There is a new face on the Florida event scene this winter – 27-year-old Swiss eventer, Felix Vogg, who is based in Radolfzell, Germany – just north of the German-Swiss border. Vogg is no stranger to international eventing having competed at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, 2014 World Equestrian Games, and multiple European Championships, but Rocking Horse Winter II in Ocala, Florida was his first foray into U.S. eventing.
When first asked what brought him to Florida, Vogg joked that is was the weather! But it was actually Nadine Beck, his persuasive aunt who convinced him to cross the Atlantic. “My aunt is living in the states,” explained Vogg. “She is living in Minneapolis and she is based over the winter in Wellington. She is an amateur show jumping rider with three horses. She wanted every year for me to come visit her. I came last year to visit her in Wellington and she said this year that I should come with the horses and I said ‘no, no, no’. New Year’s Eve she said I had to come so we decided that I would.”
Vogg brought one event horse over, Colero, a 10-year-old Westphalian gelding (Captain Fire x Bonita) owned by Jürgen Vogg who just moved up to the CIC3* level last fall.
“I want to try with him for [the World Equestrian Games at] Tryon,” continued Vogg. “But he is quite green still and not experienced, so I thought this would give him a chance to start earlier in the season and get more experience. I will try [for the WEG], but if it doesn’t work then it is fine as well because he is a good future horse.”
In their first U.S. start, Vogg and Colero won the Open Intermediate-B division at Rocking Horse Winter II in Altoona, Fla. Scoring a 23.9 in the dressage and adding just 2.8 time penalties on cross-country to win the class by 6.4 points.
Watch their cross-country round thanks to the Horse Pesterer, David Frechette.While winning was the cherry on top, Vogg said his first U.S. event was a good experience. “It is completely different, the conditions and everything – ground, weather, everything. I think it is really good because in Germany and specially not in Switzerland we don’t have so many competitors. I think it is a good system that you have so many national classes. There is always a step in between if you go from two-star to three-star you can first ride an Advanced in between so you don’t have such a big step. I am impressed of the horses – really good horses. I like it.”
While Vogg traveled from Europe alone, he knew a few U.S.-based eventers already and has made several new friends. “I went first to Liz Halliday-Sharp’s for training cross-country before heading to Rocking Horse,” said Vogg. “I also met the week before Phillip Dutton and Boyd Martin and did some canter work with them and watched some show jumping classes while they were training in Wellington. I knew Boyd already from Rio and Luhmuhlen. When I got to Rocking Horse I met Sharon White I knew because I sold a student of hers a horse once.”
Next week Vogg is riding some show jumping rounds on a pure show jumper he brought as well and then he is headed to the Red Hills International Horse Trials in Tallahassee, Florida. Vogg will then move from his current base with his Aunt in Wellington to Boyd Martin’s farm in Aiken, South Carolina. From there he will compete at the Carolina International CIC3* in Southern Pines, N.C., and WEG test event at The Fork CIC3* in Tryon, N.C. Red Hills, Carolina, and The Fork are all part of the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series.
On this episode of the Equiratings Eventing Podcast, show host Nicole Brown talks to Pan American Games gold medalist and U.S. team stalwart Boyd Martin about his career to date, highs and lows, and coming back from injury.
On Monday, March 8 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern, USEF will host a member webinar providing updates on the impacts of the case of EHV-1 (neurological) reported in Ocala, Florida. This case is similar in nature, but unrelated to the neurological strain of EHV-1 impacting Valencia (ESP) and other European countries.
As competitors rise through the levels, they often see the costs associated with competition rise and, unfortunately for most organizers, this can’t be avoided. With fewer competitors requiring more jumps, officials, footing management, etc., the expenses for running higher levels – especially FEI – are greater than lower levels.
Our sport is going to present you with many amazing opportunities, and some equally amazing challenges. While you’re sure to enjoy the opportunities, it sometimes takes a little more effort to enjoy the challenges. Contrary to the common misconception (from non-equestrians) that our sport is easy, it’s actually one of the hardest and most demanding sports of all!