Endel Ots in “Hyper Drive” After Competing Lucky Strike & Samhitas in World Young Horse Championships
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
VERDEN, Germany, Aug. 8, 2015–America’s Endel Ots completed his first ever championship in “hyper drive” after riding Lucky Strike in the final of the World Young Horse Championships and making it on Samhitas to the “small” final of the six-year-old title contest.
In what was also a debut European competition circuit for the 29-year-old rider from rural Wisconsin, Endel won high marks from judges and the knowledgeable spectators and European media for quality of riding and presentation of the two young horses. For that he gives a lot of credit to help from Canada’s Evie Strasser and Hans Heinrich Meyer, the German Young Rider coach, she arranged for him to train with in Europe as well as the U.S. Young Horse coach Christine Traurig.
On the Hanoverian gelding Lucky Strike (Lord Laurie x His Highness) that he owns with his father, Endel made the final of the five-year-old world championship after qualifying competitions over two days in which the duo placed second to put them among the top 15 in the word championship lineup.
In the final Saturday, Endel and Lucky Strike placed 11th on a score of 8.1, but like the qualifying scores well above the results he produced in CDI competitions in the United States to make it to Verden, the city that has hosted the world championships for 16 years continuously.
Before the five-year-old final, Endel went through the same qualification procedure with Samhitas for six-year-olds. With the Oldenburg gelding (Sir Donnerhall I x Abanos), owned by Canadians Jean and Gary Van der Ploeg the pair scored 7.6 for 11th place, not enough to make the final scheduled for Sunday.
Lucky Strike was “a little too fresh, and probably could have used more warmup” before the final that was the third ride of the competition.
“He was sleeping all day in his stall,” Endel said, “so I thought I would go easy on him.”
Right before the class, Hans-Heinrich Meyer, the German Junior & Young Rider coach who has been coaching Endel while staying at his barn during this European trip, came up to Endel and wished him luck. Endel was overcome by the gesture by a coach who is legendary for expressing in a minimum of words what he wants to say.
“It got a little emotional,” he said, “It was such a nice thing to do.”
A mistake in the transition from canter to walk was “such a surprise” that he tried to cover it up hoping “the whole world blinked” at that moment. Not so.
“All the tests had been clean to that point,” he said, “and I wanted to make this test clean.
“I think it was a good thing the mistake happened. I thought to myself, ‘Next year this is not going to happen!’
“That makes me want to come back and do better.”
The crowds around the competition arena, deep around the warmup fence line “is so addicting… the electricity. I love it.
“To be able to ride against these great riders. It’s hard at home in the CDIs, but to be able to shw against Sezuan and these guys. That’s the most exciting thing.”
It’s hard to imagine that before he came to Europe he got a lot of different opinions, much of it negative about competing in the world championships as Americans could not expect to excel and poor results could ruin reputations.
Evie Strasser’s advice to do it and do it right was a major factor in his decision to bring the two horses to Verden without previously competing in Europe.
“I thought about it and came with the attitude I wanted to try to win it,” he said. “It has been such a positive experience for both the horses and myself.
“I’ve had enough people come up to me and say positive things about my riding–it means so much. To get remarks from the judges that we’re such a harmonious pair, I don’t need the judges to tell me that but it’s so great to hear it and for it to be recognized.
“I wouldn’t change anything about my experience. The shows we did beforehand and everything in these championships, I’m in hyper drive.”
He leaves the same time as the horses next week, but plans to rest the horses after the month-long European circuit so will miss the U.S. championships in Wayne, Illinois in two weeks.