Tag Archives: dressage

Great Britain Defy the Odds to Take Spectacular Paralympic Team Title

L to R: Rixt van der Horst – Findsley, Sanne Voets – Demantur, Frank Hosmar – Alphavile (NED) Silver medalists; Lee Pearson – Breezer, Sophie Wells – Don Cara M, Natasha Baker – Keystone Dawn Chorus (GBR) Gold medalists; Kate Shoemaker – Solitaer 40, Roxanne Trunnell – Dolton, Rebecca Hart – El Corona Texel (USA) Bronze medallists. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Suspense and pure grit were on display as Great Britain claimed the Tokyo 2020 Para Dressage Team gold medal, continuing their seemingly unbreakable hold on the title which started in Atlanta 1996. The trio of Sir Lee Pearson (Grade II), Natasha Baker (Grade III), and Sophie Wells (Grade V) scored 229.905 to finish just 0.656 ahead of The Netherlands’ 229.249. And in another momentous shift in the sport, USA took the bronze medal with 224.352, making this their first Paralympic Team podium finish, and the first time the podium hasn’t been made up of all European teams!

How it works

There are three athletes per team. Each Grade competes separately in its own Team Test, with each horse and athlete combination performing a series of pre-determined movements, which differ by Grade. The combined results of each of the teams’ three athletes determine the overall score and the team with the most points wins gold. The competition was run over two days, starting with the athletes from Grades I, II, and III performing on Saturday, leaving Grades IV and V to seal the deal.

Here’s how the day unfolded

At the beginning of the day, the competition was shaping up to be a showdown between the three podium winners, with Great Britain having the slight advantage over the USA, with both countries having two tests already completed.

The Grade V Team test was won by Belgium’s Michele George on Best of 8. She scored 77.047% to put her country into medal contention too.

A crucial score of 75.651% for Sophie Wells (GBR) proved to be a massive boost for her country’s chances of winning, while Frank Hosmar (GBR) on Alphaville N.O.P. posted 74.814% to keep things neck and neck between the two countries.

At the start of the Grade IV Team Test, the British had completed all their rides, leaving the USA and The Netherlands with the knowledge of how much their last two athletes would have to score to beat them.

First up was Kate Shoemaker (USA) on Solitaer 40. She scored 71.825% to put the USA in silver medal position.

Sanne Voets then entered the arena on Demantur N.O.P. and knew she needed to score 78.136% to beat Great Britain. Four minutes later she left, and her score was announced, a massive personal best of 78.200%. However, between the calculation of what was needed to win, and Sanne’s test, Sophie Wells’ score was confirmed slightly higher than the provisional score given earlier, thus handing Great Britain the closest of wins. It could not have been any closer; it could not have been more historic.

Speaking after their medal ceremony, Natasha Baker tried to sum up how the team felt. “I don’t think any of us expected that in a million, trillion, gazillion years to be honest. We’re all so immensely proud of everything our horses have done in the last few days.”

“We had no expectation that we could achieve that,” Sophie Wells added. “We genuinely thought it was impossible in the most realistic way. We all had horses that have never done this or been against anyone else. The Dutch are so strong and secure on their horses and we’re not.”

“We haven’t even got any championship horses on this team,” said Lee Pearson.

Team Leader Georgia Sharples paid tribute to the team, saying: “I just think these guys are undefeated Paralympic champions but in a whole new context. You’ve heard about the inexperienced horsepower, but never underestimate these guys and what a job they did out there on that field of play.”

The Netherlands were equally enthused by their silver, and the closeness of the competition.

“We’ve been working towards this for five years,” said Sanne Voets, “and this is where you want to perform at your best and if you can succeed at that you can’t be disappointed.

“There was so much pressure. When we saw the order to go and I realised I was the last rider of the three countries who were expected to win, I knew I would know the score needed for team gold.”

And despite coming into the Games as hot favourites for the title, there was delight and relief with bronze for the USA as well, especially Rebecca Hart, who has competed at four Games now.

“I don’t have words right now,” she said. “It was such an amazing competition and so close. A real nail-biter to the very end. I am so incredibly blessed and happy to be standing here with these two amazing riders. To finally, after so many years, be able to stand on that podium as a country, it’s a lifelong dream come true.”

After the drama of the Team competition, the Para Dressage competition at Tokyo 2020 comes to an end when the top eight individual riders in each Grade take to the arena to dance in the ever-popular Freestyle competition. The five medals will come thick and fast in what will doubtless be another fascinating, exciting, and potentially historic end to a brilliant Paralympic Games for Para Dressage.

by Rob Howell

Media contact:

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
vanessa.randin@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 73

And the Team Medal Chase Is On

Natasha Baker (GBR) with Keystone Dawn Chorus. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

With day one of the Para Dressage Team competition complete, the Tokyo 2020 medal winners remain impossible to call.

On current standings any combination of The Netherlands, Great Britain, USA, Belgium, and Denmark could take a place on the podium, and in any order.

All Team riders from Canada and Singapore have now competed, leaving Canada at the top of the leader board with a combined score of 211.699, ahead of Singapore with 200.792.

