Aug 04, 2019

The Pan American Games from the Spectator's Seat: Cross-Country Day

Lynn Symansky and RF Cool Play put in a double clear round for Team USA. Erin Gilmore Photo.

USEA Board of Governors member Morley Thompson is on the ground in Lima, Peru at the 2019 Pan American Games and will be sharing his thoughts from the spectator's seat!

Wow, what a day. It's obvious that there is a wide range of experience in the horses and riders here, but I did not expect as much carnage as we saw across all levels of riders. Out of 42 starts, only 25 finished and five of those ended up with a two-day total over 100. We knew the course was big and challenging, but it was the turns and skinnies/corners that caused most of the problems that I saw. Look at this map and you'll get a sense of the layout.

I really felt the busy layout and the twisty, short approaches caused some horses to get overwhelmed and backed off. It seemed that if something at an obstacle rocked a horse/rider team's confidence it was very hard for them to get back on track.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg, one of two double clear rounds for Team USA. Erin Gilmore Photo.

Boyd and Lynn were the only double clears of the day and Doug sailed around boldly with just a few seconds of time faults. They truly showed the spectators what great riders on great horses look like. I did not see Tamie's trouble - when I saw her she looked great. One of her problems was at the corners option which caused trouble for many. Both options had tricky approaches to very narrow corners with decorative pots both on the approaches and on the jumps making it even more difficult. Apparently the pots were actual clay not something safer like plastic. Canadian rider Dana Cooke's Mississippi got some minor cuts from a too-close encounter with the pots and was withdrawn this morning before the final horse inspection.

On my side of the ropes the volunteers were again wonderful. They were everywhere and smiling and gracious and even willing to help bozos like me who don't speak any Spanish. The thing really missing for spectators was any form of PA system. Only in the dressage arena, with its two jumps and a few nearby, were there any announcements and there was no form of video coverage. Most people were not even aware of the online scoring (I was, thanks to useventing.com).

The spectators were a mix of people who had some team or rider affiliation and many others who really didn't know that much about what they were seeing. I chatted with many (at least the ones who spoke some English) and they were excited to learn more about what they were seeing. To some families it was just a picnic day on the grass away from the bustle of the city.

Our USA team really did a great job and is in a very strong position going into show jumping. Best wishes to all!

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