Classic Eventing Nation

Laura Collett Takes Boekelo; Switzerland Qualify for Olympics

Laura Collett ends her season on a high win a victory at Boekelo with London 52. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

What a year it’s been for Laura Collett and London 52. After a promising start – they took the win in the Chatsworth leg of the Event Rider Masters, getting the 2019 season off to a good start after a win in the Blenheim eight- and nine-year-old class in 2018 – it all started to go a little bit awry. An uncharacteristic blip at Blenheim set them on the back foot, and Laura acknowledged that under the weight of his previous and projected performances, she’d put the horse on a pedestal.

Aachen offered the pair an opportunity to put the wheels back on the bus, and when they went into the final phase in the lead, it looked as though they might just do it – but a minor overcorrection just a couple of fences from home saw them pick up another 20 penalties for their record sheet. Finally, there was the Europeans, and again, it all looked like it was going the right way: well in with a shout of an individual medal, Laura and ‘Dan’ set out looking focused, efficient, and ready to put their back luck to bed – until they met the bird.

They certainly weren’t the only pair to come to grief at the final water, where a colourful bird-shaped fence threw many experienced pairs for a loop, but when London 52 left a leg, tipping Laura into the drink, it was the mouldy cherry on top of a colossal layer cake of, well, crap.

Laura Collett and London 52. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

But though she is but little, she is fierce – and determined not to finish the horse’s year on a bad note, Laura opted to bring him to Boekelo, where he’d finished in second place in his first CCI4*-L the year prior. The goal? A nice run and a happy time for the ten-year-old gelding, so that he could come back out with all guns blazing next year. The result? An emotional and long-awaited victory, proving that sometimes, these things really do come in threes. For the first time this season, all the luck appeared to play in their favour: a 26 dressage saw them tied for third after the first phase with Chris Burton and Clever Louis, and when both combinations came home fault-free and inside the optimum time, Laura won the tie-break for having come closer to the time than Burto, who was two seconds faster.

When she then went on to deliver one of just eleven clear rounds inside the time today over Boekelo’s notoriously tough showjumping track, all she could do was wait: Germany’s Sandra Auffarth and Let’s Dance 73, who had led throughout, were less than a pole ahead of her in their first long-format combination as a partnership.

Overnight leaders Sandra Auffarth and new ride Let’s Dance 73. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

She’d have a long wait, as it happened, as all the team riders jumped after the individuals, which meant that Laura had two agonising hours to see her fate decided.

“I’d just assumed we’d be second again,” she laughs. “I never thought [Let’s Dance] would have a rail – he was jumping amazingly. I half looked away but then Camilla [Spiers] grabbed me, and I nearly fell off the railing!”

“He deserves it” – Laura Collett credits London 52 after a superb clear. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Sandra had tipped the penultimate fence, the final element of a treble combination that proved fickle throughout the day. The German former World Champion was relegated to fourth place and Laura, with lady luck – and more than a modicum of formidable talent – firmly in situ, was the winner.

“I can’t believe it – second would be good, but there’s nothing quite like winning,” says an emotional Laura. “I’m just delighted for the horse – he deserves it so much.”

Chris Burton and Clever Louis. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Second place went to Australia’s Chris Burton, who also took home an Olympic qualification with Clever Louis, finishing on his dressage score of 26 despite only running in their second competition together.

Michael Jung and fifth-placed fischerRocana FST. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Third place, meanwhile, was the domain of Michael Jung, who climbed five places throughout the week with new ride Creevagh Cooley. He also finished fifth on former Kentucky winner fischerRocana FST, who makes her return to competition this autumn after over a year out due to joint issues. She added a solitary rail today to her 26.1 dressage.

Kazuma Tomoto and Bernadette Utopia. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto and Bernadette Utopia executed an impressive climb up the leaderboard from 23rd, where they found themselves after their 30.8 dressage, to 12th after cross-country, and finally to sixth place, on the strength of their showjumping performance. They produced a clear round inside the time to finish on their dressage score, proving once again that Kazu’s background as a World Cup showjumper will be one of the not-so-secret weapons of Japan’s crack eventing team in Tokyo next year.

Zara Tindall and Class Affair. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Former World Champion Zara Tindall and Class Affair, who had cheeky cross-country run-outs at both Burghley and Blenheim, followed Kazu up the leaderboard, moving from nineteenth to eventual seventh, while France’s Nicolas Touzaint – the 2008 Badminton winner – and Vendee Globe’Jac HDC stormed from 18th to eighth after an exuberant clear round today. For Nicolas, the pressure was amplified – not only had he been subbed in to jump for the French team in Karim Laghouag Florent‘s place, he had also spent the season working to overcome some cross-country wobbles, which saw them clock up 40 penalties here last year and lodge faults at both Saumur and Jardy this season.

Nicolas Touzaint and Vendee Globe’Jac HDC. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

“He did a 62% dressage last year and had two run-outs cross-country, but he came back this year to do a 70% dressage, jump clear, and very nearly make the time,” says Nicolas. “The progression of the horse is very encouraging. I haven’t changed anything in particular; the horse showjumped until late and has only evented for a couple of years, so he’s needed time to understand the sport. I’m looking forward to what’s to come.”

Mollie Summerland and Charly van ter Heiden. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Young British team member Mollie Summerland wouldn’t just record the biggest climb to the top ten – though she did do just that, moving from 29th to ninth through the week – she would also earn the title of best Boekelo first-timer, finishing on a score of 31.5 with Charly van ter Heiden, the impressive Belgian-bred gelding that she’s produced herself.

“It’s just incredible to be here on a team with riders like Laura [Collett] and Izzy [Taylor],” says the exciting up-and-comer, who was the best of the British team in the Nations Cup at Waregem last month, too.