How it works

There are three athletes per team. Each Grade competes separately in its own Team Test, with each horse and athlete combination performing a series of pre-determined movements, which differ by Grade.  The combined results of each of the teams’ three athletes will determine the overall score and the team with the most points wins gold.

Great Britain’s best start

The day started well for Sir Lee Pearson (GBR) who won the Grade II Team Test on Breezer with 77.636%.

“I am over the moon with that lovely score. Breezer doesn’t like the Olympic arena and he was quite frightened in there. He’s a sensitive soul, but I’m so proud of him because I held his hand and he trusted me and I could be sitting here with a different story.

“He’s sensitive, but that sensitivity, when it’s on side, makes him fabulous.”

Pepo Puch (AUT) came second in the Test on Sailor’s Blue with 74.909%, while Katrine Kristensen (DEN) earned her team a valuable 72.515% on Welldone Dallas.

Roxanne throws down an 80 plus challenge

Roxanne Trunnell (USA) laid down the day’s only 80 plus score in the Grade I Team Test, riding Dolton to 80.321%. The noise of fire engines attending a nearby incident added pressure during her Test, but the pair rose above it to perform calmly and brilliantly.

Second place went to Sara Morganti (ITA) with an impressive 79.286% on Royal Delight, ahead of Michael Murphy (IRL) on Cleverboy, with 75.179%. That last result was especially pleasing for the young Irish rider, coming the day after he suffered an equipment failure in the Grade I Individual Test which left him in last place.

“He felt brilliant again,” Roxanne said after her Test. “He was a little tense, but we worked through it.”

Referring to the disturbance outside, she added, “That’s what made him tense up a little. I don’t think you can prepare. It just happens and you go with it.

“It means a lot to ride for the USA after such a weird year. Everyone is going to remember this Paralympics.”

Baker builds as Thorning Jorgensen leads

Tobias Thorning Jorgensen (DEN) gave his country a real shot at a medal with a stunning 79.559% in the Grade III Team Test, on Jolene Hill.

But also building her team’s score was Natasha Baker (GBR) who posted 76.618% on Keystone Dawn Chorus, just ahead of Rixt van der Horst (NED) on Findsley N.O.P. with 76.235%.

“It was intense today,” said Tobias. “I’ve done something today, so I have a little bit of pain, so that was just Jolene carrying me around. I’m very grateful to her, she went even better than yesterday.

“This is a great start and I hope we can be a medal contender or at least be there, so if anyone makes a mistake, we can take it. I just love the Team competition because we go down here as a family and be there for each other.”

How things stand, and what happens next

Based on the scores at this halfway point in the competition, the gold medal is still up for grabs between the USA, Great Britain, and The Netherlands. However, strong performances from the two Danish riders, and with Belgium’s two remaining riders still to go, mean those two countries could still snatch a medal.

It will all come down to the Grade IV and V Tests. As the Grade V athletes go first, all eyes will be on Kate Shoemaker (USA) who will determine her team’s final score, as well as on Frank Hosmar (NED), who will want to build on his teammate Rixt’s performance.

Individual Grade IV bronze medallist Manon Claeys (BEL) and Grade V Individual Test gold medallist Michele George (BEL) will complete Belgium’s competition, while Grade V Individual Test silver medallist Sophie Wells (GBR) could produce her country’s winning score.

But in a dramatic finish, Grade IV Individual Test gold medallist Sanne Voets (NED) could find herself riding to seal victory for her country. As the last of the likely winners to ride, she will have a good idea of the score needed to get the gold. Adding to the pressure is her chance of becoming only the third Para Dressage athlete to secure the triple, triple of consecutive European, World, and Paralympic gold medals.

Sanne insists that she doesn’t play the numbers game, but her fans and followers of Para Dressage will know that this will be one of the highest stakes ride she will ever perform.

Results here.

by Rob Howell

Media contact:

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
vanessa.randin@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 73

How Do You Communicate with a Para Dressage Horse?

Laurentia Tan (SGP) (FEI/Liz Gregg)

The unique bond between a horse and human, as well as the refined communication between the two, are important factors for success in elite equestrian sports. But what does this mean exactly for Para Dressage athletes competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games?

While able-bodied Dressage athletes use a combination of hand, leg, and weight signals to communicate with their horses, some Para Dressage athletes require the use of compensating aids to make up for the physical or sensory limitation resulting from their disabilities.

“Walking the way that I do is normal for me and so when I learned to ride, I also learnt in a way that was normal for me,” said five time Paralympic gold medallist Natasha Baker (GBR).

“As I have minimal feeling from my hips down, my legs just hang when I’m on a horse, and they naturally follow the movement of the horse. When you see my legs moving, that’s not me. It’s a completely involuntary movement.

“This is the reason why I have to train my horses to different aids and am reliant on my voice. I train my horses to the smallest of noises or words so they know exactly what I’m asking. It can be a simple sound so they know that I want to go more forward or a command like ‘trot’ under my voice, and they know exactly what I mean.”

