Debbie Adams and her horse D.A. Duras have traveled to the FEI World Breeding Eventing Championship in France to showcase this gelding on an international stage. Their trip has been made possible by the Holekamp/Turner Young Event Horse Lion d’Angers Grant. D.A. Duras is the first recipient of this award, having earned it by being the highest scorer of the 2013 USEA Young Event Horse 5-year-old Championship who also qualified for Le Lion d'Angers. Adams is a guest blogger with the USEA to share her inside experience of this event.
Well, the biggest competition of D.A. Duras career finished in grand style. My wish for him was a top ten finish at the World Eventing Championships for Young Event Horses. He did exactly that jumping clear and quick both days to finish 9th! I knew he would have to be very fit. The cross-country [7-year-old/CCI2*] was a 10-minute course with some real energy draining terrain as well. Most CCI2*s are a minute and a half shorter. Even the course this weekend at Fair Hill International CCI3* was only 10 seconds longer that Duras’ course. On Sunday these young horses show jump 1.20 meters, which is a bit higher than normal for this level because it was a Championship. These two elements really effected the placings at Le Lion D'Angers, which is appropriate for testing young horses for Eventing. It is more than just the dressage phase which influences the outcome.
I knew that this competition is a really big deal in Europe. We were told that it is the largest event in France. The knowledgeable crowd packs the place in a most boisterous manner on both jump days.
The flags of each country flew over the stadium and I was proud to see the USA flag indicating our participation in this prestigious championship. Each nation displays their patriotism in the stabling and on their horses. We were lucky to have Katherine Coleman stable next to us and kindly share her "kit" with us so Duras looked American for the jog and Dressage. She had all the beautiful USA wardrobe for horses from her previous weekend at [Military Boekelo-Enschede CICO3*]. Unfortunately for Katherine, she did not get to compete her talented 6-year-old at Le Lion D'Anger due to a technicality of qualifying. That shows just how exclusive this event is, the qualifications are very specific.
Duras travelled last night to Holland to rest for a few days before flying back to the U.S. on Wednesday. We chose night travel as the traffic here can add hours to the trip. He is as sharp as ever this morning and is not showing any sign of fatigue from his big event. That makes the whole trip even sweeter knowing he can handle all this without undue stress. I hope Kelly Prather is feeling as buoyant today as Duras.
Lastly and very, very importantly I would like to say a big thank you to USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) program, and specifically the Holekamp/Turner Grant. They planted the seed of this idea and gave us the support to get this trip going. Thank you to Flora Lea Farm, which is home to Duras and myself, to my family and to everyone who has contributed in all ways imaginable for this to happen. A special mention to Marilyn Payne who gave me such strong encouragement to be able to follow this impossible dream always saying "you can do this Debbie" when I became overwhelmed by this huge, huge task. Of course thanks to Duras and Kelly for their 100% efforts to such a successful competition. I knew from the beginning that Duras was an extremely talented horse but we all realize that an equally talented rider is needed to bring out the best, and Kelly's skills did that.