Tom Carlile and Birmane. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

France’s Tom Carlile rounded out the top ten with the eight-year-old Birmane, whose 26.9 dressage and fault-free cross-country round was good enough to stop them from slipping lower when they tipped a rail and added two time penalties.

“It’s always frustrating to finish on four faults, but I’m really proud of how she ran this final in her first time at this level,” he says. “She did really well for her age – she suffered a bit with the atmosphere, and where we had to turn tight, the ground was getting quite loose. I’m not making excuses, but it wasn’t ideal. I had one down, which was a pain, because the mare was jumping really well. But it’s still top ten, so it’s really promising.”

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum finished the week as the best of the US contingent in eleventh place, dropping from seventh after tipping a rail and adding a time fault.

“The time was hard to make, and that horse has a big step – I haven’t ridden him in a long-format four-star in a few years, and I just needed to take one more tug,” she says. “I would have gotten away with it had it been a short-format – but hindsight is a beautiful thing. He jumped fantastic, and he barely touched it.”

Now, she says, the plan for next season is up in the air – with Tokyo on the horizon, much will come down to team orders, but Tamie hasn’t ruled out a trip to Kentucky with the gelding, who she describes as “magic to ride.”

Merel Blom and Ceda. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

24th placed Merel Blom and Ceda were the best of the home front, earning them the title of Dutch National Champions, a win that was almost in the bag after yesterday’s competition, which saw them sit 20 penalties ahead of Jordy Wilken and Burry Spirit, who held their place to become reserve national champions.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Two rails fell for Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver, who dropped six places to finish thirtieth overall, adding to the eight-year-old’s comprehensive education.

Matt Flynn and Wizzerd. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Matt Flynn and Wizzerd finished 52nd after a single rail and 2.8 time penalties, while Jennie Brannigan, who fell yesterday but was able to jump for the team score with Stella Artois, per the new Olympic system, didn’t finish with a spot on the individual leaderboard, but contributed a fault-free round to the team.

Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

“It’s certainly not the way I thought I’d be getting a pinque coat,” says Jennie wryly. “But I love showjumping, and the track was tough – my coach always says it’s good to practice high pressure with low pressure. I still wanted to do a good job for the team, and I feel horrible about what happened yesterday, but I think at the end of the day, it’s just something that happened. She’s a great horse. Life kicks you down, but I try to prove that you’ve got to try to keep fighting. I’d love to be able to base over here for a bit – that’s probably something I should try to make happen for myself.”

The final top ten at Boekelo.

The Battle of the Nations

Germany head the Nations Cup. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The unassailable German team walked the win, despite clocking up 16 jumping faults between team members Sandra Auffarth and Let’s Dance 73Michael Jung and fischerRocana, and Ingrid Klimke and SAP Asha P. They finished on a score of 94.1, a remarkable 29.4 points ahead of second-placed Australia, who were led by the faultless performance of Chris Burton and Clever Louis, while Kevin McNab and Fernhill Tabasco added 5.2 penalties and Sammi Birch and Finduss PFB added a solitary rail.

Atsushi Negishi and Ventura de la Chaule JRA. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Team Japan confirmed a podium place when they added just four penalties across their team of Kazuma Tomoto and Bernadette UtopiaYoshi Oiwa and Bart L JRA, and Atsushi Negishi and Ventura de la Chaule JRA.

It was team New Zealand who delivered the leading performance of the day, adding just 1.6 time penalties across three superb rounds by James Avery and One Of A KindJesse Campbell and Cleveland, and Dan Jocelyn and Lissyegan Rory, who were substituted in to replace Samantha Lissington and Ricker Ridge Rui GNZ. Their final score of 130 saw them finish fourth place.

Sweden take the series title. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

But really, the victors of the day were threefold: with Germany confirmed as winners, Sweden were able to bask in the glory of taking the 2019 FEI Nations Cup Series Championship, a testament to their hard work and consistency throughout the season.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to be tenth,” laughed a relieved Fred Bergendorff, chef d’equipe for the team of Hanna Berg and Quite SurvivorViktoria Carlerbäck and Zlatan, and Anna Nilsson and Candy Girl, who came forward to jump after an elimination on course yesterday.

Tiziana Realini and Toubleau du Rueire. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The battle for the final Tokyo ticket was a closely fought one, with Switzerland starting the day in fifth place and Belgium in third. Any movement in either direction would have changed the fortunes of both teams, who were led by Switzerland on a knife-edge – and their performances through the day remained on the similarly tight margin. Switzerland plummeted to seventh place after clocking up thirty penalties: Robin Godel and Grandeur de Lully CH added 13.2, while Caroline Gerber and Tresor de Chignan CH raised team hopes once again when they added just a single time fault to their tally. But although final rider Tiziana Realini had a smart start to her round on Toubleau du Rueire, it all started to fall apart after one pole fell, and by the time she crossed the finish, she’d taken four and added a time penalty, too.

Constantin van Rijckevorsel and Beat It. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

But Belgium didn’t have an easy day, either – they knew they had to aim for a podium finish to put themselves well in the hunt for qualification, but 30.8 penalties across the team of Constantin van Rijckevorsel and Beat ItSenne Vervaecke and Feebe van Alsingen, and Lara de Liedekerke-Meier and Alpaga d’Arville. They dropped to sixth place, and the deal was done: Switzerland will go to Tokyo.

Two further teams made use of the new substitution rule for this final phase: Ireland, who finished 12th, substituted Austin O’Connor and Kinnordy Rhondo for Padraig McCarthy and Leonidas II, who opted not to present at the final horse inspection this morning. France’s Karim Laghouag Florent suffered a horse fall with Triton Fontaine yesterday and was thus ineligible to jump today, and so Nicolas Touzaint and Vendee Globe’Jac HDC showjumped in their stead. The team ultimately finished ninth.

