All posts by Associate Editor

BLM Proposes Massive Burro Roundup + New Cattle Grazing

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing a MASSIVE roundup of burros in Arizona’s Three River Complex, which includes the Alamo, Big Sandy, and Havasu Herd Management Areas (HMAs). BLM plans to round up 1,794 of the estimated 2,259 burros living in the area, leaving behind just 465 burros. Livestock grazing in the Big Sandy HMA is equivalent to 1,000 year-round cows; BLM only allows 139 burros to live in that same area.

America’s wild burros face a genetic crisis due to BLM’s mismanagement of these hardy little animals. The agency keeps most burro populations so small that inbreeding is inevitable.

BLM plans this massive burro roundup while at the same time the agency proposes ADDING COWS to graze in the same area! After nearly 30 years of no livestock grazing in the Alamo HMA, BLM wants to add cows despite claiming the HMA is over-grazed. This is CRAZY.

BLM’s unscientific “Appropriate” Management Level (AML) is a rigged system where any animal over BLM’s arbitrary quota is considered “overpopulation.” The only way to address this is to reduce livestock grazing and increase the number of burros allowed on the range.

Please take action NOW by signing our two petitions here and here, which call on BLM to ditch the massive roundup and reject the proposal to add new livestock grazing in the Alamo HMA.

The Cloud Foundation
www.thecloudfoundation.org

Wild Horse Fire Brigade Updates

Photo: Michelle Gough

Maybe you can imagine the frustration of having a vaccine that is proven to cure cancer, but not having the money to produce and distribute the cure.  Even as people are dying.

That is the kind of frustration that we are dealing with in regard to saving wild horses!  We have the cure for the wild horse management debacle. Now we just need the money to get the cure effected.

Unfortunately, an industry-wide slowdown in funding, partially caused by more nonprofits than ever entering into the wild horse nonprofit marketplace, is diluting donations and slowing progress on our projects critical to implementing a permanent, humane, and natural solution to keep American wild horses wild and free.

People are being fooled into funding the widespread sterilization (a.k.a.: Fertility Control) of wild horses to augment the genetic damage being inflicted by reducing populations via BLM roundups. This slowdown in funding is coming at a time when some people are asking and pleading with us, “Is there any way we can get the Wild Horse Fire Brigade plan accomplished faster?”  Of course there is, but it takes proper funding… we can only go as fast as our budget allows us.

Stanford produced a white paper that addresses the serious issues that arise from under funding a worthy nonprofit:

The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle

“Funders must take the lead in breaking a vicious cycle that is leaving nonprofits so hungry for decent infrastructure that they can barely function as organizations — let alone serve their beneficiaries.”

(Note: In the case of Wild Horse Fire Brigade, the ‘beneficiaries’ are the wild horses being abused, tortured, and on the brink of extinction.)

“Our research reveals that a vicious cycle fuels the persistent underfunding of overhead. The first step in the cycle is funders’ unrealistic expectations about how much it costs to run a nonprofit. At the second step, nonprofits feel pressure to conform to funders’ unrealistic expectations. At the third step, nonprofits respond to this pressure in two ways: they spend too little on overhead, and they underreport their expenditures on tax forms and in fundraising materials. This underspending and underreporting in turn perpetuate funders’ unrealistic expectations. Over time, funders expect grantees to do more and more with less and less — a cycle that slowly starves nonprofits.”

Sure, we’ve gotten some great national media exposure, and we’re very grateful for it. But people incorrectly assume that will be the ticket and we should now have financial wings when it’s not the case.  Honestly, national media articles help build brand recognition, reputation, and equity, but are less effective at bringing in donations these days than in prior years.

Until we can secure a major grant or large-scale donor, or a solid following of monthly donors, which as a newer nonprofit, we don’t have yet, our progress is restricted by budget.

We are far from having the kind of financial support we need to fully and speedily execute our novel, multifaceted approach to change the ongoing disastrous wild horse management and 30 years of failed advocacy.

Doing more of the same isn’t going to save wild horses in a manner that provides sustainable, humane, natural conservation that keeps them ‘wild & free’.

Too many people keep ignoring the evident facts that wild horse roundups have been greatly accelerated in coordination with horrific sterilization programs, both of which are carefully and scientifically designed to decimate wild horse populations.

This is the Bureau of Land Management’s end game.  And the biggest nonprofits are cashing in on the BLM’s plan, to the great detriment of wild horses.

Our end game is to use the combined experience of our team, along with the unparalleled extensive knowledge and experience, gained by managing our herd of 150 free roaming wild horses in a wilderness for the past 9 years, including during a catastrophic wildfire, to re-wild and relocate tens of thousands of wild horses into appropriate remote wilderness areas on parts of both public and privately owned remote wilderness.

There is approximately 353 million acres of privately owned for forests in America. About 50 million acres of that is very remote and unsuited for livestock, but ideal habitat for wild horses, that can make these areas more wildfire resilient.

