52 Weeks in the Pursuit of Excellence

With every eye on the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, 2010 was the Year of the Horse in the United States as the world arrived on our doorstep in Lexington, KY, for 16 days of competition, demonstration and fun. It took years of planning and didn’t kick off until the end of the ninth month of the year.

Here is how 2010 unfolded before, during and after the Equestrian Event that stopped the American Equestrian community in its tracks. Anyone who makes a life with horses knows it’s not only about the few days a year when the world is watching – it is about every day of every year.

January: 2010 began with honoring the champions from the previous year at the 2010 USEF Annual Meeting. Dressage superstar Steffen Peters repeated as Equestrian of the Year. It was a monumental task to get him from a horse show in California to Louisville, but it was all worth it when he was there, in person, to accept his Dressage award. The night before, his beloved horse, Ravel, was honored as the Farnam/Platform USEF Horse of the Year after storming through 2009 winning on both sides of this country (including the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final) and sweeping the CHIO Aachen in Germany – a first for an American combination. Owner Akiko Yamazaki was on hand to collect the award honoring America’s champion of 2009. Find the details here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5264&star=true and http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5265&star=true. There would be even bigger plans for this pair in 2010.

February: Steffen and Ravel cruised into February with a win at the Exquis World Dressage Masters in Wellington, FL. Continuing to improve, Ravel stormed to the top of an international field in the Grand Prix at the only CDI5* in the U.S. The following day, Leslie Morse and Tip Top 962 won the Grand Prix Special and Peters and Ravel were a narrow second to Dutch World Champion Anky van Grunsven and Salinero in the Freestyle. The stories are available here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5325&star=true and here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5326&star=true.

The equestrian world lost a very important supporter when Peter Wetherill passed away. Owner of Olympic Gold medalist, Cedric, among scores of other horses across disciplines and decades, Peter’s absence from the sport was felt immediately. Read more about his extraordinary contribution to the world of horses: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5371&star=true.

Three days later, the USEF Selection Trials for Show Jumping for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games got underway. Superstar combination McLain Ward and Sapphire were named to the Show Jumping Long List and therefore didn’t have to jump in the Trials. After the first two Trials, Cedric and Laura Kraut were tied for the lead with Lauren Hough and Quick Study. Both combinations joined McLain and Sapphire on the Long List after two immaculate clear rounds. The details can be found here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5398&star=true, http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5399&star=true and here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5401&star=true.

March: The third month of the year brought the final three USEF Selection Trials for Jumping. California invader Richard Spooner soared to the top spot with Cristallo when the Trials moved from the main venue at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, across the road to the infield of the steeplechase course on the turf. Guilherme Jorge built an incredibly scopey track and the jumping was phenomenal on a chilly Florida day. The story can be found here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5410&star=true.

Richard and Cristallo continued their flawless effort in the fourth Trial with another clear round. Nicole Shahinian-Simpson bookended the Trials with clear rounds and her consistent performance meant she was able claim overall honors after five rounds with Tristan. Read about the California invasion here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5435&star=true.

Cedric closed out two weeks of fantastic jumping with a win in the $150,000 CN US Open for Laura Kraut.

CSIO Wellington brings the only Nations Cup to the United States and a young U.S. Team put in a valiant effort in an atmosphere seen only on Nations Cup night. The fans and crowd made their support clear as fans from all the countries showed up in South Florida to support their teams. In the end, the U.S. was fourth behind defending champs Canada. Read the story here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5434&star=true.

Susan Treabess swept the CPEDI3* at the 2010 Dressage Affaire FEI CPEDI3* and won the overall highpoint award in California to kick off the Para-Dressage season in winning style.

The USEF National Single Horse Driving Championship and USEF National Four-in-Hand Driving Title were both on the line at the Live Oak International. Chester Weber stormed to the head of the field to win his eighth USEF National Championship over a competitive field with the World Games on everyone’s mind, and Robin Groves won a close Singles competition with Thors Toy Truck. Those details are here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5527&star=true.

McLain Ward and Sapphire began what looked like world domination, scoring huge in the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5528&star=true.

April: Land Rover signed on as the “Official Vehicle of the USEF” and sponsor of the Land Rover/U.S. Eventing Team for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Read about that announcement here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5593&star=true.

The saga of American show jumping sensation McLain Ward and Sapphire at the 2010 Rolex/FEI World Cup Final in Geneva stole the attention of the entire competition and has resulted in some positive changes in the sport of show jumping. The story of the disqualification of the superstar mare can be read about here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5622&star=true and http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5626&star=true. At the end of a long week for Team USA, Mario Deslauriers waived the U.S. flag, finishing sixth on Urico: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5625&star=true.

