The sound of victory on Sunday in Lima, Peru was the clink and clank of multiple gold and silver medals swinging from the necks of Boyd Martin, Lynn Symansky, Doug Payne, and Tamie Smith. It was the most welcoming noise that the U.S. Eventing Team and their supporters could have asked for after a long buildup to a tense week. From start to finish, Team USA held the lead in the three-day eventing competition at the 2019 Pan American Games, with Martin and Symansky completing their weekend on their dressage scores to earn individual gold and silver.
“It is a big relief. We all worked very, very hard,” said Martin. “It’s good to pull it off.”
“It” was more than just the reward of medals at these Pan Am Games, the big “it” was qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. With only two qualifying spots available and all ten competing teams in the race to earn one, there was never going to be any room for error.
But Team USA brought their A-game, with all four riders and their horses coming together to finish over 30 penalty points ahead of the team silver medalists from Brazil. Canada filled out the podium with a bittersweet team bronze medal; they just missed out on qualifying a team for the 2020 Olympics.
After a strong cross-country day that saw Martin with Tsetserleg (Windfall x Thabana), Christine Turner's 12-year-old Trakehner gelding, and Symansky with RF Cool Play (Condors Champion x Roxana), The Donner Syndicate's 11-year-old German Sport Horse gelding, complete the only faultless rounds of the day, Team USA did one even better during the stadium jumping phase. They were the only team of the competition to complete with all four riders, and the only team to see all four riders jump clear. Brazil’s Carlos Parro jumped a double clear stadium round aboard Quaikin Qurious (West Point Quickfire x Should Be Good), Helena Ashworth's 10-year-old gelding, to win individual bronze.
Team USA coach Erik Duvander spent most of the weekend behind a pair of sunglasses, smiling infrequently and quietly focusing on the ultimate goal. So it was he who perhaps smiled the widest when Martin sealed the win.
“I’m just honestly really pleased to be part of this group,” he said. “It’s sort of like all the way through the last 18 months I’ve been at war. I’ve seen how much work these guys put into it and the preparation and how much it means to them and I couldn’t wish for a better ending with four clear rounds. They deserve the medals that are hanging around their necks.”
All four American horses came out of cross-country in top condition, and jumped brilliant strong rounds. RF Cool Play and Symansky were the only pair who gave the spectators a minor fright, ticking a rail at the beginning of the course.
“I heard not only the rail but I heard everybody gasp,” Symansky said. “You can’t let something like that rattle you at all or it all comes apart. You’ve just got to keep breathing, keep going, and do what you know you can do.”
That mantra was accurate across everyone’s performances on Sunday. Tamie Smith came back from a less than ideal cross-country round to jump a beautiful clear as the first to go for Team USA with Mai Baum (Loredano x Ramira), Alexandra and Ellen Ahearn and Eric Markell's 13-year-old German Sport Horse gelding. And Starr Witness (Chello III x Carmen), Laurie H. Mc Ree, Catherine Winter, and Doug Payne's 8-year-old KWPN mare and the greenest horse on the team, thrived under her rider’s steady guidance, completing the weekend with no jumping penalties.
“In a championship like this you show up and the vast amount of support that we get, from the USEF, the owners, coaches, all the support staff, we honestly are just the very top of what's visible,” Payne said. “We wouldn't be here without their help. And, of course, the horses - they put forth a great effort and we'll be forever appreciative.”
This afternoon, USEA President Louise “Lou” Leslie welcomed U.S. Eventing Association (USEA) Board of Governors members, USEA staff, and USEA Annual Meeting & Convention attendees to the first of two Board meetings which will take place during this year’s Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, with the teaser that 2024 is going to be full of initiatives for more opportunities to access the eventing experience, some of which attendees might get first wind of during this year’s gathering. The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention takes place Dec. 7-10 at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel.
Welcome to the Show Me state and to Area IV USEA members! The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention kicks of tomorrow and features four full days of educational seminars, committee meetings, and social gatherings all with one aim—to bring the eventing community together to continue to improve upon and celebrate the sport that we all love. This year’s Convention takes place in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Marriott St. Louis Grand in downtown St. Louis from Dec. 7-10, and we have rounded up everything you need to know to make the most of your time in the heartland.
To accompany the 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention, USEA Educational Partner STRIDER has prepared Digital Resources to Maximize Education & Access for the Eventing Community. In keeping with the USEA’s mission to expand the sport of eventing, this webinar outlines ways in which digital tools can be leveraged to increase access and education across equestrian opportunities. As part of STRIDER’s popular Professional Development Webinar Series, this presentation aims to provide a quick overview of best practices and digital tools used across the equestrian industry to boost growth.
Every horse who participated this year in the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) program has a story—a background that involves a breeder who labored over bloodlines, veterinary care, initial training, and so much more. This year’s highest-placing U.S.-bred horse in the 5-year-old division at the Dutta Corp./USEA Young Event Horse Championships, Arden Augustus, is no exception. His breeder and owner, Anita Antenucci of Arden Farms in Upperville, Virginia, started her program nine years ago and said that the Warmblood gelding was a more emotionally driven breeding for her than others due to his connections with Antenucci’s long-time friend Sharon White.