We’ll be taking a closer look at the new format as we saw it this weekend, plus the Olympic spot that could still be up for grabs, in the coming weeks. In the meantime, though, that’s a wrap from Boekelo – we hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have! Until next time, folks – Go Eventing.

The Nations Cup finale results.

Military Boekelo: Website, Entries, Ride Times, Live Stream, Live Scores, EN’s Coverage, EN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

In Memory of Melanie Tallent

Photo by AK Dragoo Photography.

We are extremely sad to report that Area II eventer Dr. Melanie Tallent passed away Friday, October 11, 2019 due to a traumatic brain injury sustained in a horse related fall the week before.

Melanie was a neuroscientist. She and her husband Gordon Lutz together co-founded the company LifeSplice Pharma, a biotech firm that develops RNA-based drugs to treat neurological disorders. In her field, she was well known for her work in the epilepsy research.

Melanie’s life was made sweeter through her connection with horses, especially her own Gadwall, a dutch harness horse, and Dunlin, a Paint/Percheron. Through her riding career, she embraced her educational opportunities to learn and grow her craft, and many friends have shared fond memories of her contagious work ethic. She also carved time to give back to the animals and sport she loved through volunteering with local events and with CANTER.

Today I lost my amazing friend and long time client, Melanie Tallent, to a TBI from a fall a week ago. Looking back, I realize Mel probably didn’t take lessons with me every single week on her horses because she thought she needed lessons from a Grand Prix Dressage rider for lower level eventing. I think she did that to support me so I could be successful. I am going to miss teaching her and riding her fabulous horses every week, but most of all her jokes and her incredible support. I am so devastated and heartbroken. I am going to keep living my life boldly like she did and as she would want me to. Miss and love you Mel 💔

Posted by Kymmy Pullen on Friday, October 11, 2019

“Melanie Tallent was one of the most genuine, kind hearted people I have ever met. She deeply cared for and loved her horses; her work ethic, passion for the sport, and tenderness shone through her interactions across friends, family and fellow eventers,” said Sara Gumbiner, who was a friend and coach to Melanie.

“Melanie was an outspoken advocate for human rights, and along side her husband, Gordon, was working on developing treatment options for neurologic disease and brain injury. Her passing has left a void in my heart, a place in my soul that was filled with the presence of strong woman, and close friend. I am blessed that she was a part of my life, the past 10 years has brought me great joy, and fulfillment in my work, to watch her grow with her horses as a team, the effort she poured into science and advocated for the respect and dignity of people: always seeking continual improvement.”

On behalf of the eventing community, we extend our deepest condolences to Melanie’s friends and family.

Babies on Board: Entries for Le Lion Go Live

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Moonshine at Le Lion d’Angers 2018. Photo by EquusPix.

The FEI World Breeding Eventing Championships, otherwise known as Mondial du Lion, will take place next week from Oct. 17-20 at at Le Lion d’Angers. It’s a highlight of the global fall eventing calendar as future eventing superstars take centerstage.

As usual, the 6-year-olds will contest a CCIYH2*-L and 7-year-olds will contest the CCIYH3*-L. 22 different countries will be represented across the competition, ranging from eventing powerhouses such as France, Great Britain, and Ireland – who each have 15 horses competing – to ones we don’t see as often like Lithuania and Estonia. 19 countries and 40 pairs are entered in the two-star division for 6-year-olds, while 15 countries and 61 pairs will run the three-star for 7-year-olds.

One particularly notable name amongst the CCIYH2*-L entries is Piggy French, who’s having the most successful season on record. A win in the 6-year-old class with Cooley Lancer (Coeur De Nobless M X Tante Catoche Du Houssoit, by Ogano Sitte) would continue to grow her record of most international wins in a season.

The pair’s most recent outing came last weekend in the 6-year old division the British Eventing Young Horse National Championships at the Osberton International Horse Trials where they finished in second place out of 78 starters on their dressage score of 27.9. The Swiss-bred gelding hasn’t finished lower than 4th in any of his three previous 2*-S and has two Intermediate runs under his belt as well. Le Lion will be his first long-format event.

Last year’s 6-year-old champion, Cristal Fontaine (Chef Rouge x Nous Avons Gagne, by Griot de Mara) returns with rider Kitty King to try for back-to-back wins now as a 7-year-old. Though the Selle Français gelding finished 7th in the CCIYH-3*S at Osberton last weekend, he previously had not finished outside of the top three in his five internationals since Le Lion last year.

The competition will, of course, be fierce — particularly with several other top-placing 7-year-olds from the British Eventing Young Horse National Championships looking to steal the World Championship title and g us plenty of pairs to keep our eye on. William Fox-Pitt and Grafennacht (Grafenstolz X Nachtigall, by Narew), Italy’s Giovanni Ugolotti and Swirly Temptress (For Ladies Only X Betty Barclay, by Brentano 11), Willa Newton and Cock A Doodle Doo (Clarimo X unknown), Heidi Coy and Russal Z (Russell II X Violet, by Darco) all finished in the top ten at Osberton as well.

Another horse returning to Le Lion as a 7-year old is Cooley Moonshine (Cobra X Kilpatrick Duchess, by Kings Master) with sole North American representative this year, Liz Halliday-Sharp. Liz and Cooley Moonshine very nearly won the 6-year old championship last year, but the Irish Sport Horse gelding knocked a single rail in the final phase to drop them to third. Can they come out on top this year?

Cooley Moonshine will have some competition even from his own stable, however, as Liz will ride Flash Cooley (CSF Mr Kroon X Castlefield Ruby, by OBOS Quality) in the three-star for 7-year-olds as well.

Other big name riders including Oliver TownendIngrid Klimke, and Tim Price will be ones to watch aboard their 7-year-olds as well.

Click here to view entries for the 6-year-old World Championships.

