.

Week 18: Week 18 will re-open for bidding to one Advanced level event in Area 3 and one CCI3*-L level event in Area 5.

Week 21: Week 21 will re-open for bidding to one Advanced level event in Area 6.

Week 23: Week 23 will re-open for bidding to a CCI4*-S or Advanced in Area 6 and 7.

Week 26: Week 26 will re-open for bidding to an Advanced level event in Area 7.

Week 27: Week 27 will re-open for bidding to a CCI4*-S and Advanced level event in Area 2. This week is intended to serve as a preparation competition for the Olympic Games and other Championships.

Week 28: Week 28 will re-open for bidding to an Advanced level event in Area 2.

Bids from organizers who submitted a bid for any of the weeks indicated above in a previous round of bidding are still under consideration.

Bid Applications will only be considered for the weeks indicated above and must meet the criteria of those weeks. To be considered, a complete Bid Application must be submitted by Friday, September 3 to [email protected]. A complete Bid Application must include:

1. Bid Application
2. Application for License Agreement
3. Map of the venue with diagram of the layout of the proposed Event
4. Revenue and expense budget outline for the Event, including known sponsorship
5. Optional: Letters of support or additional documentation for consideration

For more information of the calendaring process and access to the bid application, visit the U.S. Eventing Calendar Process webpage. If you have questions, please email [email protected].

Great Britain Defies the Odds to Take Spectacular Paralympic Team Title

Celebrations on the podium at Equestrian Park tonight at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics with the winners of the team competition. L to R: Rixt van der Horst – Findsley, Sanne Voets – Demantur, Frank Hosmar – Alphavile (NED) Silver medalists; Lee Pearson – Breezer, Sophie Wells – Don Cara M, Natasha Baker – Keystone Dawn Chorus (GBR) Gold medalists; Kate Shoemaker – Solitaer 40, Roxanne Trunnell – Dolton, Rebecca Hart – El Corona Texel (USA) Bronze medallists. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Suspense and pure grit were on display tonight as Great Britain claimed the Tokyo 2020 Para Dressage Team gold medal, continuing their seemingly unbreakable hold on the title which started in Atlanta 1996. The trio of Sir Lee Pearson (Grade II), Natasha Baker (Grade III) and Sophie Wells (Grade V) scored 229.905 to finish just 0.656 ahead of The Netherlands’ 229.249. And in another momentous shift in the sport, USA took the bronze medal with 224.352, making this their first Paralympic Team podium finish, and the first time the podium hasn’t been made up of all European teams!

How it works

There are three athletes per team. Each Grade competes separately in its own Team Test, with each horse and athlete combination performing a series of pre-determined movements, which differ by Grade. The combined results of each of the teams’ three athletes determine the overall score and the team with the most points wins gold. The competition was run over two days, starting with the athletes from Grades I, II and III performing on Saturday, leaving Grades IV and V to seal the deal today.

Here’s how the day unfolded

At the beginning of the day, the competition was shaping up to be a showdown between the three podium winners, with Great Britain having the slight advantage over the USA, with both countries having two tests already completed.

Natasha Baker with Keystone Dawn Chorus GBR. Team competition. Grade 3.

The Grade V Team test was won by Belgium’s Michele George on Best of 8. She scored 77.047% to put her country into medal contention too.

A crucial score of 75.651% for Sophie Wells (GBR) proved to be a massive boost for her country’s chances of winning, while Frank Hosmar (GBR) on Alphaville N.O.P. posted 74.814% to keep things neck and neck between the two countries.

At the start of the Grade IV Team Test, the British had completed all their rides, leaving the USA and The Netherlands with the knowledge of how much their last two athletes would have to score to beat them.

First up was Kate Shoemaker (USA) on Solitaer 40. She scored 71.825% to put the USA in silver medal position.

Sanne Voets then entered the arena on Demantur N.O.P. and knew she needed to score 78.136% to beat Great Britain. Four minutes later she left, and her score was announced, a massive personal best of 78.200%. However, between the calculation of what was needed to win, and Sanne’s test, Sophie Wells’ score was confirmed slightly higher than the provisional score given earlier, thus handing Great Britain the closest of wins. It could not have been any closer, it could not have been more historic.

Speaking after their medal ceremony, Natasha Baker tried to sum up how the team felt. “I don’t think any of us expected that in a million, trillion, gazillion years to be honest. We’re all so immensely proud of everything our horses have done in the last few days.”

“We had no expectation that we could achieve that” Sophie Wells added. “We genuinely thought it was impossible in the most realistic way. We all had horses that have never done this or been against anyone else. The Dutch are so strong and secure on their horses and we’re not.”

Michele George riding Best of 8 BEL. Gold medal position.

“We haven’t even got any championship horses on this team,” said Lee Pearson.

Team Leader Georgia Sharples paid tribute to the team saying: “I just think these guys are undefeated Paralympic champions but in a whole new context. You’ve heard about the inexperienced horsepower, but never underestimate these guys and what a job they did out there on that field of play.”

The Netherlands were equally enthused by their silver, and the closeness of the competition.

“We’ve been working towards this for five years,” said Sanne Voets, “and this is where you want to perform at your best and, if you can succeed at that you can’t be disappointed.

“There was so much pressure. When we saw the order to go and I realised I was the last rider of the three countries who were expected to win I knew I would know the score needed for team gold.”

And despite coming into the Games as hot favourites for the title, there was delight and relief with bronze for the USA as well, especially Rebecca Hart, who has competed at four Games now.

“I don’t have words right now, she said. It was such an amazing competition and so close. A real nail-biter to the very end. I am so incredibly blessed and happy to be standing here with these two amazing riders. To finally, after so many years, be able to stand on that podium as a country, it’s a lifelong dream come true.”

After the drama of the Team competition, the Para Dressage competition at Tokyo 2020 comes to an end tomorrow, when the top eight individual riders in each Grade take to the arena to dance in the ever-popular Freestyle competition. The five medals will come thick and fast in what will doubtless be another fascinating, exciting and potentially historic end to a brilliant Paralympic Games for Para Dressage.

Key links
#WeThe15
Toyko 2020 Para Equestrian pages
FEI Paralympic Games History Hub

Great Britain Names Six-Strong Squad for European Championships

Sarah Bullimore and Corouet get the Euros call-up, six years after the gelding’s dam, Lilly Corinne, contested the 2015 European Championships. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Following their runaway victory at Tokyo, British Equestrian has named the six horses and riders who will fly the Union Jack at the forthcoming European Eventing Championships, set to take place in Avenches, Switzerland, from September 22-26.

The squad of six has been named in alphabetical order, with a further announcement expected in due course to specify which four combinations will be part of the team and which two will represent Great Britain as individuals.

  • Sarah Bullimore (48) based in Keysoe, Bedfordshire, with the Kew Jumping Syndicate, Brett Bullimore and her own Corouet (chestnut, gelding, 10yrs, 15.2hh, Balou du Rouet x Lovis Corinth, Breeder: Sarah Bullimore GBR, Groom: to be confirmed)
  • Rosalind Canter (35) based in Hallington, Lincolnshire, with Caroline Moore and her own Allstar B (bay, gelding, 16yrs, 17hh, Ephebe For Ever x Erkstein, Breeder: FAJ Van der Burg NED) and as a direct reserve, Michele Saul’s Lordships Graffalo (bay, gelding, 9yrs, 17hh, Grafenstolz x Rock King, Breeder: Lordships Stud Writtle College GBR, Groom: Sarah Charnley)
  • Kitty King (39) based in Chippenham, Wiltshire, with Diana Bown, Sally Eyre, Samantha Wilson and Sally Lloyd-Baker’s Vendredi Biats (grey, gelding, 12yrs, 16.2hh, Winningmood x Camelia de Ruelles, Breeder: Phillipe Brivois FRA, Groom: Chloe Fry)
  • Piggy March (40) based in Maidwell, Northamptonshire, with John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburn’s Brookfield Inocent (bay, gelding, 12yrs, 16.3hh, Inocent x Kings Servant, Breeder: John Mulvey IRL, Groom: Amy Phillips)
  • Izzy Taylor (38) based in Bicester, Oxfordshire, with Mark Sartori and her own Monkeying Around (bay, gelding, 10yrs, 16.2hh, Bertoli W x Donnerhall II, Breeder: Christian Heinrich GER. Groom: Rebecca Ross)
  • Nicola Wilson (44) based in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, with Deirdre Johnston and James and Jo Lambert’s JL Dublin (dark brown, gelding, 10yo, 16.2hh, Diarados Cheeky Boy x Cantano, Breeder: Volker Coettsche-Goetze GER, Groom: Ruth Asquith)

Performance Manager Richard Waygood says, “I’m very excited about this selection for the Europeans. It invests in the here and now and in the future by providing development opportunities for potential combinations for Paris and beyond.”

