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Rio Beckons ~ Who’s Who on the Olympic Teams

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Rio OlympicsThe road to Rio has been a bumpy one on all fronts. The street has been littered with problems including building the equestrian venue, the dreaded Zika virus and major concerns over security of athletes, organizers and spectators. At one point there was even a serious discussion about moving the equestrian events and certain other sports to a different country. Prior medal winning Olympians have sidelined their main horses from consideration for their national teams, concerned for their equine athletes well-being and many owners have pulled their horses from the long list line up in the U.S.A.

Despite all the controversy surrounding these issues the Olympics is still the pinnacle of the equestrian competition world and riders and coaches alike feel rightfully proud to be selected. I spoke with Robert Dover, Chef d’Equipe of the Dressage Team and he shared his thoughts on the dressage riders:-

“I am very proud of our U.S. Olympic Team for Rio. These athletes have demonstrated results throughout the last year which can rival the best in the world and beyond their amazing talent, the riders have become like a wonderful family, always supporting each other at home and at the competitions. I am honored to act as their Chef d'Equipe and Coach!”

The equestrian venue where all events will take place is located in Deodoro in the North Zone of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and during winter months of July/August/September temperatures average 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The air is humid and the sun intense along the equator (and rain showers frequent), so riders and their horses will need to be on top form and fitness when they visit this city that sparkles with the sea and sandy beaches on one side and lush tropical rainforests on the other. The native language is Portuguese and the city is a melting pot of Portuguese, Indian and African cultures.

The United States Equestrian Federation (U.S.E.F.) has named four athlete-and-horse combinations to the U.S. Olympic Eventing/Showjumping/Dressage Teams and one traveling reserve for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Four direct reserve horses have also been named. A direct reserve horse would be an automatic replacement should the original horse on which an athlete was named need to be substituted.

Dressage

Dressage competition at the Olympic Games will take place August 8-15, 2016.

The following athlete-and-horse combinations will compose the Team (in alphabetical order);

 

Allison Brock (Loxahatchee, Fla.) with Claudine and Fritz Kundrun’s Rosevelt, a 2002 Hanoverian stallion.

Laura Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and her own Verdades, a 2002 KWPN gelding.

Kasey Perry-Glass (Orangevale, Calif.) with Diane Perry’s Dublet, a 2003 Danish Warmblood gelding.

Steffen Peters (San Diego, Calif.) with Four Winds Farm’s Legolas 92, a 2002 Westphalian gelding.

Direct Reserve
Four Winds Farm’s Rosamunde, a 2007 Rheinlander mare.

The following combination has been named as the traveling reserve:

Shelly Francies (Loxahatchee, Fla.) with Patricia Stempel’s Doktor, a 2003 Oldenburg gelding

Rio will be the first major international competition for Hawaiian Allison Brock as a competitor. This will be quite a different experience from 2002 when she attended the 2002 World Equestrian Games as a working student for Olympian Sue Blinks. Brock has been actively pursuing her dressage goals for twenty years. Brock has demonstrated her elegant dressage style to good results with the Hanoverian Rosevelt including wins at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in 2015 and 2016 and at Dressage at Devon in 2014.

The dressage career of Laura Graves and her horse Verdades aka "Diddy” did not begin smoothly. This KWPN gelding put Laura through much trial and tribulation as a youngster and it wasn’t until she found help from Olympian Debbie McDonald that true progress was made as things started to click for the horse. Their wins have been impressive and they are considered one of the most popular and top pairs competing. Graves put in a great performance at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in France to come fifth and this event put them front and center. This partnership showcased wins at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in 2015 and 2016, in addition to attaining the PanAm team gold and individual silver to their credit.

Kasey Perry-Glass who hails from California was an eventer before turning to dressage at age seventeen. Perry-Glass also trains with Debbie McDonald. Goerklintgaards Dublet and Perry-Glass took second place finishes in the CDI3* and CDI-W at the Global Dressage Festival in 2016.

Steffen Peters and the beautiful Westphalian gelding Legolas 92 are no strangers to success. Peters has successfully represented the U.S.A. at the Olympics many times. In 1996 at Atlanta he paired with Udon to claim a bronze medal. In 2008 he almost made the podium in Beijing with Ravel and he was also the highest placing American at the 2012 London Olympics in dressage. German born Peters has the most experience on the U.S. dressage team and his medals at FEI World Cup and World Equestrian Games and Pan Am plus his wins at the Festival of Champions 2012, 2013 and 2014 make him a top contender. Legolas 92 is owned by Four Winds Farm, as is the reserve horse Rosamunde, a 2007 Rheinlander mare.

Eventing

Eventing competition at the Olympic Games will take place August 5-9, 2016.