Of the 115 million acres of publicly owned ‘designated wilderness’ (unsuited for livestock), all of which is at grave risk of incineration by wildfire, at least 30 million acres of that is very remote ideal habitat for wild horses. We only need to utilize a total of 20 million acres in order to re-wild/relocate 100,000 horses at the rate of 1 horse per 200 acres.

Here’s what we have in progress that can change everything for American wild horses:

(1) Our pilot herd of wild horses helped CALFIRE to stop a deadly 38,000 acre, wind driven catastrophic wildfire from incinerating the national treasure called the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument. THIS IS A CASE STUDY. And we need to continue our ongoing research with this case study herd. We are needing to acquire some electronics for an advanced tracking system for our lead mares. This will open the door to much more important scientific information. The telemetry package (electronics, etc.) we need costs $20k. We currently don’t have that in our budget.

By way of the wildfire fuels management year after year, when the fire struck in 2018, the fuels had been managed by the wild horses and were minimal, and that made CALFIRE’s wildfire suppression efforts more effective.

Our herd of wild horses had created and maintained a fire resilient landscape year-round, and they can do the same job elsewhere.

Saving what we can right now – working with our extended family of volunteer advocates, we have rescued 60 mustangs that would have ended up in a Mexican slaughter plant.  Here is a video showing one of the groups that has their freedom restored: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntqV QeeVMs.

We must continue to offer the lesson from our wild horse management experience to legislators, forest managers, firefighters, ecologists, and wild horse advocates. Our empirical experience transcends textbooks, academic hypotheses, and certainly BLM mythology.

We can teach and inform others.  Education is one of our key strategies, and will help our future re-wilding partners to understand how and why our plan works, and how to successfully scale our plan onto very large landscapes of 100,000 acres and larger.

(2) Articles & publications:

Anyone who has been college educated can recall the huge time requirement and effort to write a term paper, right?

Now imagine having to crank out a term paper every week, for years in a row! That’s what we’ve been doing, and we have NO STAFF.  Of course, that’s on top of dealing with hundreds of emails per week, phone calls, etc.

In addition to doing daily field work in the wilderness with wild horses and all the chores it takes to live off grid in the wilderness, Wild Horse Fire Brigade’s founder William Simpson and co-researcher Michelle Gough have been producing articles and papers weekly that average 2,500 words each (in Simpson’s case, for the past 9 years).

We must continue authoring and publishing articles and white papers that inform decision makers and educators about the genuine value of maintaining natural herds of wild horses on the appropriate landscapes. This is a very time-consuming endeavor (writing researched articles and getting them published).

Wild Horse Fire Brigade’s founder, William E. Simpson, is a professional writer and published author (Ulysses Press), and recognized by Simon and Schuster: https://www.simonandschuster.com/authors/William E Simpson/169118167.

A few of our published articles and informational stories are platformed on our website (www.WHFB.us), providing the public with quick single point access to important, accurate information about wild horses.

Many other articles are published elsewhere, such as these example outlets:

*Pagosa Daily Post (Colorado): https://pagosadailypost.com/author/william simpson/

*HorseTalk (New Zealand):  https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/author/billsimpson/

* Sierra Nevada Ally: https://sierranevadaally.org/author/william e simpson ii/

(3) Utilizing our wilderness research station/ranch:

Our free roaming wild herd in the wilderness coupled with our onsite research station can serve as a center for the college field studies of wild horse ecology and ethology. This could turn out a new army of resource managers into the real world who know the truth of wild horses.

Our research station/ranch is set in the wilderness among a herd of free roaming wild horses. This provides our team with the opportunity to have visiting university students and scientists to learn about wild horses using what we call the ‘Goodall Method’.  Through an alliance with an accredited University, we hope to soon be offering a certificate or fellowship program in Wild Horse Ecology Ethology.

(4) Video and photographic education:

Producing documentaries and edutainment videos that can help inform the public at large. We have already produced over 230 such videos. Some of these videos have thousands of views, and provide a library of video information to the public.  We need to get the word out about this body of work.

(5) TV, radio, and internet interviews:

Bringing out the truth about wild horses and their importance on the American landscape is vital to our mission, and yet another important way to inform the general public. Wild Horse Fire Brigade’s founder spends dozens of hours every month preparing for and giving interviews, on site at the ranch, on the radio, on TV, and via the internet and webinars.

Recently, Wild Horse Fire Brigade’s Vice President, Kelsey Stangebye, authored an outstanding paper that was published at Midwest Reining Horse Association’s magazine, and can be read here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mZWo2FJd1D1RtK2AWCq8yQK2sYBVcauM/view?usp=sharing

Thank you for reading this, and please do share it.

Please donate here.

Visit www.wildhorsefirebrigade.org for more information.

The 2023 Hampton Classic Kicks Off with a Focus on Equine Welfare

Left to Right: Gabriella Pizzolo, Jill Rappaport, Serena Marron, Valerie Angeli, and Kevin Santacroce Photo @ Marianne Barnett

What better way to start the 2023 Hampton Classic Horse Show than by focusing on the welfare of America’s horses in need of forever homes? The EQUUS Foundation partnered with the Hampton Classic to showcase adoptable horses on Sunday, August 27, during the Opening Day Ceremony in the Grand Prix Ring, and on Monday, August 28, for the annual Adoption event sponsored by Gotham Enterprizes and Georgina Bloomberg.

