Dec 21, 2022

Rider Recap: Revisiting the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championships with the Team

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

One of the biggest highlights, undoubtedly, from the 2022 eventing season was Team USA’s performance at the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championships in Pratoni. The USEA was lucky enough to have all of the team riders for the U.S. in attendance for this year’s USEA Annual Meeting & Convention, and alongside Chef d’Equipe Bobby Costello and former USEA President and USEF Eventing Elite Program and Team Facilitator Max Corcoran, the team members came together for a review of the 2022 World Championships during this year’s annual gathering. Curious as to what each team member had to say relating to this year’s showdown? We’ve compiled a favorite quote from each member of the panel for your review here.

Boyd Martin shares how he kept his mindset grounded during the competition:

“It is remarkable in my opinion that in most sports the athletes are young people, but in this sport, as you get older you have experience and wisdom and knowledge and in my experience, there are moments, like this one, where you just have to stay calm. It was a huge relief that all four riders before me went clear, so there was a sense that a little bit of the pressure was off, but I also didn’t want to be the dud in the group. I think we all have complete belief that we put the work in. Thomas is an incredible cross-country horse and the course was tough, it wasn’t as big or as long as I have seen in other championship courses, but to go clear and to make the time you had to go flat-out and take chances and risks, you have to expect that things aren’t going to go as planned. I do think that is where experience is very comforting.”

Max Corcoran gave a shoutout to some of the behind-the-scenes players who made the results at this year’s Championships possible:

“I got to work with some of the best grooms in the world. They were amazing people. These guys made it so that the riders didn’t have to worry about anything other than riding their horses. They didn’t worry about the travel, they didn’t worry about the soundness, and if they were eating well. We stayed up two long drives at night and these guys never complained, they just got on with it. Again, couldn’t have asked for a better group. This was an amazing group of people to work with.”

Tamie Smith gives credit to their fearless leader Bobby Costello for his management of the team leading up to and at Pratoni:

“Bobby was a very instrumental part of the organization and I have been on a lot of Nations Cups teams, and it was a standout performance on his part, for sure. It was really comforting because we had a director and someone who guided us and kept us in line. We all had a performance, but we had a great team leader too and I think that is worth mentioning.”

Ariel Grald shares her reaction to getting the call to represent the U.S. at Pratoni:

“It was really special because Bobby was the one who called me and I have ridden with Bobby for years. Growing up, I always wanted to be on a team and compete at five-star so it was just sort of surreal for that call to come and it to actually be happening. It took a little while to settle in. There was a bit of relief and excitement to know that all of the hard work that my team and I and everyone behind me has put in paid off. I remember talking to Bobby and being really excited and calling Annie who owned the horse and then after that I took a deep breath and realized, alright - this is when the hard work really begins. You put in the results and get selected, but then real life sets in that you actually have to focus on how you can get better and continue to perform at that level. The biggest takeaway from that experience has just made me hungrier and more motivated to make it on future teams and to be working hard all winter while looking ahead to the future. It was an incredible experience, but more motivating than anything else.”

Lauren Nicholson reflects on how the team’s performance steers the team as they look forward to the Paris Olympics in 2024:

“For me, it is not even so much the pressure, it is now we want to improve. You look back at what little things you can do better and how you can change that medal to a gold medal. I think all of us didn’t walk away from this thinking that we made it, I think we all walked away pretty hungry for the next thing and the little improvements that we can make to be at the top of the podium. Pressure, but the good kind. It is really validated that we are on the right track with what we are doing with the program and now it is just to keep that forward momentum.”

Bobby Costello talks about one of the most stressful aspects of his role while at Pratoni:

“You can really mess up with someone’s warm-up at these big shows. When people come to Kentucky, there are five oxers set and every rider has their own jump, but in Europe, they still haven’t figured that out, it’s like everyone is sharing just one oxer. So it makes the warm-up incredibly stressful because there is no guarantee that you will be able to have the warm-up that you want as far as the progression of your warmup. That for me was the most stressful part of the weekend was just standing back and making sure that everyone was at least getting 90% of the warmup that they wanted.”

Will Coleman commented on preparation tactics leading up to such a big event:

“I tried to treat my preparation as if it wasn’t any different [from his typical event preparation]. It was unusual in that all of us were going to a venue that we have never been to before, not even for a test ride. So we had very little familiarity with it, but we tried to learn as much as we could about it by watching videos of previous championships at Pratoni. We tried to familiarize ourselves with the course designers. We learned what we could, but mostly we stuck to what we have done to go as prepared as we could. Like Bobby said, you don’t go there trying to do something extraordinary- you do what you know you can do and usually that is good enough for what your result is probably going to be. I just kept saying to myself and our team at home, ‘this is just like any other horse show and we are going to do what we would normally do.’ And I think that philosophy worked for me.”

About the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

The USEA Annual Meeting & Convention takes place each December and brings together a large group of dedicated USEA members and supporters to discuss, learn, and enjoy being surrounded by other eventing enthusiasts. The USEA organizes multiple seminars in addition to committee meetings, open forums, and tons of fun! The 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention took place at the Hyatt Regency Savannah Hotel in Savannah, Georgia, December 7-11, 2022. Click here to learn more about the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.

The 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention would not be possible without our wonderful sponsors! The USEA would like to thank the following sponsors for their support: Adequan, Bates Saddles, Capital Square, D. G. Stackhouse and Ellis, Gallops Saddlery, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Kerrits, Mountain Horse, Nunn Finer, Nutrena, Parker Equine Insurance, Rebecca Farm, RevitaVet, SmartPak, Standlee and World Equestrian Brands.

Save the date for next year’s Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, December 6-10, 2023.

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