Jumping, Vaulting, and Para-Dressage
At Tryon 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games
By Margaret Evans
Welcome to our third report on the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018 (WEG) currently underway in Mill Spring, North Carolina. The 13-day event, which began on September 11, has seen more than its share of challenges due to Hurricane Florence, and on September 15, two horses pulled up lame during the Mars-sponsored cross-country phase of the three-day event competition and received immediate veterinary treatment. Euforian, a 13-year-old gelding ridden by Norwegian rider Heidi Bratlie Larsen, went lame after fence 21. He was taken by ambulance to the onsite veterinary treatment centre where he was diagnosed with a soft tissue injury and received treatment.
However, Box Qutie, a 12-year-old mare ridden by Swedish team member Anna Freskgård, was lame at the end of the course. She was taken to the Tryon Equine Hospital where she was initially diagnosed with soft tissue injury. But circulatory complications set in and her condition worsened to the extent that a decision was made to euthanize her on Thursday September 19. As is standard protocol, a post mortem is being conducted.
On Tuesday September 18, the compulsory tests for vaulting got going. Vaulting, with origins stretching back at least two thousand years, is an amazing sequence of gymnastic displays of skill and precision performed on the back of a cantering horse lunged in a circle. Routines include team, individual, and freestyle, and competitors are judged on their ability to smoothly execute compulsory movements demonstrating strength, flexibility, and balance in a seemingly effortless and fluid style. The horse is an equal part of the team and is also judged on its performance.
Tuesday’s test consisted of eight required movements, including a vault on, flag, mill, scissors, and stands. It was only the second-ever appearance of the Canadian Vaulting Team in the WEG Squad Competition and they made a great impression with an eighth-place finish.
The vaulters performed on an 11-year-old Friesian-cross gelding named Charles owned and lunged by Saacha DeAmborossio of Bothell, WA. Even though the team has only been working with Charles since the end of August, they successfully completed the set of compulsory movements for a squad score of 5.764.
Vaulting teammates are Alexandra Ballance of Qualicum Beach, BC; Jessica Bentzen of Parksville, BC; Jaydee Fluet of Sundre, AB; Alisa Schmidt of Chilliwack, BC; Kate Thomas of Lantzville, BC; and Korynn Weber of Nelson, BC.
By the end of Tuesday’s compulsory test, Switzerland was in first place with their horse, Rayo de la Luz, on a score of 7.979. Second was Team Germany with Danny Boy Old (7.794), and third was Austria with their horse Alessio L’Amabile (7.355).
“I think that was one of our best compulsory runs we’ve done all season,” says Weber of Team Canada’s test. “We represented Canada at the World Championships in 2016, and now we’ve come back together with a couple of the same core members in 2018 (Ballance, Bentzen and team reserve, Averill Saunders). We feel that we’re a step up from what we presented to the world in 2016 and we’d like to show the world what Canada can be.”
In Tuesday’s individual female compulsory competition, Jessica Bentzen placed 18th on Hugo with a score of 7.206 and, on Wednesday, placed 16th in the female individual freestyle with a score of 5.438. In the individual men’s compulsory competition, Canada’s Todd Griffiths performing on Lunar Eclipse placed 19th with a score of 6.960.
On September 20th the Pas-de-Deux Vaulting competition concluded with Dallyn Shields of Didsbury, AB and Jeanine van der Sluijs of Olds, AB performing brilliantly to their Xena: Warrior Princess theme on Phoenix, a 16-year-old Belgian/Paint/Thoroughbred gelding owned and lunged by Rebecca Marland of Rocky Mountain House, AB. They scored 7.258 which, when averaged out with their first round score of 7.758, the pair had a final score of 7.508 to put them in 10th place – and in the top ten placings.
Right behind them in 11th place were Cassie Sponchia of Delta, BC and Alisha Schmidt performing on Duke, a 14-year-old Shire/Warmblood gelding lunged by Alishia McKitrick of Abbotsford, BC. Their Wonder Woman freestyle first round garnered 6.864 and the second round gave them a score of 6.518 for a final of 6.691.
Winning the Pas-de-Deux was the Italian team Sylvia Stoppazzini and Lorenzo Lupacchini on Rosenstolz 99 lunged by Laura Carnabuci with a final score of 9.027.
The medals in the Nations Team Vaulting Championship were awarded on September 19, 2018, with Germany capturing gold, Switzerland taking silver, and Austria claiming bronze. Canada finished 10th overall.
Vaulter Katharina Luschin of Austria on Fairytale. Photo: FEI-Martin Dokoupil
Germany won gold in the inaugural Nations Team Vaulting Championship at the World Equestrian Games. Photo: FEI-Martin Dokoupil
Show jumping began this week and making her debut at the world level was Kara Chad, 22, on Carona. Chad was a reserve rider on her horse Bellinda at the 2016 Rio Olympics. According to Erin Jones with the Equestrian Canada communications team, Chad has been training with Olympic gold medalist Eric Lamaze at his Torrey Pines Stable for the past two years and competes with their horses as well as her own.
“I can’t say my horse Carona and I are the most experienced,” says Chad. “At the beginning of the year we focused on some of the major grand prix classes. It ended up going very well. Towards the summer, we started to make a more secure schedule with the possibility to come here to the World Equestrian Games. We did the Spruce Meadows summer series, which is an incredible circuit, and my horse really proved herself there. After that, we were more in the running. We kept doing what we were doing, put our heads down, and it worked out!”
Rio was an amazing experience for Chad. She had a chance to see how the Games worked and is using that knowledge to her advantage at WEG.
“I know a little more of what to expect, how things work and what mindset to have. I was able to watch all those riders in Rio and understand how the best riders in the world get prepared.”