The Opening Day ceremony previewed the adoptable horses that would be participating the next day and featured popular actress, Gabriella Pizzolo of TV and Broadway; renowned animal welfare and adoption advocate, TV personality and best-selling author, Jill Rappaport; Serena Marron, EQUUS Foundation Advisory Council member; and Valerie Angeli, EQUUS Foundation VP Engagement.

The highlight was the presentation of a $4,000 check to the EQUUS Foundation from ConnectOne Bank, a new sponsor of the Hampton Classic. ConnectOne Bank’s Long Island Market President, Kevin Santacroce, said, “As ConnectOne Bank continues to grow on Long Island and serve the community, I am delighted to honor the EQUUS Foundation with this donation for their long-standing commitment to ensuring the welfare of America’s horses and fostering the horse-human bond.”

Equine Adoption Day

On August 28, Georgina Bloomberg and Jill Rappaport joined Valerie Angeli to emcee the annual Equine Adoption event. Participating EQUUS Foundation Guardian charities included Bergen County Horse Rescue, Rising Starr Horse Rescue, and Sunshine Horses.

Over 100 attendees were able to enjoy not only hands-on experiences with the adoptable horses but also learning experiences, including tours of the state-of-the-art HEART Horse Ambulance and a demonstration of blacksmithing and equine leg anatomy by Tim Fitzgerald of the Long Island University College of Veterinary Medicine. There was also interactive fun featuring Bouncy Horse Racing and Horseless Show Jumping. The Long Island University Equestrian Team volunteered in full force.

Christine Fitzgerald, Executive Director of The Rider’s Closet, was on hand to remind attendees that the donation trunk would be onsite all week. The Rider’s Closet, founded by Georgina Bloomberg and now an EQUUS Foundation program, makes equestrian sport more accessible to all riders to pursue their equestrian dreams.

How You Can Help

Angeli added, “If you can’t adopt a horse, you can still help by lending your voice. Join us as a #HorseProtector by taking the pledge here that you will be a friend and advocate for horses in need.” While no donation is required to take the #HorseProtector pledge, each individual who takes the pledge will have their own customized fundraising page to encourage donations from among their family, friends, and associates. Pledge takers who give or raise $100 or more starting now through August 31, 2024 will be entered into a drawing to win prizes donated by our HorseProtector Sponsors.

There were several adoptions at, and shortly after, the event as well as ongoing interest in all the horses that participated, as a direct result of exposure both in person at the event, and through word of mouth and social media.

A special highlight of the day was the adoption of the Mustang mare, Abracadabra, from Rising Starr Horse Rescue. “Abra, a victim of the government roundups to rid wild horses from public lands, is a symbol of the plight of all American wild horses who are fighting for their lives and who are now desperate for and dependent on new-found purposes once removed from their family herds and natural habitats,” said Angeli. Abra’s life had taken twists and turns for years since her removal from the wild, and this adoption was particularly emotional and triumphant.

Sunshine Horses educated and amazed spectators with their stunning off-track Standardbred horses who were looking for special homes after their harness racing careers had ended. “The stories these horses could tell – from racing, to auction, to almost shipping to slaughter, to being purchased to work as cart and buggy horses for years, only to be sent back to auction – will break your heart,” said Angeli. “The lucky ones find their way to rescue, rehab, rehoming and hope – but many will not. That’s why we are here today, to share their stories and to work together to make sure no horse winds up at risk.”

To learn more about the many horses available for adoption from our Guardian charities nationwide, please visit: equusfoundation.org/adopt.

Meet Thoroughbred Trainers Jena Antonucci and Katie Miranda at EquineEd

Saturday, September 16

On June 10, Jena Antonucci became the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race by winning the Belmont Stakes with Archangelo. 10 weeks later, she showed the world it was no fluke by winning the $1.25 million Travers Stakes.

Join Thoroughbred trainers Jena Antonucci and Katie Miranda at the Kentucky Horse Park for our September EquineEd lecture series. Jena and Katie are co-owners of horseOlogy, a full-cycle thoroughbred training and ownership organization based in Ocala, Florida that handles everything related to thoroughbred breeding, training, and racing.

EquineEd is a FREE event. Mark your calendar for this Saturday, September 16, 12 p.m. at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Hall of Champions barn. Please enter through the KHP Visitor Center.

Don’t miss EquineEd: A First Saturday Lecture Series!

September 16: Jena Antonucci & Katie Miranda
Thoroughbred Trainers

October 7: Erin O’Keefe
Retired Racehorse Project

November 4: Shelby Hume
Dressage Naturally Instructor

December 2: Museum Round Table featuring:
International Museum of the Horse
American Saddlebred Museum
Keeneland Association
Kentucky Derby Museum

To learn more, visit www.kyhorsepark.com.

