We posted a breakdown earlier this morning of each pair named to the 2014 USEF Eventing High Performance Winter/Spring Training Lists. If you missed that post, click here to read it. Those 23 pairs — plus an additional six invited to the winter training sessions — are celebrating today. Now, on a more somber note, let’s take a look at the notable pairs left off the list. Note: The chinchillas updated this post on Nov. 15 to add in additional results from USEA records, as well as provide clarification on several riders.
Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch — According to guest blogs Lainey wrote for EN earlier this year, she made a strategic decision not to run Al at Rolex in order to save his legs for Pau. However, due to a lack of results in the spring season, Lainey and Al were left off the summer/fall list, which meant they didn’t get a grant to compete at Pau like they’d planned all year. Not all riders have the financial means and support necessary to fund a $20,000 trip to Europe on their own; without that grant, Lainey’s goal she had been working toward all year had to be abandoned.
Lainey and Al did return to competition in the fall with very good results. They won Millbrook, placed second behind Sinead Halpin and Manoir De Carneville in the Advanced at Richland, and ended their season by winning the American Eventing Championships. But they didn’t run a CCI or CIC because the entire year was planned around traveling to France to run Pau. At almost 15 years old, Al isn’t a spring chicken, which is why Lainey has tried so hard to do right by him in the final years of his career. But without any results at a CCI or CIC, it just wasn’t enough.
Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda — Despite a freak accident that kept this pair out of Rolex and going for a swim in the first water complex at Luhmuhlen, Jennie has managed to stay so upbeat — and there’s no reason she shouldn’t. Ping is incredibly talented across all three phases. Unfortunately, the selectors don’t always give second chances when building the lists. While they finished second in a very competitive division at Plantation Field, Jennie and Ping had a stop at the big corner combination at Fair Hill, and it seems like the selectors are looking at that mishap along with Luhmuhlen as a reason to exclude this pair.
Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot — Poor Hannah Sue is another victim of rotten luck this season. After winning the Fair Hill CCI3* last year, Hannah Sue and William shipped to France this spring for Saumur, where they picked up a stop on cross country. After a solid prep run at Plantation Field, they again went to France for Pau, delivering one of two U.S. dressage scores in the 40s. That’s where the good news ends, as William slipped between fences at the first water complex, and Hannah Sue popped off over his shoulder. Heartbreaking.
Lauren Kieffer and Veronica — Lauren’s exclusion appears to be another case of no second chances. While she had a fantastic spring campaign overall with this mare, they did pick up a stop at Bromont in June. And things took a turn for the worse in the fall when Lauren fell from Veronica on cross country at Boekelo. This is another case where it seems like more training time with Coach David O’Connor could only help Lauren flourish with this horse, but it’s tough for the selectors to overlook those two mistakes.
Boyd Martin and Trading Aces — There are several factors at play here when considering why Boyd and Oscar aren’t on the list. First, Boyd is currently recovering from surgery after being kicked in the arm by a young horse last month, so it’s likely he’d be out of commission for some of the winter training sessions. Second, while extremely talented, Oscar hasn’t shown he has what it takes to deliver at CCIs. Boyd pulled him up just a few fences from home at Rolex when the horse ran out of steam, and while they made it around at Boekelo, they incurred a lot of time penalties.
What about Neville Bardos, Otis Barbotiere and Pancho Villa? Neville has been recovering from a suspensory strain, Otis has been slowly recovering from tweaking his ankle after the Olympics, and Pancho had two stops at Fair Hill. Part of me thinks Boyd isn’t at all concerned about his exclusion. He probably took one look at the lists, cracked open a Coors Light and let it roll right off his shoulders. But the fact remains that with the World Equestrian Games looming ever closer, Boyd needs to shore up his upper-level string — and fast.
Kristi Nunnink and R-Star — This is the first time we haven’t seen Kristi and Rosie on a list in more than a year, and it’s likely due to her trouble on cross country at Pau. After dealing with some control issues early on in the course, Kristi tried re-routing to an option at the first water complex. Unfortunately, she jumped the wrong part of the option, picking up a technical elimination and ending her weekend very early. Rosie is a beast on cross country, but, once again, the theme of these exclusions seems to be no second chances.
Michael Pollard and Mensa — Despite a solid season in which they finished second in the Richland CIC3*, we can point to several reasons as to why Michael and Mensa were left off. First, Mensa will be 16 next year, and the lists generally cater to younger horses. Second, they had a runout at Jersey Fresh in the spring, and while the horse looked very good overall at Pau, he did have a stop there as well. It’s also worth noting that we’re not seeing Ballingowan Pizazz on the list. The horse just moved up to Advanced this year, but he finished sixth in the CIC3* at Richland and certainly has a lot of potential for the future.
Caitlin Silliman and Catch A Star — In looking at all the notable names that were excluded, Caitlin and Hoku might be the most unlucky pair of all. They had a freak stop on Rolex during what was otherwise a very good cross-country trip. At Richland, Hoku’s show-jumping demons reared their ugly heads, and they were eliminated after she refused to jump. Then they were one of the unlucky pairs to fall at the water complex at Plantation Field, leading them to withdraw from Boekelo at the last minute. The good news is when you’re at rock bottom, you can only go up. Chin up, Caitlin.
Allison Springer and Copycat Chloe — Allison’s patient approach to building a partnership with this mare has earned them a lot of fans this year, and I imagine there are a lot of people disappointed not to see them on the lists. Unfortunately, they had a stop at Richland and parted ways at Galway Downs, and those mistakes had to be difficult for the selectors to ignore. The good news is this is a very new partnership, and I have faith we’ll see big things from Allison and Chloe in the future.
Did I miss any other notable names? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.