Click here to view entries for the 7-year-old World Championships.

[Le Lion d’Angers Website]

Watch Military Boekelo Show Jumping Live

Military Boekelo show jumping is well underway! Tune into the FEI live stream right here or on the FEI’s YouTube Channel.

See the show jumping order of go here — if it looks a bit wonky, it’s because individuals are jumping before teams. To recall, the event is running via Olympic format; at Tokyo, there’ll be a team jumping round and an individual one for those who qualify for it, which will be easier to follow. Best of luck to our U.S. team riders!

Military Boekelo: WebsiteEntriesRide TimesLive StreamLive ScoresEN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

Boekelo Final Horse Inspection: Two Significant Horses Held

Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

84 combinations will proceed to showjumping after this morning’s final horse inspection at Boekelo, which saw two holds and was slightly diminished by four overnight withdrawals.

Ireland’s Padraig McCarthy opted to withdraw Leonidas II, from whom he fell on cross-country yesterday, due to an overreach injury sustained on course. Great Britain’s Flora Harris also withdrew Bayano, Denmark’s Cecilie Eriksen did not present Calvin, and Germany’s Christoph Wahler, too, is saving Ignatz 22 for another day.

Viktoria Carlerbäck and Zlatan. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

There were two horses sent to the holding box throughout the morning, and both would have had significant implications if spun: Michael Jung‘s Creevagh Cooley sits in eighth place overnight, while Viktoria Carlerbäck‘s Zlatan is part of the Swedish team chasing a series victory here. Fortunately, both were accepted – and Sweden can breathe easily knowing that they can only lose the series victory if Great Britain finish first or second here.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

All four of our US riders will showjump this afternoon – and if you’re wondering why Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois can continue after Jennie’s unlucky fall yesterday, refresh your memory of the new Olympic format here. Catch up on all of yesterday’s action, plus the team standings and the status of that Olympic ticket with the full cross-country report.

This morning’s showjumping session features all the non-team riders, and begins shortly at 11.00 a.m. local time/10.00 a.m. BST/5.00 a.m. Eastern time. This afternoon, we’ll see all the teams come forward to battle for the Nations Cup, the series title, and the final Olympic ticket. You can find the starting order here.

Military Boekelo: Website, Entries, Ride Times, Live Stream, Live Scores, EN’s Coverage, EN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

Sunday Links from One K Helmets

Bec Braitling & Dassett Ricochet. Kim Miller Photo.

It’s hard to believe, but we’re closing in on the end of the 2019 season. The final West Coast long format of the year at Galway Downs, Oct. 31 – Nov.3, is right around the corner, and entries close on Tuesday. Robert Kellerhouse is always whipping up new amenities for competitors at the Southern California venue,  and this event is no exception with the state-of-the-art stables and arena surfaces plus fun for the whole family. Find our more here.

Major Events this Weekend:

FEI Nations Cup at Military Boekelo: WebsiteEntriesRide TimesLive StreamLive ScoresEN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

U.S. Weekend Action:

Maryland at Loch Moy H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Hitching Post Farm H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Radnor Hunt H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Paradise Farm H.T. [Website]  [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Ocala Fall H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Fleur de Leap H.T. [Website] [Entry Status] [Ride Times] [Live Scores]

Las Cruces H.T. [Website] [Entry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores]

Sunday Links:

Auffarth and Let’s Dance 73 Maintain Military Boekelo CCIO4*-L Lead; Smith and Mai Baum Best of U.S.

Festive Oasis Graces Galway Downs International: Entries Close Tuesday

Three world gold medallists among Britain’s 20 entries for Pau five-star

US Equestrian To Reconvene MPA Panel Following Reports Of Equine Fatalities

Safety improvements in Aust eventing to follow coroner’s report

Sunday Video: 

Photo Gallery: Boekelo Cross Country Day for Team USA

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver. Photo by Sherry Stewart. Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

It was an action packed day for our four American riders at Boekelo. Before you continue, you absolutely must read Tilly Berendt’s report that breaks down the individual and team competition. Sherry Stewart, one of Team USA’s most fervent supporters, was on site and has been kind enough to share some highlights with EN. Enjoy!

Military Boekelo: WebsiteEntriesRide TimesLive StreamLive ScoresEN’s CoverageEN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

Boekelo Cross-Country: A Changing of Tides on Trail to Tokyo

Michael Jung and fischerRocana. Photo by William Carey.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, it appears – or at least that proved to be the case with the formidable German team today. All three team competitors – Sandra Auffarth and Let’s Dance 73Michael Jung and fischerRocana, and Ingrid Klimke and SAP Asha P – produced clear rounds inside the team, making Germany the only team to stay on their post-dressage team total.

Kevin McNab and Fernhill Tabasco. Photo by William Carey.

As a result, they maintain a considerable lead in the Nations Cup competition, finishing the day on an aggregate score of 78.1 – an unassailable 36.2 points ahead of second-placed Australia, who climbed from 6th after dressage to take runner-up position on 114.3. This was down to the strength of two of their three team members: Chris Burton and Clever Louis and Kevin McNab and Fernhill Tabasco sailed home clear inside the time, earning themselves places in the individual top ten, too. That third team member Sammi Birch clocked up 20.8 penalties on course with Finduss PFB became less and less consequential throughout a day that saw team fates fluctuate wildly.

It was a good day at the office for both the Swiss and the Belgian teams, who sit fifth and third respectively after bringing all of their team members home without jumping penalties. The Tokyo ticket remains on a knife edge: if the placings stay as they are tomorrow, Switzerland will qualify for the Olympics, but if there’s any movement either way, the fates could realign dramatically.

Lara de Liedekerke-Meier and Alpaga d’Arville. Photo by William Carey.