While there is a broad range of movement that is standard for able-bodied Dressage athletes, Para Equestrians have to find and develop their own style of communication with their horse in order to compensate for their unique disabilities.

Where necessary, athletes are allowed to use a variety of special equipment and aids which include specially designed saddles that assist the athlete with balance and support. Also permitted are the use of elastic bands to keep feet in stirrups, whips in each hand, and adapted reins.

In the case of Laurentia Tan from Singapore, who developed cerebral palsy and profound deafness after birth, she relies on people to tell her when the music begins and ends and has a greater dependency on feeling in order to communicate with her horse.

“I can ride different horses, but I must have my own customised looped reins, which are important partly because they are customised to the way I hold them,” Tan explained.

“But the reins, which are the connection between my hands and the horse’s mouth, are like a telephone line which make my conversation with my horse soft, steady, and ‘elastic.’  This contact is different depending on the horse I ride and is absolutely essential for me to bring out their best performance.

“I am also sensitive to the feeling through my seat, which facilitates the conversation between me and my horse. I can execute a good square halt through my seat. I can feel when my horse does a perfect straight square halt under me and when to give a correction if one leg is out of place.”

As other Para Dressage athletes will attest, learning to interpret their horses’ body language is one of the keys to a successful sporting relationship. But training a horse to adapt and respond to the use of compensating aids also plays an important role in the development of the horse and athlete connection.

“Before a horse is ridden by a Para Athlete, it is first trained by an able-bodied rider with classic training aids and then retrained to adapt to the athlete’s disability,” Team USA’s Head of Para Equestrian Coach Development and High Performance Michel Assouline explained.

“The horse is trained to what the person does not have. So if an athlete does not have the full use their legs, for example, the horse will be trained to receive cues and signals with a series of taps given through a compensating aid, instead of the legs. An athlete can also learn to use their voice and seat to communicate with their horse.

“For athletes who are unable to use their legs, a tap becomes like a conductor’s baton, which signals to the horse when they should move.

“An able-bodied trainer will usually begin this process and will train the horse by not using their legs, but with the tapping. So by the time the athlete takes over, the horse is already aware of what these cues represent. On average, it takes around six months to a year for the horse to be truly confident and trustworthy.”

The FEI Para Equestrian Committee was created in April 2006 to ensure that the needs and requirements of Para Equestrians are well represented in the work of the International Federation.

“As living beings with thoughts and feelings of their own, horses are extremely sensitive to the specific needs of an athlete’s disability, and are highly perceptive to verbal and non-verbal cues,” Chair of the FEI Para Equestrian Committee Amanda Bond said.

“While horses have a natural ability to adapt, and seem to have a sixth sense for knowing what is required of them, it is the compensating aids which allow Para Equestrian athletes to effectively communicate with their horses.

“The FEI Para Dressage rules have been established to ensure that athletes have the equipment they require to compete on a level playing field, while keeping competition fair and safe. These are important principles to abide by if we are to ensure the continued growth and development of Para Equestrian sport.”

Media contact:

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
vanessa.randin@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 73

Two New Paralympic Equestrian Champions Crowned in Tokyo

L to R: Rihards Snikus – King of the Dance (LAT) silver, Roxanne Trunnel – Dolton (USA) gold, and Sara Morganti – Royal Delight (ITA) bronze. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

The second day of Para Dressage competition at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games saw the remaining two Grades, I and III, battle for the Individual Test titles and the important qualification slots for the upcoming Freestyle to Music test.

A twist of fate would have it that both victors were new to the top spot of the Paralympic podium, a feat which is easier said than done, given the longevity of some Para Equestrian careers and the experienced athletes they faced in the impressive Baji Koen arena.

Roxanne rocks in Tokyo classic

An imperious performance from Roxanne Trunnell (USA) secured her first ever Para Dressage global title at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Currently World No.1 across all five Grades, Roxanne won the Grade I Individual Test with a massive score of 81.464% with her mount, Dolton.

The silver medal went to Rihards Snikus (LAT), a keen DJ known as DJ Richy Rich to his friends, who was first into the arena and laid down a challenging score of 80.179% on King of the Dance. Reigning FEI World Equestrian Games champion Sara Morganti (ITA), took bronze on Royal Delight with 76.964%. It is a medal that is especially sweet for her, as her horse failed the vet inspection at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Speaking after her Test and medal ceremony, Roxanne said, “Dolton felt like he was really with me and was really a good boy. He surprised me with how calm he has been. It’s been wonderful at the Games. Everyone is so nice and helpful.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg for Dolton. He’s so young and he’ll be able to do so much more. It means a lot to me as well. It was very nice up there. We had our own little group of people that looked happy.”

As the World No. 1, Roxanne holds two World Records for the highest scores in a Freestyle Test (89.522%) and in Grade I Team Test (84.702%). Roxanne came to these Games with huge expectations placed on her shoulders. She remained, however, unfazed. “I don’t think about pressure – that’s all just noise to me,” she added. “It’s just me and Dolton doing our own thing. He is loving all the attention; it’s fun. He’s a goofy young horse; he’s temperamental but also easy to get along with.”

