Carolyn Krome and Kerry Caputo explore the Aachen Market Square.
- photo by Mike Krome
All About Aachen
with Carolyn Krome
For seven glorious days this summer, Persimmon Tree Farm owner Carolyn Krome watched the world’s best riders and drivers compete at the Aachen Horse Show in Aachen, Germany the first week of July. “All day, every day was horses!” said Carolyn, who then spent every night exploring the very old “horsey” city.
At the competition venues, Carolyn found the cleanliness, quiet and organization “very refreshing.” As she explained, the show “ran on time, literally to the minute” and all award presentations were given right in the center ring. She and some friends watched mostly the show jumping, cheering on the American team. Carolyn was especially impressed by the American women riders who she said, “rode outstandly and met every challenge of the European courses better than the Europeans!”
“[Aachen] is the best horse show in the world,” Carolyn concluded. “Anyone who loves the sport should go!”
|Siobhan Fitzgerald from Cockeysville and Anne Kursinski’s Champ in China.
The Road to China
by Siobhan Fitzgerald
After the Olympic trials, which were held in Florida this past February and March, the riders on the short list for show jumping were named. Out of a field of 49 starters, 10 horse and rider combinations were chosen to compete at the Grand Prix level in Europe under the guidance of chef d’equipe George Morris, and of these 10, only four would have the chance to represent the U.S. in Hong Kong this August. Anne Kursinski made the list with two of her horses, Champ 163 and Roxana 112. I have been working for Anne for the past two years.
Roxana is a 14-year-old mare that Anne has been riding for about four years, and Champ is a 9-year-old Holsteiner stallion that she has been riding for about five months. Anne had to ride in both selection tours, being the only rider to qualify two horses. The first tour started with a show in La Baule, France, followed by a show in Rome, Italy, and one in St. Galien, Switzerland. The second tour also started at La Baule. This meant I would be away from home for at least three months! Packing for the horses was more than a little daunting, because I had to figure out exactly how much they would need of everything, from things like wormer and liniment to supplements, most of which were not available in Europe.
The horses are seasoned travelers, so the plane ride itself was not very stressful. However, we arrived in Luxembourg only to learn that it was a national holiday. This slowed things down dramatically while we tried to get through customs. After several hours, the vet finally released us. I was handed all the paperwork, found our driver, and we were off!
My favorite show of the first tour was Rome. The show grounds are in a park called Piazza di Sienna right in City Center, and to get to the main ring from the stabling area, you had to cross a huge roundabout, always packed with cars and crazy Italian drivers. At first I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to follow the traffic around the circle along with the cars, but a very amused policeman assured me I was allowed to walk Roxana directly across. The traffic and noise didn’t seem to faze any of the horses.
Early in the week, after the showing was done, I had a chance to explore the city with the handful of friends I had made. We discovered that the Spanish Steps were only 20 minutes from the park!
Later that week, the American team of Anne, Will Simpson, Nicole Simpson and Charlie Jayne tied for first after two rounds in the Nations Cup, but had to settle for second after a truly exciting jump-off.
Following the final show of the first tour in Switzerland, the horses and I received a well-deserved break, and were able to spend two weeks at a stable in Holland.
It is especially important to keep the horses’ routines as normal as possible, no matter where you are or what the weather is like, so I would hack the horses in the morning for 45 minutes each, then take them for a leisurely graze for another 30 minutes. In the afternoon, I would ride the horses again, walking them under tack for an hour, which helps to keep them fit.
The Nations Cup in Aachen was my overall favorite show and a perfect end to the summer tours. The atmosphere is like nothing I have ever experienced; the crowds are huge and incredibly enthusiastic, and the trade fair had so much to choose from!
This was the show that determined a spot on the Olympic team, so the anxiety level was higher than at any of the previous shows. As I watched Champ and Anne clear one obstacle after another, it became very obvious that the horse was proving himself at the highest level. As he cleared the final jump with no penalties, I was so caught up in the excitement that I was very nearly trampled by one of the German riders trying to maneuver his horse around me into the ring!
