It is delightful to be able to look back at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky and be completely satisfied with the performance of our Dressage riders. In a world when competing at official games is all about medals, and everybody is of course striving to get one, you still have to keep a somewhat realistic view of the state of the union. The way it looked in the beginning of this year, and the way we ended describes the way Americans can get their act together when the chips are down. With three competitors who never had been on a team before, and one of them mounted on her horse for a mere four months, you'd think the riders would have been insecure, worried and withdrawn while preparing for the WEG. Not so at all!
When we all got together at Gladstone for two weeks of preparation before shipping to Kentucky, the "rookies" were enthusiastic, cooperative and diligent every day of their training. Once Steffen arrived a week later, they all received additional valuable advice from our team veteran, and we had a lot of fun together between rounds!
The good camaraderie continued as we arrived at the venue, and all through the competition. Everyone was at the schooling sessions and the warm-ups before the competitions, and we all held our commune breaths while an American was in the arena. I was very proud of the way all of them acted during interviews and outings and how they presented themselves and their horses in schooling and during warm-ups. We received many compliments from other teams on the turnout and riding style of our riders, and that goes a long way in this sport that has been so much criticized lately for the way some dressage competitors ride.
Steffen Peters, Todd Flettrich, Tina Konyot and Katherine Bateson-Chandler were a pleasure to work with. If their performances in the ring had an occasional flaw, there was still no doubt that every one of them looked like they belonged at the WEG! Our
First and second alternate riders, Catherine Haddad and Pierre St. Jacques went to
Kentucky with us to be ready to save the day in case one of our team horses could not compete. Luckily, this did not happen, but we appreciate having them as a backup. Catherine was released an hour before the vet check and went directly to Dressage at Devon, where she triumphed in the World Cup qualifier Grand Prix and the Freestyle giving her valuable points to take back to Germany. Pierre rode all three test rides for the Dressage World Championships at the World Equestrian Games which was more than we expected him to be able to do. It was some great exposure for himself and Lucky Tiger. Pierre also became the commentator for some of the tests sent over the internet.
With top quality competition and fourteen teams in the running, our team did us proud by placing fourth, and by qualifying for the Olympics, we fulfilled our realistic expectations. Although I did hope and believe that Steffen could win us a medal, nobody objects to two! We now have an Olympic ticket, three new team members with experience, a lot of promise in the wings, and many good memories to energize us on the path to Mexico and London.
Dressage Technical Advisor
United States Equestrian Federation