Tobias has golden debut

As debut Games go, it’s fair to say that Tobias Thorning Jorgensen (DEN) is having a good one. In his first ever ride in a Paralympic Games arena, he won the Grade III Individual Test with a score of 78.971%, on Jolene Hill.

In doing so, he dethroned two-time Grade III Paralympic Champion, Natasha Baker (GBR), who came second on Keystone Dawn Chorus, with 76.265%. Bronze went to current World Champion Rixt van der Horst (NED) on Findsley N.O.P. with 75.765%.

“It was amazing, it really was,” Tobias said, beaming after his test.

“I was so focussed all the ride but on the last turn I just had this feeling it was great. I was so happy I just smiled.

“I knew that Rixt and Natasha would be my biggest opponents and are always coming to take the medals, but I also knew that, if I find my best, I could take the medal. I knew I had to do that.

“Jolene is a mare. If I don’t ask her first, she just gives me the finger and says, ‘You can do something else.’ In my warm-up, I ask her, ‘Is this OK?’ and then in the arena she is there for me. If I ask her correctly, she will go through fire for me.”

Following the second day of competition and the completion of the Individual Test, Great Britain still tops the leaderboard, adding a silver to their tally today with one gold, two silver, and a bronze, followed by the Netherlands, Belgium, USA, and Denmark, who have picked up a gold medal over the past two days.

All results here.

by Rob Howell

Media contact:

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
vanessa.randin@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 73

Once a Champion, Always a Champion

L to R: Pepo Puch (AUT) silver, Lee Pearson (GBR) gold, and Georgia Wilson (GBR) bronze. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

They came, they saw, they conquered. Some of the world’s most experienced and decorated Para Dressage athletes took to the stunning Baji Koen arena for the first competitions and medals of the Equestrian Events at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Emotions were running high, as were temperatures, but everyone kept their cool for the first individual medals up for grabs in Grades II, IV, and V – and the all-important qualification for the top eight ranked athletes in each Grade earning their spot in the Individual Freestyle to Music test which takes place on Monday 30 August.

Sir Lee Pearson, the world’s most decorated equestrian Paralympian, does it again…

In an emotion packed first day of competition, Pearson (GBR) collected his 12th Paralympic gold medal at his sixth Paralympic appearance since 2000 at the Baji Koen Equestrian Park, winning the Grade II Individual Test.

Lee rode his home-reared Breezer to the title with a score of 76.265% to finish ahead of Pepo Puch (AUT), who rode Sailor’s Blue to score 73.441%. These two highly experienced athletes are used to tussling for the top spot, with Pepo claiming Individual gold in Rio ahead of Pearson and vice versa for the Freestyle medals.

Georgia Wilson (GBR) picked up a fairy tale of a bronze medal on Sakura, with 72.765%. She was the team’s reserve rider and was called to the Paralympic Games just two weeks ago, when her teammate Sophie Christiansen was forced to withdraw due to a veterinary issue with her horse.

Speaking after his ride, Lee said, “I am very, very emotional. I cried on the second X on hold in the arena. It’s been such a long journey. Breezer is a horse who I’ve had since he was born. I am also a dad myself now, and that has also made me more emotional.

“I didn’t think having a home-bred horse would give this a little extra meaning, but it has. I saw him at hours old in a field and to complete that test, which at my last test event I did not complete, that added to the emotion.”

Sanne gets the missing gold

There was more emotion on display when Sanne Voets (NED) won the Grade IV Individual Test, the one gold medal missing from her collection of European, World, and Paralympic titles.

Sanne scored 76.585% on Demantur N.O.P, which was the highest score of the day, while Rodolpho Riskalla (BRA) took the silver medal on Don Henrico with 74.659%. Belgium’s Manon Claeys marked her Paralympic debut with a bronze medal, scoring 72.853% on San Dior 2.

“I think my face pretty much told it,” said Sanne. “I’m just over the moon with him. He still amazes me every day and he travelled here well. When you enter the stable and you see he’s happy, relaxed, and at ease, you realise again that’s what is most important.

“Of course, you’re here to perform at your very best and you want to win medals, but there’s always one thing more important than the result, and that’s just your horse being happy.

“But when you are sitting on a horse like that, there’s no way you cannot smile and not enjoy your test.”

Seventh heaven for Michele George

The last medal of the night went to Michele George, in just her seventh competition with Best of 8. She scored 76.524% to finish ahead of Sophie Wells (GBR) who rode her reserve horse, Don Cara .M to an impressive 74.405% in his first ever overseas competition. Frank Hosmar (NED) took the bronze on Alphaville N.O.P., with 73.405%.

Michele wore the gloves and boots she wore at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at which she won the Grade V Freestyle, with a silver in the Individual Test, on the late FBW Rainman.

“I’m really proud of my mare and I enjoyed the ride,” she said. “And this is for me the most important thing, that I could come home and say I’ve done everything I could. She had a beautiful performance, and she gave her best. Best of 8 gave her best!