Champ made the course look easy and handled the track like a seasoned veteran. Roxana also shined in Aachen by finishing in a different Grand Prix after jumping three clear rounds in a row. I could not have been happier.
After Aachen, the team for the Olympics was chosen. Anne and Champ were named as the alternates for the show jumping, while Roxana would have to go home. Arrangements had to be made for each horse, not to mention the continuation of Champ’s fitness training. I was not alone, however, as there were 15 horses on their way to Hong Kong, and several others that had to get back to the U.S. Once Roxana was on her way, I could start getting excited about my first trip to Asia, and the Olympics!
However, our trip was not without drama. As we loaded the last horse onto the plane for Hong Kong, our pilot came back to tell us there was only a 60 percent chance that the plane would be able to land, due to a typhoon hovering over the city. We were more comfortable with a 100 percent chance of landing, so we decided to wait for the next available flight, which turned out to be the next day.
Our five horses were the last to arrive in Hong Kong, only 10 days before the start of the competition, but probably benefited the most from the weather, as the typhoon had cooled the area off slightly. Right from the beginning, it was obvious the Chinese organizers had really taken the time to ensure the horses’ comfort by air-conditioning the barns and scheduling most of the competitions late at night or very early in the morning. The American horses had little trouble adjusting to the heat and humidity, but to be sure, temperatures were taken twice daily and urine was collected every day to check hydration levels.
On days the horses were not competing, the riders would all show up early to ride, giving the horses most of the middle of the day to rest and relax. This meant we were free to see the city! The markets and shops were amazing, especially the Jade Market, where I bartered for better prices on everything from purses and watches to sunglasses and iTouch phones! Even the food was on display; you could pick out the fish that you wanted to have prepared as it was swimming around in the tanks!
Sometimes I could not believe I was actually there. All of the U.S. teams were stabled together, so I was witness to the event grooms, dressage grooms, their horses and all of their horse management. We all had so much to share, not to mention how special it was to be able to cheer for our fellow Americans.
Leaving Hong Kong was bittersweet, and I felt sad that we were not picked for the final four to represent our country, but at the same time, I was proud of our accomplishments and felt it was time to come home. I had been away from my friends and family for four months, and although I had made many new friends, I was looking forward to American soil. In the end, watching Beezie, McLain, Laura, and Will claim the gold medal was by far the most memorable moment of my incredible journey.
|While waiting to catch a ferry from Tenby, Wales to Ireland, (left to right) Reed Dove, Geriann Henderson, Anna Weaver, Jenkins Dove, Sara Loupot and Kathleen Coker take a moment to play in the sand.
||Anna Weaver (center) takes aim during the shooting phase in Ireland.
Storming the UK
with Anna Weaver
This past August, Mt. Airy teen Anna Weaver traveled through England and Ireland as part of the U.S. Tetrathlon team for nearly a month. The Howard County Pony Clubber has been competing in the sport of Tetrathlon, which includes running, swimming, shooting and jumping horses, for five years. Weaver was part of the three-person girl’s team. The U.S also sent a three-person boy’s team.
During their first two weeks in England, the teams competed in a regional competition for fun and practice before heading to Hartburry College to compete in the first Tetrathlon International Exchange competition. At the Hartburry competition, the girl’s team finished third and the boy’s team finished fourth. “What the final standings don’t show you is how close the top four teams were in points. We were just about 100 points away from winning,” said Weaver. The horse jumping part at this competition was over a show jump course and Weaver placed second individually in that phase. “We borrowed horses from the host country and only got to ride them for a very limited time before heading into the ring,” she explained.
In Ireland, the jumping phase was held over a cross-country course. For safety reasons, the teams were able to school the horses over some cross-country fences a few days before the competition. “The courses were about the size of our Preliminary level jumps,” said Weaver. She also pointed out that several coaches and other teams commented that the U.S. teams had the “safest and strongest” riders.
Though she spent nearly four weeks abroad, the intense training and competition schedule did not leave much room for sightseeing. “We traveled a lot and were never in the same place for more than four days,” noted Weaver. But most of that time was spent traveling from their host families’ homes to the competition venues. They did get to see England’s Stonehenge and spend some time at Ireland’s Blarney Castle.