Helmed by reigning World Champions Ros Canter and Allstar B, the squad features some of the country’s best horses and a selection of young up-and-comers being produced for the next Olympic cycle. They’ll head to Avenches with the aim of repeating this summer’s gold medal success and bettering the silver medal won by the British squad at the 2019 European Eventing Championships, held in Luhmühlen, Germany.

Two New Paralympic Equestrian Champions Crowned in Tokyo

Individual Grade I medal ceremony at Equestrian Park, Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. L to R: Rihards Snikus – King of the Dance (LAT) silver, Roxanne Trunnel – Dolton (USA) gold, and Sara Morganti – Royal Delight (ITA) bronze. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

The second day of Para Dressage competition at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games saw the remaining two Grades, I and III, battle for the Individual Test titles and the important qualification slots for the upcoming Freestyle To Music test.

A twist of fate would have it that both victors were new to the top spot of the Paralympic podium, a feat which is easier said than done, given the longevity of some Para Equestrian careers and the experienced athletes they faced in the impressive Baji Koen arena today.

Roxanne rocks in Tokyo classic

An imperious performance from Roxanne Trunnell (USA) secured her first ever Para Dressage global title at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games today. Currently World No.1 across all five Grades, Roxanne won the Grade I Individual Test with a massive score of 81.464% with her mount, Dolton.

The silver medal went to Rihards Snikus (LAT), a keen DJ known as DJ Richy Rich to his friends, who was first into the arena and laid down a challenging score of 80.179% on King of the Dance. Reigning FEI World Equestrian GamesTM champion Sara Morganti (ITA), took bronze on Royal Delight with 76.964%. It is a medal that is especially sweet for her, as her horse failed the vet inspection at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Speaking after her Test and medal ceremony, Roxanne said, “Dolton felt like he was really with me and was really a good boy. He surprised me with how calm he has been. It’s been wonderful at the Games. Everyone is so nice and helpful.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg for Dolton. He’s so young and he’ll be able to do so much more. It means a lot to me as well. It was very nice up there. We had our own little group of people that looked happy.”

As the World No. 1, Roxanne holds two World Records for the highest scores in a Freestyle Test (89.522%) and in Grade I Team Test (84.702%). Roxanne came to these Games with huge expectations placed on her shoulders. She remained, however, unfazed. “I don’t think about pressure – that’s all just noise to me,” she added. “It’s just me and Dolton doing our own thing. He is loving all the attention, it’s fun. He’s a goofy young horse, he’s temperamental but also easy to get along with.”

Tobias has golden debut

As debut Games go, it’s fair to say that Tobias Thorning Jorgensen (DEN) is having a good one. In his first ever ride in a Paralympic Games arena, he won the Grade III Individual Test with a score of 78.971%, on Jolene Hill.

In doing so, he dethroned two-time Grade III Paralympic Champion, Natasha Baker (GBR), who came second on Keystone Dawn Chorus, with 76.265%. Bronze went to current World Champion Rixt van der Horst (NED) on Findsley N.O.P. with 75.765%.

“It was amazing, it really was,” Tobias said, beaming after his test.

“I was so focussed all the ride but on the last turn I just had this feeling it was great. I was so happy I just smiled.

“I knew that Rixt and Natasha would be my biggest opponents and are always coming to take the medals but I also knew that, if I find my best, I could take the medal. I knew I had to do that.

“Jolene is a mare. If I don’t ask her first she just gives me the finger and says ‘You can do something else’. In my warm-up I ask her ‘Is this OK?’ and then in the arena she is there for me. If I ask her correctly, she will go through fire for me.”

Dream teams and teams of dreams up next

Tomorrow sees the start of the Team competition – run over two days – and is likely to be one of the closest in the history of Para Dressage at the Paralympic Games. USA as World No. 1 will want the gold to seal their meteoric rise, while Great Britain and The Netherlands will be working hard to deny them that.

Following the second day of competition and the completion of the Individual Test, Great Britain still tops the leaderboard, adding a silver to their tally today with one gold, two silver, and a bronze, followed by the Netherlands, Belgium, USA and Denmark, who have picked up a gold medal over the past two days.

All results here

First Individual Medals Awarded at Tokyo Paralympic Games

This report was compiled from USEF and FEI press releases.

Pepo Puch (AUT) silver, Lee Pearson (GBR) gold, and Georgia Wilson (GBR) bronze on the podium at the grade 2 individual medal ceremony. Photo Copyright © FEI/Liz Greg

TOKYO 2020 PARALYMPIC GAMES – PARA DRESSAGE INDIVIDUAL TEST GRADE II, IV, V

They came, they saw, they conquered. Some of the world’s most experienced and decorated Para Dressage athletes took to the stunning Baji Koen arena today for the first competitions and medals of the Equestrian Events at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Emotions were running high, as were temperatures, but everyone kept their cool for the first individual medals up for grabs in Grades II, IV and V – and the all-important qualification for the top eight ranked athletes in each Grade earning their spot in the Individual Freestyle to Music test which takes place on Monday 30 August.

Lee Pearson riding Breezer (GBR). Gold medal position. Photo by FEI/Liz Gregg.

Sir Lee Pearson, the world’s most decorated equestrian Paralympian, does it again… 

In an emotion packed first day of competition, Sir Lee Pearson (GBR) collected his 12th Paralympic gold medal at his sixth Paralympic appearance since 2000 at the Baji Koen Equestrian Park, winning the Grade II Individual Test.

Lee rode his home-reared Breezer to the title with a score of 76.265% to finish ahead of Pepo Puch (AUT), who rode Sailor’s Blue to score 73.441%. These two highly experienced athletes are used to tussling for the top spot, with Pepo claiming Individual gold in Rio ahead of Pearson and vice versa for the Freestyle medals.

Georgia Wilson (GBR) picked up a fairy tale of a bronze medal on Sakura, with 72.765%. She was the team’s reserve rider and was called to the Paralympic Games just two weeks ago, when her teammate Sophie Christiansen was forced to withdraw due to a veterinary issue with her horse.

Speaking after his ride, Lee said “I am very, very emotional. I cried on the second X on hold in the arena. It’s been such a long journey. Breezer is a horse who I’ve had since he was born. I am also a Dad myself now, and that has also made me more emotional.

“I didn’t think having a home-bred horse would give this a little extra meaning but it has. I saw him at hours old in a field and to complete that test, which at my last test event I did not complete, that added to the emotion.”

Sanne Voets riding Demantur (NED). Gold medal position. Photo Copyright © FEI/Liz Gregg.

Sanne gets the missing gold

There was more emotion on display when Sanne Voets (NED) won the Grade IV Individual Test, the one gold medal missing from her collection of European, World and Paralympic titles.

Sanne scored 76.585% on Demantur N.O.P, which was the highest score of the day, while Rodolpho Riskalla (BRA) took the silver medal on Don Henrico with 74.659%. Belgium’s Manon Claeys marked her Paralympic debut with a bronze medal, scoring 72.853% on San Dior 2.

“I think my face pretty much told it,” said Sanne. “I’m just over the moon with him. He still amazes me every day and he travelled here well. When you enter the stable and you see he’s happy, relaxed and at ease, you realise again that’s what is most important.

“Of course you’re here to perform at your very best and you want to win medals, but there’s always one thing more important than the result, and that’s just your horse being happy.

“But when you are sitting on a horse like that, there’s no way you cannot smile and not enjoy your test.”

Michele George riding Best of 8 (BEL). Gold medal position. Photo Copyright © FEI/Liz Gregg.

Seventh heaven for Michele George

The last medal of the night went to Michele George, in just her seventh competition with Best of 8. She scored 76.524% to finish ahead of Sophie Wells (GBR) who rode her reserve horse, Don Cara .M to an impressive 74.405% in his first ever overseas competition. Frank Hosmar (NED) took the bronze on Alphaville N.O.P., with 73.405%.

Michele wore the gloves and boots she wore at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at which she won the Grade V Freestyle, with a silver in the Individual Test, on the late FBW Rainman.