“She did great half passes and I think she had a very nice extended canter as well. So it’s amazing. I can’t find the right words to express how impressive it was for me. It is a once in a lifetime experience.”

More medals up for grabs

At the end of day one of the competition, Great Britain top the Para Dressage medal table with one gold, one silver, and a bronze, with The Netherlands and Belgium close behind on one gold and a bronze each.

There are a total of 11 sets of medals being contested at the Para Equestrian Events of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games across the five Grades – five Individual, five Freestyle to Music, and one overall team medal.

Results here.

by Rob Howell

Media contact:

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
vanessa.randin@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 73

Team GB Olympic Medallists to Parade at London International Horse Show

In a tribute to the outstanding achievements of the British equestrian athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, The London International Horse Show will welcome the Team GB Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian heroes in a celebratory parade, which will take place during the afternoon performance on Friday 17 December.

Leading the way will be Individual Show Jumping gold medallist, Ben Maher, who adds a Tokyo medal to his Team gold at the London Olympics in 2012. Maher will be joined by the gold medal-winning Eventing team of Oliver Townend, Laura Collett, and Tom McEwen. After a fantastic performance across all three phases, the team secured Great Britain’s first Eventing Team title for 49 years. 30-year-old McEwen then went on to claim the Individual silver medal with a foot-perfect performance aboard Toledo De Kerser.

Despite an inexperienced team of horses heading to Tokyo for the Dressage, the British team, comprising Charlotte Dujardin, Charlotte Fry, and Carl Hester, surpassed all expectations to come away with a Team bronze medal. Dujardin, riding the stunning chestnut Gio, followed up with an Individual bronze to add to her already impressive medal tally, which now includes three golds, one silver, and two bronzes. In doing so, Dujardin rewrote history to briefly become Britain’s all-time most decorated female Olympian – a feat she now shares with Cycling’s Laura Kenny, after Kenny’s triumphs a few days later.

Joining their Olympic counterparts will be Team GB’s Paralympic stars, who will be in action in Tokyo from Thursday 26-30 August. The team includes four defending Paralympic champions, including 11-time Paralympic champion Lee Pearson, eight-time gold medallist Sophie Christiansen, five-time gold medallist Natasha Baker, and two-time gold medallist Sophie Wells.

The London International Horse Show – this year taking place at ExCeL London from 16-20 December 2021 – will provide an opportunity for the athletes to celebrate in front of a crowd, something they were unable to experience in Tokyo. For fans, it will be a chance to hail the exceptional performances put on during the Games, proving Great Britain to be at the forefront of the sport, with some of the best horses and riders in the world.

More information about The London International Horse Show, including how to buy tickets to be part of this exclusive Olympic celebration, can be found here.

The London International Horse Show
www.londonhorseshow.com
Niki McEwen / nmcewen@revolutionworld.com

Future Stars Make Their Mark

Winners of the Children Team Jumping, USA zones 8/9/10 – Dianette and Lilah Nakatani, Douwe and Jordan Gibbs, Elba 41 and Reagan Tomb. FEI/Georgie Hammond – Phelps Media Group.

The FEI North American Youth Championships (NAYC) 2021, formerly the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships, continues to evolve. After a year hiatus, the prestigious event returned with a new location in Traverse City, MI as well as a new category in the Pre-Junior Championship. But the abundance of talent remained the same.

The USA’s Zone 4 — made up of riders hailing from the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and South Carolina — dominated jumping competition, claiming three of the four team Championships, while the American west coast shined brightest in dressage.

Children

The Children’s category of Jumping made its debut when this event was last held in 2019, and the division has grown, with Mexico sending forward two teams for the first time. Mexico North and Mexico South would take up two-thirds of the team podium, but both would fall just short of USA’s Zone 8/9/10.

The pressure was on anchor rider Reagan Tomb (Elba), who needed to produce a clear effort to secure a victory. Tomb delivered, clinching the gold medal for teammates Lilah Nakatani (Dianett), Leila Diab (Unang de Kergane), and Jordan Gibbs (Douwe) on a collective score of just four faults.

“It was kind of a lot of pressure, because I didn’t know how I was going to win. After the last jump, I sat up super tall, and everyone started clapping and were all really happy.” — Reagan Tomb (Team USA)

That left Mexico South and Mexico North — both on eight faults — to jump-off for the remaining medals, and Mexico South ultimately earned silver, with Mexico North bronze. However, Mexico would get its turn atop the podium in individual competition, with Jimena Carrillo Watanabe (First Time LS) of Mexico North emerging victorious from another jump-off.

At the conclusion of individual competition, six riders remarkably sat on perfect “0” scores. Carrilo Watanabe proved fastest in the tiebreaker, and all three individual medalists completed the competition without touching a pole. Lenir Alejandro Perez Facusse (Di Vadine) of Honduras received the silver medal, with Carrillo Watanabe’s teammate Alessandro Neumann Priess (Corlinus) finishing as the individual bronze medalist.