Just two days after returning home, Weaver packed up her things once again. This time, she was headed just down the road to St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where she is starting her freshman year. “I definitely would like to continue this sport [while at school],” said Weaver, who is currently looking into the area’s pony clubs and barns.
|The Marwari horses of India are known for their uniquely curved ears.
||Sabine Joyce sets off across the desert in India on a Marwari horse.
with Sabine Joyce
Sabine Joyce, originally from Poland, and coming to the U.S. by way of Germany, is a true world traveler. Just one glance at the modest sized map, filled with pushpins, in her bathroom will amaze you and make you realize that this woman truly has tales to tell! Her passion for life and all animals great and small is also clear when you walk around her Davidsonville farm.
About 20 years ago, Sabine was backpacking through India and came across the country’s somewhat different looking horses. The first Marwari horse she saw was being used to operate a ferris wheel… imagine a hamster wheel with the horse walking on the inside and hanging baskets filled with passengers suspended from the spokes. The horse’s beauty remained in Sabine’s mind and after returning to the U.S., she began research to find out more about this unique breed.
Originally, the Marwari horse was coveted by royalty and used primarily as a warhorse by the Rathores, the rulers of Marwar, a region in the Rajasthan state. Records state the first horses were selectively bred in the early 12th century, and many of the horses in the Imperial Cavalry in the late 1500s were Marwari. The horse was prized for its endurance, toleration of desert conditions and its legendary bravery.
Unfortunately, when the British arrived in the 1600s, the Marwari population began to decline, since anything that was not British was considered not good enough. Thus, these noble horses were reduced to more labor-intensive jobs. As India began to achieve its identity, the Marwari began to reclaim its glory. “Thanks to the Rajput families and other horse lovers, the Marwari has emerged with the promise of a good future,” said Sabine.
Upon returning to India in November of 2007, Sabine had one goal: to ride and spend time with these great horses. She traveled to Pushkar in the Thar Desert to visit the Pushkar Camel Fair, which Sabine described as “a huge meeting of people and animals… 100,000 camels, horses and cattle!” Although the fair is primarily a place for breeders and tradesman to bring livestock and goods for sale, Sabine said that “many [of the animals are] just there to be seen and admired.” The fair also is a place for men and women to socialize and find suitable husbands and wives.
After the fair, Sabine headed to a Heritage Palace facility, called Rohet Garh, located near Jodhpur. There she said her plan “was to get the feel of the breed and see the India countryside from atop.” She booked 10 days at Rohet Garh, “a stay which turned out to be a surprising experience far beyond my expectations,” she said.
Rohet Garh was built in a small village in the middle of the desert, without fences or roads, in 1622 as the ancestral home of Thakur Dalput Singh. “Sand is everywhere, except for the occasional irrigated fields of grain, the stubble of which feeds lots of wild animals,” said Sabine. The fort-like palace has since been converted to a luxury resort hotel.
Sabine said her first ride into the desert began at seven in the morning. “I was exhilarated at finally being on a Marwari. They are very spirited horses with quick reactions,” she said. One thing that surprised her was that they never sweated. “It was extremely hot by noon. Yet, never did they falter - although they moved very strongly,” she commented. It is thought that because the Marwari’s skin is very thin, they are able to handle the heat well and require very little water and feed.
On an overnight ride, Sabine discovered just how steady the breed is. “As the day’s riding ended, I was the one needing water and anxious to see the tent camp come [into] sight, not the horses. By that time my guide and I had exhausted our water supply and were ready for more fluids,” she said.
While crossing the desert, Sabine saw many animals including a fox, “which I tally-ho’ed!” When she finally arrived at the overnight tent camp, she found it to be just as luxurious as the palace. She said there were “flushing toilets, running water and accommodations fit for the rich and famous.” In fact, just a week or two after her visit, Madonna stayed at the camp. “It was totally peaceful for me to be the sole guest amongst the handful of camp staff and our Marwaris,” she said. The horses at night were let loose around the camp and never strayed very far.
