Tristan, the horse on which Nicole Shahinian-Simpson won the U.S. Equestrian Federation selection trials for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, is no longer being ridden by Shahinian-Simpson.
After the WEG trials in February and March, Shahinian-Simpson and Tristan represented the United States at Meydan Nations Cup competitions at Rotterdam (the Netherlands), where the U.S. team won, and Aachen (Germany), where the U.S. team placed third. Tristan had scores of 4 and 1 and 4 and 0 in those nations cups.
After Aachen, Shahinian-Simpson and Tristan showed in the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix at Chantilly, France, on July 25, placing 15th.
“On July 24, before the grand prix, the shipping agent called me, because the horses were scheduled to fly home on July 28,” Shahinian-Simpson said. “He said, ‘The flight’s all set, but only one of your horses is going—I hear that Tristan is staying.’ I said, ‘That’s news to me.’
“So, I called [Tristan’s owners] Ilan Ferder and Tal Milstein, Ilan’s partner in Belgium. They both owned the horse. Each one said that the horse was staying for a few weeks, but Ilan assured me that the horse was coming home.
“The following Friday, Aug. 6, a fellow U.S. rider called me and said ‘I just saw Tristan showing at a two-star show here in Belgium with [New Zealand rider] Samantha McIntosh [who rides for Milstein in Belgium].’ There wasn’t any communication about that between the owners and I—I was completely in the dark about it all.
“Then, the U.S. Equestrian Federation called me on Aug. 9, saying they’d heard rumors and needed to know if he was available for the U.S. WEG team, because they were deciding the short list the next day. So, I called and got the news that no, in fact, he was not available for the team.”
Shahinian-Simpson will never know if she and Tristan would have been named for the short list, but she was very happy with Tristan’s European performances. “George had a very strong field to choose from—I felt that Tristan did his part and was right up there. He came a long way in a year,” she said.
“I’m very disappointed. I feel very sorry. I would not have gone through it all if I’d known the owners weren’t committed to seeing it through for the team. I’m disappointed in how it was handled and I feel bad for the team and George [Morris].”
Ferder and Milstein released this statement through their public relations firm: “As horse owners, we dream about the opportunity to have one of our horses compete at the World Equestrian Games. It would have been an honor and a privilege if Tristan had been given the opportunity to represent the United States.
“For both reasons, we never would have decided to pull the horse unless the issues with Ms. Shahinian-Simpson were irreconcilable. Ms. Shahinian-Simpson’s choice to characterize herself as being ‘in the dark’ on the situation is regrettable and we feel that we did everything possible to communicate and resolve the situation with her.
“When it appeared that we might not have any other choice but to pull the horse, we communicated with the necessary people at [the U.S. Equestrian Federation] so that they could have as much time as possible regarding Tristan’s availability so that they could make decisions regarding their team and the best team could be formed.“We were devastated to have come so close to the chance to be part of the United States team at the WEG and then have it not come to fruition. Tristan is truly an amazing animal and we have been very fortunate to work with such a great horse. We look forward to being part of his bright future and it is a true loss that this gifted animal did not have a chance to show the world his talent this time around.”