“I’m really proud of my mare and I enjoyed the ride,” she said. “And this is for me the most important thing, that I could come home and say I’ve done everything I could. She had a beautiful performance and she gave her best. Best of 8 gave her best!

“She did great half passes and I think she had a very nice extended canter as well. So it’s amazing. I can’t find the right words to express how impressive it was for me. It is a once in a lifetime experience.”

Photo courtesy of US Equestrian.

Team USA 

The U.S. Para Dressage Team saw its first two combinations head down the center line at Equestrian Park in Tokyo, Japan, opening the first day of equestrian competition at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. Beatrice de Lavalette and Clarc were the first combination to contest the Grade II Individual Test in the main stadium, earning a 70.265 percent, while Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 closed out the evening of competition with a 70.854 percent as the last combination in the Grade IV Individual Test. Both combinations qualified for their Grade’s FEI Individual Freestyle to Music on Monday, August 31.

De Lavalette and Clarc, a 14-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Elizabeth & Nicholas de Lavalette, made their first Paralympic debut, complete a solid test to open Grade II competition. The pair earned a 70.265 percent from the ground jury to put them into fifth place in Grade II competition. They are also the first U.S. combination to break the 70 percent mark in a Paralympic Games, setting an early tone for the team rides ahead.

“It was a very enjoyable ride,” said de Lavalette of her ride with Clarc. “I went through my test about a thousand times. I wasn’t really nervous, but just excited. The excitement took over and I knew my test, I knew my horse was right, and we were together and in sync, so I couldn’t be happier with the ride.”

De Lavalette (Lake Worth Beach, Fla.) has said that competing at the Paralympic Games and representing her country is one of the main motivating factors in her incredible recovery and return to sport following the 2016 Brussels Airport bombings. Riding her recently acquired mount, Clarc, de Lavalette commented on the meaningfulness of the Paralympic journey and what it felt like to make her international championship debut.

“It is such a great honor to be here representing the U.S. at this competition and being able to have fun with my horse out there after five years of fighting for my life. It was really very emotional for me at the end,” she explained. “Setting the goal of being here five years ago when I was in the ICU was a dream and being here today is a dream realized and I couldn’t be happier. I’m very proud of myself and my team because without them I wouldn’t be here.”

Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer 40, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Deena, Craig, & Kate Shoemaker are also making their Paralympic debut after contesting their first major international championship with the U.S. Para Dressage Team at the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018. The pair earned a 70.854 percent from the judging panel in an extremely competitive first day of Grade IV competition, placing them seventh out of 15 competitors.

“I’m really pleased with my horse, though a little bit disappointed with the score of course since we had hoped to be in the medals and I felt our ride today was quite good, but all I can do is be happy with my performance in the ring and I absolutely love my horse to pieces,” said Shoemaker after her test. “The energy in there was phenomenal. It just gives you a sense of power and the horses can feel it and it’s just so much fun.”

Shoemaker (Wellington, Fla.) and Solitaer 40 have been partnered together for the entirety of both of their international careers and achieving this selection to the U.S. Para Dressage Team for the Paralympic Games is the highlight for Shoemaker and her team. Working through the 2020 and 2021 seasons to continually improve their marks in both the Individual and Team tests, the pair have become a consistent combination for the team.

“We’ve been showing together for a while now and this is the end of our seventh year together. It’s a partnership that’s been a long time coming,” added Shoemaker. “He loves championships and when you add that little bit of energy, he really turns into something special and it’s a feeling like none other.”

More medals up for grabs

At the end of day one of the competition, Great Britain top the Para Dressage medal table with one gold, one silver, and a bronze, with The Netherlands and Belgium close behind on one gold and a bronze each.

There are a total of 11 sets of medals being contested at the Para Equestrian Events of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games across the five Grades – five Individual, five Freestyle to Music and one overall team medal.

Tomorrow will see the Grades I and III Individual Test medals decided. Roxanne Trunnell, the world Number One in Grade I and across all five Grades will be aiming for her first Paralympic title, while in Grade III look out for a real tussle for the medals between the likes of Natasha Baker (GBR), Tobias Thorning Jorgensen (DEN), Rixt van der Horst (NED) and Rebecca Hart (USA).

Results here.

Tokyo Paralympic Games Set for Fiercest Para Dressage Competition Yet

Japan’s Grade IV athlete Katsuji Takashima and his horse Huzette pose for a selfie after the Para Dressage horse inspection at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (FEI/Liz Gregg).

On the 25th anniversary of the introduction of Para Dressage in the Paralympic Games, the field of 77 athletes from 26 countries in Tokyo promises to be the most competitive yet.

Expect to see fierce competition in the arena as reigning champions go head-to-head to defend their titles, while newcomers and seasoned campaigners look to upset the odds and take their place on the podium.

The Equestrian Park at Baji Koen will be the focus of fantastic sporting performances, finesse and artistry over five days of competition. The athletes are not just here to look pretty in the arena, they’re here to get the gold medals they want so desperately.

And everyone has their eye on the top prize in the Team competition, which will see 15 nations compete for the honours. Great Britain have been the title holders since the competition started at the Paralympic Games in Atlanta 1996. And, while they remain a strong contender at Tokyo 2020, they face their toughest challenge yet from the Netherlands and Team USA.

The Netherlands come into Tokyo 2020 as the current World and European champions and it’s no secret that they are keen to add the Paralympic title to that roster. Fielding a team full of individual World and European champions, they remain a hot tip to do just that.

Team USA currently top the FEI Para Dressage Paralympic Team Ranking and their charge for gold will be led by overall individual world number one, Roxanne Trunnell. Building on strong performances at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon (USA), the team has since developed into a Para Dressage powerhouse with high hopes for Tokyo 2020.

Paralympic Games always have an element of surprise and, with just three athlete/horse combinations, team results could turn on the smallest of margins. With Germany, Denmark, Australia, and Belgium in the mix too, it is difficult to predict the outcome.

There are five Grades that make up the Para Dressage competition, with Grade I athletes having the most impairment, and Grade V the least. Grade I athletes compete at walk only, Grade II at trot, and Grade III and above can canter.

While Grade I should be dominated by Roxanne Trunnell, she faces stiff competition from World and European medallists, including current double World champion Sara Morganti (ITA). Singapore’s most decorated Paralympian, Laurentia Tan, will want to add to her medal collection, and World number two, Rihards Snikus (LAT), is due a Paralympic podium finish too. Look out for the current European champion, Jens Lasse Dokkan (NOR), who is the only Para Dressage athlete to have competed at every Games since Atlanta 1996.

Lee Pearson (GBR) and Pepo Puch (AUT) went head-to-head for medals at the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016 and constantly tussle for the top spot whenever they compete together. Puch is currently the World number one in Grade II, with Pearson third. Extra frisson has been added to this competition with the last-minute inclusion of Great Britain’s Georgia Wilson. Ranked second in the World in the Grade and the athlete who famously beat Puch for the Freestyle title at the FEI European Championships 2019 – her first major competition – she was called up to the British team following the withdrawal of Grade I athlete Sophie Christiansen.

It’s going to be a tight tussle at the top in Grade III, which includes Rio 2016 Individual, Freestyle and Team gold medallist Natasha Baker (GBR), as well as Rixt van der Horst (NED), who won Individual, Team and Freestyle gold medals at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon (USA). Joining them will be Tobias Thorning Joergensen (DEN), who took Individual and Freestyle gold at the FEI European Championship 2019 in Rotterdam, and is currently ranked number one in the Grade III Para Dressage World Individual Ranking. Also included in the mix is Rebecca Hart (USA), the world number two in this Grade, as well as Emma Booth (AUS), and van der Horst’s teammate and Paralympic debutant, Maud De Reu (NED).

Grade IV could prove to be the hottest ticket at the Para Dressage competition, as Sanne Voets (NED) bids to add Paralympic gold to her European and World titles. Riding the brilliant Demantur N.O.P., Voets has come out of the pandemic year looking stronger and more confident than ever. However, Rodolpho Riskalla (BRA), runner-up to Voets in the Individual and Freestyle Tests at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018, will be hot on her heels. They will face competition from Kate Shoemaker (USA), who picked up a Freestyle bronze in Tryon 2018.

In Grade V, Michèle George (BEL) will be looking to add to the Freestyle and Individual gold medals from London 2012 and Freestyle gold in Rio 2016. Her country’s flagbearer at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games’ Opening Ceremony, she is here in Japan with a new horse, Best of 8.