The pesky Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallaj√∂kull made life difficult for everyone traveling between the U.S. and Europe. A large portion of the foreign contingent coming over for the Rolex Kentucky CCI4* presented by Bridgestone either got creative by using trains, cars and ingenuity to navigate their way out of Europe or were forced to scrap their plans all together. England’s William Fox-Pitt was one of several athletes whose plans had to be creatively reworked, but the effort was well worth it when he won in classy fashion with Cool Mountain. Phillip Dutton and Woodburn were the highest placed American combination in a very professional performance. Phillip won his third USEF National CCI4* Championship in the process. See this story for the details: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5658&star=true.

The world also got a glimpse of things to come because the competition served as test events for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Tina Konyot wowed the crowds with her dressage victory in the Kentucky Cup Test Event. With Calecto V, she won the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Freestyle: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5655&star=true.

Two-time Olympic Gold medalist Beezie Madden stormed to the win at the Kentucky Cup Jumping Test Event with Danny Boy, and with the three disciplines running simultaneously, equestrian fans got a taste of things to come: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5659&star=true.
But there was lots of work to be done and competitions to be contested before the world returned six months later for the real deal.

May: Show Jumping lost a legendary rider when Tim Grubb passed away. Read about his amazing life on both sides of the Atlantic here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5714&star=true.

Tiana Coudray won the CCI3* at Jersey Fresh with Ringwood Magister.

Jumping riders headed in every direction in May. The Senior Teams headed to La Baule, France, to kick off the Meydan FEI Nations Cup Series. Their second place finish is detailed here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5733&star=true. McLain Ward stormed to the Grand Prix win on Sapphire in an amazing performance. Mario Deslauriers was a close second with Urico. Richard Spooner won the Region des Pays de la Loire with the only clear round with Pako, and Beezie Madden was named Leading Lady Rider after picking up ribbons all week to share leading titles with Ward. In Hamburg, Germany, Lauren Hough and Quick Study flew to a huge win on the Global Champions Tour. Laura Kraut and Cedric were third. http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5735&star=true.

Rich Fellers and Flexible won the $100,000 Grand Prix of Del Mar. It was Fellers’ fourth win in six years in the class.

The Show Jumping Young Rider Tour kicked off at CSIOY Moorsele in Belgium. Karl Cook, Nick Dello Joio, Michael Murphy, Taylor Land and Jennifer Waxman represented the U.S. against some of the finest young riders in Europe. They picked up ribbons throughout the week through a program made possible by the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation.

The F.A.C.E. Team vaulted to the win at the USEF Selection Trial for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games which was great news for the U.S. Vaulting community as strong performances by Mary McCormick and Todd Griffiths showed strength in all the classes. Read the story here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5757&star=true.

The momentum toward the World Games was building across the eight disciplines: McLain Ward and Sapphire won again, this time in Rome in the Rome Grand Prix Loro Piana in foot-perfect fashion. McLain also won classes with Pjotter van de Zonnehoeve and Rothchild. Hillary Dobbs also won a class in Rome with Corlett over tough company. Lauren Hough and Casadora had a nice win in Germany, and the Young Riders continued their adventure in Europe with wins by Taylor Land and Karl Cook. The team also secured the runner-up spot in the Nations Cup at CSIOY Reims.

The Para-Equestrian riders also picked up some wins. Erin Alberda and Laura Goldman swept their respective divisions (Grade 3 and Grade 1a) at WindReach Farm in the CPEDI3* in Ontario. 2010 marked an important year for Para-Dressage as it was the first time the sport was included with the other seven FEI disciplines at the World Games.

June: The Show Jumping Young Rider Tour picked up a big win at CSIOY Weirden in a hard fought Nations Cup where they had to jump off with The Dutch for the win. They withstood the pressure and took top honors over the home team in an impressive effort. Read about it here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5798&star=true.

Eventing rider Will Coleman won the Bromont CCI3* in Quebec, and in Calgary, American jumpers dominated at Spruce Meadows as the summer competitions got into full swing. The Third USEF Selection Trial for Vaulting got underway in Menlo Park, CA, and the F.A.C.E. Team won again. Read about the vaulting winners here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5823&star=true.

The drivers had their Mandatory Outing at the Laurels at Landhope while preparing for the FEI World Single Horse Driving Championships in Italy, and Spruce Meadows continued to produce fantastic jumping and U.S. results north of the border.