Since returning home, Sabine has another goal to pursue: to bring one of these noble horses to her farm. Very few of the Marwari have been allowed to leave India. In 2007, a man in England purchased a few young mares. A few other horses can be found in France and Italy. Here in the U.S., the only Marwari are owned by Francesca Kelly of Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts. Francesca has loaned two of her Marwaris to the Kentucky Horse Park for exhibition.
Sabine has hit a few roadblocks along the way but she hopes to have a Marwari in the near future, simply for the pure joy of riding this majestic horse. We will keep Equiery readers posted on her future adventures in India!
|Gretchen Butts (center) of Camp Waredaca and her international crew of cross-country volunteers and officials.
Officiating in Hong Kong
by Gretchen Butts
I had the privilege and pleasure of returning to Hong Kong for the 2008 Olympic Games this past August. The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) recognized well in advance its lack of experience in running equestrian competitions and asked the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) for guidance. The FEI appointed a handful of international officials to assist the Chinese in running the show. I was invited by the FEI to be one of these officials.
Last year, the 10 of us came together with our Chinese competition management team and volunteers to produce a successful “test event.” (See the 2007 October issue of The Equiery for a recap of this event.) Lessons were learned and plans made for the “real” event that was less than 12 months away!
This year, on the first night I was back in Hong Kong, we International Technical Officials (ITOs) met for a casual dinner and began planning for the cross-country orientation that would be held on the Olympic course in the morning. Mother nature had other plans however, as a small storm rapidly escalated to a Category 8 typhoon by 8 the next morning. The city went into lock-down mode with winds well over 100 mph and serious rain! Regretfully, we did not get out on the cross-country course but spent the day in briefing sessions at the hotel.
The next day began with mixed precipitation. This was THE training day to establish what was needed for the dress rehearsal on Friday. We finally got to walk the course and found some surprising terrain akin to a mogul on a ski slope. The course itself provided enough to do, with questions to the end: challenging, but not a huge Burghley-type course where the fences literally seemed impossible. I wasn’t overly impressed with the size of the fences but there were many tests of accuracy and balance quite suitable to the terrain and layout. I predicted at the time that it would be difficult if not impossible to make the time, but I was not exactly sure of how tightly it was measured.
Mid-morning, we met with our sector volunteer jump judges, crossing stewards, cooling personnel and the like. Each jump had a team of three judges: the head judge, a Chinese national, and two assistants, one Chinese and the other was someone from another country who had a lot of experience jump judging. One judges the fence and will whistle and stop a horse if need be. The second is the flag person and radio communicator, while the third is the scribe, timer and fence diagrammer. The total penalty decision is a group outcome with each horse getting diagrammed as to the exact track taken at each fence.
There are also two footing people from the Jockey Club who rake and stomp after every trip, plus nearly 20 veterinary and medical staff members per each of the six cross-country sectors. Add to that the stationary and mobile cooling unit personnel, plus my mobile course repair and horse escort people, and there were about 50 people responsible for this specific sector’s response to whatever might come our way. I was the “bottom line” for seeing that my sector operated properly!
Friday morning we had three inches of rain fall in a 90-minute period, delaying the start of our mock cross-country run for about the same period of time. When the buggies did commence, we had to simulate many of the scenarios as it was simply too wet to move any equipment (e.g. horse ambulances, lifters and so on) onto the track.
Although you lack the visual that exists with real competition, these dress rehearsals are necessary and worthwhile. We identified some glitches plus various little things that could be improved internally. After debriefings, it was time to turn around, change into dry clothes and head back to Sha Tin for the first horse inspection.
Eleven nations and about 70+ horses presented to the Ground Jury! Three did not pass; however, our U.S. horses looked fit and ready. That night was the opening ceremony at the Hong Kong Jockey Club indoor paddock area, which was more like a small indoor coliseum, followed by the large-screen telecast from Beijing of the official opening ceremonies.
