Reported by Stacey Reap
The Final Mandatory Outing for the U.S. three-day event team for next month’s World Equestrian Games took place at the Horse Park of New Jersey in Allentown, July 18, in high heat and humidity.
“Some people went very well, and some did not go as well as expected,” said Chef D’Equipe Capt. Mark Phillips. “There was a learning curve—some people had horses going in the heat too long and some not enough. But in all honesty, we know how to do heat. We’ve learned since Atlanta [1996 Olympics] how to handle it. As competitors, you deal with what you’ve got to deal with.”
Misting fans helped to cool competitors, who began their day by riding their dressage test. Anne Gribbons judged and offered about 20 minutes of schooling to the riders after their tests.
Scores were tallied for dressage and show jumping but not added in from cross-country, as it was not timed and riders were allowed to school fences. Kim Severson and the venerable Winsome Adante came out on top after the dressage and show jumping. She placed fourth in dressage (47.8) and had just 1 time penalty in show jumping, the best show jumping score of the day.
“In dressage, we’ve been going through a little bit of a rough patch, but it’s getting a little better. We’re getting back to where we were,” she said.
After their test, Gribbons discussed maintaining the cadence in the half pass and shoulder-in. She had very energetic canter extensions but swapped leads on the downward transition.
Severson said she had a little bit of a rough go at the first of two corners in the woods, which she said was hard for the horses to read. “I’m pleased we got it done,” she said. And she chose to ride “Dan” twice through the water for a school.
That corner caught Karen O’Connor, who won the dressage (47.8) aboard Upstage. “I was really excited about dressage and really shocked about cross-country,” said O’Connor. “I came around to the first corner in the woods, and on my first attempt, maybe I didn’t take it seriously enough.”
The pair also pulled three rails in show jumping—at a liverpool, an oxer, and the final fence.
Bonnie Mosser stood second after dressage (47.8) and show jumping (just 1 rail). She cooled Jenga off after her dressage warm-up, before working with Gribbons. “He tends to run hot, temperature-wise, and he pants a lot,” she said. “I focused on keeping him cool, which kept him fresh during the day.”
Jan Byyny and Task Force ranked third after dressage (45.0) and show jumping. Gribbons helped her improve Task Force’s walk, especially the free walk, with Gribbons telling her to walk like the test is done and she’s walking out of the ring. They also practiced a few flying changes, which had been sticky in their test.
“There was a lot of pressure, but certainly there will be more pressure at the WEG,” said Byyny. “We all came away with things we need to look at, and I need to take more time in the dressage warm-up.”
She was pleased with her show jumping—just 9 time penalties—and said she felt better on cross-country than she had when winning the Jersey Fresh CCI*** in June at the same location. “I felt rusty at Jersey Fresh,” she said.
Highs And Lows
Although Nathalie Bouckaert stood fourth after dressage (50.0) and show jumping (1 rail, 1 time fault), she and West Farthing refused at a log on a mound, the same fence that had been a problem for them at the final selection trials for the 2000 Olympics.
“I’ve had a hard time understanding that kind of fence,” she said.
After refusing, she went back and got over. “By the third attempt, I figured out how to keep his feet moving,” she said.
Becky Holder and Courageous Comet scored 46.1 in dressage and impressed with their much-improved show jumping, dropping just one rail and earning 5 time penalties over Sally Ike’s course.
“I felt a little rusty, but I was thrilled with my show jumping,” said Holder, who hadn’t competed Courageous Comet since the Rolex Kentucky CCI****. “We’re all getting a feel for how our horses are coming out of Kentucky. Everyone has a solid base to polish on.”
She credited her long-time friend Kathy Forsberg of Illinois for helping to improve her show jumping.
John Williams and Sloopy finished eighth (53.3) in dressage and accumulated only 3 time penalties in show jumping. Gribbons helped him improve the quality of Sloopy’s trot, making him more fluid in the half pass.
Williams thought his horse was fine in the heat but that he might need to start his own electrolyte program. “Because every muscle is tensing up,” he said.
Will Faudree placed seventh (50.6) in dressage, and Gribbons spent some time helping him with lateral work in all three gaits. He was slightly disappointed to have two rails and 4 time penalties in show jumping.
“The second rail was my own stupid fault,” he said. “I had a lesson with Kim once where she said don’t turn until you see it, and I should have listened to that.”
Heidi White, who placed ninth with a dressage score of (55.6) and 1 rail and 6 time penalties in show jumping, said she warmed up too much for dressage.
“For dressage I was on too long,” she said. “He’s a big horse, and the minute you sit him down, he’s hard to get back up.”
Their first shoulder-in wasn’t great—Gribbons said, “Something has to happen; you can get a 0 for that. That’s your worst feature of the test, and it’s right in the beginning, so right away the judge sees that. Even if it’s not good, it has to look like you’re trying.”
Knocking Off The Rust
Stephen Bradley placed ninth after dressage (55.0) with Brandenburg’s Joshua and had two rails and 6 time penalties in show jumping, taking down both elements of the first combination at fence 4AB.
But his day got worse on cross-country, where he fell at the hut after a bank. “It was a big mistake on my part,” he said. “We didn’t jump up the bank as well as we should have. I still thought the four was there but got there on 4 ½. It was totally my mistake.”
The pair also had a refusal at the water complex. “A few weeks ago [Brandenburg’s Joshua] ran through a pasture fence and opened up his side, so he’s only had a couple of jump schools and one small cross-country school, and it showed,” he said.
The fall “knocked the wind out of me, and I had to catch my breath. The selectors have been so great about emphasizing that it’s a school, not a competition. And what would I do if it was a school? Get back on to try to rectify the situation and try to learn from it, and that’s what I did.”
Sara Mittleider placed 11th after dressage and had 1 rail at the second element of the first combination in show jumping. El Primero also had one refusal at the water.
“It’s a big experience,” said Mittleider. “Everybody’s been great and very helpful. The atmosphere for me at least has been very relaxed.”
Short-listed rider Amy Tryon did not ride at the mandatory outing, as she flew Poggio directly from the West Coast to Europe and competed at a CIC*** in England last weekend. Officials expect to announce the team that will travel to Europe later this week.
Results from dressage and show jumping
Horse and Rider Dressage Placing SJ faults SJ time Score CT Place
Nathalie Pollard/West Farthing 50.0 6 4 1 55.0 4
Becky Holder/Courageous Comet 46.1 3 4 5 55.1 5
Sara Mittleider/El Primero 61.1 11 4 9 74.1 11
Stephen Bradley/Brandenburg’s Joshua 55.0 9 8 6 69.0 10
Kim Severson/Winsome Adante 47.8 4T 0 1 48.8 1
John Williams/Sloopy 53.3 8 0 3 56.3 6
Heidi White/Northern Spy 55.6 10 4 6 65.6 9
Will Faudree/Antigua 50.6 7 8 4 62.6 8
Jan Byyny/Task Force 45.0 2 0 9 54.0 3
Bonnie Mosser/Jenga 47.8 4T 4 0 51.8 2
Karen O’Connor/Upstage 43.3 1 12 6 61.3 7