The jumpers finally got their win on the Medan FEI Nations Cup as an all-female team powered through Rotterdam to win in classic style. They won on a score of zero. Read Chef d’Equipe George Morris’ thoughts on this amazing performance here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5837&star=true.

In the Reining World, three USEF National Youth Champions were crowned at the NRHA Derby. Read about Chloe Gray, Layla Choate and Kyndall Harper here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5852&star=true.

Rebecca Hart was crowned USEF National Para-Equestrian Champion with Kazan, defending her 2009 title. She was also Reserve Champion with Nortessa, and the U.S. Para-Equestrian program looked strong as many new riders had good performances. Additionally, the competition served as the selection trial for the Kentucky Equine Research U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. All the news is available here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5854&star=true.

July: Shawn Flarida dominated the Adequan/USEF National Open Reining Championship, earning a spot on the Adequan/U.S. Reining Team for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in the process. The National Championship also served as the Selection Trial and the U.S. Team looked phenomenal. That story is available here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5899&star=true.

CHIO Aachen means some of the best annual competition in the world and 2010 was no exception. Winning began early in the week for the U.S. http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5908&star=true and strong performances continued in four disciplines: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5915&star=true.

Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Champions were crowned out of fields of very promising four- and five-year-old Dressage horses with DG Brendo and Bon Chance taking the top honors in their respective age groups: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5944&star=true. Rigo rose to the top of the USEF National Developing Horse Dressage Championship presented by the Dutta Corporation and Performance Sales International and Selten HW was crowned top six-year-old. He is the only horse ever to win all three age categories in the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championships. He won in 2008, 2009 and 2010: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5945&star=true.

Laura Kraut and Cedric scored huge on the Global Champions Tour in Chantilly, France picking up a major win.

The summer highlight at the Kentucky Horse Park is the Adequan FEI North American Junior/Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North, and the second edition in the Bluegrass did not disappoint. Champions were crowned throughout a busy week in four disciplines. More information about this annual event is available here: www.youngriders.org.

The same weekend in California, USEF/AVA Vaulting National Champions were crowned and the F.A.C.E Team continued their domination. Devon Maitozo took top honors for the men and Mary McCormick continued her winning ways. The U.S. Vaulting program looked strong, and this also served as the final selection trial for the World Games. The story is available here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=5983&star=true.

August: WEG preparations were in overdrive by the eighth month of the year. The Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions spanned two weeks in Gladstone, NJ. Five national champions were crowned and the team for the World Games was selected. Tina Konyot put on a dazzling display with Calecto V to sweep the Grand Prix National Championship for the first time and earn a spot on the WEG Team. Todd Flettrich and Katherine Bateson-Chandler on Otto and Nartan, respectively, rounded out the WEG Squad. Steffen Peters’ request not to compete Ravel at the Selection Trials was approved according the Dressage Selection Procedures before the competition began – so the Olympic veteran prepared at home in California. The event was also streamed live on USEF Network. For videos, all the news, photos, coverage and winners, visit: http://www.usefnetwork.com/foc2010/.

Texas jumping Young Rider Eirin Bruheim represented the United States at the first Youth Olympic Games. The story from Singapore is available here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=6049&star=true.

Laura Kraut and Cedric became the only pair to win two Global Champions Tour Grand Prix in 2010 when they raced to victory in Valkenwaard.

Nominated Entries were declared for the World Games and 101 U.S. Athletes from 22 states made the Nominated Entry: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=6046&star=true.

September and October: The U.S. kicked off the busiest two months of the year with a Spruce Meadows Nations Cup win: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=6140&star=true. Becky Holder won the USEF Advanced National Horse Trial Championship with Courageous Comet at the Land Rover/USEA American Eventing Championships, which also served as the Mandatory Outing for the Land Rover/U.S. Eventing Team: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=6141&star=true.

The Laurels at Landhope marked the final USEF National Driving Championships and Pony champions and Pair Horse Champions were crowned in Pennsylvania. Shelly Temple, Lisa Stroud, Lisa Singer and Jennifer Matheson all took home national honors. Read more about it here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=6175&star=true.

Sapphire continued winning for McLain Ward. They won the FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup Qualifier at the Hampton Classic and the Pfizer Million at Saugerties. Horses in all disciplines were preparing around the world and the U.S. horses were spread out across the country putting the finishing touches on their World Games preparation: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=6144&star=true.

