Le Pin-au-Haras, France - The second day of dressage wrapped up Friday for the FEI World Team and Individual Eventing Championship, with 43 combinations performing their tests before the Ground Jury of Gillian Rolton (AUS), James Alain (FRA), and Ernst Topp (GER). The Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team had a respectable day of dressage with Boyd Martin and Shamwari 4 leading the way. Kim Severson and Fernhill Fearless and Lynn Symansky and Donner rounded out the U.S. eventing effort on Fridayat Le Pin National Stud in Le Pin-au-Haras, France for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
Martin (Cochranville, Pa.) and Shamwari 4 seemed on track to have an absolutely lovely test when they ran into a bit of trouble in the canter work. The pair had excellent trot work and nice walk work, but had trouble with all of their lead changes except the final one. Even with the mistakes, Martin and Shamwari 4 Syndicate LLC's 2002 Hanoverian gelding received a score of 46.3, putting them in a three-way tie for 17th place.
"It could have been a bit better," Martin stated. "I think I got the trot work really, really good, and then I lost him in the canter unfortunately.
Though he didn't have the test he was hoping for, Martin is looking ahead to cross country.
"I'm very, very well mounted; this is a spectacular cross country horse," Martin explained. "He has done this level for a couple of years with Swedish rider Ludwig Svennerstal, so I think I'll have a good round."
Symansky (Middleburg, Va.) began her first World Championship experience by completing her dressage test with her own Donner. The excitement of the occasion got to the 2003 Thoroughbred gelding, but Symansky rode him well. Though there was tension throughout the test, the pair was able to produce nice trot work, clean changes, and a lovely final halt to score 53.0, putting them in 47th place.
"It could have gone a bit the other way, so I was proud of him because I did my final salute and he kind of went up and was really overwhelmed," Symansky explained of Donner and his reaction to the crowd's applause at the end of their test. "That was definitely the most tough he has ever been for me; that was obviously more atmosphere than he has ever been in and, because the warm-up is so close to the main arena it was really hard for him. He still kept it together, so I have to be happy with that."
Symansky has had a great team experience so far, saying, "I think it is an amazing group of riders and horses and I that's what makes it so strong and special. We have such a supportive group. When you have a little trouble here or there, or you don't pull out your personal best and you tried as hard as you could, they are still behind you. So it's a good feeling going into tomorrow, and obviously we all want to do it for each other, as well as doing well for ourselves."
Severson (Charlottesville, Va.) and her own Fernhill Fearless were the first U.S. combination of the day to complete their dressage test and they had a workmanlike effort to score 50.8. While the 2000 Irish Sport Horse gelding was aware of the atmosphere, Severson kept him focused on his job to produce nice trot work and decent canter work. The pair is competing in the FEI World Individual Eventing Championship and sits in 38th place at the end of the first phase.
"I thought he was really good," Severson said. "I have ridden better, but I was really happy with him. He went down centerline and kind of got really tall and a little tense, and then he went right to work. He got a little short in his neck here and there, as he does, but I'm quite pleased."
Severson noted that Fernhill Fearless has come a long way in the time that they have been together and she was happy and felt he showed his progress by handling himself well in a situation with such atmosphere.
Following the first phase of the championship, Germany leads the FEI World Team Eventing Championship with a score of 116.9, with New Zealand in second on a 125.5, and the U.S. in third with 138.8. In the FEI World Individual Eventing Championship, Sandra Auffarth (GER) and Opgun Louvo sit in first place with a score of 35.2, while William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Chilli Morning are in second with a 37.5, and Jonathan Paget and Clifton Promise are in third on a score of 38.0. After phase one, the other U.S. riders are in the following places: Phillip Dutton (West Grove, Pa.) and Trading Aces in ninth place on 43.8, Buck Davidson (Ocala, Fla.) and Ballynoe Castle RM in 28th place with a 48.7, and Sinead Halpin (Oldwick, N.J.) and Manoir de Carneville are tied in 38th place, with Severson and Fernhill Fearless, on a score of 50.8.
With a challenging, true championship track laid out for Saturday, the cross country day will certainly be an influential one for the FEI World Team and Individual Eventing Championship. The Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team has been working hard to prepare for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, and they hope to rise to the occasion tomorrow. Consistent rainfall has saturated the grounds, making for some muddy going, but sunshine on Friday seems to have helped the situation.
"With perfect footing it would be a legit course, and then you add the footing on top of it and it becomes an even more serious course," Severson explained. "It depends how much it dries up and how much footing they put down. I think the questions are very, very clear, but it's big. You have to keep riding the whole way around. The fly fences aren't especially huge, but you have enormous brush corners and triple brush. The accuracy questions are the big questions as well, so that is kind of interesting and unique."
Cross country will begin at 10:00am local time with Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM as first combination to head out of the start box. Halpin and Manoir de Carneville will be next at 11:12am, followed by Dutton and Trading Aces at 11:32am. Severson and Fernhill Fearless will head out in the afternoon at 1:08pm, with Symansky and Donner at 1:32pm. Martin and Shamwari 4 will be the last U.S. pair to tackle cross country at 3:08pm.
To learn more about the FEI World Team and Individual Eventing Championship at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, visit: http://www.normandy2014.com/2014-games/the-disciplines/3/eventing.
Follow the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team here