The next day I oversaw the stewarding of the first dressage day, which started at 6 a.m. It was quite interesting being part of a three-person team monitoring the “in” gate area. There was a common entrance shared by both the incoming and outgoing horse, and while generous in size, add the team members who advanced with each horse, and it did get crowded in a hurry.
No one could speak highly enough of the tremendous efforts and the millions (literally) of dollars spent on the equestrian venues, from transport to stabling to arenas to the cross-country footing, where samples of the ground were tested each day as to the percentage of moisture and the need for additional irrigation, etc. The entire production was extremely state-of-the-art.
Finally, the cross-country day had come and gone. It was a great day for the sport: safe, fun, exciting and the right result! Not a great day for Team USA, but what else can be said? My day began early with surprisingly clear skies. A periodic light drizzle throughout the morning provided near-perfect conditions; we were truly blessed with that!
The sector I led was a very cohesive group and we were set for action and quite capable of handling anything that might come our way. That is, until our radios decided not to work around 7:45! Everyone was in mild panic and expecting me to magically fix it! Long story short…. for a still-being-resolved reason which the Chinese government is investigating (I kid you not!) the radios in our sector were blocked. We could receive, but our transmissions were not heard by control. Not the ideal situation just before the phase was to start, but I was confident that our group could handle anything that happened.
Overall, the cross-country action was tame. Running at three-minute intervals worked, and with near-ideal conditions, model footing and a well-rehearsed management team, it was a very, very good day.
I spent the next day trying to sort and pack, in between stewarding the first morning shift of the final horse inspection and assisting with the awards ceremony. The ceremony was impressive and well-orchestrated without undue pomp and circumstance; the Chinese left nothing undone here either.
Looking back, it was an incredible experience for me. To be invited to join this elite group was a privilege in itself. Working together last year at the test event and then again this year for the Games was a most memorable experience. Here’s to 2012!
|Katrina Self with Hilmar Meyer’s
Acorado in Germany.
The German Discipline
by Katrina Self
I sat in the saddle on Acorado as we walked around the warm-up ring. People nearby marveled at the 17.1-hand dapple grey stallion with a half brown face. I passed numerous international riders, including my personal favorites, Marcus Beerbaum and his wife Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum. My boss Hilmar Meyer waved me over so he could warm up for the main event. Within the hour, a spotlight followed Hilmar and Acorado as they led the victory gallop, the crowded arena cheering for the Puissance winning team. This is one of my favorite memories as a working student in Germany.
Over the past two years, I traveled to Lower Saxony, Germany to ride with Hilmar during each of my winter breaks at the University of Maryland. Hilmar is an extraordinary rider. He is an accomplished international champion, respected horseman and talented trainer. His stable of 30 horses ranges from talented 3-year-olds to Grand Prix champions. My experience in Germany opened my eyes to international competition and the impressive German discipline. I gained a new perspective on my own equestrian career and goals.
Here at home, I manage my family’s farm, Sweet Water, in Harwood and Ocala, Florida. Tracy Magness is my trainer and I compete in the Amateur-Owner Jumpers with my horse, Connor McLeod, who I purchased from Hilmar in 2006. Tracy had international success herself this summer, winning a Nations Cup competition on a U.S. team in Slovenia (see “Dream Accomplished” in this article).
Typically, three or four riders from different cultural backgrounds work for Hilmar. I watched each rider’s different styles, both in his or her’s riding and grooming techniques. They were always willing to answer my questions, lend tips and share their breadth of equine knowledge.
By 7 a.m. every day, I left my apartment attached to the barn and met the other riders to feed the horses. Hilmar faced the large white board, assigning our initial by each horse’s name. I rode four to six horses a day. I also tacked up for other riders, helped muck stalls and cleaned most of the tack. Sometimes, I rode the horses “in the country.” The countryside is quiet, beautiful and relaxing for the hard working horses.
Hilmar worked with me whenever possible, always making time to school me over a course or give dressage tips when we rode together. From his lessons and watching other riders, I learned a lot about improving control of the horse while maintaining fluidity over a course. European riders possess incredible discipline. One of Hilmar’s stallions, Zorro, competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, at age 9, with the Mexican team.