Belgium started the week as outliers for the qualification, lagging 55 points behind the Dutch and 65 points behind the Swiss in the series rankings. But three exceptional performances saw them climb from seventh place after dressage into a respectable overnight third. Constantin van Rijckevorsel and Beat It added 3.6 time penalties, Senne Vervaecke and Feebe van Alsingen totted up 15.6, and Lara de Liedekerke-Meier and Alpaga d’Arville sped their way to a clear inside the time, giving the Belgians an aggregate score of 117.5 as we head into the final day of competition.

“It’s a challenge, and no one expected us to be there,” says Lara. “But we believe in it, and I think as hard as we believe in it, until the last horse jumps we can still hope and dream of it. That’s what we’re doing. In Luhmühlen the team was not so good, so it was only for me, but here I took the horse out of holiday for it and I knew there was the pressure to give a good round.”

Tiziana Realini and Toubleau du Rueire. Photo by William Carey.

Switzerland’s success came down to focusing on staying safe and coming home, rather than trying for any heroics, and all three team riders did just that. Caroline Gerber and Tresor de Chignan CH added 4.4 time penalties, while 21-year-old Robin Godel and Grandeur de Lully CH clocked up 12.4. The round of the day, though, went to Tiziana Realini and Toubleau du Rueire, who sailed across the finish line with a spotless score sheet, a sea of red jackets welcoming them home with a cheer.

“The horse was very good – relaxed but with power,” says Tiziana. “He was beautiful to ride. I was in the time – wow! I tried to be easy and concentrated to my plan, and to concentrate together with the horse, so it was very good.”

Some of Switzerland’s reformation today can be attributed to the help of cross-country coach Andrew Nicholson, who joined the team’s efforts over the winter and has been helping them to refine their technique and tactics in this most crucial phase. As a result, they earned the second-lowest number of penalties of the twelve teams today, and sit on an overnight score of 125.9.

“It’s pretty much down to them – I went over in February and March and worked with them a bit, and since then, I’ve seen them at a few events to see what they’re like in action and to point them in the right direction,” says Andrew. “They’re a good bunch of people to work with. It’s very much our own little competition here, trying to qualify – it’s probably the most exciting it’s ever been at a final. But none of us – the Swiss, the Belgians, the Dutch – need to win the competition to win our own little competition. So we just stuck to our plan of getting three riders to the finish – we didn’t want to have to take 200. They’re very much happy to ride what they’ve got and do their best, and I’m really proud of them.”

Andrew was positive about the new Olympic format, which has been met with much consternation since its induction this season.

“I think it’s going to make it very exciting at the Olympics,” he says. “For me, equestrian stuff isn’t really a team sport – it’s individual, but we have to have teams. But this way is going to make it very exciting. You’ve got to try to get three clear rounds – they don’t have to go flat out. I think it’ll be very difficult for some riders to take team orders, and I think it’ll be difficult for team managers, but I can see it looking very exciting. It puts a lot of pressure on the riders. I’ve thought for years that it’s odd that riders at the Olympics win medals for doing a bad job, sometimes – I’ve done it myself, but you don’t see any of the other sports do that. In a relay race, if you drop the baton, you’re out – so making all three scores count is more the way sport is in the Olympic Games. Everyone has to do their best.”

Merel Blom and Ceda. Photo by William Carey.

Spare a thought for the home nation, who started the week full of confidence in their Olympic dream: an elimination for accumulated refusals for pathfinders Andrew Heffernan and Gideon saw them take a 200 penalty hit, and even a fast clear from Merel Blom and Ceda couldn’t redeem their place in the order. A further 36 penalties for Raf Kooremans and Dimitri puts them on an overnight score of 342.40, knocking them down to 11th out of 12.

Now, they have two choices: they can either sub in Tim Lips and Bayro to showjump for Andrew’s place tomorrow, taking a further 20 penalty substitution hit, or, because he didn’t suffer a horse fall, Andrew can showjump Gideon if he makes it through the final horse inspection. But either way, they’ve ruled themselves out of the Olympic qualification race.

They weren’t the only team to see their high hopes dashed by the enormous expense of a non-completion. Ireland, who sit in 12th place on 503.6, suffered twice today – a fall for Padraig McCarthy from Leonidas II earned them a direct hit of 200 penalties, although they’re still eligible to showjump in the morning if the horse is able to pass the final horse inspection. Cathal Daniels and OLS King Aragon were issued a technical elimination after being awarded 20 penalties for a run-out: while we’re used to seeing 15 penalties awarded for a contravention of the flag rule, it’s possible to take twenty if the majority of the horse’s body is deemed to have travelled outside the line of the originally flagged point. If this happens, the rider must re-present at the fence, clear it successfully, and take the 20 penalties. If they don’t, as we saw today with Cathal, they’re eliminated for missing a fence. They, too, will be able to showjump if they so choose, though it’s likely we’ll see team reserves Austin O’Connor and Kinnordy Rhondo step in for one of the two combinations we saw eliminated today.

Great Britain had set themselves up for a great week after both Laura Collett and Dacapo and Mollie Summerland and Charly van ter Heiden produced quick clears – the latter after a dispute over two flags – moving them into second. A second or first place finish in this competition would earn them the series title, but a run-out at the skinny at 14b and 20 further time penalties for Izzy Taylor and Artful Trinity ultimately sent them down to seventh place out of twelve teams.

Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois. Photo by William Carey.

The United States, who were in second place at the conclusion of dressage, also experienced a slip in the rankings after an unfortunate round for pathfinder Jennie Brannigan, who took a tumble from Stella Artois halfway around the course. Their unlucky trip didn’t put a damper on the team’s focus, though: Tamie Smith and Mai Baum blitzed home just two seconds over the optimum time, while Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver added 2.8 time penalties. Team USA now lies ninth on a combined score of 292.9.

Anna Nilsson and Candy Girl. Photo by William Carey.

