USA Dressage Team Gathers in Gladstone Friday Before Heading to Pan American Games

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Steffen Peters on Legolas in the Aachen CDI5* Grand Prix in May. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Steffen Peters on Legolas in the Aachen CDI5* Grand Prix in May. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The United States dressage team of two Big Tour and two Small Tour combinations as well as three reserves gather in Gladstone, New Jersey Friday for a final training session before heading to Toronto to join nine other nations for the Pan American Games beginning in a week.

The primary mission of the powerful United States team is to win gold in the only championship in the world with mixed Big and Small Tour combinations but most of all to beat Canada, Argentina and Mexico for the single starting place at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year. These four nations are the only teams with Grand Prix pairs and thus the only countries that can be a contender for the Olympic slot.

Steffen Peters was to fly from San Diego, California with Legolas and Rosamunde as a backup along with Sabine Schut-Kery of Thousand Oaks, California and Sanceo; Laura Graves of Plymouth, Florida returning to the East Coast with Verdades after two months training in Idaho, while Kimberly Herslow of Stockton, New Jersey and Rosmarin make up the team. Allison Brock of Wellington, Florida on Rosevelt at Grand Prix and Olivia LaGoy-Weltz of Middleburg, Virgina and Rassing’s Lonoir at Small Tour will go to Toronto as reserves.

The Americans, except for Laura Graves and Verdades, spent last month competing in Europe to win a place on the team that will be seeking to extend the U.S. streak of Nations Cup victories to five Pan Ams that are held once every four years.

Steffen Peters is the only Pan Am veteran on the U.S. team–on Weltino’s Magic leading the U.S. to team gold in the all Small Tour competition in 2011, and taking individual gold in an historic American sweep of all three individual medals.

The team and reserves head to Toronto in five days, July 7.

The Canadian squad of Megan Lane of Collingwood, Ontario and Caravella and Belinda Trussell of Stouffville, Ontario on Anton at Big Tour and Brittany Fraser of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia and All In and Chris von Martels of Ridgetown, Ontario on Zilverstar competed in Canada as preparation. Diane Creech of Caistor Centre, Ontario and Robbie W and Karen Pavicic of Surrey, British Columbia and Don Daiquiri are reserves.

Whichever team does not win the Rio start can seek to qualify individuals and three from the same nation can form a “composite” team.

Aside from Argentina, Canada, Mexico and the U.S. with Grand Prix combinations, the teams made up of Small Tour pairs are Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rico, Guatemala and Venezuela. Individuals are from Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Hondura, Puerto Rico and Uruguay.

The 10 nations entered for Pan Am dressage is two fewer than the 12 teams that competed at the previous Pan Ams in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2011.

The schedule at the Caledon equestrian center north of Toronto calls for the veterinary check on Thursday, July 9.

The first phase the team competition of Prix St. Georges for Small Tour and Grand Prix for Big Tour will be held Saturday July 11.

The second and deciding phase of the Nations Cup of Intermediate 1 for Small Tour and Grand Prix Special for Big Tour wil be Sunday July 12.

The final teams of no more than four and no fewer than three combinations will be named prior to the veterinary check.

An extra 1.5 per cent will be added to each of the the Big Tour rides.

Individual competition of Intermediate and Grand Prix Freestyles with no bonus points is scheduled for Tuesday, July 14.