Pre-Junior

The addition of the Pre-Junior category to jumping competition further enhanced a gradual pipeline of rider progression in the sport in North America. With fences set up to 1.30m, the Pre-Junior division bridges the gap between Children’s (1.25m) and Junior (1.40m) competition.

The USA’s Zone 4 rallied for a come-from-behind victory, with teammates Mia Albelo (Cocominka EST), Caia Watridge (Iselle van Orshof), Trinity Beitler (Coconut), and Lawson Whitaker (Brownie and Cream) each producing at least one clear round for the team. The squad completed the final round of team competition without a single fault, which would comfortably propel them ahead of Mexico North and USA Zone 10, despite Mexico North solidly holding an early lead.

“All of them contributed to the team score, and it was very tight going into the last round today, and they pulled it out with three clears,” said Zone 4 Chef d’Equipe Kim Land. “It was really a huge team effort, and we’re so excited for them and the future of the sport because of them.”

“I’m very blessed and very honored to have this gold medal and to be on this team,” Whitaker added. “It’s really a dream come true.”

Zone 4’s Mia Albelo added a second gold medal with the individual title. Having won the opening qualifying competition, the 16-year-old rider entered the individual final on a flawless score. Albelo delivered under the utmost pressure, jumping yet another clear round aboard her 10-year-old mare Cocominka EST to clinch gold. Zone 10’s Caroline Mawhinney (Stella Levista) received the silver medal, with Xaviera Maurer Burch (Con Rouet) of Mexico North bronze.

“I’m so lucky to have come back today in the top spot,” Albelo said. “Going through those timers, keeping all the rails up was pretty emotional.”

Junior

Zone 4 jump-started a winning streak with another gold medal-worthy performance in Junior competition. The group of Hailey Royce (Sonic Boom), Ansgar Holtgers Jr. (Elina), Reid Arani (Ziezo), and Zayna Rizvi (Excellent) finished the team final impressively, with two rails in hand.

Called the “Zone 4 Dream Team” by Chef d’Equipe Kim Land, Holtgers, Jr. and Rizvi produced critical double-clear efforts for their teammates, which put Zone 4 on a total score of 10.15. Canada jumped onto the podium with the silver medal (20.62), while USA Zone 5/6 earned team bronze (27.48).

“I went last, so I had a lot of pressure on me, but I had faith in him, and he was so good, at every single jump,” Rizvi said of her mount.

“Words can’t describe this feeling,” Holtgers, Jr. added.

Proving the merit of Land’s words, Rizvi and Holtgers, Jr. went on to claim the top two individual medals of the competition. Rizvi and Excellent jumped to their second gold medal, finishing the competition on just 2.46 penalties. Holtgers, Jr. (Elina) took the silver, with Canada’s Lea Rucker (Evita) bronze.

A year hiatus did not change much for Region 4, who rode to a second consecutive title in the Junior team Dressage competition. With just three riders, the Region 4 squad did not have the luxury of a drop score, but it wasn’t needed, with sisters Kylee (Honor) and Lexie (Montagny von der Heide) Kment and Ella Fruchterman nearly five percentage points better than runners-up Region 7. USA Region 3 rounded out the podium.

“I am elated to see these girls up there, because it is the second year in a row that we’ve been atop the podium at NAYC,” said Nancy Gorton, who, alongside Ann Sushko, served as Chef d’Equipe for Region 4. “Region 4 has always been the underdog — we’re the flyover states — but I think that what we’re seeing is the dedication to the sport that’s been passed down over generations.”

The Kment sisters again shared the podium in the NAYC Junior Individual Championship, with Lexie and Kylee finishing first and second, respectively. The sisters were separated by just one percentage point. Kat Fuqua, who competed in both dressage and jumping at NAYC, received the bronze medal.

In her NAYC debut, Lexie Kment rode to a third gold medal by week’s end, topping the Junior Freestyle Championship with a score of 74.775 percent. Julia McDonald (Lehndorff van de Vogelzang) of Region 2 received the silver medal, while Fuqua claimed her third bronze medal of the week aboard her own Dreamgirl.

Young Rider

Zone 4 emphatically capped its week with a third gold medal in Young Rider competition. Erika Jacobson (Everton), Riley Delbecq (Julesraimus de Brisy), Violet Lindemann Barnett (Alanine de Vains), and Ashley Vogel (Bellissimo Z) brought their team from fourth to first with just a single rail and a time fault against them over the course of the two rounds of the team final.

Zone 2 would make it close, and while anchor rider Mimi Gochman (Celina BH) delivered with a double-clear performance, it wasn’t quite enough to overtake the lead. Zone 2 settled for silver, with Canada bronze.

“From the [opening] speed and today, through each round, they just got better and better,” Zone 4 Chef d’Equipe Kim Land said. “They moved up. They were fourth, then they were second, and then they won gold. I’m incredibly proud of them for their accomplishment.”

