Pan Ams Soundbites: Riders Rehash Their Cross Country Rounds

One of the best parts about a major competition like the Pan American Games is that all the riders stop by the mixed zone after their rides to chat with the journalists. It gives us a chance to talk to them after they’ve experienced the exhilaration of cross country (and ask them to take a photo with the most famous chinchilla in Toronto). Here are some soundbites from today’s action at Will O’ Wind Farm. If you missed the full report on what went down, click here.

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Jessica Phoenix (3rd place for Canada)

“Coming to the last fence and having everyone on the lines and then the cheers after was just amazing. It’s completely overwhelming, and I’m so happy that I could be on this team in Toronto and with all of our teammates.”

“We walked around (the course) four times. It rode really, really well and forward and straight, and it was a great course for Pavarotti. He was so amazing today. He just got his neck out and got into an awesome gallop, and I’m just so thankful that Don Good owns him and I have the ride on him.”

“Our main focus is on our team medal. That’s really important to us, and after that we want to produce clean show jumping rounds tomorrow. When you’re on a team, your first priority is your team all day long. Individual medals come at the end of it, but the first priority is always your team.”

On Kathryn Robinson and Let It Bee’s fall: “In a team competition, it’s very rare that everyone has a perfect day. You have to be a professional about it, and we came here as a team and we’ll leave as a team regardless of how everyone does. You get focused and you do your job and when you leave the start box, you have a job to do.”

On competing after her injury at Jersey Fresh: “I have an incredible support system around me with our family, friends, our staff at the barn and all of our coaches, and I think it’s just overwhelming in those times when everyone rallies around you, and it just makes you feel like how could you not? Just before Bromont I got back on a horse.”

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Boyd Martin (4th place for U.S.)

“To be quite honest, I decided (the hold) was an advantage. My horse freshened up, I got to take a couple breaths and he jumped the 17th fence like it was the first one. You can’t plan for these kind of things, but it did work in my favor. He flung a shoe early on. He was slipping around a bit; the grass was a bit slippery, but he stayed on his feet. I didn’t have to take too many wild chances.”

“My fella’s pretty seasoned now. There’s plenty of Thoroughbred in him, so I knew he’d make the trip, and he felt great all the way. I was a little bit nervous about some of the turning questions; he’s not the best turner, but he was real honest, and I was real happy with him.”

“David (O’Connor) is looking a little bit more happy than the last team I was on. In Normandy it looked like he was about to neck himself, and we’ve still got a big day tomorrow, so we don’t want to start punching the air just yet, but all the guys were just cool under pressure and rode beautiful.”

“This sport’s not meant to be easy. The highs are highs and lows are low. I much prefer the highs, to be quite honest, but the lows drive you and make you push forward to days like this.”

Ruy Fonseca (overnight leader for Brazil)

“You always need to respect the course when you have an experienced horse, so I took care until fence number 6. I was even behind on the time, but I knew that I could recover, and (Tom Bombadill Too) just had a fantastic round and felt really good. I think the course designer did a fantastic job to balance the experienced combinations and to those more less experienced. It’s fantastic for the sport, and it’s been great to be here.”

“I did over prepare him to come over here because we knew it would be hot. He arrived well and has been good. It’s not only about this show. (Brazil) will be building up for Rio next year. I always think day by day. I don’t know about tomorrow, and I don’t want to make expectations about it. I hope that we can all have sound horses, and all the other nations as well, and that we can all finish in good spirits.”

“(The Brazilian team members came) through the same Pony Club and are all from the same area. We never realized that one day we were going to be on the team. We all live about half an hour from each other in Brazil, but we grew up all together.”

“We are kind of a smaller nation; we want to be good. That’s why we went to get Mark Todd (as a coach) like any good team in the world. We try to copy the American, the Canadian, the New Zealand system.”

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Lauren Kieffer (tied for 7th for U.S.)

“(Meadowbrook’s Scarlett) is only 8, and she’s certainly never been around a crowd like this — what a class mare. She really didn’t notice the crowds at all. We had a great plan going out. Obviously Phillip going first gives you some great feedback. I rode it like we planned, and it worked all the way around.”

“David (O’Connor) said I wasn’t allowed to say she was perfect until she went.”

“The hills take a bit out of them, and the first loop especially is very undulating, so it took a bit of steam off them. She’s a good, tough mare, so hopefully she comes out feeling great tomorrow.”

Marilyn Little (2nd place for U.S.)

“It was so much fun. It was a really great course to ride around, and she came out of the start box absolutely on fire — maybe a little too on fire. I tried to show her she was going to get everything she was looking for. I expected to see the same level of enthusiasm at the eighth minute, and she was great.”