For many years now, the Grade V has been dominated by George, Sophie Wells (GBR), and Frank Hosmar (NED). The trio will be vying for a place on the podium again this week, but will need to look out for the likes of Regine Mispelkamp (GER), Natalia Martianova (RPC), and George’s teammate Kevin Van Ham (BEL).

Competition gets underway on Thursday 26 August and runs to Monday 30 August. The forecast is for hot weather, and hot competition too.

Dutch Team Named for FEI Eventing European Championships

Merel Blom and The Quizmaster. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The following press release has been translated from Dutch. Please forgive any translation errors.

National coach Andrew Heffernan will take a relatively ‘young’ Dutch team to the European Senior Eventing Championships, from September 22 to 26 in Avanches, Switzerland. However, the coach who lives in Great Britain opted for routine, which is clearly present in this TeamNL.

In addition to veteran Merel Blom, a team of experienced young riders has been selected by Andrew Heffernan for the European Championship eventing in Avenches. He chose Sanne de Jong, Aliene Ruyter and Jordy Wilken, all three of whom were part of the team that finished second in Haras du Pin’s FEI Nations Cup last week. Three riders that were regularly part of the Dutch teams in their junior and young riders period and have already gained the necessary experience in various Nations Cup competitions. Sanne de Jong and Jordy Wilken were also on stage earlier at the Dutch National Championships in Boekelo. They will be joined in the European Championship team by their contemporary Janneke Boonzaadjer, who represented TeamNL at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Janneke was also present in Haras du Pin, but she did not compete in the Nations Cup with her Olympic horse Champ du Tailleur who was enjoying his holiday.

Merel Blom is the most experienced member of the team. This will be her fourth European Championships for the rider. TeamNL at the European Championships consists of four combinations, the fifth will start individually.

The selection is also a great success for the KNHS Talent Team, Janneke Boonzaadjer is currently still part of the Talent Team and both Sanne de Jong and Jordy Wilken were previously members of this select group of talents.

National coach Andrew Heffernan is looking forward to the European Championship, “The Team Spirit was great in Haras du Pin, I am looking forward to working with this group again in Avanches.”

Merel Blom (35, Aalten)
The Quizmaster (v.Albaran xx), KWPN, 12 years old
Owner:Blom Sports Stables en Stal Hulsman B.V.

Janneke Boonzaaijer (24, Renswoude)
ACSI Champ de Tailleur (v.Quidam de Revel), KWPN, 14 years old
Owner: H.J.C. Roozendaal en Lieke van der Werf

Sanne de Jong (26, Aalsmeer)
Enjoy (v.Cartano), KWPN, 12 years old
Owner: Sanne de Jong en Jantien van Zon

Aliene Ruyter (25, Opheusden)
Bomba (v.Verdi), KWPN, 15 years old
Eigenaar: A.J Ruijter

Jordy Wilken (27, Olst)
Burry Spirit (v.Casco), KWPN, 15 years old
Owner: J. Wilken

FEI Eventing European Championships: [Website] [EN’s Coverage]

Want to Level Up Your Riding at Home? Check Out the Newly-Launched RideiQ App

McKinsey Lux (Ride iQ Co-Founder) and Leslie Law filming for RideIQ lessons.

Ride iQ launches new app to give equestrians broad access to the world’s best coaches
Launching with a mobile app, Ride iQ members will have access to a library of 100+ on-demand audio lessons taught by world-class coaches

Ride iQ launched its membership and mobile app today. As the first audio-focused training platform for equestrians, it offers something completely new to riders: the opportunity to get on-demand instruction while they ride. It is the equestrian-equivalent of Peloton’s guided runs. Ride iQ is currently focused on English disciplines with coaches who specialize in eventing, hunter/jumpers, and dressage. Ride iQ membership costs $29.99/month or $249/year.

Ride iQ provides affordable, unlimited access to world-class coaching for more enjoyable, safe, and productive schooling. While the Ride iQ mobile app and audio lessons are the foundation of the business, other membership benefits include access to live virtual Office Hours with Ride iQ coaches, the private Ride iQ Facebook group, and private Ride iQ podcasts. Ride iQ’s team is dedicated to compassionate horsemanship and effective training and seeks to elevate the global standards for equestrian partnerships and performances.

“If I had something like this as a kid growing up in the sport that could have kept me focused and inspired, it certainly would have helped me a lot. I think it’s that access not only to good instruction, but motivation.” – Jon Holling, 5-star event rider

Kyle Carter taking a lesson from Dennis Mitchell for a Ride iQ recording.

Members get unlimited access to a library of 100+ audio lessons that can be selected based on topic, preferred coach, experience level, and more. Ride iQ lessons cater to all levels and focus on:

  • Mastering a specific skill
  • Improving a horse’s way of going
  • Perfecting a dressage test, movement by movement
  • Training a green horse
  • Improving rider position and use of aids
  • Exercises to achieve the desired outcome

Lesson examples include Walk Canter Transitions with Ema Klugman, a green horse progressive program with Jon Holling, Improving Unsteady Connection with Doug Payne, OTTB warmups with Holly Hudspeth, dressage test playbooks with Peter Gray, and Using Ground Rails for Stride Accuracy with Leslie Law.

Ride iQ lessons are not meant to replace in-person lessons, but instead provide support during independent schooling rides. Currently, schooling rides lack guidance and rely on a rider’s existing knowledge and abilities; with Ride iQ, those rides can be a source of improved understanding, helpful exercises, new insights, and better experiences for horse and rider.

“I’ve said it for years: this is an information game. There’s a reason that the majority of medal winners are over 35 in this sport. It’s not because we get healthier, it’s because we’ve accrued more knowledge.” – Kyle Carter, Olympic event rider

Ride iQ provides everyday riders access to an elite level of coaching that is currently only accessible to a small minority of equestrians. By giving broad access to exceptional coaching, Ride iQ will raise the standard for safer riding and better performances.

“I really think that through programs like Ride iQ and others, it’s a way we can help spread good training techniques and it will benefit everybody.” – Peter Gray, Olympic event rider and top-level dressage judge

Ride iQ coaches include:

  • Leslie Law
  • Lesley Grant Law
  • Ema Klugman
  • Holly Hepp Hudspeth
  • Peter Gray
  • Jennifer Carter
  • Jonathan Holling
  • Doug Payne
  • Kyle Carter
  • Dennis Mitchell
  • + more coaches will be added regularly after launch

Ride iQ was founded in 2021 by sisters McKinsey and Jessa Lux. McKinsey and Jessa grew up eventing in Minnesota. Wanting to move up the levels, both sisters moved their horses to Ocala, Florida during high school to work with Kyle and Jennifer Carter, now their partners in Ride iQ.

“I transferred to online school for high school so I could move to Florida and train with the best coaches. Had Ride iQ existed, I would’ve had the necessary resources to pursue my passion in my hometown in Minnesota. There are riders all over the world that want to be great and do right by their horses, but they simply do not have the necessary mentorship or tools to do so. Ride iQ can change that. – McKinsey Lux, Ride iQ Co-founder and amateur Eventer

CCI4*-L Competitions Announced for 2023-2027 U.S. Eventing Calendar

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is pleased to announce the competitions approved by the USEF Board of Directors Ad Hoc Committee (Board) to host the CCI4*-L level events during the 2023-2027 competition cycle under the new Eventing Calendar Process. All U.S. Organizers were invited to bid to host the CCI4*-L, CCI4*-S, CCI3*-L and Advanced levels through a bid process. Only venues that submitted bids to host the CCI4*-L level were considered for the CCI4*-L dates.

The host competitions and their 2023 dates are as follows:

  • April 22, 2023 – Twin Rivers Spring International (Paso Robles, California)
  • May 13, 2023 – Tryon Spring International (Mill Spring, North Carolina)
  • July 22, 2023 – The Event at Rebecca Farm (Kalispell, Montana)
  • October 14, 2023 – Morven Park Fall International (Leesburg, Virginia)
  • November 4, 2023 – Galway Downs International (Temecula, California)
  • November 18, 2023 – The Event at TerraNova (Myakka City, Florida)

The approved CCI4*-L bids met the criteria outlined in the 2023-2027 U.S. Eventing Calendar CCI4*-L, CCI4*-S, CCI3*-L & Advanced Policies & Procedures. The USEF Eventing Bid Review Group provided their recommendation to the USEF Eventing Sport Committee and USEF International Disciplines Council prior to Board approval.