After riding to individual gold in the Junior championship two years ago, Gochman claimed her second individual title at NAYC, this time in the Young Rider Individual Championship aboard Celina BH. Gochman led from start to finish, completing the competition on a perfect “0” score. Mexico’s Daniel Rihan Goyeneche (Chousa Sho Z) and USA Zone 4’s Violet Lindemann Barnett (Alanine de Vains) completed the podium with individual silver and bronze, respectively.

“Jumping this many rounds is tough on any day, and it’s really important this week,” Gochman said. “I was super thrilled to continue to jump clear throughout the whole week.”

Region 7 received the gold medal in the Young Rider Dressage Team Championship with a dominant performance. Erin Nichols (Handsome Rob AR), Miki Yang (Donavan), Katherine Mathews (Soliére), and Christian Simonson (Zeaball Diawind) were so impressive, the team’s drop score was higher than two of the three scores on Region 1’s silver medal-winning squad.

It was much closer for the remaining medals, with less than two percentage points separating silver and bronze. USA Region 2 just edged Region 4, who received the bronze medal.

Simonson was also the individual champion — and the only rider to score above 70 percent in the competition. In the individual final, Simonson also rode to a personal best score of 75.353 percent. The 19-year-old has had the ride on Christina Morgan’s 9-year-old gelding for two years.

“When I was on the podium, I was thinking about the fact that the last time I rode the individual test at a NAYC, I was disqualified,” said Simonson, who trains with U.S. Olympian Adrienne Lyle. “Thinking about that and the fact that I’m here now with a different horse, one that we’ve brought up and shown step by step and I’ve been a part of the whole process — to be able to redeem myself in that individual test was an amazing feeling.”

Simonson’s successful week concluded with an exclamation point, as he rode to one last gold medal in the Young Rider Freestyle Championship. Simonson and Zeaball Diawind continued to bring their scores up, this time receiving a 78.935 percent from the judges — setting a new record for the highest score awarded in the FEI Young Rider Freestyle Test. The judge at B even awarded this pair an 81.375 percent.  Region 1’s Allison Nemeth (Tiko) received the silver medal, finishing less than two-tenths of a percentage point ahead of bronze medallist Tillie Jones (Qi Gong TF) of Region 4.

View full results from NAYC here.

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations and Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

FEI Pony European Championships: Triple Gold for France, New World Record by German Athlete

Photo: Asia Bręklewicz.

The French were unrivaled in the FEI Pony European Championships in Strzegom, taking home the gold medals in showjumping and eventing.

Eventing

Both individual and team gold medals in eventing went to riders from France. Germany took silver, and Ireland finished with the bronze. The team Top 3 remained the same after dressage and throughout the next two trials.

The French squad was represented by: Zoe Ballot with Voltair De Lalande, Valentin Quittet Eslan with Winnetou, Mathieu Cuomo with Celeste Du Montier, and the best one in the team, Mae Rinaldi riding Boston Du Verdon, who won the individual gold medal. She took the lead after dressage, kept it through the cross-country in spite of time faults, and went clear in the jumping. The pair finished with the result of 28,4.

“I’m very happy with my individual victory, but also for the whole team. It’s a dream come true. Boston is a great pony; he is amazing in all three trials; he’s always very concentrated and I love him!” said the new European champion.

Silver went to Ireland’s Ben Connors with Cornafest Fred, who was clear in both the cross-country and showjumping, to finish with 30,03. Sophie Weening from the Netherlands took bronze riding Hip Hop – 30,04.

Dressage

German riders were victorious for the third time, as they won the team and individual classifications, and went for the gold in the freestyle. One of them also established a new world record.

The individual medalists repeated their success during the Freestyle and took home double medals. The judges were once again most impressed with the ride of Germany’s Rose Oatley with Daddy Moon. The rider, finishing with the result of 89,700%, broke the world record established in 2015. Silver went to her teammate Antonia Roth with Daily Pleasure WE (85,090%), and bronze to Sophia Boje Obel Jorgensen from Denmark with Adriano B – 83,050%. Polish rider Veronica Pawluk with D’Artagnan 187 finished eighth, with the result of 76,970%.

Showjumping

There was no shortage of sport emotions in the individual final, the last rivalry at the event. After two rounds, the well-deserved gold medal went to the only rider that went clear over all of the 5 courses of the Championships – Jeanne Hirel from France riding Vedouz De Nestin.

Her teammate Marie Ann Sullivan with Ken Van Orchid finished second, with three penalty points. This confirms the great form of the French, who are also going home with a team gold.

The bronze medal was determined by a two-horse jump-off, which ended with the victory of Siebe Leemans with Voodstock de L’Astree.

160 young athletes competed during the FEI Pony European Championships in Strzegom, representing 21 nations.

Results: https://zawodykonne.com/zawody/50/tour/1142.

Contact:
FEI European Championships for Ponies
www.StrzegomPonies.pl
press@strzegomponies.pl

FEI Pony European Championships: German Dressage Riders Are Double Medalists

Photo: Leszek Wójcik.

Rose Oatley took the individual gold medal after a great test with the 11-year-old Daddy Moon. German riders proved their amazing form, as they stood on the highest step of the podium both after the team and individual classes.