Strzegom Autumn Show: Equestrian Tournament with a Star Lineup

Photo by Mariusz Chmieliński

11 classes, including the Polish Championships and the International Young Horses Competition. Outstanding athletes, and for the youngest, the Hobby Horse competition – Strzegom Autumn Show starts this weekend.

The autumn equestrian tournament returns to the Stragona calendar after a five-year break. The hippodrome in Morawa will host riders from 22 countries, with more than 240 horses. Four international classes in the short format, three competitions for young horses, and four national classes will be played out. The battle for the medals of the Polish Championships will also be decided.

The entry list includes some of the world’s best eventers, including the German multi-medalist Michael Jung – the double Olympic champion, world champion, and European Champion; Australia’s Andrew Hoy – the two-time gold medalist of the Olympic Games; Felix Vogg from Switzerland – the silver medalist of the world championships for young horses; Japan’s Yoshiaki Oiwa – the double gold medalist of the Asian Games; as well as the defending Polish champion – Mateusz Kiempa.

During the International Young Horses Competition, we will see youngsters aged from 5 to 9. “I think this event will be an excellent opportunity to present young horses at the international arena, and for some it may be the last chance to qualify for the World Championships for Young Horses, which will be held in Lion d’Angers, France,” says Marcin Konarski, the show organizer.

The accompanying event will be the Hobby Horse Eventing competition, which will be held on Sunday. This an up-and-coming new sport, in which athletes compete on “horses” built from a wooden pole with a horse’s head with reins, a bridle, and other equipment imitating that used by riders. The rules of competition are inspired by the regulations of equestrian competitions. The hippodrome will feature a dressage arena, a cross-country course with wooden obstacles specially designed for Hobby Horse, and a parkour with jumping fences.

The Strzegom Autumn Show competition starts on September 15. On Friday, dressage trials will be held, and on Saturday and Sunday several arenas will be the playgrounds for both jumping and cross-country trials.

Admission to the competition and parking are free.

Contact:
www.strzegomhorsetrials.pl
press@strzegomhorsetrials.pl

High Excitement in the Final Day of Para Dressage Team Competition

Charlotte Cundall (GBR) riding FJ Veyron in the team test Grade V © FEI/Leanjo de Koster

Sweden Qualifies for Paris

The excitement for the team rankings has been high at the FEI Para Dressage European Championships in Riesenbeck. Not only were the evident glory of team medals at stake, but for one team, a good result meant a nation spot for the Paralympic Games in Paris next year.

As the top placed team not already qualified for the Games would earn that spot, the stakes were high for countries such as Ireland, Austria, and Sweden. The last Austrian rider Bernd Brugger was also the last rider of the day, so tension was drawn out to the very end. It was therefore a happy and relieved Swedish team that found themselves in possession of a nation’s qualification for Paris 2024.

Mette Ubbesen, Swedish team trainer, says: “I am so excited! I think the riders have been doing a great job. For the last 10 months I have worked with them, they have just been getting better and better and they have worked so hard. Our plan for these championships was to qualify the team for Paris, but we didn’t quite believe in it. But we actually succeeded!”

The Netherlands takes Team Gold once again

The defending European Championship team from 2019 in Rotterdam has just reclaimed their title here at the FEI Para Dressage European Championships in Riesenbeck. For a long time, it looked like it could be German gold, but then the European championship debutant Demi Haerkens (Grade IV) and her super mare EHL Daula entered the arena. The pair absolutely smashed it in the Grand Prix B and were rewarded with outstanding 79.730%.

Not only did they have the highest score of the day, but more importantly, they put the Netherlands in gold position. Before her, Frank Hosmar (Grade V) riding Alphaville N.O.P. and Lotte Krijnsen (Grade III) on Rosenstolz N.O.P. had laid a strong fundament for the gold. Finally, Sanne Voets (Grade IV) and Demantur RS2 N.O.P. sealed the deal and brought the team score up to an impressive 232.637%.

In the end, the German team consisting of Heidemarie Dresing (Grade II) on Horse24 Dooloop, Melanie Wienand (III) on Lemony’s Loverboy, Martina Benzinger (Grade I) on Nautika, and Regine Mispelkamp (Grade V) on Highlander Delight’s took the silver medal with a total score of 226.979%.

On bronze, we have the super ladies from Great Britain, Georgia Wilson (Grade II) riding Sakura, Gabby Blake (Grade I) on Strong Beau, Charlotte Cundall (Grade V) on FJ Veyron, and Sophie Wells (Grade V) on LJT Egebjerggards Samoa finishing with a total score of 222.663%.

National trainer for the Netherlands, Joyce Heuitink, speaking after the final result: “I am incredibly happy, and I am more than proud. I think from most of them, it was a pure masterclass! It gave me goosebumps and tears during the test already, because it was so nice and effortless and beautiful and mistake-free. I have riders that perform under pressure and they have to show it every show, which is never a guarantee, but once again they have proven that they can perform under pressure, which also makes me extremely proud that you can rely on such good riding.”

Find out more HERE.

by Stinne Tange

press@fei.org
www.fei.org

Vogel Untouchable in the CANA Cup

(Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

On the second day of the 2023 edition of the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament, 42 of the world’s best horse and rider combinations took on Leopoldo Palacios’ stunningly designed course in the hopes of securing their place in the pinnacle class of the show, the CPKC ‘International’ Grand Prix, presented by Rolex.