Sweden, the current leaders in the Nations Cup series standings, have had a tumultuous day, which sees them spend the night in tenth place. Anna Nilsson was eliminated with Candy Girl for accumulated refusals, so can come forward to showjump tomorrow, while Hanna Berg and Quite Survivor and Viktoria Carlerbäck and Zlatan delivered steady clears to get the job done, earning 16.8 and 18.4 time penalties, respectively. But all hope is not lost: Sweden will still be able to win the series with this event as their discard score as long as Great Britain fails to crack the top two and the Swiss stay outside of the top three. If the Swiss finish fourth and Sweden finish eighth or lower, they’ll tie – then, we’ll head directly into more complicated territory.

The team standings after cross-country.

The Individual Efforts

Sandra Auffarth and Let’s Dance 73. Photo by William Carey.

Sandra Auffarth maintains her narrow lead of 1.1 penalties with Let’s Dance, with whom she produced a double-clear round – but more remarkably, this is her first long-format competition with the twelve-year-old Holsteiner gelding, who she took the ride on in July of this year. Previously, the horse had been campaigned by Kari Ingrid Gunzenhäuser and Marina Köhncke, who produced him to CCI4*-S. The Köhncke family, who bred the horse, maintain ownership.

“We had a great round today and I’m looking forward to tomorrow – he’s a really good jumper, I must say, though every horse can do a mistake,” says Sandra. “I think I can enjoy it, though. It was really good today, I have had the horse a few months and I knew he had a good rider before because he was really straight and honest and gave me a really good feeling, and he was really fit to the end.”

Laura Collett and London 52. Photo by William Carey.

They say that bad things come in threes, and this has proven true for Great Britain’s Laura Collett who, after a promising start to the season, has suffered more than her fair share of heartbreaking luck with the inordinately talented London 52. But today, she shelved the past and set out on course with one goal in mind: give the ten-year-old gelding, who only made his eventing debut three years ago, a bit of fun and let him remember just what he’s capable of. And that’s precisely what she did, finishing clear and just one second inside the optimum time to move into second place – the spot they finished in last year.

“He’s a phenomenal horse, and things just haven’t gone right here this year for him,” she says. “It wasn’t the plan to come here – he went to the Europeans and rerouted here, where we wanted to finish on a good note. We’ve sure done that. It was perfect for what I wanted for him, with some nice let-up fences – the intensity of the Europeans sort of fried his brain a little bit, so to come here and have a really nice run was spot-on. To be second after cross-country is the icing on the cake. [Chef d’equpe] Chris Bartle said to me in the start box to just enjoy the horse, and that’s what I did.”

Chris Burton and Clever Louis. Photo by William Carey.

Chris Burton made light work of his first long-format competition with Clever Louis, who has been in his yard for just shy of seven weeks – but for once, his reputation for being the fastest rider in the world worked against him. He crossed the finish line three seconds inside the optimum time to finish on his dressage score of 26 – the same as Laura – but because Laura was closer to the optimum time, she was given the favourable placing.

But for Burto, who has one major goal in mind for next season with the gelding, it was more than enough to finish the day in third.

“I was so chuffed with myself that I’d left Laura just three seconds to work with – I thought, she’ll never do it,” laughs Chris. “But it really just shows the quality – and she was 0.007 ahead of me in the dressage, so it’s only fitting! I was delighted with the horse. We’re still getting to know each other where I can tell that we don’t know each other very well, but he’s a super horse and I’m really excited about him. There were a few times when he’d run through my distance a bit – he’s a bit that way inclined anyway, so maybe it’s just me getting to know him, but his name fits him, as he’s very clever at his fences.”

Michael Jung and Creevagh Cooley. Photo by William Carey.

Is there any stopping Michael Jung? One would suspect not – and certainly, he was formidable today. He finishes the day with three horses in the top ten after clear rounds inside the time with fischerRocana and Highlighter, and a clear with 1.6 time penalties with new ride Creevagh Cooley. They sit fourth, tenth, and eighth, respectively: if Michael Jung was a nation unto himself, he’d be in second place in the Nations Cup on a score of 83.

Michael Jung and Highlighter. Photo by William Carey.

“fischerRocana is an experienced horse and I know her well, and she was very easy all the way around with super galloping and jumping,” he says. “Creevagh Cooley has only been with me since May, and she’s also a great horse but not super experienced at this level, but she did everything at the jumps very easily. At the last jumps I slowed down too much, otherwise I would also be in the time with her. It was a great feeling. Highlighter has always been ridden by Pietro Grandeis in my stable, but he’s a super horse for the future – a bit green sometimes on the jumps, but I like it when they also think about what they’re doing and not just galloping and jumping everything. He’s quite a clever horse, especially as this is his first time over ten minutes.”

Tom Carlile and Birmane. Photo by William Carey.

France’s Tom Carlile capitalised on an excellent dressage mark of 26.9 with the eight-year-old Birmane when he, too, came home clear and inside the time to move up four places to overnight fifth. It was a great result for the French team, too, which was helped along by the faultless round of Astier Nicolas and the nine-year-old Babylon de Gamma (15th), although a horse fall at 19c for Karim Laghouag and Triton Fontaine saw the team slip to eighth overnight.

“This is her first time at the long format and her first time at such a big venue, so she was really impressive,” says Tom of Birmane. “After seven and a half minutes it was a question mark for me how the mare was going to react, so I kept my leg on and a bit of pressure to the end. At the ninth minute I thought, ‘yeah, she’s cruising’ – I had enough left that I could take my time on the jumps. Coming to the last fences I could get her to relax sooner and save something for tomorrow. It’s a tight competition, with the top ten within a pole – it’ll be exciting, but we’re among the creme de la creme.”

Ingrid Klimke and Asha P. Photo by William Carey.

