We know a lot about the athletes representing the USA on our Tokyo team, but what about those essential people, the grooms? Catherine Austen finds out more about Courtney Carson, Emma Ford, and Steph Simpson in this edition of Tokyo Talk.
Phillip Dutton and Z are on the road to Tokyo! Dutton, the 6-time Olympian, is going into his 7th Olympic Games. Dutton’s first three Olympics he represented Australia and helped secure the team gold medal twice (1996 - team gold, 2000 - team gold, and 2004). The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games were the first Olympic Games that Dutton rode for the U.S., and he has been on the U.S. Olympic team ever since. Dutton’s most recent Olympic performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics, he earned the individual bronze medal with Mighty Nice.
Australian eventing legend Andrew Hoy may be approaching his eighth Olympic Games, but the thrill of the world’s greatest sporting showpiece never dims.
“It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it,” he says.
Andrew, 62, has already taken part in more Olympics than any other Australian athlete. His first was Los Angeles in 1984, and he has been to every one since, except for Beijing in 2008. He has three team gold medals - from Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996, and Sydney in 2000, and an individual silver from Sydney, too.
Many things about the Tokyo Olympics will be new and different for its eventing participants, including, of course, the venue. However, they will be greeted by many familiar faces, for the world of elite eventing is a close-knit one. The majority of Tokyo-bound riders will know Technical Delegate Philip Surl, a British-based former top-level rider who has officiated at horse trials all over the globe, including the CCI5*s at Kentucky and Burghley.
The cross-country course at the Tokyo Olympics will be the focus of eventing fans worldwide next month. We talked to the man responsible for building it, renowned British course-builder and designer David Evans to learn more about what goes into building the Olympic course.
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you’re appointed as course-builder?
When an Olympics or a World Championships is on a brand-new site and you’ve got committees involved that don’t necessarily know anything about horses, it’s important to get on-site as soon as you can. It doesn’t matter what designer you’re working for; some of them have experience at the Olympics, some of them don’t, so you’ve got to be there to advise them if you’ve been lucky enough to do one before. My team built the course for the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong, which gave us a great deal of experience of wetter, humid climates – and especially with the amount of rain they can have per hour. Hong Kong, in the last six weeks, we had 2.7 meters of rain. The track has got to cope with that.
If you want to compete with - and beat - the best, you have to push yourself. Hard. Ariel Grald’s third place at Luhmühlen on Leamore Master Plan is proof of that. Simply riding at the German CCI5* in 2021 involved a great deal of effort and determination, so to pull off the USA’s best result at a foreign five-star since Boyd Martin’s third on Shamwari 4, also at Luhmühlen, back in 2014, was a triumph for the 32-year-old.
US Eventing Performance Director Erik Duvander has been working with High-Performance Athletes throughout the Olympic training and selection process. Duvander transitioned from a competitive rider into a coaching role after representing Sweden at the World Championship and Olympic level, and has coached teams and individual athletes to World Championship and Olympic medals. He has worked with the Japanese, Swedish, and New Zealand Equestrian Teams, including leading the New Zealand team to a fourth-place finish at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and a team bronze medal at the 2010 Alltech WEG.
What do you get when you combine an aviation engineer, a successful amateur rider, and a galloping event horse? The answer, it seems, is the man who has made a massive contribution to the work of the FEI Eventing Risk Management Committee, and his name is David Vos.
Horses have so much power over us. They don’t know that, of course, but, unwittingly, they expose our personal weaknesses – and bring out our hidden strengths. This is something Allison Smith, a 28-year-old from Warrenton, Va., knows very well. Her passion for eventing and the pressure she put on herself to succeed in this many-layered, ultimately demanding sport exacerbated her anxiety and perfectionist tendencies. Yet one horse has changed her life in a way she never could have anticipated.
International eventer Daryl Kinney has produced several horses from unbroke to Advanced through patient, systematic training with an emphasis on education. With a commitment to a positive, confidence-building approach, Kinney demonstrates that with horses, hard work and patience go a long way towards achieving one’s goals.
My mother and father moved to Woodside in 1958 when I was 3 years old. Unfortunately for them, since they were not horse people, Woodside was horse country, and my sister and I soon became horse crazy. We saw them all the time in town, at local riding stables, even bars! Eventually, we began taking riding lessons. In 1963, my mom found a home on 4.75 acres in town with a barn and the die was cast.