“She rode through the combinations fantastic. The waters were technical, and we saw a lot of different choices made throughout the day so I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do. I trusted the fact that she’s a very adjustable horse — even though she’s green she’s on her feet and she knows what she’s doing.”

“I think she loved (the crowd). She really pricks her ears and digs in. The only other CCI2* she did was very flat, so this was new for her with all this terrain. She’s a very strong horse physically. She finished well, and we were quite far ahead on the time and we really got to cruise home.”

“She landed in this country a year ago this week and after four or five months she’s been completely on board and has never looked back. I trust her and I’m crazy about her.”

Phillip Dutton (tied for 7th for U.S.)

“Being the first out, you’re not quite sure how fast you’ll have to ride, so I was pushing (Fernhill Fugitive) along. He’s not a racehorse, but he kept a good, even speed all the way. I was pleased. We had a lot of time to walk (the course) yesterday and this morning, so it was all pretty much as expected. A horse has to be thinking forward all the time, and most of it was on good distances. There were no big surprises for me.”

“I think (the course) is pretty appropriate for the competition. I think it’s enough for the really good experienced horses and riders, and there’s plenty of long ways around for someone who’s just getting introduced to this level.”

“I think it’s great footing, and it’s a good endurance test with the terrain. I think you don’t have to build a super difficult course because of the terrain. I think it’s a great legacy course for Canada and America.”

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Colleen Loach (9th place for Canada)

“It feels amazing (to finish double clear) — such a relief. My horse is awesome. I couldn’t ask for better from him. He never felt like he wanted to stop. He’s not one who’s going to pull you along. He kind of goes at his own rhythm, but he kept it the whole way around.”

“(The crowd) was amazing. I think the horse enjoyed it; it kind of gave him more energy. (The course) rode pretty much like it walked — no surprises out there. It was great. I have a good show jumper. I feel pretty confident (about tomorrow).”

“It’s amazing to see the support of the local people and have that behind you.”

Carlos Paro (6th place for Brazil)

“It felt great. Some of the distances didn’t work as expected, but (Calcourt Landline) took on the course in a good way. He’s very honest. “He’s very trustworthy, and he just trusted me. I was a little bit worried about the time to start with ,so I started a bit quicker than I normally would because of the undulations and the turns.”

“A two-star is a two-star. It’s pretty much the same everywhere. The heat took a bit out of him. Being an English horse, he’s not used to this humidity. He’s recovered well.”

“He’s a very good jumper, and I’m pretty confident that he’ll do a nice round and put some pressure on.”

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Lauren Billys (15th place for Puerto Rico)

“(Castle Larchfield Purdy) doesn’t have much Thoroughbred blood, he’s mostly warmblood, so I kicked most of the way around the course. I got him a little ahead, and I think that’s where I got him a little tired earlier, but I heard right before I went out that only three had made the time, so I thought, ‘Well, I gotta get up there, too.’ I got close.”

“Last time (I competed) at the Pan Ams, I lawn darted into a tree, so I am really thankful to go through the finish flags this time. It was good to bury that hatchet and be done with that. But riding at an event like this is unlike anything you could prepare for, even going to big CCIs, because there’s a lot of elements of this competition that people don’t realize. To be here is magical, but to ride and get around clean is even better.”

“There’s two rounds of show jumping tomorrow. I went to jumper shows and did two or three rounds in a day to practice that. My warmup has to be perfect. I have to be smart from the moment I get on and make sure that every ounce of energy is well thought out.”

Waylon Roberts (17th place for Canada)

“I wanted to be consistent, and I had really high expectations for (Bill Owen), especially on dressage. He’s usually very good. Yesterday was a surprise. He was a little bit tense, and the judges really marked them down. I was disappointed, but I’m helping the team with going out first, and I think we put in a really good double clear.”

“All the combinations are challenging, and it’s a different experience riding with a crowd. It’s great, though, and it shows the sport is growing. He looks great now. He’s super fit, and the program he’s been on has been really good. The Canadian team’s done a really good job keeping us on the program.”

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Sofia Baussan Augspuer (20th place for El Salvador)

“My country doesn’t have a lot of equestrian, and it’s a huge struggle for us because we don’t have places to train, so it’s a huge accomplishment for us to be here. It’s amazing. The course was amazing; everything was perfect.”

“I enjoyed it so much. There’s no words. I thought about every stride. I had so much fun. I’d love to do it again. (Durango is) really good (in show jumping). I just have to let him rest the whole night. I’m not worried about tomorrow.”

“I’m 18 years old. I’m just so happy to be here, and I enjoyed every single moment.”