Team USA has arrived in France for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, and that includes the Reining Team. The team competed in the Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup back in April in Lexington for the chance to be part of the United States Equestrian Team (USET). The team members are (in alphabetical order):
- Andrea Fappani (Scottsdale, Ariz.) riding Custom Cash Advance, owned by Silver Spurs Equine.
- Shawn Flarida (Springfield, Ohio) riding Spooks Gotta Whiz, owned by Michell Kimball.
- Troy Heikes (Scottsdale, Ariz.) riding Lil Gun Dunit, owned by Denise Bixler and Steve Tarani.
- Jordan Larson (Whitesboro, Texas) riding HF Mobster, owned by Heritage Farm.
- Mandy McCutcheon (Aubrey, Texas) riding Yellow Jersey, owned by Tim and Colleen McQuay.
- Tom McCutcheon (Aubrey, Texas) riding Dun Git A Nicadual, owned by Jennifer Marley.
Last week the team’s horses were shipped to Houston, Texas, where the reining horses stayed to prepare for transport to the USDA export facility, and, thus, placed in shipping containers for the flight to Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Upon arrival in Amsterdam the paperwork for both the horses and the humans who flew with them (grooms, the team veterinarian, Dr. John Newcomb, etc.) have their paperwork processed. Then the reiners were shipped 500 kilometers to Paris, France, to their temporary boarding facility at Jay Kay Farm Quarter Horses, where they will stay until they ship the additional 235 kilometers to Caen, France, during WEG on Friday, August 22.
Custom Cash Advance’s owners, Michael and Michelle Miola of Silver Spurs Equine in Scottsdale, Ariz., are excited to be following their 2006 Quarter Horse stallion to France. In fact, the couple also owned Fappani’s other horse he initially qualified for the U.S. team, Smoking Whiz, which is a pretty big achievement to own two of the six team horses. Unfortunately Smoking Whiz wasn’t feeling 100 percent, so the Miolas and Fappani agreed he should stay home and “Cash” would be his team horse.
Fappani has kept Cash in shape between April and August with regular rides and some spa time—Silver Spurs Equine has a 30-foot salt water therapy and conditioning pool, as well as an equine therapy spa to help restore energy and comfort to sore, tired muscles.
“(After the Kentucky Cup and a week’s rest) we resumed normal workouts and three times a week we took him into our spa--it really works wonders on their legs, softens them up so there’s no muscular strains or exhaustion,” explains Michael. “Then as the time came closer, like around a week before his departure for France, his workouts became lighter with more rest in between. He’s in peak condition.”
Even though the riders, including Fappani, arrived a few days after the horses in France, Cash’s groom, Jenny Ricotta, has been with the sorrel stallion the entire trip, even riding with him in the special containers that shipped the horses via plane from Houston to Amsterdam. Ricotta will stay with Cash throughout the Games and fly back with him in September, with the rest of Team USA’s horses.
One interesting thing the Miolas didn’t expect for their WEG excursion—they had to lease Cash over to the USEF before he was shipped overseas. “I leased him, just like everyone else, to the USEF. They take over everything. It’s a lease agreement that goes from one date to another, until the horses come home. It gives them liability for their care, so there were reasons for it. I read the fine print real carefully,” Michael explains.
Exercise plans for Cash will stay the same as if he were in the U.S. preparing for a big show—some light work to stretch the legs. Miola explains that all the conditioning and all the training happens at home, and now it’s time for the team to enjoy the experience. After the competition, Fappani and the Miolas will fly back to Arizona to prepare for another big reining show in Las Vegas, but Ricotta will stay with Cash and provide daily light works with lunging, hand walking, etc., just to break up the monotony of the day until all of the horses of Team USA are shipped back after the conclusion of the Games.
“We’ve never done this before, so this is very exciting for all of us—Andrea included,” says Michael. “We’re extremely confident that Cash is going to do his part to bring home the team gold and I’m confident he’ll bring home the individual gold as well.”
Silver Spurs Equine knows a little about gold medal winners—it is also home to 2002 WEG Team Gold and Individual Silver Medalist (with Tom McCutcheon) Conquistador Whiz, as well as Mister Montana Nic, Craig Schmersal’s Team Gold and Individual Silver Medalist mount at the 2010 Games.
After the Games, Miola says that Cash will get a well-deserved rest before the start of breeding season. The WEG will be his last professional competition. Michael had initially purchased the stallion for his wife to ride in Non Pro competitions, so Michelle will get her chance to compete with the stallion towards the end of the year and into next year. “He’ll have a really nice life after he comes home,” says Michael.
Competition during the WEG for the reiners start Monday, August 25 with the team competition and individual qualifying round. After the team competition concludes on August 26, there will be a second individual qualifying competition on August 28, with the individual final being held Saturday, August 30.