I learned a lot about my riding, but also how to manage a show farm. Hilmar’s farm is a well-oiled machine, with riders working together to ensure everything is in top form. I wasn’t overwhelmed when I ran my family’s farm in Ocala this year because I had learned from the best.
I groomed for Hilmar at four shows: two professional shows, a Young Horse show and an approved stallion show, where Hilmar won the Grand Prix with Acorado. The professional shows were my favorite. I saw one top international rider after another. Hilmar showed three or four Grand Prix horses, winning or placing in every class. There were up to 100 horses in a class.
Show rings and riders were always on time. The competitors were cordial and worked together to keep the show running well. Around 20 horses warmed up together, sharing only two jumps. Despite the close quarters, there were no problems.
I plan to work for Hilmar again this winter. Since my short stirrup days, I have wanted to be an international rider, but working in Germany added a deeper meaning to that dream. If you ever have the opportunity to work abroad for a rider, take it! It will change your life, your goals and your riding.
|Dori Wiseman explores the New Zealand hills while staying at the Kinnell Estate.
||Dori Wiseman of Upper Marlboro plays polocross in Australia.
Polocross, Kiwi Style
by Dori Wiseman
Getting the opportunity to travel to New Zealand and Australia not only improved my skills in polocrosse (a game that resembles lacrosse on horseback), but allowed me to experience so many amazing and entertaining experiences that will never be forgotten. It started in early January of 2008 when I flew out to Auckland, NZ to stay with the Richardson family at their Kinnell Estate. After landing, I hopped in their little green Ute and headed to their 1,700-acre sheep station in Tauramanui, which was about four hours up, down and around many steep, rolling grassy hills.
The first night I arrived, Mrs. Richardson, Gayle, made a huge meal especially for me. When she asked me if I wanted any tea, I politely said no. However, I soon figured out that in NZ, tea means dinner as well as the drink. Once we started to work through our language barrier, I sat down and began to eat what Dave told me was home-grown food. He was referring to the meat, which was mutton! While I was coping with that huge surprise, I discovered that the milk’s expiration date was from 2006. In shock, I asked whether I could drink this milk, especially since it tasted a little funny. The family had a good laugh over this one, because they milk their own cow and then pour the milk into an old milk jug!
The scenery in this country is beyond amazing! From the horses’ exercise trails, I could see three mountains, two capped with snow. Those were some of the most beautiful and exciting trail rides I have ever been on. While galloping up the steep hills or walking down them, sheep and cattle would be wandering through the fields and sometimes even running with you.
Though I’ve been a brave rider since childhood, the terrain in NZ made me a bit nervous at times. One morning, Dave invited me to join him on an “incredi-bull” adventure where I would have to conquer any fears of these steep hills. We mounted our horses, he armed with his stock whip and me with a black PVC pipe, in case the bulls got too pushy. Like I was going to be able to do anything with my 100 pounds of body weight and that little pipe! Regardless, moving the bulls was surprisingly simple when the cows were with them. Once we took away the ladies, it got tricky.
As soon as we got three bulls into one paddock (more like a large field, probably 100 acres) they started butting heads, literally, and two of them pushed right through the fence! Dave used his bull whip to get them back into the correct paddock, and I stood back by the gate with my little black pipe and my faithful steed Honey, keeping the cows away. This was certainly the simpler of the two jobs. Once the bulls were together, we had to transfer them into their own individual paddocks, which was far from easy since they kept thundering up and down the steep hillsides. Finally, we did manage to separate and properly place the “insepara-bulls.”
When it came time for the sheep to be shifted to another paddock, Dave would take out his dogs and whistle to them. I have never seen anything like a couple of dogs herding hundreds of sheep under the direction of a man with a whistle.
After three months in NZ and eleven Polocrosse Carnivals (we would say “tournaments” in the States), I decided to head to Australia before coming back home. The Richardson family called some contacts in New South Wales and I soon got in touch with the Mathies, who lived in Bodalla.