The iconic International Arena, which has played host to numerous historic moments in the sport, including Scott Brash’s incredible Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping victory in 2015, was beautifully bathed in the late summer sun. First to enter the arena, Ireland’s Conor Swail, who claimed this class last year, set the standard for the remaining combinations with a perfectly judged clear round. It was only five horses later that the newly crowned FEI European Champion, Steve Guerdat, ensured that there would be a jump-off as he mastered the technical course aboard the impressive gelding Albfuehren’s Maddox.

The world-class field truly impressed the knowledgeable Canadian crowd with a total of 15 riders clearing the 1.55m, 12 combination course faultlessly. The elite list of riders included the winner of the ATCO Cup earlier in the day, Martin Fuchs, and Britain’s Matthew Sampson, a regular winner at the venue. The crowd also were thrilled to see Canadian riders Mario Deslauriers and Erynn Ballard finish the first-round fault-free.

Three combinations elected not to return to the jump-off, meaning that 12 combinations proceeded to the jump-off. Entering the ring in the same order that they jumped in the first round, it was second to go, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, who jumped the first double clear of the class in a time of 44.27 seconds and set the pace for those to follow. However, fourth into the arena, Richard Vogel with the big striding stallion, United Touch S, eclipsed Guerdat’s lead with a time of 43.07 seconds.

Read more here.

© 2023 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Great Britain Takes the Lead on Opening Day at Riesenbeck

Carl Hester and Fame. (FEI/Leanjo de Koster)

Great Britain took the early lead in the team standings on the opening day of the FEI Dressage European Championship 2023 in Riesenbeck, Germany.

A breathtaking Grand Prix performance from 56-year-old veteran Carl Hester with his relatively new ride, the 13-year-old gelding Fame, earned 78.540 for the biggest score of the day, giving his country a narrow advantage over Germany in second place, while Denmark slotted into third.

Austria and Spain, both fighting for one of the three team spots on offer for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, are in overnight fourth and fifth places. France and The Netherlands share that fifth place with the Spanish after all three sides finished on exactly the same scoreline.

The team medals are decided over two days, so another 33 horse-and-rider combinations will compete in the Grand Prix tomorrow before the podium places are confirmed.

Strong target

Mathias Alexander Rath set the first strong target when putting 74.845 on the board with the stallion Thiago GS. “He felt really fresh yesterday at the vet-check; you could see he had a lot of energy and a lot of power. Today I was super-happy how he behaved in the arena; you have to remember that he’s just ten years old and still developing and still at the beginning of his career,” the German team pathfinder pointed out.

Daniel Bachmann Andersen and the 12-year-old stallion Vayron then put Denmark on the map when slotting in behind the German pair on a score of 74.146, despite losing a shoe in the corner of the arena at the end of the final extended trot.

“Going down the centreline he was fine, but then I went outside and I felt he wasn’t lame, but he felt different. The shoe came clear off and the hoof is perfect, so we just have to get it back on!” he said afterwards.

He described Vayron as “a very green horse; he’s in his very first Grand Prix season – I think this was his eighth Grand Prix in his life.” He said he’s been riding the horse for just over a year, “and we’ve grown together; we had to find each other. He was educated by a top rider (Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg), but with a complete other length of body and body strength, so I had to get to know him and we had to do some things differently. And I had to give him some show experience, as he hasn’t been going to many shows,” the tall Dane explained.

Then Gareth Hughes got even closer to Rath’s score with a lovely performance from the mare Classic Briolinca. After putting 74.565 on the board, the British rider said, “I’m over the moon with her. I thought it was one of the best tests she’s done! Very clean, no real mistakes; I was slightly disappointed with the mark but so happy with the mare.” The horse has been a much-loved member of the Hughes family since she was three years of age.

“She’s 17 now and has done several championships and she’s been amazing for me and amazing for the team,” he added.

Leaderboard

As the first day was drawing to a close, the legend that is Isabell Werth produced a new leading score of 77.174 from DSP Qantaz. “I think it was his best competition this year! He was more relaxed and not fighting; it was easy-going, so that was really nice to feel.”

The 13-year-old gelding competed in the FEI Dressage World Cup™ series over the winter months to give him more experience, “and I think that was quite helpful. And then we had a little break… and the next was Aachen,” she explained.

She is really enjoying the facilities at Riesenbeck. “The venue is very super; it’s so professional in the infrastructure, so great, especially now in this temperature and with this weather. When the horses are in the stables, it is cool and the air is fresh, so the conditions are perfect.” It has been extremely hot all week, with temperatures reaching over 30 degrees C.

Werth was followed into the ring by Andreas Helgstrand and the extravagant young stallion Jovian who slotted into fifth behind Hughes and pushed Bachmann Andersen down to sixth when posting 74.410.

The Danish pair was late into the warm-up arena because Jovian lost a shoe, but neither horse nor rider lost their cool.

