Greenwich, UK - The first of the three Olympic Equestrian Disciplines is set to begin on Saturday, July 28 after 74 horses were presented for the first horse inspection. The team from the United States drew second (behind Ecuador's individual) and were first to present their horses before the Ground Jury of President Anne Mette Binder, Nick Burton, and Gillian Rolton.
The stunning Greenwich arena hosted horses from 22 nations, all of which were accepted.
All five American horses looked fantastic, a testament to their grooms, the veterinarians, physio, farrier, and entire team. Dr. Brendan Furlong is serving the U.S. in his fifth Olympic Games. He is supported by farrier Steve Teichman, Dr. Wendy Leich, and physio Angie Cooney - they had the horses looking their very best.
Boyd Martin (Cochranville, PA) will ride the Otis Barbotiere Syndicate's Otis Barbotiere in the lead-off position for the team. The 10-year-old Selle Francais gelding looked sharp at this morning's jog. Otis survived a fire last May and has returned to fighting form under the care of his groom Lindsey Taylor.
Karen O'Connor is the most senior Olympian in the entire U.S. delegation. She rides the 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Mr. Medicott in the second position. A five-time Olympian, O'Connor (Ocala, FL) rode in her first Olympic Games in 1988. Mr. Medicott was an acquisition from Germany in 2011 by the Mr. Medicott Syndicate with the Olympic Games in mind. Max Corcoran is grooming at her second Olympic Games, having made the trip in 2008 as well.
At the other end of the experience spectrum from O'Connor is Tiana Coudray (Ojai, CA), but the 24-year-old Californian handled the first step of the Olympic experience with ease presenting her flashy grey gelding, Jatial, Inc.'s Ringwood Magister. This pair relocated to the UK last year, and have taken up residency at Nick Gauntlett's. Gauntlett was kind enough to supply his very experienced groom, Annabelle James, to assist Coudray at her first International Championship.
Will Coleman (Charlottesville, VA) is also competing in his first International Championship, he will ride Jim Wildasin's classy veteran Twizzel. The 16-year-old Westphalian/Australian Thoroughbred cross has thrived during his time in England. Twizzel's favorite person and groom, Sara McKenna, had him looking very well as he jogged in the main arena.
"The jog was great this morning," said Coleman. "The U.S. team looked in great order, my horse jogged really well and I think we're all really happy with the condition of these horses. It's a great testament to the team behind us and the great training facility we've been lucky enough to use at Lavender Hill. I think we all feel really good about our status. We still have a couple days before he goes so I am trying not to do too much with him. He feels settled and relaxed. He feels good."
Phillip Dutton (West Grove, PA) rounds out the American team of five. Dutton has ridden last in every championship in which he has represented the USA (beginning in 2007 at the Pan American Games). Previously he was a two-time Gold medalist for Australia. He and Jim and Arden Wildasin's Mystery Whisper, an 11-year-old Australian Warmblood, have won three of the five events they've contested together in 2012. Emma Ford, who has worked for Dutton since 2005, is responsible for the care of Mystery Whisper.
"It's somewhat of a relief, but also really exciting to finally get started," said Dutton. "Up until this stage you realize something can go wrong and you won't get to start. But it is great to finally jog as a team and get the team through. I am pleased with Mystery Whisper and how he's going - I still have two days to go as he is last of the Americans. I'm just trying to get him used to the conditions here and to the atmosphere and will try to get him to do the test of his life on Sunday."
Dressage kicks off tomorrow, Martin and Otis Barbotiere are the first pair in the ring at 10 AM GMT on Saturday; O'Connor and Mr. Medicott at 12:08 and Coudray and Ringwood Magister at 3:18. Sunday continues with Coleman and Twizzel at 11:20 and Dutton and Mystery Whisper finish it off for the USA at 2:38.
For coverage of the U.S. Team in London, please visit: http://usefnetwork.com/featured/Olympics2012/
To view the Media Guide for the U.S. Team, click here.
Photo: Boyd Martin and Otis Barbotiere at the first horse inspection (Shannon Brinkman)