Soon after getting there, I watched the Mathies’ son Wade break many horses. He used quiet, clear methods that I have since been able to use in some of my own training.
After my four months in New Zealand and Australia, I got a new appreciation for how different people live, what they do for fun and how they care for their horses. The polocrosse was wonderful, and I walked away with many wins at many different tournaments in both countries. My skills certainly improved and I owe this to the families with whom I stayed and the players in the Kaitieke (NZ) and Eurocoast (AUS) Polocrosse Clubs. Since I have returned, I was the captain of the USA Under 23 Team that beat Canada 29-13! Now I am a member of the USA Adult Mixed Team (four men and four women) that will play the United Kingdom in October.
Honestly, nothing can replace the incredible experience of traveling to other countries, and there are not enough thank-yous to give to everyone who helped make this trip possible for me. It has improved me as a person and has lifted my polocrosse game to a new level, so that I can compete with the top players in this country. Hopefully, I will be on the next World Cup Team in 2011!
|Tracy Magness (third from left) and the U.S. Developing Riders team.
||Tracy Magness rides Tarco in the warm-up ring before her final round at the Nation’s Cup in Slovenia.
with Tracy Magness
For as long as Tracy Magness can remember, it has been a dream of hers to ride for a U.S. team. Well, that dream came true this summer as Magness and two of her horses headed to Europe as part of the U.S. Developing Riders Show Jumping Team. From May 26 to June 30, Magness and the U.S team competed in several shows and brought home the Nation’s Cup championship title.
The journey began with the horses’ shipping from New York to Amsterdam and eventually making it to Germany for a one-week rest and training period. Magness took two horses, her Grand Prix mount Tarco Van Ter Moude (“Tarco”) and a younger horse named Triumph.
The team’s first show was in Poland and Magness explained that it “was an awakening for our team.” There were 100 horses in each class and she said that the courses were “really hard and really big.” Unlike in the U.S., where the qualifying rounds are slightly smaller than the final round, in Europe “there were no breather classes … every class was big and hard.” Although Magness and Tarco finished fifth individually, the team as a whole did not make it to the final round.
After the long haul from Poland back to Germany, the team stepped up to the plate at its next show. “Germany was absolutely beautiful… and we had great weather,” Magness said. Although there were no Nation’s Cup classes at this show, Magness felt that all her teammates did “quite well.”
Magness started the competition with Triumph, who finished ninth out of 105 horses in the 1-meter 36 class (approximately 4’6’’). Many were impressed with how well the young horse handled the large courses, and Peter Leon bought the horse from Magness when the show was over. On Tarco, Magness ribboned in both qualifying rounds and finished 15th in the final round. “I had the fastest time but dropped the last rail,” she said.
From there, the riders and horses got a much-needed week off and Triumph made his way back to his new home in the U.S. The team stayed in Italy for the week leading up to the final show in Slovenia. The show was held at the Piber Stud, home of the famous Lipizzaner stallions. “Every morning they would herd the horses from their pastures through the town and into their barns,” remembered Magness.
As for the competition, well, Magness exclaimed, “We had a GREAT show!” Alexa Lowe started the winning streak by jumping to the top of the first class in the “Big Tour” (the Grand Prix classes). After the first round of the Nation’s Cup, the U.S team was in first place. “They all jumped fantastic … and the time allowed was really hard to make,” Magness noted. Due to the intense heat, the second round wasn’t held til 5 p.m. that evening, with only the top eight teams being called back.
“For the second round, only three riders from each team can compete with all of the scores counting,” explained Magness. So even though Lowe did so well, being the least experienced member of the team, she was left off. “Tarco jumped great … [but an] unlucky touch of the chalk at the water” cost them four jump faults, Magness said.
The team was still in first place, with only one rail to spare, when the last rider, Michael Morrissey, entered the ring. He used up that rail early on in the course and, as Magness said, “We were all freaking out!” Morrissey pulled through and the team was crowned the Nation’s Cup champions.