The USEF Eventing Bid Review Group is in the process of reviewing the bids to host the CCI4*-S, CCI3*-L and Advanced competitions on the 2023-2027 Eventing Calendar. The allocation of the CCI4*-S, CCI3*-L and Advanced levels is expected be announced by the end of September.

Please refer to the U.S. Eventing Calendar Process webpage for all information regarding the Eventing Calendar Process.

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US Equestrian Announces FEI Eventing Nations Cup Team for Military Boekelo Enschede

Graphic via US Equestrian.

US Equestrian is pleased to announce the combinations selected to the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team for the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ The Netherlands CCIO4*-L at the Military Boekelo Enschede in Enschede, Netherlands from October 7-10, 2021. The team will be led by Chef d’Equipe Erik Duvander.

“I am looking forward to taking this team to Boekelo, as any of these combinations can be ready for the FEI Eventing World Championship in 2022, Pan American Games in 2023 or Olympic Games in 2024,” said Duvander. “Part of their development is to have team experiences. This is an area where we are behind as a country in comparison to other competitive nations.”

The following athlete-and-horse combinations have been selected to represent the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team at the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ The Netherlands CCIO4*-L and are listed in alphabetical order.

  • Jennie Brannigan (West Grove, Pa.) and FE Lifestyle, an 11-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Nina Gardner and Tim Gardner
  • Sydney Elliott (Bossier City, La.) and QC Diamantaire, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Carol Stephens
  • Matt Flynn (Ocala, Fla.) and Wizzerd, a 12-year-old KPWN gelding owned by A. Patrick Flynn, Kathleen Flynn, and Merry Go Round Farm
  • Tamie Smith (Murrieta, Calif.) and Danito, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Ruth BleyT

The following combinations have been selected as alternates and are listed in ranked order.

  • Jenny Caras (Cartersville, Ga.) and Trendy Fernhill, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Elyse Eisenberg
  • Hallie Coon (Ocala, Fla.) and Global EX, her own 11-year-old KWPN mare

BE Announces Nominated Entries for FEI Eventing European Championship

Ros Canter (GBR) and Allstar B. Photo by Sally Spickard.

British Equestrian and the British Eventing selectors can today confirm the 18 horse and rider combinations that will form their list of nominated entries ahead of the FEI Eventing European Championship, set to take place at Avenches, Switzerland, from 22–26 September this year.

Nominated entries, listed in alphabetical order by athlete surname:

  • Sarah Bullimore (48) based in Keysoe, Bedfordshire, with the Kew Jumping Syndicate, Brett Bullimore and her own Corouet (chestnut, gelding, 10yrs, 15.2hh, Balou du Rouet x Lovis Corinth, Breeder: Sarah Bullimore GBR)
  • Rosalind Canter (35) based in Hallington, Lincolnshire, with Caroline Moore and her own Allstar B (bay, gelding, 16yrs, 17hh, Ephebe For Ever x Erkstein, Breeder: FAJ Van der Burg NED) and Michele Saul’s Lordships Graffalo (bay, gelding, 9yrs, 17hh, Grafenstolz x Rock King, Breeder: Lordships Stud Writtle College GBR)
  • Kirsty Chabert (32) based in Salisbury, Wiltshire, with John Johnston and Carole Somers’ Classic IV (bay, mare, 12yrs, 16.1hh, s. Calvaro FC, Breeder: P. Charles GBR)
  • Emilie Chandler (40) from Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, with Maria Doel’s Gortfadda Diamond (brown, gelding, 12yrs, 16.2hh, Water Valley Cool Diamond x Glacial Storm, Breeder: Sean Thomas Lydon IRL)
  • Laura Collett (31) based in Salperton, Gloucestershire, with Keith Scott, Nick How and her own Mr Bass (bay, gelding, 13yrs, 16.2hh, Carrico x Exorbitant XX, Breeder: Henning Heinz GER)
  • Kristina Cook (50) based Findon, West Sussex, with Elisabeth Murdoch and Keith Tyson’s Billy the Red (chestnut, gelding, 14yrs, 16.1hh, Balou du Rouet x Stan The Man XX, Breeder: Michaela Weber-Herrmann GER)
  • William Fox- Pitt (52) based in Sturminster Newton, Dorset, with Jennifer Dowling and his own Little Fire (bay, gelding, 12yrs, 17hh, Graf Top x Heraldik, Breeder: Dr. Volker Steinkraus GER) and the Oratorio Syndicate’s Oratorio (brown, gelding, 12yrs, 16.3hh, Oslo Biats x Topanoora, Breeder: R. Jenks GBR)
  • Pippa Funnell (52) based in Dorking, Surrey, with Jonathan and Jane Clarke’s MGH Grafton Street (bay, gelding, 13yrs, 16.2hh, s. OBOS Quality, Breeder: Padraig and Lucy McCarthy GBR) and Barbara and Nicholas Walkinshaw’s Billy Walk On (bay, gelding, 12yrs, 16.3hh, Billy Mexico x Golden Bash, Breeder: Donal Barnwell GBR)
  • Yasmin Ingham (24) based in Nantwich, Cheshire, originally from the Isle of Man, with Janette Chinn and Sue Davies’ Banzai Du Loir (chestnut, gelding, 10yrs, 16.2hh, Nouma D’Auzay x Livarot, Breeder: Pierre Gouye FRA)
  • Kitty King (38) based in Chippenham, Wiltshire, with Diana Bown, Sally Eyre, Samantha Wilson and Sally Lloyd-Baker’s Vendredi Biats (grey, gelding, 12yrs, 16.2hh, Winningmood x Camelia de Ruelles, Breeder: Phillipe Brivois FRA)
  • Piggy March (40) based in Maidwell, Northamptonshire, with John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburn’s Brookfield Inocent (bay, gelding, 12yrs, 16.3hh, Inocent x Kings Servant, Breeder: John Mulvey IRL)
  • Harry Meade (37) based in West Littleton, Wiltshire, with Mandy Gray and his own Superstition (bay, gelding, 12yrs, 16.1hh, s. Satisfaction FRH, Breeder: Eva Meier GBR)
  • Izzy Taylor (38) based in Bicester, Oxfordshire, with Mark Sartori and her own Monkeying Around (bay, gelding, 10yrs, 16.2hh, Bertoli W x Donnerhall II, Breeder: Christian Heinrich GER)
  • Oliver Townend (38) based in Ellesmere, Shropshire, with Angela Hislop’s Cooley Master Class (bay, gelding, 16yrs, 16.2hh, Ramiro B x Master Imp, Breeder: John Hagan IRL)
  • Nicola Wilson (44) based in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, with Deirdre Johnston and James and Jo Lambert’s JL Dublin (dark brown, gelding, 10yo, 16.2hh, Diarados Cheeky Boy x Cantano, Breeder: Volker Coettsche-Goetze GER)

Selection decisions are subject to the athletes and horses maintaining fitness and performance, and this list may be amended at any stage.

The selected squad of six combinations, plus reserves, will be announced on or around 27 August.

[British Equestrian]

Tuesday Video: Venturing to Jumperland with Quantum Leap

Doug Payne and Quantum Leap. Photo by Reagan Ibach, TIEC.

Doug Payne dibble-dabbles between show jumping and eventing, and he claimed first, third, fourth and fifth in last Friday morning’s $5,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake. Doug and Quantum Leap, the 2011 RPSI gelding (Quite Capitol x Report to Sloopy) he owns in partnership with wife Jessica, were one of only two pairs to go clear: Merideth Bryans (Newborn, GA) and Guidam Sid, her own 2007 Czech Warmblood gelding of unknown breeding, scored second place on a time of 38.753 over the Skip Bailey (Wellington, FL) course design.

Doug and Quantum Leap won on a jump-off time of 34.402 seconds, while Payne collected third with Botanja, the 2006 Warmblood mare (Salvatore x Juta) owned by Courtney Alston, by way of a four-fault round in a time of 68.667. Quintessence, the 2011 Holsteiner gelding (Quinar x Victoria’s Secret) owned by Jane Dudinksy, earned fourth place on a time of 68.69 and four faults, while Getaway, Olivia Wall’s 2007 Oldenburg gelding (Contendro x Unknown), collected fifth place on the same faults and with a time of 73.314 seconds.