If spotting the stars of the future is your bag, it’s been a very good day of sport indeed: sixth place is held overnight by Ingrid Klimke and last year’s seven-year-old World Champion Asha P, who recorded the fastest round of the day when they came home on 9 minutes and 40 seconds. This was despite a hold on course, which saw them stopped at one of the toughest points on the course.

“The hold was in front of the corners, and the girls at the corners maybe didn’t realise that someone had restarted me,” explains Ingrid. “So I jumped the first, and then they say, ‘no, no’ – I thought, either I pull her out or I ride on the wide line. She was so good to survive it. I knew the water was coming then, and she was just focused to the end. She was nearly too bold to the ditch, but she flew over it – then it was really short. She thought, ‘maybe I can do three,’ but then she did a small one – but really, it shows she can do everything. She’s so smart and so clever, and so focused.”

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by William Carey.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum retained their place as the best of the US contingent, adding just 0.8 time faults to climb one place to seventh.

“I definitely had a mission to accomplish,” says Tamie. “I’m thrilled with him – I know it’s been hard for us to come over and do well, and Boekelo has its haunting monsters in the ground that like to pull you off your feet. My horse wouldn’t be used to this kind of going – it wouldn’t be holding, but it would be a bit slow. We’re used to running on fast ground. But all the combinations rode to plan; I took a tug to the table in the arena and that was my two seconds, but he was super.”

It’s a great result for the US, but on a personal level, it’s also a poignant day for Tamie, who has experienced a rollercoaster year where international travel is concerned.

“It takes a lot of effort to get them over here, so it’s so nice when it goes well,” she explains. “I’ve never had so many opportunities and dreams come true but then never quite got there as this year. I got to Badminton and Wembley wasn’t quite right; then I took him to Bramham and he was fantastic. I was named to the team at Aachen, and he wasn’t quite right, and then I took Mai Baum to the Pan-Ams and we had a run-by at a corner that I never expected – so I needed this. It’s just the sport. You can’t be weak – you’ve got to be resilient, and you’ve got to be tough. It’s like it tries to weed out the week – when it doesn’t go right it either breaks you or it makes you, and I’ve decided to make them make me.”

Australia’s Kevin McNab and wife Emma’s Fernhill Tabasco moved from eleventh to ninth after an easy spin across the country saw them add nothing to their dressage score of 28.5.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver. Photo by William Carey.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and the eight-year-old Cooley Quicksilver recorded a quick round for 2.4 time penalties, to sit 24th overnight.

“The horse was just amazing,” says Liz. “He’s just an eight-year-old, and this would be a big ask for any eight-year-old, but I’ve always believed in him.”

Liz found herself up on the minute markers all the way to the water at 19, where she went long, as almost every rider did today.

“It was always our team plan to go long, but maybe we just got a little slow there – but god, he fought for me to the end, and I’m just so proud of him. I have to kick a lot on this one; he doesn’t give it to me for free, but he’s a real trier. The five is quite long for him, but I know him – if I held him he’d back off, I had to put my leg on. He’s the sort of horse who likes encouragement all the time; if I switch off, he switches off, too. But he didn’t find it hard, which is amazing for a young horse.”

Meanwhile, Dutch lynchpin Merel Blom piloted Ceda to a steady clear with 5.6 time penalties to sit 30th overnight, but at the top of the Dutch National Championship leaderboard. She sits 20 penalties ahead of second-placed Jordy Wilken and Burry Spirit.

“I do always consider if I can cope with the pressure,” says Merel, who left the start box with the weight of the Dutch team’s fate on her shoulders. “But I thought, ‘yes, I can cope’ – I’ve been riding with my head to it a little bit and made some decisions I had to, so it was good. The only rule we got was to ride right in the water; we didn’t change our plans [after Andrew Heffernan didn’t come home.]

“It’s never easy, of course, it’s not over til its really over, but I’m quite confident about tomorrow – normally she’s a good jumper and I think she’ll be able to become the new Dutch champion. I can be clear that of course, [the Dutch team] were disappointed, but it’s not like we can blame someone about anything. We had an inexperienced combination and also a young horse with Andy – we were all disappointed with the ride Andy got, and it only got more difficult from that point on.”

Matt Flynn and Wizzerd. Photo by William Carey.

Just time precluded a higher finish for Matt Flynn and Wizzerd, who sit in 57th place after adding 22 time penalties to their 32.9 dressage.

“He was really stellar everywhere; it’s a twisty course, and it’s really deep at the end,” says Matt. “I need to get better about my turns, and I need to ride them more economically in those conditions. He was feeling strong all the way home, and he was faster to the last few jumps than he was anywhere, so I couldn’t be happier with him. I’ll kick myself for not having shaved off more seconds, though.”

The course, which was widely regarded as being fair, clear, and largely to be governed by time proved perhaps more influential in the team standings than it did across the board of the field of 93 starters. Of those 93, 83 complete, while 64 would complete without jumping penalties. 16 would come home clear and inside the time.

Tomorrow begins with the final horse inspection 9.00 a.m. local time/8.00 am BST/3.00 a.m. Eastern time, before we head into the showjumping at 11.00 a.m. local/10.00 a.m. BST/5.00 a.m. Eastern.

The individual top ten at the conclusion of cross-country.

Military Boekelo: Website, Entries, Ride Times, Live Stream, Live Scores, EN’s Coverage, EN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

#EventerProblems Vol. #198, Presented by Haygain: Dirty Jobs

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#eventerproblems #geldings 😳🤢

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It’s no secret that some barn responsibilities are just… unpleasant (See: sheath cleaning day), some are oddly satisfying (pressure washing literally anything), and some are plain messy. This latest batch of #EventerProblems would make Mike Rowe proud. Go eventing.