And then it was time. The first World Equestrian Games to ever be held outside of Europe rolled into Lexington. The weather cooperated and the U.S. put on a show of which to be proud. Gunners Special Nite was the only American horse to win two gold medals when he led the legendary U.S. Reining effort for Tom McCutcheon to kick off the World Games. Teammate Craig Schmersal won Individual Silver with Mister Montana Nic. Eight medals hit the tally for the home team. Steffen Peters won two Individual Bronzes in Dressage with Ravel, Tucker Johnson drove to Team Silver and Individual Bronze in his final competition as he announced his retirement and the F.A.C.E. vaulting team closed out the 16 days with another Team Gold. Dressage and Eventing earned qualification for the 2012 London Olympic Games in highly competitive efforts. Every second of the action, including videos, photos, blogs and news is available here: http://www.usefnetwork.com/weg2010/.

Brittany Hurst won the Platinum Performance/USEF Talent Search Finals-East in the middle of the WEG madness at Gladstone: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=6285&star=true. The West Coast edition was won by Taylor Ann Adams, who was the model of consistency.

Catherine Haddad won the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Freestyle with Winyamaro at Dressage at Devon.

Eventing then headed off the following weekend for the USEF National CCI2* and CCI3*Championships. Hannah Burnett scored a first: she followed up her CCI2* victory in 2009 with the CCI3* title in 2010 both on St. Barths. Clark Montgomery took Champion and Reserve honors in the 2010 CCI2* Championship with Loughan Glen and Universe, respectively. He also claimed the title in 2001. The future of the U.S. Eventing program was looking bright with both riders under the age of 30: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=6298&star=true.

Youth continued to reign as Zone 2 and Karen Polle won the Randolph College/USEF National Junior Jumper Championships at Penn National: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=6299&star=true.

Tiana Coudray was sixth in a very competitive international field to lead the U.S. Effort at Boekelo CCI3*, which served as her first overseas competition. The U.S. squad finished second in the Team competition. http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=6301&star=true.

Kristen Rozycki, Kelsey Hoiness and Devon Gaines all won USEF National CCI* Championships at the Midsouth Three-Day Event and Team Challenge: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=6341&star=true as the season came to a close at the Kentucky Horse Park.

November: Sapphire rebounded from a disappointing WEG with a win in the $100,000 President’s Cup at the Washington International Horse Show: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=6357&star=true.

Boyd Martin took a long trip to the Pau CCI4* in France with Remington and finished eighth in weather that was more suitable for ducks than eventing horses.

Jennie Brannigan scored an emotional victory in the first CCI3* every held in California, winning the Galway Downs CCI3*: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=6388&star=true. Cambalda jumped to the win in his first test at this level.

The U.S. Jumpers notched up another win at CSIO Buenos Aires, scoring a big victory in Argentina: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=6404&star=true. It was a first-time Nations Cup trip for each rider, and marked a huge success.

Laura Kraut and Cedric won again, this time at the Grand Prix of Brussels.

December: The season winds to a close and the U.S. Equestrian Community loses a legend when Eugene ‘Gene’ Mische passes away on December 3, after a brave fight with cancer. His life and influence touched all corners of the industry: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsDisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=6440.

Meagan Davis will represent the U.S. at the Young Rider World Cup Dressage Final with Bentley, jumpers are contesting the indoor shows in Europe and the Florida, and California circuits are gearing up. Read about Meagan here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/newsdisplay/viewPR.aspx?id=6466&star=true.

Annual meetings for the Affiliates pave the way for the USEF Annual Meeting in January and by then 2011 will be in full swing.

2010 marked a huge achievement for equestrian sport in the United States. The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games brought exposure to the American horse industry that it has never seen before. The legacy of these Games is still taking shape, but the work and dreams of an equestrian nation paid off. The U.S. won Gold medals on home turf and wrote a new chapter in the history of the sport. Nearly half a million people watched in person and millions viewed online and on television. People who didn’t know that reining was a sport became hooked watching the U.S. dominate the competition.

Younger riders began to build their future in a sport that needed some rising stars, while some of our team members move closer to retirement. Overall, the future looks bright with athletes winning for the U.S. around the globe. The under-30 crowd across disciplines was making some noise in 2010 while the senior teams were earning Olympic qualification at the World Championships, perhaps a mixture of the two will wave the U.S. flag in London.

It was a year of some hard lessons and some revolutionary changes in equestrian sport, but it is also a year where excellence, preparation, diligence, training, practice and patience paid dividends.

Happy New Year and best of luck in 2011.

By Joanie Morris/USEF

Be Sociable - Share!

Leave a Reply