Doug made a last-minute decision to include Quantum Leap in the Welcome Stake, and revealed that the 5* eventing athlete typically jumps fences a bit smaller than the ones that he conquered for the win. “He went to Kentucky for the 5* in the spring, and he’ll be headed to Maryland for the new 5* this fall. It was kind of a last-minute decision to throw him in this class. He’s been jumping great, so I figured I’d put him in the Welcome Stake here, and it’s actually bigger than he’d be jumping normally in eventing.”

The gametime decision paid off for Doug, who credited his horse’s nimble athleticism despite his large stature. “He’s a very good jumper: very careful and super honest. For a big horse, he’s super maneuverable and light on his feet, so with jump-off situations he’s generally pretty efficient. He was able to pull it off today, so that’s always fun!”

Just home from his Olympic debut with Vandiver, Doug reflected on his travels that took him from Tryon to Tokyo and back. “It was an incredible experience. You always hope and dream that you’ll be able to represent your country at the Olympics, so when it actually happens it’s kind of surreal. It was unusual for sure because the COVID lockdown situation was strong over there, so I didn’t know what to expect, but my horse, Vandiver, was excellent,” Doug concluded. “He has probably the biggest heart of any horse I’ve worked with.”

Go Doug. Go Eventing.

Brandon McMechan Shines in Bromont CCI4-S*

Brandon McMechan (CAN) and Oscar’s Wild.
Photo by Cealy Tetley.

Brandon McMechan (CAN) riding Oscar’s Wild rose to the task this weekend at the Bromont CCI-S Horse Trials in Bromont, Quebec. Winning the CCI4*-S after adding just 4 jumping penalties in Sarah Robert’s designed show jumping course and 5.2 time over a tightly wheeled Derek Di Grazia cross country course, giving them a final score of 38.5

“We just have a great relationship” says Brandon of Oscar’s Wild, a 12-year-old thoroughbred gelding which Brandon owns with his father Glenn was sourced by fellow competitor, Kendal Lehari and her mother Gwen.

Brandon, a Toronto based chiropractor, when asked about his weekend said, “I love it here. I try to get all my friends to come for a little cottage weekend, come watch the show and so close to Montreal they can buzz over there.”

Second place in the 4* went to Australia’s Dom Schramm on the score of 45.8 and the KWPN gelding, Bolytair B, with Lindsay Traisnel (CAN) on Bacyrouge taking third place with their score of 54.8.

In the CCI3*-S, Uxbridge resident Kendal Lehari (CAN) and her own Canadian Sport Horse gelding Audacious (Junior) took top place on a score of 34.8. Finishing just ahead of fellow Canadian and Dunham, Quebec based, Colleen Loach on a score of 36.1.

When asked about her weekend Kendal said, “I love Bromont, it’s probably my favourite event.”

Ascot Corner (QC) resident Melissa Boutin took the red ribbon in the CCI2*-S division ahead of a strong field of 14 on her own Obeah Dancer GS (Colleen). Finishing on their dressage score of 24.9. A financial advisor when not riding four to six horses a day and giving lessons in her barn, Melissa appeared pleased with their results saying “It went so well, that course has a beautiful flow. It keeps you busy right up to the end. A really fun course to ride.” Continuing an already great weekend Melissa also won the Open Training with Threes are Wild on a score of 27.6, riding the thoroughbred gelding owned by Marie-Gabrielle Bronsard.

In the Open Preliminary, Kingston, Ontario’s own Selena O’Hanlon riding Ringwood Hustler and Lexington, Kentucky based Alexandra Baugh on Dogano de L’Oiseliere took first and second respectively.

A fabulous weekend by all accounts was had by both Canadian and US based competitors at the iconic venue, Bromont Olympic Equestrian Park, site of the equestrian events of the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.

A popular discussion for U.S. visitors over the weekend was just how straight forward cross-border travel has become since the change in COVID-19 travel restrictions. US Citizens and permanent residents can now come to Canada by being vaccinated, providing COVID-19 negative results, and entering all the information in to the free ArriveCAN application or on the official website.

Dom Schramm when asked about his border experience said, “It literally took no extra time” and went on to say about the event “People were asking me are you going to Bromont? I said of course I’m going to Bromont. Bromont is the best event in North America.”

Held annually the third weekend of August in the charming village of Bromont, Quebec, the Bromont CCI-S Horse Trials is within easy driving distance of Montreal, Quebec and Burlington, Vermont. This scenic area offers great dining, shopping, entertainment, and golf options.

Information regarding the event is available on our website at https://bromontcci.com and linked to our social media. Reach the event secretary at [email protected].

Kendal Lehari (CAN) and Audacious
Photo; Cealy Tetley
Brandon McMechan (CAN) and Oscar’s Wild
Photo: Cealy Tetley
Mellisa Boutin (CAN) and Obeah Dancer GS
Photo: Cealy Tetley
Selena O’Hanlon (CAN) and Ringwood Hustler
Photo: Cealy Tetley
Melissa Boutin (CAN) and Threes are Wild
Photo: Cealy Tetley
Dominic Schramm (AUS) and Bolytair B
Photo: Cealy Tetley
Colleen Loach (CAN) and FE Golden Eye
Photo: Cealy Tetley
Joanie Morris (USA)
Photo: Cealy Tetley

MARS Great Meadow International Makes Strides for Equality

Photo via MyCourseWalk.com.

The MARS EQUESTRIAN™ Great Meadow International (MARSGMI) and Strides for Equality Equestrians (SEE) are pleased to announce a partnership to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sport of Eventing. MARSGMI is excited to be the first event to partner with SEE with the shared goal of proactively increasing awareness of and access to our sport.

“We are honored to be partnered with SEE,” said Darrin Mollett of Five Rings Eventing (FRE), the organizer of MARSGMI. “Sports, as in all things, are better when more people can belong. If we can encourage more participants in Eventing, we will be more competitive in the long run. Growing diversity and inclusion within the sport is important to me and to my FRE partner, David O’Connor”

Strides for Equality Equestrians is a non-profit organization developed by Eventers to promote the sport through inclusivity and allyship. SEE’s mission is to both create equitable opportunities for BIPOC equestrians and to foster an encouraging environment of inclusion and belonging within the sport. SEE provides access grants to community riding centers, has developed a professional pathways program that provides scholarships for equine career oriented individuals, promotes Allyship and team building within equestrian sport, and engages and educates about the historical culture and evolution of broader participation within the horseworld.

Recognizing that financial barriers might prevent interested folks from attending the event which requires the purchase of entrance tickets, the MARSGMI organizing committee has generously donated two tailgating spots for members of the local equestrian access program to attend the event at no cost. SEE is pleased to announce that riders from network member White Oak Stables have been invited to come out and enjoy the MARSGMI event, which takes place August 19 – 22. They will be able to watch the action up close with space provided by Great Meadow and will meet with International riders who are joining SEE to promote their cause.

White Oak Stables, located in Warrenton, VA, provides affordable, fun, and inclusive access to horseback riding for people from all walks of life. One of its guiding principles is that it’s important for people in minority and under-represented communities to know that horseback riding is an option for them. Raising awareness of the sport, making it more affordable, and providing inclusive opportunities, is pivotal to increasing diversity in the equestrian community,” (read more about White Oak Stables, their values, and their diversity program at http://white-oak-stables.com/about/diversity-program/).

Horse & Country and USEA Announce Wide-Ranging Partnership, Launch of USEA Channel

Lynn Symansky and Under Suspection, winners of the 2019 MARS Great Meadow International CCI4*-S. This year’s MARS Great Meadow International, happening August 19-22, will also be live streamed on H&C+. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Leading international equestrian sports network Horse & Country (H&C) and the United States Eventing Association (USEA) have announced the details of a wide-ranging partnership. The rationale behind the new arrangement is underpinned by H&C’s extensive eventing coverage, both domestic and international, which includes live and highlights sport, training content and rider profiles, the increasing role of video in USEA’s communications activity, and the opportunity to showcase eventing from the U.S. to H&C’s global audience.

At the heart of the partnership is the creation of the USEA Channel on H&C’s streaming service, H&C+. The USEA Channel will host all of H&C’s eventing live streams, starting with the forthcoming MARS Great Meadow International from Virginia. Future USEA Channel livestreams will include events such as the Carolina International, major USEA-recognized competitions, and championships. The USEA Channel will also feature major international events including the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials and the Chedington Bicton Park 5* Horse Trials. A further treat awaits eventing fans in October with world-class competition from Les 5 Étoiles de Pau.