“He’s a horse you need a big driving licence for!” Helgstrand said. Jovian was very full of himself this morning, so he took him for a walk.

“My strategy was to get him to calm down so I could show that walk (in the test) and the walk was there. I couldn’t make it as good as I wanted in piaffe and passage, but at the end of the day I’m happy. He’s a dream horse, and in one more year he will be very, very nice!” he added.

Master-class

Third-last to go, Carl Hester then put Great Britain out in front with a master-class in the art of horsemanship. “If I never did another test again, it would be a lovely one to finish on!” said the six-time Olympian, after putting 78.540 on the board with Fame for the biggest score of the opening day, and with a test that had the crowd roaring in appreciation as the pair moved into their final halt.

“I absolutely love this horse. I worship riding him. I look forward to riding him every day!” he said of the 13-year-old gelding that was formerly competed by team-mate Fiona Bigwood, but who was offered to Hester at the end of last year due to her busy life full of family commitments. “She always said this one’s for you when she was riding him, and she was right; it was love at first ride!” Hester said.

He described Fame as “very spicy and hot” and “a full-time job. It’s not just a case of get on him. He’s in the field all day, he’s a stallion, he goes out all day in his paddock, and you have to manage him so he relaxes.

“He’s the kind of horse I love, a bit quirky and hot but wonderful and kind. You need someone who has time to ride a horse like that… he wants to go, but he’s the kindest person in the stable and with children and other horses… there’s not been a morning since January when I haven’t thought I can’t wait to get on him!” he said.

Stands tallest

Meanwhile, in the race for Olympic qualification, it is Team Austria that stands tallest, their top score of 71.724 from Florian Bacher and Fidertraum OLD giving them the edge over the Spanish who also posted two 70 percent scores, the best of which came from Alejandro Sánchez del Barco with the charming PRE stallion Quincallo de Indalo, who earned a mark of 71.584.

It will be quite something if Austria can succeed in taking one of the Olympic slots in Dressage this week, just days after their Jumping team earned their ticket to Paris next year against all the odds at the FEI Jumping European Championship 2023 in Milan (ITA).

Florian Bacher believes they can do it. “It’s looking quite good!” he said after his impressive ride with the 14-year-old Fidertraum, who is competing in his fifth championship.

Startlists and Results here.

by Louise Parkes

press@fei.org
www.fei.org

It’s Individual Gold for Super-Swiss Guerdat and His Special Mare Dynamix

Steve Guerdat and Dynamix de Belheme. (FEI/Leanjo de Koster)

Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat has ridden many great horses during his sparkling career, but after winning individual gold at the FEI Jumping European Championship 2023 in Milan (ITA), he said his mare, Dynamix de Belheme, is simply the best.

With a flawless run over four days of tough competition, as Italian course designer Uliano Vezzani tested Europe’s best riders as only he can, the 41-year-old rider and his 10-year-old mare were the only combination to finish the week without fault from the field of 85, who started out in the quest for European glory last Wednesday.

Germany’s Philipp Weishaupt claimed silver with the exciting nine-year-old Zineday, while Julien Epaillard and the 10-year-old Dubai du Cedre finished in bronze medal spot for France.

“I’ve been very, very lucky, even blessed, since the beginning of my career. I’m for sure no better rider that this guy that sits beside me (Weishaupt), but he didn’t always have the same luck with his horses at a championship as I had. So for me to say that this is the best horse I’ve ever had – it takes a lot!” Guerdat said.

In the balance

The final day more than lived up to expectations, with the result hanging in the balance until the very last fence was jumped.

One pole down from Guerdat in the second round and Weishaupt would have overtaken the 2012 Olympic champion for the coveted title. But once the Swiss star overtook team gold medallists Jens Fredricson and Markan Cosmopolit for the lead, when the Swedish pair faulted in the first of the two rounds to drop to fifth in the final analysis, Guerdat had the look of a man who wasn’t going to let anything get in his way.

As he rode into the ring, last to go in the second and last round, he was holding the lead, but with Weishaupt snapping at his heels and Epaillard just a whisper further behind, so he needed to muster all the experience he has gathered down the years. With the horse of his dreams under him, he calmly brought home the gold that has only been held in Swiss hands twice before, by Willi Melliger partnering Quinta in Gijon (ESP) in 1993 and by Martin Fuchs and Clooney in Rotterdam (NED) in 2019.

He’s now making no secret of the fact that his next big target with his mare is the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

So cool

When asked how he managed to keep so cool under pressure, he said he just tried to make that final round like any other.

“I didn’t do anything different because it’s my job to go clear every week, every Sunday, every championship, every day this week. My mare was in great form, so I just try to keep her fresh, because it’s her first championship and she was a little bit tired today after the first round, so I tried to save the jumps, just do five or six jumps before the last round and try to stay focused on what I have to do and I knew she wouldn’t let me down.

“She’s a very, very special horse, so I just try to focus on my job so she can express herself at her best, and that’s what she did and I’m delighted with her and the result!” he said.