On Wednesday, September 19th the team placed 12th following the first round of team competition, the opening speed phase. The team was a talented blend of veterans Mario Deslauriers of New York, NY; Eric Lamaze of Wellington, FL; Kara Chad of Millarville, AB; and Erynn Ballard of Tottenham, ON who together had a total of 11.89 penalties. In first place was Switzerland with 2.64 penalties. But by Thursday following another hard-fought round of jumping, they moved up to 10th position with a penalty score of 32.89.
There’s more than just medals and bragging rights at stake in the Team Final on Friday, September 21st. WEG 2018 is the Tokyo Olympics’ qualifier and the top six teams will earn their place at that event.
After a thrilling jump-off between the US and Sweden in the Team Jumping Championships, the United States won its first gold medal in team jumping at the World Equestrian Games. Team members Devin Ryan on Eddie Blue, Adrienne Sternlicht on Cristalline, Laura Kraut with Zeremonie, and McLain Ward on Clinta were ecstatic with their win on home soil. Sweden took the silver medal, and Germany captured bronze.
The Canadian team finished in 10th position.
McLain Ward on Clinta, on their way to helping the United States win its first gold medal in team jumping at the World Equestrian Games. Photo: FEI-Martin Dokoupil
Canada’s Eric Lamaze on Chacco Kid. Photo: FEI-Martin Dokoupil
Para-dressage got underway this week with many grade level competitions and will continue into the weekend.
In the Para-Dressage Individual Test Grade II on Tuesday, September 18, the gold medal was won by Stinna Tange Kaastrup (DEN) riding Horsebo Smarties with 72.735%. Pepo Puch (AUT) riding Sailor’s blue won silver with 72.676%; and bronze went to Nicole den Dulk (NED) riding Wallace N.O.P. with 70.735%.
In the Para-Dressage Individual Test Grade IV also on Tuesday, medalists were Sanne Voets (NED) riding Demantur N.O.P. with 73.927% for gold; Rodolpho Riskalla (BRA) riding Don Henrico with 73.366% for silver; and Susanne Jensby Sunesen (DEN) riding CSK’s Que Faire with 73.146% for bronze.
Medalists in Tuesday’s Para-Dressage Individual Test Grade V were Sophie Wells (GBR) riding C Fatal Attraction with 75.429% for gold; Frank Hosmar (NED) riding Alphaville N.O.P. with 73.167% for silver; and Regine Mispelkamp (GER) riding Look At Me Now with 71.452% for the silver medal.
In the Para-Dressage Individual Test Grade l on September 19, Canada’s Winnona Hartvikson riding Ultima finished 10th with a score of 69.893%. Jody Schloss on Lieutenant Lobin placed 13th with a score of 66.893%.
The gold medal went to Sara Morganti (ITA) riding Royal Delight with a score of 74.750%. Laurentia Yen-Yi Tan (SGP) took the silver medal riding Fuerst Sherlock with 73.750%. And bronze was awarded to Elke Phillipp (GER) riding Fuerst Sinclair with 73.143%.
Para-Dressage Individual Test Grade III on September 19, saw Canada’s Lauren Barwick riding Engelbrecht place 8th with a score of 68.912%, and Roberta Sheffield riding Bailaor place 12th with 65.529%.
Medalists were Rixt van der Horst (NED) riding Findsley with a score of 73.735% for gold; Natasha Baker (GBR) riding Mount St John Diva Dannebrog with score 72.471% for silver; and Rebecca Hart (USA) riding El Corona Texel with a score of 72.235% for bronze.
Driving competition begins on September 21, while jumping, para-dressage and vaulting continue to their climax in the wind-down weekend leading to closing ceremonies Sunday. Watch for our final report from the World Equestrian Games on Monday, September 24.
Salute to the Grooms
No matter what the discipline, behind the excitement is a great, unseen team putting it all together and turning out beautifully groomed horses. Last week the reining team thrilled spectators with their circles, spins and sliding stops. Preparing the horses was a trio of talented grooms – Victoria Carroll of Bordentown, NJ, grooming for Dean Brown; Karlie Jackson of Wawota, SK, grooming for Lisa Coulter; and Desiree Kelts of Cochrane, AB, grooming for Austin Seelhof. Every day these girls for an early start and hit the deck running – to muck out, feed, and check the horses over. Then they went to work with brushes, rags, scissors, and detanglers.
According to an Equestrian Canada post written by Caroline Soble, particular attention was paid to the horses’ manes and tails, which are customarily left loose for competition.
“Our horses’ manes and tails are long and usually not braided in the show ring,” says Jackson. “We braid our horses’ tails when we’re schooling on them, so they don’t get caught in their stops, and they’re cut up a little bit so they don’t get pulled out.”
Of particular importance is care of the feet and the horses’ shoes.
“We always make sure their shoes are tight because they have sliders on their back feet,” says Carroll. “If one of them goes missing, they don’t have a pattern.”
This huge attention to detail is what sets up those amazing visuals. Every groom is dedicated to turning out each horse to look its very best.
“That’s why I decided to become a groom, because it’s a vital part of the equine industry that often gets overlooked,” says Kelts.
So true. And in the truth about presentation is the fashion belief of the Canadian Eventing Team when the gals grabbed a first impression moment with the ground jury during vet check.
Who knew the jogging lane was a fashion model’s runway?
Hawley, Lisa Marie, Colleen, Selena, and Jessica played on the power of chic dresses, stylish flats, and make-up with Hawley multi-tasking her eventing chores by styling the girls’ hair. Setting out down the jogging lane with some good-looking geldings, they were set to impress but maybe what the fun really nurtured was some well-placed confidence boosting.
Main article photo: Canada’s Mario Deslauriers on Bardolina 2. Credit: FEI-Martin Dokoupil