The USEA Channel will feature a wealth of eventing-related material including Masterclasses from Will Faudree and Will Coleman, as well as episodes of H&C’s Barn Talk series featuring profiles of both Wills and USEA Rider of the Year Liz Halliday-Sharp.

Other key features of the partnership include:
A 15% reduction on the annual H&C+ subscription for USEA members
An extensive promotional program for each partner across the other’s platforms
Further live streams of USEA events to be announced

H&C Director David Qualls said, “Three-day eventing is one of the cornerstones of H&C+, so a partnership with USEA is a great way to add further value for the passionate eventing community. Many of our viewers are both fans and competitors in their own right, so we’ve created the USEA Channel to pull together a wide range of content to help them get even more from the sport they love.”

“For a number of years the USEA has been looking for an international equestrian sports network partner,” commented USEA CEO Rob Burk. “In order for the sport to turn our current hundreds of thousands of fans into millions of fans we need to enable better access to the sport by the public. H&C+ will enable us to do exactly that. H&C+ offers exciting coverage and interesting educational programs. Ultimately, the USEA is an educational association with an aim to promote eventing as a top-notch spectator sport. We know the fans of horses, equestrian sports, and eventing will make H&C+ their go-to network.”

To watch all of H&C’s eventing live streams and access the USEA Channel, make sure you are signed up to H&C+, Horse & Country’s worldwide streaming service. H&C+ members can watch online or with H&C’s mobile apps, as well as on Xfinity, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, and Amazon Fire. Membership is just $9.99 per month, or $99.99 annually ($84.99 to USEA members), and full details on how to join can be found at horseandcountry.tv.

There are a number of high-profile opportunities for equestrian brands to advertise around live eventing on H&C including in-stream billboards, in-stream video ads, and pre-roll video ads. For further details, contact H&C Partnership Manager Tattie Singer.

Time for Ponies! The European Championships are About to Start in Strzegom

Photo by Mariusz Chmieliński.

Jumpers, eventers and dressage riders will be fighting for medals in the European championships in the ponies’ category from today forward at the arenas in Strzegom. 162 young riders, representing 21 countries will take part in the competition.

The arenas of the Morawa Hippodrome will host competitors aged 12 to 16 and their ponies, i.e. horses up to 149 cm tall. It will be a unique event for horse sports fans. The championships in three Olympic disciplines: dressage, eventing and show jumping will be played out in one place and time.

The competition will start on August 11 and will last for five days – the eventers will get underway tomorrow, Thursday August 12. It will be preceded by an opening ceremony during which all national teams will present themselves. The rivalry in dressage will begin the event, and we will know the first medalists on Thursday, August 12th.

The competition will be played out with the participation of audiences. Admission is free. Parking costs 20 PLN. Fans will also be able to virtually cheer on their favorites during the live broadcast, which will be available via FEI.TV.

Website: http://www.strzegomponies.pl/pl/

Entries: http://www.strzegomponies.pl/images/2021/zakladki/zgłoszenia_.pdf

Davis Equine + Ride Safe to Present Inaugural Groom’s Award at #MARSGMI

Boyd Martin’s Tsetserleg and his groom Stephanie Simpson. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Five Rings Eventing, LLC is pleased to announce a partnership with Davis Equine + Ride Safe to provide a Groom’s Award at this year’s event.

The MARS Great Meadow International (MARSGMI) takes place in The Plains, Virginia on August 19-22, 2021 and offers CCI4*-S, CCI3*-S, CCI2*-S and preliminary divisions.

“A Groom’s Award is something this competition has always wanted to do,” said Max Corcoran, a member of the organizing committee and an Olympic level professional groom who’s traveled around the world caring for the top horses in the sport. ”I’ve been so lucky to work with amazing animals throughout my career. A groom’s relationship with their horses is the foundation for the success of any team, and we are grateful to our friends at Davis Equine + Ride Safe for sponsoring a prize that highlights their role.”

Davis Equine + Ride Safe has been supporting GMI for years. Now, in addition to providing beautiful leather halters to winners in each division, Davis Equine will also provide a $200 gift certificate to Tri-Country Feeds Fashions and Finds, a leather shank, and a Ride Safe bracelet to the best groom nominated by the ground jury of the CCI4*-S division.

“For Davis Equine + Ride Safe to step up to sponsor a groom’s award is truly a special thing for David O’Connor and me,” said Darrin Mollett, who together with David O’Connor run Five Ring’s Eventing, the Organizer of the event. “When David and I envisioned this event seven years ago, we always saw it as a community-based event on an international stage. To have our local businesses contribute in this generous way makes the hard work worth it and ensures the longevity of this event for our community athletes for years to come.”

“Davis Equine + Ride Safe is excited to partner with this great local competition again,” said Dr Chad Davis of Davis Equine. “We understand how important the work of these grooms is to the health and welfare of the equine athlete and are honored to recognize their immense contribution to the sport.”

Last year, MARSGMI successfully implemented the “Great Meadow Model” to run a safe event during the pandemic. This year will be no different as MARSGMI will return to the same model to allow spectators to enjoy the competition in a safe environment.

Returning for 2021, MARSGMI will offer general admission weekend passes as well as fabulous tailgate options for spectators. Limited vendors, a wine vendor, and food trucks have been invited to enhance the spectator experience. Catering is also offered by Salamander Market.

“Great Meadow is truly a special place in the heart of Northern Virginia horse country,” said O’Connor. “We are especially excited to broaden the reach of this event to be more inclusive of our community members, businesses, and organizations who share our love of open space, animal well-being, and the Piedmont.”

MARSGMI will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and maintain communication with the Great Meadow Foundation, state and local health officials and the USEF and FEI.

Today in Tokyo: Silver for Team USA After Thrilling Jump-Off Finale

This report was compiled from FEI and US Equestrian press releases.

Sweden – Gold. USA – Silver. Belgium – Bronze. Photo Copyright © FEI/EFE/Kai Försterling.

It’s almost a century since Sweden last won Olympic Jumping Team gold, and when they did it tonight they did it with both style and grace.

A magnificent performance all week from Henrik von Eckermann with King Edward, Malin Baryard-Johnson and Indiana and Peder Fredricson with All In led to high expectations that this could be the night they would bring the ultimate honour back to their country for the first time in 97 years. But it wouldn’t be easy.

As the final competition played itself out it came down to a head-to-head with the feisty American threesome of Laura Kraut with Baloutinue, Jessica Springsteen with Don Juan van de Donhoeve and McLain Ward with Contagious, and they wouldn’t be handing anything over without a fight. The two sides completed today’s first round with eight faults apiece, and the battle lines were drawn.

Belgium was already assured of bronze when collecting 12 faults in the opening round. Team France looked set to be the biggest threat to all others when single time faults from both Simon Delestre and Berlux Z and Mathieu Billot with Quel Filou, in the opening round left them sitting pretty before Penelope Leprevost set off. But elimination at the third fence for Vancouver de Lanlore shattered the French dream of repeating the glory they enjoyed five years ago in Rio de Janeiro.

So Pieter Devos (Claire Z), Jerome Guery (Quel Homme de Hus) and Gregory Wathelet (Nevados S) could sit back in the knowledge that the third step of the podium would belong to Belgium, and the stage was set for one last roll of the dice for the Americans and Swedes.

Jessica Springsteen (USA) & Don Juan van de Donkhoeve. Photo by FEI / Arnd Bronkhorst.

Final showdown

With all three team members returning to the ring for the final showdown it was Kraut who led the way for the USA with her 11-year-old gelding, scorching through the finish in 41.33 seconds to set the pace. And although Sweden’s von Eckermann took a new route he was a little slower when breaking the beam in 42.00 seconds with King Edward who, sensationally, never lowered a single pole in five rounds of tough jumping this week.

Springsteen returned clear for USA in 42.95 seconds so when Baryard-Johnsson was quicker, crossing the line in 41.89, the Swedes already had a small advantage. But Ward was next to go, and shaving seconds off all those ahead of him he raced through the finish in 39.92 to really put it up to Swedish anchorman Fredricson.

But how cool is the man who took his second successive Individual silver medal, and with the same horse, just three days ago.

As he set off you could read the complete determination on Fredricson’s face. Did he feel the tension as he galloped down to the last fence, knowing what was hanging in the balance?

“Oh, the pressure was on!”, he admitted. “My god, in these situations when you have two teams like this you really want to win. McLain was fast, I saw his round and I knew what I had to do, and today the poles stayed up and the time was on my side!