“I can’t really describe what happened today. I’m overwhelmed with my feelings. My pony was just amazing in the test. I can’t believe that we are now the European champions!” said the rider.

The silver medal went to the winner’s teammate, Antonia Roth riding Daily Pleasure WE, and Denmark’s Sophia Boje Obel Jorgensen with Adriano B took the bronze.

Polish rider Veronica Pawluk with D’Artagnan 187 finished in seventh place out of 63 competitors.

Eventing

Saturday’s cross-country trial did not bring any changes to the top of the team leaderboard. The French still hold on to the best result with 96,4, Germany sits in second with 101,2, and the Irish are third with 116,3.

Mae Rinaldi from France held on to her lead after dressage with Boston du Verdon, even after time faults – now riding with 28,4.

Irish rider Ben Connors with Cornafest Fred went up to the second position (from the 11th) after a clear round inside the time; their result is now 30,03. Sophie Weening from the Netherlands is now third riding Hip Hop, with 30,04.

Results: https://zawodykonne.com/zawody/50/tour/1142.

Contact:
FEI European Championships for Ponies
www.StrzegomPonies.pl
press@strzegomponies.pl

FEI Pony European Championships: German Dressage Riders Take Team Gold

Photo: Leszek Wójcik.

The German squad was victorious in the team competition during the FEI Pony European Championships in dressage. Silver went to Denmark, and bronze to the Netherlands.

German riders Rose Oatley with Daddy Moon, Antonia Roth with Daily Pleasure WE, Julie Sofie Schmitz-Heinen with Carleo Go, and Antonia Busch-Kuffner riding Kastanienhof Cockney Cracker finished on the combined result of 236,172 to take home the gold medals.

“All the girls rode great; they gave it all they could, and I can’t find the words to express how proud I am of them,” said the German chef d’equipe, Heike Kemmer.

Individually the best rider of the class was Rose Oatley with Daddy Moon – 82,629.

“The test went great for all of us. Germany was in the top 5 places, and we are super happy about what we’ve done,” said Rose Oatley.

Polish riders finished sixth among 13 teams. The best athlete in the squad was Veronica Pawluk riding D’Artagnan 187 – 73,857.

Showjumping

The first individual and team showjumping competition was also played out. 18 out of 49 pairs went clear over the 1,30 m course. Two teams are tied in the lead for now, with a zero-penalty score: The Netherlands and France.

The French squad was phenomenal, as none of their five riders made any mistakes: Anna Szarzewski and Vaughann de Vuzit, Lola Brionne with Clementine, Marie Ann Sullivan with Ken van Orchid, Jeanne Hirel with Vedouz de Nestin, and Nohlan Vallat with Daenerys D’Hurl’Vent.

The Dutch team riders are Milan Morssinkhof with Carrick 13, Ava Eden van Grunsven with Special Lady, Siebe Leemans with Voodstock de L’Astree, Logan Fiechter with Minerva For Play, and Renske van Middendorp with Jolly.

Third place for now belongs to Norway, with a combined result of 4 penalty points: Dina Nicolaysen riding Electra, Thea Gunleksen with Parc Cookie, Mikkel Fredin Nilsen with Attyrory Warrior, Oda Therese Oddsen with Javas Alun, and Rasmus Aasland riding Poetics Floura.

Results: https://zawodykonne.com/zawody/50/tour/1142.

Showjumping Gold for the French

The French team was unbeatable in the fight for the showjumping team gold medal at the FEI Pony European Championships in Strzegom. Silver went to The Netherlands, and bronze to Norway.

After two rounds, the French finished on the lowest score of just 8 penalty points. And so the win belonged to Anna Szarzewski with Vaughann de Vuzit, Lola Brionne with Clementine, Marie Ann Sullivan with Ken van Orchid, Nohlan Vallat riding Daenerys D’Hurl’Vent, and Jeanne Hirel with Vedouz de Nestin, who went double clear.

“I think the course design was perfect. I was stressed, because we had very strong teams here: Ireland, Germany, Great Britain. I think today’s course was difficult, especially because the riders were under a lot of pressure. After all, I’m a lucky man today!” said the chef d’equipe, Olivier Bost.

The next medals were determined by a two-nation jump-off. After two knockdowns by riders from Norway and three Dutch clears, it was all decided, and the rivalry did not need to be finished – the silver went to the Netherlands, and the Norwegian stood on the last step of the podium.

Eventing

The first part of the equestrian triathlon – the dressage – has ended. The leading nation is France, with the combined score of 77,7. Second place for now belongs to Germany – 83,5, and third to Ireland – 88,2. A total of 9 teams compete during the championships.

The individual leader is France’s Mae Rinaldi riding Boston Du Verdon, with the result of 23,2, before German rider Merle Hoffmann with Penny Lane WE (25,0) and her teammate Mathieu Cuomo with Celeste Du Montier – 26,4.

Results: https://zawodykonne.com/zawody/50/tour/1142.

Contact:
FEI European Championships for Ponies
www.StrzegomPonies.pl
press@strzegomponies.pl