U.S. Dressage Team Wins Gold Medal At The 2003 Pan American Games In Santo Domingo

Thursday, August 7, 2003

By Charlene Strickland for DressageDaily.com

The Ultimate Can-Am Challenge

August 7, 2003 - "It's not a walk in the park," said Jan Ebeling about the way the U.S. squeaked by Canada, the first day of equestrian competition, at The Pan American Games in Santo Domingo. At the end of Day 1, Canada's all-female team had almost 3 points lead over the two U.S. female riders, Kristina Harrison-Naness and Carol Lavell.

On Day 2, Pierre St Jacques logged the highest score of either country, switching the lead to the U.S. As the fourth U.S. rider, Ebeling cranked up the pressure on Canada with the highest U.S. score, and the U.S. won with 206.55 compared to Canada's 206.30.

Photo by terrimiller.com

The initial U.S. rider in the Prix St. Georges was Harrison-Naness on Kantor. The steamy tropical heat affected her during the test, and she dismounted red-faced and dripping with sweat.

"LA has been more humid for us lately, but it's no comparison to here!" she reported after cooling off. "We ride him in the heat of the day to prepare, but you need to experience this heat."

She rode "Scooby" while carrying a silver dollar as a lucky charm. The coin had helped her top the field at Gladstone--in Santo Domingo, its luck only held her in first place for the first 10 rides of the team competition. Canadian Ashley Holzer's score nabbed first place, and she held it the rest of Day 1.

By Charlene Strickland for DressageDaily.com

Lavell Rises to the Challenge in Torrential Downpour

Lavell and Much Ado battled the elements in their test, when a torrential rainstorm started. Lavell had already weathered a huge spook in the warmup. "To Do" leaped at the sight of jump standards, and almost fell down when his hind feet slipped in the sodden footing from an earlier downpour. Rain pelted Lavell from her salute on, and her horse hydroplaned through most of the test.

Long-time coach Michael Poulin praised "a good rapport between her and her horse in the rain." He added, "Their score will be good enough to help the team win the gold medal."

Lavell said, "My job was to try to get the job done--so we could get a good team score." She was excited about her second trot extension, saying, "It was the best I've ever done." She wasn't so excited to be picked for drug testing (on her, not the horse).

Lavell's score placed the U.S. at 131.60. Canada's Evi Strasser boosted her country to first place, with 134.15.

By Charlene Strickland for DressageDaily.com

Former Canadian St Jacques, Seals US Team Results With Ride

August 8, 2003 - Third to go, on day two of competition, Pierre St. Jacques rode Lucky Tiger to the best score yet. He didn't let his Canadian heritage influence his allegiance to his U.S. teammates.

"It's my first Pan-American Games, my first time representing a country, and my first time representing the United States," he said. A U.S. citizen since 1999, he credited his wife, Pam Goodrich. "I owe everything to my wife," he said. "She has trained so many Grand Prix horses, and is one of the best Grand Prix trainers in the country." He added that she'd urged him to buy "Tiger" after they found him in Denmark.

Tiger, in his fifth time out at Prix St. Georges, was overexcited after his excellent test. He had to be led through the out-gate, with onlookers backing up to give him plenty of space on his exit.

St. Jacques rode under gray skies--Ebeling warmed up and rode in another rainstorm. He said, "That's a mighty rain, even more than at this year's Gladstone!"

Ebeling rode Feliciano to the highest score of any U.S. rider: 70.40. His score was first announced as 70.05, and later adjusted. About his horse, Ebeling said, "In the last three months, he's really advanced. In the beginning of the season, we weren't sure we would try out, but he made a huge leap forward at every show I went to."

That leap launched the U.S. challenge to Canada. Their Jacqueline Brooks ended up their drop score, placing the pressure on Leslie Reid. Reid earned the day's top score of 72.15--not quite enough to best the U.S. riders.

By Charlene Strickland for DressageDaily.com

Largest Dressage Turnout For Pan American Games

Ten teams competed, the largest number of any Pan-American Games. Forty-three riders represented 13 nations. Mexico finished in the bronze position, less than 1 point ahead of the Dominican Republic.

Yvonne Losos de Muniz earned the second highest score of 71.80 on her mare, Inatana las Marismas. She began pursuing dressage about the same time her country won the Pan-Am Games. "Our original goal was just to have a presentable team," she said. About her ride on Day 2, she recalled, "It is very exciting. You feel very proud riding in your own country, and you also feel a lot of pressure."

The equestrian venue was Palmarejo Equestrian Center, located northwest of the city and far from the central city's more popular sports areas. Surrounded by lush green hills and palm trees, the brand new site is top-class, similar to show facilities in U.S. like High Prairie Farms in Colorado.

Riders praised the stabling and the footing in the show arena. "The barns are wonderful, said Lavell. Harrison-Naness mentioned the misting fans supplied by the USET, saying, "The horses all receive fan therapy. Scooby stands in front of his fan, and he is happy."

Related Links
Horsesdaily Coverage of the 2003 Pan American Games
Meet the 2003 USET Pan American Dressage Squad
Who's Who - Yvonne Losos de Muniz