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Clare’s Road to the Makeover: Here for The Pictures

For 673 accepted trainers, the 2019 Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover is now in the rearview. In celebration of the Makeover, Oct. 2-5 at the Kentucky Horse Park, four of those trainers have blogged their journeys, including their triumphs and their heartbreaks, successes and failures, for Eventing Nation readers. Read more from EN’s 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover Bloggers: Lindsey BurnsHillary McMichaelClare MansmannJennifer Reisenbichler.

Hoo-RAH! Another TB Makeover has come and gone except it’s never really gone because the process never really ends, much as we humans like markers of time. We’re still training the 2019 horses and we may already have 2020 horses, whether they stay for us to ride or they sell to others, it’s an ongoing process much like a series of novels that keeps introducing new characters and so you don’t have to worry about it going away anytime soon (Hi Thoroughbred Series!).

Gosh, we had a great time at the Makeover, as per usual, and I believe that has everything to do with going into it with the right expectations.

We love to showcase our horses and our students. We love for our horses to perform as well as they should to this point of their training. I dont expect them to never have rails because that is not the focus of our training at this point. I dont expect them to have auto changes because that is not the focus of our training at this point. I dont expect them to have perfect form over fences because the fences arent big enough at this point #amiright. 

Peter’s hind end is over-powering his front end, but that’s not a bad problem to have. He is clearly not scoped out at 2’6”, and in fact, these jumps are a touch too easy. Photo by Lauren Nicole.

Except for Hank, who can jump significantly bigger, but also knows when cameras are on him. (Ellen Dry and Walk Away Slow) Photo by Canterclix.

I do expect them to trailer well and unload like gentlemen (and women). I do expect them to stand outside the arena patiently. I expect them to lead well. I expect them to tie at the wash rack. I expect them to behave for the braider. I expect them to stand for mounting. I expect their personalities to shine and for them to display their happiness at a good jump. I do expect them to prick their ears for photos and I do expect them to hop over the fences in front of them.

Despite those expectations, if they do or do not meet them, it is up to us. They will or will not depending on how we have taught them, and so if they do or do not, we can learn how to teach them better in the future.

I had a wonderful lesson with John Smart recently and he said something that I will paraphrase badly but remember always:

The horse does not have to enjoy doing what we ask in order to do it, but if they do enjoy it, then we have explained it correctly.

Soooo good. Make It Right celebrating big accomplishments for a 4 yrs young whippersnapper! Photo by Michael O’Donnell.

I love this. I love when my horse gets appropriately frisky after a big effort. I praise him. I love when their ears and eyes lock on a fence even if we weren’t meaning to jump it. I giggle. I love when a corner or a skinny or a ditch rides no different than a simple table. I love when they continue through a combination in spite of my mistake, because that means I have not made the same mistake over and over, so they still trust me.

I love when students make a mistake and laugh. I love when they make a mistake because they are having fun, and not because of fear. I love when we keep the big picture in mind. I don’t love competing. It’s fine, but I don’t love it. I love horses and I love their people. I love learning. I also love snacks. #justsaying

Ellen is the best. Photo by Canterclix.

We are stewards of these horses, their care, their training, their present and their future, and that fact is always on my mind. A huge amount of resources go into getting a horse transitioned off the track and well started into a new career. The Makeover is just a great goal to keep focus in the first year of the re-career process, but the actual process is more like a 36-month one, and I mention that because I like to make statements that are slightly inflammatory and then explain them.

Teaching a racehorse the tools needed to thrive in a new career is like teaching a new language. Sure, Latin languages, so the root is there, but we still have to bridge the gaps. There are tons of nuances that could get overlooked, and you may not know it until later. You may think you know Spanish until you ask for directions and wind up…not where you thought.

Rosita actually knows mostly Spanish. We are, essentially, her ESL teachers. (Kim O’Donnell and Roseau). Photo by Canterclix.

In addition to the language, they need to develop entirely new muscles, and no matter what you want, that takes time. I have ridden my whole life, so I don’t often get sore in the saddle, but the first time I did jiu jitsu, and thought I could keep up with the squats, I almost died, friends. Died. Literally. And while I can make those dumb decisions, I don’t want that for our horses, so that’s where our gymnastics come into play (flat and jumping), our hills, our walking, all the slow, but consistent, work. It doesn’t happen in the field and it doesn’t come in a bag.

Uber cool warhorse, Highly Cynical, and Tom. Photo courtesy of Clare Mansmann.

It’s important to us that this gets talked about and understood. We want prospective owners to understand, juniors to understand, adult amateurs to understand, racehorse owners to understand, and trainers to understand that there is an investment and a bearing of burden far beyond the horse’s racing career that many of us are taking on solely for the love of the horse, and we’d love to see more people from all walks of the OTTB’s life take that on. The Makeover has provided a stage to celebrate this in a way that wasn’t happening before. Most of the competitors are not going there with dollar signs in their vision. Winning the entire thing isn’t going to cover what it cost you to get there. The real payout is in the smiles and celebrations, the pictures, the camaraderie. The success is in the details, and that success is exclusive to each horse and rider’s individual journeys. This competition allows us to watch it unfold and share in joys and the tears, year after year, and not just in the horses. We’ve seen our Makeover friends get engaged and get married, there have been (SO MANY) babies born, we’ve been to 1st through 30th birthday parties, we’ve watched them fight cancer and we’ve watched them whoop it as we pray alongside them, we’ve supported them as they’ve left great careers to start even greater new businesses, we’ve cried when they lost a beloved horse or dog, but also cried when they persevere despite the loss and warmly welcome others. Lives change and we’re all still here and the list goes on.

With Amanda Cousins, swapping disciplines. Photo by Amanda’s mom. I call her “Amanda’s mom”.

It’s not about making it to the Makeover, but about making the most of the Makeover, and there’s no greater group of people to do that with.