“I had the speed and I gave him (All In) a lot of room. He’s in super shape, but I was really worried he would take the front pole with his hindlegs, but he came up!” he said after breaking the beam in an amazing 39.01 seconds to seal the victory.

In the end just 1.3 penalty points separated the two sides, but the joy in the aftermath for both teams was palpable. They’d been in a fair fight and the best side had won. No hard feelings, just delight in great sport played out between great opponents.

McLain Ward & Contagious. Photo Copyright © FEI/Christophe Taniére.

Enjoyment

Ward enjoyed every moment of it. “It was great to be in the battle!”, he said with a big smile. “Sweden’s win wasn’t unexpected here but they took it to another level, we would have had to have an incredible day to beat them. I think we pushed them right to the limit, and in competition when you push them to that limit and they still win you’ve got to be proud of the fight!”

“We just didn’t give up!”, agreed his team-mate Kraut. “It was hard-fought and Sweden were incredible all week, so if you’re going to lose you’re going to lose to them, and we can live with that!

Springsteen said, “It was wild, watching the last couple go, wondering if we would have to jump-off or not, you really got the jitters, but it was very exciting!”

But it was even more exciting for the new Olympic champions. There was no-one begrudging their success today. They won fair and square and they were immensely proud of their achievement.

“Yes it’s a dream come true – to win an Olympic gold medal I think that’s every athlete’s dream for sure!”, said Baryard-Johnsson. We’ve been so well prepared for everything at this championship, we’ve not missed out on anything, we have a team behind us that’s incredible. All of us, the way we’ve ridden shows how confident we’ve been and how they’ve all made it possible for us to totally focus on what to do in there. We knew it was very possible for a jump-off because it was only one round and we knew we didn’t want the silver medal this time!”, said the rider who was a member of the Swedish side that took Olympic team silver in Athens (GRE) 17 years ago.

Peder Fredricson (SWE) & All In. Photo Copyright © FEI/EFE/Kai Försterling.

Even more special

Von Eckermann just missed out in the Individual Final on Wednesday night when finishing fourth, “so that’s why it’s even more special tonight!”, he said. “It was a frustrating fourth place but I’m so happy that I pulled myself together and told myself to leave what I can’t change behind me and focus on this. No one can say we didn’t deserve it!”

And he added that there should be medals awarded to the horses as well as the riders. King Edward certainly deserved a medal having jumped through the entire week without ever dropping a pole.

Fredricson’s last round was the stuff of champions, and Ward, who has won plenty of accolades himself, acknowledged that. “He’s one of the best, and his record with that horse is spectacular. What horsemanship and what planning, and all the people around him. But he’s also been at the top of the sport with other mounts too which is testament to his riding, it’s not just one horse”, he said.

Typically modest, Fredricson was thoughtful when asked what tonight’s glorious victory meant to him.

“It’s unbelievably satisfying to get this gold. And my horse deserves it also for the way he jumped, I’m so happy for him and his owner and groom and the whole team and my team-mates. This is a great feeling!”, he said.

Team USA – Silver. Photo Copyright © FEI/EFE/Kai Försterling.

Team USA

Laura Kraut (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) and Baloutinue, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by St. Bride’s Farm were the first combination to test the second-round track built by Santiago Varela (ESP) for the final night of team competition and the pair delivered with a clear round to start the team off strong. The scores were wiped clean from yesterday’s qualifier, making each round critical for the overall team standings.

“Today he was just in the game. He was relaxed and focused and just did everything I asked of him,” said Kraut. “He’s just one of the best horses I’ve ever had the privilege to ride and for him to come in here tonight, he’s still new to this level of jumping, and he’s gotten better each day that he’s jumped.”

Following Kraut’s fantastic finish, Springsteen (Colts Neck, N.J.) picked up the baton and guided Don Juan van de Donkhoeve, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion owned by Stone Hill Farm, to a fast four fault round, keeping the team within reach of the podium. In the pair’s championship debut, they exceled under the pressure.

“This course was super technical. The first time I walked it I made a plan, and that was what I stuck with in the ring. There were a lot of half strides where you had the option to choose whether you wanted to do one less or one more and my horse has a big step and I was able to do most of the leave-outs which really helped me with the time allowed,” explained Springsteen about her first round.

As the pair’s anchor combination, Ward (Brewster, N.Y.) and Contagious, a 12-year-old Deutches Sportpferd owned by Beechwood Stables, LLC, found themselves needing to keep the team within striking range of the Swedish, and delivered with a solid round, as Contagious barely tapped a rail to add four to their score. Ultimately the team’s total of eight, tied them with the Swedish team, forcing a jump-off to determine the gold and silver medals.

“I thought the horses jumped great last night and really well again today. The task for me was a bit difficult to go in cold to that round last night and I was a little bit anxious about it,” said Ward. “I had a feeling that we were going to settle in, and everyone delivered. Jess stayed as cool as can be after having an early rail and I thought my horse’s rail was a little unlucky, and Laura was just lights out.”

The order for the jump-off remained the same as the second-round order, with Kraut and Baloutinue entering the ring first to set the pace. The duo finished with a quick clear round and were followed by Henrick von Eckermann and King Edward, who matched their pace and kept the score even. Springsteen was tasked with keeping the team on zero in the jump-off and delivered with Don Juan van de Donkhoeve, crossing through the timers with another fast clear for the U.S. With the draw order, Ward would need to pull out all the stops to try to keep the gold medal out of Sweden’s grasp. He pushed Contagious and delivered a brilliantly fast, clear effort for the U.S., as the rest of the team waited to see what Peder Fredericson and All In would deliver. Ultimately, the gold was earned by the Swedish team, which was well-deserved after their tremendous performance this past week, with the U.S. team securing their second consecutive team silver medal at an Olympic Games.

“Sweden has been lights out, which was expected, but they have really been on a different level. We would have had an incredible day to beat them, and I think we pushed them right to the limit and in competition, when you push them to that limit and they still win, you’ve got to be proud with the fight and the medal,” said Ward.

“This was a hard-fought battle,” said Kraut. “McLain is fast, and we know he’s fast, and he definitely put the pressure on Peder. He had .4 seconds to make up and Peder and All In are just so fast, just like we saw on the individual final. This is what we do this for. It’s a lot of work, sweat, and tears, but I’m just so thrilled and I’m so fortunate to have a great team here with me.”

“This was truly a team of four, plus the army behind us,” added Ward, to Kraut’s testament to the team comradery and the support they received from teammate Kent Farrington, who competed in the Individual Qualifier, but sat out for the team competition.

Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland was thrilled with the way the team’s strategy played to their preparation and noted that they were confident the team competition would most likely go to three rounds and made a point to be sure the horses were fresh and ready for the task at hand.

“It’s what you dream of. We came up with a plan a long time ago and the emphasis was always going to be on the team competition. The plan was, of course, that we’re bringing four riders here and all four were going to be whatever results we were able to get,” said Ridland. “Today was supposed to be the day that we really channeled everything, and we tried to leave as much gas in the tank as we could through the qualifying round to get there, and we’ve all been saying that the team was going to be three rounds and we were prepared for that. It just became magical. It was sweet revenge for Sweden and it’s a great rivalry. They were amazing and we pushed them to the limit and that’s what has made us proud.”

Sweden – Gold. USA – Silver. Belgium – Bronze. Photo Copyright © FEI/EFE/Kai Försterling.

Facts and Figures:

Sweden last won Team gold at the Olympic Games in Paris in 1924 when the three-rider side consisted of Ake Thelning (Loke), Axel Stahle (Cecil) and Age Lundstrom (Anvers).

Sweden also won Olympic Team gold on home ground in Stockholm in 1912 and in Antwerp in 1920.

For tonight’s Final competition, two changes were made to the teams that competed in Friday’s Jumping Team Qualifier – Willem Greve and Zypria S stepped out of the Dutch team and Harrie Smolders stepped in with Bingo de Parc, while Rodrigo Pessoa and Carlito’s Way stepped out of the Brazilian team so Yuri Mansur and Alfons stepped in.

Final medal standings in Jumping:

Jumping Team: Gold – Sweden; Silver – USA; Bronze – Belgium.

Jumping Individual : Gold – Ben Maher (GBR), Explosion W; Silver – Peder Fredricson (SWE), All In; Bronze – Maikel van der Vleuten (NED), Beauville Z.