It is clear he has thought the world of Dynamix for a very long time. “I have had so many special horses throughout my career, but I didn’t want to put pressure on her by telling everybody I have a new superstar, but we knew it, or we hoped for it. And we were just trying to let her develop the way she had to develop.

“Basically, she has all the qualities that all my superstars have had, and she has it all in the one horse, and that’s why she’s very, very special!

“I don’t want to rush things. I just listen to her and what she wants to do. She only did her first 5-Star a year ago,” he pointed out.

When Dynamix gets home to Switzerland, she’ll get a nice surprise. “Up to today, she still wasn’t allowed to have her own big picture in my indoor; there are a lot of very special horses in there. We have a lot of amazing pictures of Dynamix, and I’ve had a bit of a fight with my wife because she thinks she should already be up there. But today she did something great, so her picture will be up there tomorrow!” he said.

Careful

Weishaupt said he has also been careful not to pressurise his young horse either. “It wasn’t in my plan at the beginning of the year to come here, because Zineday is only nine years old, a year younger than Steve’s horse – quality-wise not far away, these two horses – but I need to listen to him to know how he is and go step-by-step, show-by-show. I also tried to keep him a bit in the background and make sure not too many people ask me how good he is.

“But after Aachen (where the pair finished third in the Grand Prix) there was no more chance to hide it – even blind ones could see how good he is by then! He did it so easy in Aachen, so I took him to a show in Riesenbeck and he came back very strong. So I thought OK, he’s only nine but he’s ready for the championship and he will learn and get experience during those five days. I went day-by-day this week; I didn’t have any expectation. I know the horse is super, but I need to ride well and keep him calm,” he explained.

It worked out really nicely. “The first day Speed class, he did a very good round. The first round of the Nations Cup was really good; unfortunately, I made a stupid mistake on the team final day. Then I go for the final – he was super-fresh yesterday, which was a bit surprising.

“And today I did two rounds and he jumped fantastic, and I’m more than delighted with the result. At the end Steve was the only one jumping all days clear, and I wasn’t!”

Fantastic week

Epaillard said he had a fantastic week with Dubai du Cedre. He also jumped double-clear to move up from overnight fourth into that bronze medal position. It was Great Britain’s Ben Maher who finished just off the podium in fourth place with Faltic HB at the end of the day.

“My mare is only 10 years old, and it was my first championship with her, and she doesn’t have that much experience. She had two down during the week, both my fault because I don’t know her well enough,” Epaillard explained. He has been riding her since last November.

“The course designer created a fantastic show this week,” he continued. “I think Uliano did a very nice job. Every day there were very technical rounds; today, the final was perfect, I think. The first round very strong and difficult, the second a little bit easier, but with the pressure, everyone, including the horses, were a little bit tired.”

There was no sign of tiredness when the medallists rode their victory lap to bring a truly thrilling week of sport to a close, with Guerdat adding individual gold to the European team gold medals he won in 2009 and 2021.

“I have the horse that everyone is looking for,” he said, “so we do our best for her and bring her in the best of form for Paris! This has been a great week!”

Results here.

by Louise Parkes

press@fei.org
www.fei.org

It’s Golden Glory for Team Sweden Once Again

Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, Jens Fredricson, Chef d’Equipe Henrik Ankarcrona, Wilma Hellström, and Henrik von Eckermann. (FEI/Leanjo de Koster)

History was made when Team Sweden clinched gold for the very first time at the FEI Jumping European Championship 2023 in Milan (ITA). The country that already holds both the Olympic and World team titles proved that, when it comes to staying the distance, they simply have no match right now.

They started the medal-decider trailing Germany and just ahead of the defending champions from Switzerland. But on an afternoon full of surprises, it was Team Ireland that settled comfortably into silver medal spot while Team Austria took the bronze.

As the action began, only fractions separated the leading pack, but when Henrik Ankarcrona’s Swedish side added nothing to complete on a total of 9.51 penalties for the win, they were well clear of the Irish on a final tally of 18.00 and the Austrians who finished with 22.77 on the board.

No-one could have predicted that Germany would lose the pathfinding partnership of Marcus Ehning and Stargold which would always leave them vulnerable, or that the Swiss, who have been all but unbeatable this year, would finish sixth behind Spain.

But anyone who has followed the path taken by the Swedes in recent years would know that a team consisting of Henrik von Eckermann and Iliana, Wilma Hellström and Cicci BJN, Jens Fredricson and Markan Cosmopolit, and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson with Zuccero would be difficult to overturn.

As Fredricson, who goes into Sunday’s individual medal-decider still out in front after three tough days of sport, said, there was never any discussion about the Swedish mission coming to Milan. “We came here to take the gold medal; that was always the plan, and sitting here now is just fine! We know how this can go, with many ups and downs, and we are really super happy with the whole thing!”

News

There was a bit of a shockwave when the last-minute news came through that Ehning wouldn’t compete because he felt his stallion wasn’t quite right.

“I don’t know what happened really. We got ready for the class, and I don’t know if he heard something, but he nearly flipped over in the box, and I don’t know if he over-reached a muscle or whatever. When I got on, he wasn’t lame, but he doesn’t want to open up his back or stretch, and I didn’t have the feeling that he was normal,” the multiple champion explained.

