USA Riders & Horses Begin European Competitions to Select Pan American Games Team
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
MUNICH, Germany, May 13, 2015–The United States squad of Big and Small Tour horses and riders began the final stage of the campaign for a place on America’s Pan American Games team when all of the horses passed the veterinary check Wednesday ahead of competiton at this Pferd International, the first of four European shows.
The international Prix St. Georges is scheduled for Thursday in which Sabine Schut-Kery on Sanceo, Olivia LaGoy-Weltz on Lonoir, Kimberly Herslow on Rosmarin and Kasey Perry on Dublet will compete with a total of 18 starting combinations.
The CDI3* Grand Prix will also be staged Thursday with Steffen Peters on Rosamunde, Allison Brock on Rosevelt and Kasey Perry on Dublet in the lineup.
The €100,000 (US$113000) World Dressage Masters CDI5* starts with the Grand Prix Friday in which Steffen Peters on Legolas and Kathleen Raine on Breanna are scheduled to start with the possibility of a combination from the CDI3* moving up to the 5*.
Steffen disclosed to dressage-news.com that until Wednesday he had not ridden Legolas with spurs since the pair were eliminated from the World Cup Final Freestyle for a small amount of blood on the side of the horse. That was possibly caused by the horse that Steffen went to extraordinary lengths to prepare to deal with his noise sensitivity spooking to a sudden outburst of applause.
Steffen, America’s top rider for the past decade and known for soft aids, said, “I never thought I could get through a Grand Prix without spurs. But I’ve been very happy with how good he has been in training.”
The ride by the pair in the CDI5* Grand Prix will be the first since the World Cup.
Laura Graves and Verdades, second in the rankings, is the only top combination not in Europe. The pair were excused because of possible effect of strenuous travel on Verdades–from Florida to Las Vegas for the World Cup and the intensity of the competition. If they had to go to Europe, Laura and Verdades would have had to return to Florida and soon thereafter get on another plane for Europe. Instead, Laura took Verdades from Las Vegas to Idaho for intensive training with Debbie McDonald ahead of the Pan Ams.
This show will be followed by three other events over the next months from which the team of four pairs made up of both Big and Small Tour combinations will be selected for the Pan Ams to be held in Toronto in mid-July.
The Pan Ams are critical as only a single nation to start a team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Failure to qualify in Toronto leaves the countries with having to qualify individual duos in hopes of being successful with the minimum of three pairs to make up a so-called “composite” team.
Excitement surrounds the presence of so many Americans with horses, some ridden by relatively young athletes, that appear competitive with Europeans.
Coaches around the competition arena where combinations worked after the vet check included Kyra Kyrklund who works with Allison Brock, Johan Hinnemann with Steffen Peters and Kathleen Raine, the Florida-based Spanish Olympian Juan Matute who is now coaching Kasey Perry as well as Debbie McDonald workiong with Kim Herslow and Olivia LaGoy-Weltz and Sabine Schut-Kery who is coached by Christine Traurig when she is at home in California.
Dr. Rick Mitchell, the long time American dressage team veterinarian who had advised the U.S. Equestrian Federation he planned to give up the job after the Pan Ams, told dressage-news.com he is so excited about the quality of the American team prospects that he is considering changing his mind because he wants to see the combinations develop.
Canada, which is considered the nation most likely to challenge the United States for the championship gold, is using a handful of international events at home as the final stage of their selection process.