Oct 19, 2018

The Race to Le Lion: Dressage Day!

Doug Payne and Quantum Leap, the 2018 recipients of the Holekamp/Turner Young Event Horse Le Lion d'Angers Prize and Grant, are in France at the FEI Eventing World Breeding Championships for Young Horses at Le Mondial du Lion d'Angers. Elizabeth Callahan of Cool Na Grena Sporthorses, Quantum Leap's breeder, is in attendance at the Championships and is blogging for the USEA about her experience.

Day 4 (I think...) It is hard to keep track of time when you aren’t in the “real world,” but we did dressage today, so it must be Friday. Courtney Carson had Quantum looking like the star he is, with a set of braids the hunter people would have been killed to have. Quantum didn’t have quite the test we had hoped for, but he is for sure going to be a force to be reckoned with in the future. The atmosphere was quite electric and he felt it (and being half Thoroughbred, when he feels it, you know it. No internalizing for this guy!).

Nowhere in the U.S. do you have the crowds so close to the ring, all the tents literally on three sides of the ring and the crowd moving and climbing right next to the ring. He was tense, and his lateral work and canter work showed that. There were no major mistakes, but the connection was not always there and he was penalized for it, rightly so. I thought Doug did a masterful job keeping the lid on, and there were some very good movements. His trot work in particular had such an improvement in the cadence and lift compared to a couple months ago. When he gets strong enough to carry that, he will be fabulous. What a learning experience for him – it’s going to make the event formerly known as Rolex a walk in the park when he is there in two years!

Courtney Carson had Quantum looking perfect. Libby Law Photo.

I watched the 6-years-old this morning, and there were still large variations in the scoring, with scores 9-10% points difference between the judges. As I’ve said before, a lot of very heavy types, with a lot of straight dressage breeding. I just can’t see some of these horses going cross-country at upper levels. First not with their breeding, and second not with their type. In the past, the 6-year-olds have had more of a dressage contest here, so I don’t expect the standings to change much for them tomorrow.

The 7-year-olds are certainly more of a type that I can see galloping, as they are on a whole, more of the type I expect to see. I especially liked Birmane (ridden by France’s Thomas Carlile) – just the type I expect to see going well cross-country. I have heard that cross-country is more influential with the 7-year-olds, so hopefully that will be the case. There are a lot of scores packed in between 25 and 35!

The amazing cross-country elves have been hard at work overnight with finishing touches. The dragons at fence 1 laid an egg overnight, and some wooden horses were corralled next to the big drop. I have to admit I didn’t walk the whole course again, so tomorrow there might be even more surprises. The very influential corners at fence 21 have been softened with a black flag option that will takes some time due to the roping, but at least you have an option because they are both pretty narrow.

Doug with his son Hudson after the test. Libby Law Photo.

As far as dogs, apparently it isn’t all about Jack Russells. The French have a lot of dogs here (just like the U.S.). I saw a bunch of whippets and French bulldogs (breeds I don’t usually see at events in the US) and not a single lab. That’s weird.

The trade fair is a little quieter than ours. As usual, saddles and horse stuff, but fewer “crafty things. Socks seem to be the “in “ thing to have, judging by the number of booths. Oh, and of course, wine. Boy, is there wine. But no chocolate anywhere, which I find both sad and disturbing. As is the lack of pastries – I was expecting an epicurean delight of pastries, and no, not a single place selling them.

The wine comes both by the glass and by the case and there is a very strange baguette you can buy that is labeled “American” which contains ham, cheese, lettuce and sliced hard boiled eggs with butter. My husband says one try of it was enough – and he is usually an omnivore, so I’m guessing the taste was exactly what it sounds like. Apparently he hadn’t sampled enough wine.

So, after drinking more wine tonight, relying on GPS to get us home yet one more way – we haven’t taken the same way home yet, we are looking forward to a great day of cross-country tomorrow!

Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver. Libby Law Photo.

Current U.S. standings and cross-country times:


24th – Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver (31.1) – XC 3:19 p.m. (9:19 a.m. ET)

59th – Doug Payne and Quantum Leap (36.5) – XC 3:33 p.m. (9:33 a.m. ET)


1st – Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Moonshine (22.4) – XC 10:45 a.m. (4:45 a.m. ET)

34th – Tiana Coudray and Happenstance (35.6) – XC 11:15 a.m. (5:15 a.m. ET)

Follow along with live scores here or watch the competition streamed here or on FEI TV.

Tiana Coudray and Happenstance. Libby Law Photo.

Miss any of the USEA's Le Lion d'Angers coverage? Read all the stories here:

About the Holekamp/Turner Le Lion d'Angers Prize and Grant

The Holekamp/Turner Young Event Horse Lion d’Angers Prize and Grant awards the highest scorer of the USEA Young Event Horse 5-Year-Old East and West Coast Championships combined with a cash prize that will enable them to travel to the FEI World Breeding Eventing Championships at Le Lion d’Angers in France for the 7-year-old two-star Championships. Winners who are North American-bred will be awarded with $17,500 to travel to Le Lion d’Angers. If the winner is an imported horse he will be awarded $8,000. Click here for more information about the Grant, and click here to view the FEI qualification criteria for Le Lion d'Angers.

The USEA would like to thank Timothy Holekamp of New Spring Farm and his family and Christine Turner of Indian Creek Farm and her family for spearheading this grant and raising funds to support it.

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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Eventing Course Preview

It’s the most hotly anticipated few hours of the eventing year - the cross-country from Tokyo 2020. What will Derek di Grazia’s track have in store for the Olympic riders?

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