So when Philipp Weishaupt’s Zineday knocked the oxer at fence two, Jana Wargers and Limbridge double-faulted, and Gerrit Nieberg came home with one down, the German total of 25.31 would leave them just off the podium in fourth place.

Meanwhile, only Steve Guerdat and Dynamix de Belheme lived up to expectations on the Swiss side who had to add 16 to their scoreline. But the Austrians, sixth overnight, rocketed up the leaderboard when Gerfried Puck and Equitron Naxcel V came home with just two time penalties, Max Kuhner and Elektric Blue P jumped clear, and Alessandra Reich and Oeli R lowered only the tricky water-tray vertical at fence six that proved a bit of a bogey all day. That meant they could drop the 12 racked up by Katharine Rhomberg and Cuma 5.

The Irish opened up with another fabulous clear from Michael Duffy and the 14-year-old mare Cinca. Although they had to add eight to the scoreline when Trevor Breen and Highland President, Shane Sweetnam and James Kann Cruz, and Eoin McMahon and Mila all returned four-fault results, they reaped the benefit of a good run earlier in the week that had left them stalking the leading pack and ready to pounce if their rivals showed any weakness.

It was three classic clears that clinched it for Sweden, Henrik von Eckermann providing their only mistake of the day, when hitting the last in his pathfinding round. Annoyed with himself, he explained, “I got the six (strides) nice, but I didn’t sit up enough. I followed with her and I was through the finish line in my mind before I was over the finish line!” But the double world champion and world number one rider didn’t need to worry. His team-mates would wrap it up very nicely indeed, Hellström confidently bringing her one-eyed wonder-mare home without incident, and Fredricson doing likewise with his 12-year-old gelding.

Bengtsson already knew he had a gold medal around his neck before he set off, and he said that was a very nice feeling. His foot-perfect run was just the icing on the cake, ensuring the distance between gold and silver was as wide as possible.

Nice to be back

“For me, it’s very nice to be back again in the team!” Bengtsson said. “I’ve been on the side for a while, but that was also an interesting position to have. Now I have a really good horse again and to get a medal here today… it was 22 years ago I had my first one, so thanks guys! The team spirit we have is something very important and very special. We know each other very well and that helps. We can talk to each other in whatever language, and nobody takes it badly if you tell them straight what you mean.”

Hellström pointed out that “there’s a reason why Sweden has been so successful…. t’s not only the riding; it’s the full plan and the organisation around us and the respect everyone has for each other.”

Von Eckermann was delighted to add yet another championship medal to his already very extensive collection. “I really wanted the gold for the last team medal in my pocket, so I’m happy the guys helped me with that!” he said.

Fredricson said forward planning is the recipe for Swedish success. “I have a very early plan for my horse. In November I knew what I had to do. I did Rome, La Baule, Aachen – all fantastic shows – and I knew I was going to have my horse in the best form now. If you don’t know that and you are picking the team in the last month… I think that’s what we do right,” he pointed out.

Contrast

In contrast, the Irish had to make some very late changes to their side leading into the championship

“But the thing we are most proud of is whatever changes we have to make we have in excess of 30 riders competing in 5-Star Nations Cups this year, and I think that’s a phenomenal figure!” said Chef d’Equipe Michael Blake. “I’m so proud to be involved with people who are that good and love the sport that much. They put the country first and they make my job easy,” he added.

There was no hiding the surprise and delight on the faces of the Austrian bronze medallists. As their Chef d’Equipe Angelika May said with a laugh, “If there had been a bet on Austria, I think you would have made a fortune!”

But they earned their place fair and square, on top of Olympic qualification along with Spain and Switzerland.

“We came here for the Olympic ticket, and we would have been super-happy with that!” said Katharina Rhomberg. Team-mate Max Kuhner said they would like to build on this result now. “I hope it will also bring some support for the future for the country, like these big horse nations, to get more owners, to get more horse power, to get more ambition for the whole sport. The Olympic qualification is probably the best thing to make this happen. It was a fantastic feeling with a great team. We had a really good time here together, supported each other, and it makes me very happy!” he said.

11 out of 10

Talking about his horse Markan Cosmopolit, Sweden’s Fredricson said that his jumping round “wasn’t a 10 out of 10; it was an 11 out of 10!” and he reflected on how his victory came about.

“You try to do your best and you can do nothing about the other riders – if they were better than us, then they would have won, but this time we were the best. The only thing you can focus on is your own thing. Always in championships there are unpredictable things happening!” he pointed out.

All four Swedes now go into the individual finale inside the top 18, with Fredricson in pole position ahead of Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat in second and Ireland’s young star Michael Duffy in third, ahead of Frenchman Olivier Perreau in fourth. There is less than a fence between the top five and less than two between the top 11, so there’s no room for error, which promises one more day of spectacular sport.

But for now, it’s Swedish party time, as they celebrate their first team title in the 66-year history of the FEI Jumping European Championship.

Results here.

by Louise Parkes

press@fei.org
www.fei.org