When the awards were handed out, the U.S flag raised and the national anthem played, everyone became really emotional. “When we won … I mean there is just no way to describe that feeling,” gushed Magness, who went on to say, “It has always been a dream of mine to ride for a U.S. team… [and it was] now or never … I was really glad I went and I feel like it raised my riding to a different level.”
Back home, Magness and Tarco have already shown at Culpeper, Virginia in the Constitution Classic where they won th $15,000 Brookledge Jumper Prix and placed fourth in the $40,000 HITS Grand Prix. They are planning to ride at the Columbia Grand Prix. “[Tarco] just loves it there,” she said, explaining that they have already won that title twice. The pair currently sits in the top five for the U.S. Grand Prix League finals and hope to compete there as well. After that, Magness said, “I’ve entered ‘indoors’ but haven’t decided yet if I’m going.” She feels that Tarco has already done more than his fair share of showing this season, and has earned a break before the Florida season kicks off this winter.
|Molly Curtiss of Brookeville and Savannah put in the best dressage test of their young rider career to date.
- photo by Brant Gamma Photography
|Despite some watch complications, Molly and Savannah jump their way to a double clean cross-country round over the Old West-themed course.
- photo by Brant Gamma Photography
From Canada to Colorado
by Molly Curtiss
A year ago this past August, I sat with my mom underneath a tent as we watched my older sister Alex complete the dressage phase of her second North American Junior/Young Riders (NAJYRC) competition, this time in the CCI** division. As she was walking out of the ring after finishing a beautiful test, my mother turned to me and said “Well? What do you think? Next year, that could be you.” I don’t think she realized it at the time, but that comment, along with the thrill of watching the rest of the NAJYRC competition, sparked a flame in me that I doubt will ever be extinguished.
The NAJYRC competition is like the Olympics for North American young riders. The U.S., Canada, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Caribbean Islands can all send teams in show jumping, dressage, eventing and--new in 2008--reining. This year, only the U.S and Canada were represented in eventing.
When we returned home, my coach Paul Ebersole and I worked out a competition schedule to get my horse Savannah and me qualified for selection. After four qualifying horse trials and two CIC*s, I was finally ready. On the 14-hour drive home from Bromont, Canada where I completed my second CIC*, I was told that I was invited to the Area II training camp held in Southern Pines, North Carolina and then to the competition in Parker, Colorado. I was so excited and ready to go.
Three weeks later, we pulled into Kincora Farm, owned and operated by team coaches David and Lauren O’Brien. I set up my stall, got Savannah settled and then went to meet the other girls; Benita Strini, Katelin Spurlock, Alex Martone, Laura Roberts and Katie Bagwell. Each morning of camp we woke up at 5:30 to feed, ride and beat the Southern Pines heat. Despite the exhaustion, we all were having a blast!
The morning of the 30-hour ride to the Colorado Horse Park finally came. The riders, grooms and chef d’equipes Gwen Dean and Audrey Wiggins arrived a day before the horses. The days before the competition were filled with private lessons, organizing equipment and cleaning stalls.
The morning of the first jogs, everyone from Area II passed with flying colors. The next day was the CCI** dressage, so after lessons and tack cleaning, we were able to watch. That evening the coaches, riders and some parents took a saunter around the cross-country course just to see the basics.
The next day, we all rode our dressage tests under Colorado’s intense sun, and some riders were forced to remove their coats. Savannah and I had the best test of our career, so I was thrilled about our first day! The morning of cross-country, nerves balanced by excitement provided me with a great ride. Even with some watch complications, Savannah and I had a double clean cross-country ride and were going into stadium in 10th place. Icing our horses’ legs late into the night was rewarded the next day as, once again, every Area II rider passed the jogs.
Although we went into the stadium phase mentally prepared, tired horses and riders did not make for a good combination, and unfortunately, all but one rider on our team dropped rails. Everyone on the team finished the competition and were able to go home with sound horses. Area II finished seventh overall and I finished 14th.
The next morning, we loaded the van for our return trip. We were all happy to be headed home, but sad that this amazing experience was coming to an end. Thank you to everyone who made this experience possible. We are all grateful.
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