The following athlete-and-horse combinations will compose the Team (in alphabetical order):

Phillip Dutton (West Grove, Pa.) and Caroline Moran, Simon Roosevelt, and Thomas Tierney's Fernhill Cubalawn, a 2003 Holsteiner gelding.
Direct Reserve
HND Group's Mighty Nice, a 2004 Irish Sport Horse gelding.
Ann Jones and Thomas Tierney's Fernhill Fugitive, a 2005 Irish Sport Horse gelding.

Lauren Kieffer (Middleburg, Va.) and Team Rebecca, LLC's Veronica, a 2002 KWPN mare.
Direct Reserve
Marie Le Menestrel's Meadowbrook's Scarlett, a 2007 Thoroughbred cross mare.

Boyd Martin (Cochranville, Pa.) and Blackfoot Mystery Syndicate, LLC's Blackfoot Mystery, a 2004 Thoroughbred gelding.
Direct Reserve
Gloria Callen's Welcome Shadow, a 2005 Thoroughbred cross mare.

Clark Montgomery (Tetbury, England) and Holly and William Becker, Kathryn Kraft, and Jessica Montgomery's Loughan Glen, a 2003 Irish Sport Horse gelding.

The following combination has been named as the traveling reserve:

Maya Black (Clinton, Wash.) and Dawn and Jonathan Dofelmier's Doesn't Play Fair, a 2005 Holsteiner gelding.

The Irish Sport Horse features heavily in the eventing world and it is no surprise to see the breed on top not just on the U.S. team with Clark Montgomery and in the reserve list with Phillip Dutton, but also in other international teams. Elaine Hatton, Director of International Marketing for Horse Sport Ireland is rightfully proud of the presence of the Irish-bred horses on the Olympic scene:

“ Irish-bred horses have demonstrated their talent in the Olympic arena countless times, including the 2012 Games in London where four of the top-ten placed riders in Eventing competed on Irish Sport Horses. We are very excited about the 2016 Games in Rio and are really looking forward to watching them compete at the most elite event in the world.”

The traveling reserve, Doesn’t Play Fair a.k.a. Cody, ridden by Maya Black is a small horse with a huge attitude with the iconic Calypso II branch of the Cor de la Bryere bloodlines on both sides of his pedigree. Standing at just 15.3 h.h., he dislikes grooming and shows plenty of attitude under saddle. Black has successfully guided this opinionated gelding through the levels and placed 3rd at Rolex 2016. With a run of successes under their belt there was little doubt that this little horse would make the team. She has worked with David and Karen O’Connor, Silvio Mazzoni and Debbie McDonald to hone her skill set and while the horse’s owners Dawn and Jonathan Dofelmier say they have zero expectations for the pair, there is little doubt if they get to go folks will be tuned in to see what the little horse can achieve.

Sharing similar bloodlines the KWPN mare Veronica is also from the Cor de la Bryere sire line through Corland, a noted jumper. Interestingly you will find Calypso II in the pedigree of three of the top five winners at Rolex Kentucky.

Show Jumping

Show Jumping competition at the Games will take place August 12-19, 2016.

The following athlete-and-horse combinations will compose the Team (in alphabetical order):

Lucy Davis (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Old Oak Farm’s Barron, a 2004 Belgian Warmblood gelding

Kent Farrington (Wellington, Fla.) and Amalaya Investments’ Voyeur, a 2002 KWPN gelding.

Beezie Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.) and Abigail Wexner’s Cortes ‘C’, a 2002 Belgian Warmblood gelding.

McClain Ward (Brewster, N.Y.) with Double H Farm and Francois Mathy’s HH Azur, a 2006 Belgian Warmblood mare

The following athlete-and-horse combination has been named as the traveling reserve.

Laura Kraut (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) and Old Willow Farms, LLC’s Zeremonie, a 2007 Holsteiner mare

The five Olympic medals that Beezie Madden and McLain Ward have attained demonstrate the strength of these two riders who will lead the American team. The Rio Olympics will be their fourth appearance at the Olympics, a truly impressive feat. The youngest of the team at just twenty-three years old is Lucy Davis who along with Kent Farrington will make their Olympic debuts.

The United States has won a stunning total of 16 Olympic medals in show jumping, eight team and eight individual. The most recent medals were earned at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, where Madden won bronze and the team took its second gold in as many Games.

Despite the controversies surrounding the Olympics concerning the safety and well-being of all attending, the horses and riders that represent the U.S.A, not just in the equestrian sports of Eventing, Dressage and Show Jumping but also our Para team and Driving team will venture forth and make their best efforts. We wish everyone a successful and happy experience. Go Team U.S.A.!

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