David O’Connor was kind enough to sit down and chat after finishing the final cross-country course walk with Team USA this afternoon at Les Etoiles de Pau. The dressage has been a mixed bag for Team USA over the past two days, with two pairs scoring in the 40s and the remaining five scoring in the 50s. It would be a different matter entirely if those scores in the 50s were the best those five riders and horses could produce, but the fact of the matter is that all of them are capable of turning in mistake-free tests with scores in the mid- to low-40s. Scores in the 50s are not up to international standards. David knows that, and the riders know that.
But none of them are making excuses, and everyone is owning their mistakes, which is a critical step on the road to being competitive here in Europe. The next step starts at about noon tomorrow when Team USA sets out on a mission to deliver seven clear cross-country trips. All seven of these pairs can produce clear trips, and, as David said in the interview, clear cross-country trips are ultimately what land riders on the podium. Pierre Michelet’s course will require every ounce of mental energy our riders have to give, especially in the final minutes when some of the most challenging combinations appear. But each of these seven riders can do it. Go Team USA.