Oct 20, 2018

The Race to Le Lion: Time for the True Test – Cross-Country Day!

Quantum Leap and Doug Payne move up 28 spots with a double clear cross-country. Libby Law Photo.

Doug Payne and Quantum Leap, the 2018 recipients of the Holekamp/Turner Young Event Horse Le Lion d'Angers Prize and Grant, is in France to compete in 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. Click here to meet Quantum Leap and learn more about the selection process. Click here to read all of Elizabeth’s blogs.

Well, what can I say about the crowds . . . I think unbelievable might be the answer. I have never seen so many people on a cross-country course in the U.S. . . ever – I’m not sure even at the event formerly known as Rolex. I think the estimates for other years were at 60,000, and I believe it. And it seemed to be a much different crowd than we normally see in the U.S. It was people of all ages – riding bikes, walking ALL over the course from one end to the other. Lots and lots of baby strollers, small children, families who had picnic lunches all over the course. No tailgating – these people walked. On foot. No shuttles and no complaints. There were large parking areas that were several miles away that had large shuttle buses, but once you got to the event you walked.

There were strategically placed food trucks around the course (with wine, of course) serving pate, baguettes American (nope, not going there again), and hamburgers with goat cheese as well as french fries. Lots of loudspeakers so you could hear well. Unfortunately, although there were two announcers the major speaker was French (well, duh), but my limited French knowledge was certainly an impediment. It would have helped if the numbers were only 1-10. The whole 200 and whatever was confusing, so a lot of times I wasn’t sure who was going. In an effort to go green this year, there were no paper programs – everything was online so you had to stop and consult your phone to see what rider you had. International roaming gets pricey (and more on that later!).

Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Moonshine put in a double clear round to hold the lead in the 6-year-old class. Libby Law Photo.

Doug didn’t go until later afternoon, so we got there early to watch the 6-year-olds. The course rode well for them and basically most of the standings were unchanged – time was easy to make, so unless the show jumping is way, way tough, I expect the placings will be pretty similar. The youngsters handled most things well. I saw a few issues with them propping at the first landing in the first water and some scary hanging knees on the lion on the mound. The lion ended up with enough leg grease on him to enter a greased pig contest. He caused at least two rider falls, even with the extra grease.

We watched the 6-year-olds do the big drop off the roof with really no issues – that didn’t carry over to the 7-year-olds though, as that and the corner after it were the most influential fences on course. As a matter of fact, the 7-year-old course had 10 riders get eliminated or retire, another seven have refusals, eight with time only and one frangible pin. It truly was not a dressage contest!

Most of the issues were with the first water, then the drop to an angled brush with a separately numbered angled fence that caused a bunch of glance offs, and the following corner – upright and narrow that caught out a number of horses, as well as causing several falls. If you blasted into the drop with poor control or fighting to get back, you were done for.

Quantum looked great and Doug felt that he was up to the course. Aside from breaking his lead shank and getting loose right before cross-country (!!), we were ready (and I say that as if I had anything to do with the whole thing, which I did not!)

We decided that we would stay at the drop fence, and since there was live streaming we could watch Doug’s round and see that bogey fence in person. So, as he started out, I excitedly tuned in to live stream, just to have my wireless carrier tell me that all the GPS I have been using has eaten up all my bytes, and my video would now run at half speed. That means it doesn’t run. So, as I cursed Verizon in audible tones, I thought I would miss the whole thing. Well, no to worry, because I did anyway, as Doug rode in between a French rider and a British one. That meant they showed nothing of his round (but did show the French rider refusing twice – once in regular speed and once in slow motion). I’m still mad at Verizon though. And the other thing is that no one except Americans cheer after a good fence. They clap politely. So my screaming “Woo hoo!!”and jumping up and down was met with some odd looks.

Quantum was nothing short of spectacular. He handled the crowds, the questions, and the tight quarters like a pro. And because of the Thoroughbred in him , there was gas left in the tank and he went into the last run up to the finish on fire. He moved up 28 places by virtue of his double clear.

Someone asked me today if I would change my breeding program based on what I have seen in the last couple of days. I thought long and hard about it and decided no. There are horses that did well today that I think will struggle with longer courses. There were some good gallopers that weren’t good jumpers. I saw some really, really nice youngsters today. But mine was one of them. I think I’ll stick with what I’m doing and I know we have more of these horses in the U.S. We just have to develop them – they are out there!!

On to the final horse inspection and show jumping tomorrow.

Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp moved up to 12th place with Cooley Quicksilver in the 7-year-old class. Libby Law Photo.

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

Current U.S. Standings:


12th – Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver (31.1)

31st – Doug Payne and Quantum Leap (36.5)


1st – Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Moonshine (22.4)

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

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.

Feb 28, 2021 Profile

Now on Course: Heartbeats and Hoofbeats

My name is Tayah Fuller and I’m 14 years old. “On course” to me is a phrase that makes my heart pump fast and my excitement go wild. There is no better feeling than galloping through a field or flying over cross-country jumps with my heart thrumming along, especially when it is with my best friend. You see, I was born with a congenital heart murmur. While it has never really affected my athletic abilities, the one time that I notice it is when I am riding through a cross-country course with my horse.

Feb 27, 2021 Association News

Beware of Phishing Attempts and Other Types of Fraud

Please always remain vigilant when it comes to sending any personal communications via email or text. Every year we receive reports of members and leaders of our sport receiving phishing attempts both online and by phone. These are often communications disguised as being sent from USEA staff or other leaders. As the years go on, the phishing attempts appear to be more directed and tailored.

Feb 27, 2021 Education

Top 10 Tips for Leather Care with Bates Saddles

Tack cleaning is one of those barn chores that might not be our favorite but is certainly necessary for keeping our equipment in top shape. Aside from caring for your tack so it lasts for years to come, regular tack maintenance is important for safety. The last thing you want is the potential for a stitch, zipper, or buckle breaking while you're out on course.

Feb 26, 2021 Rules

Update on Appendix 3 Rule Change Proposal

Following feedback from our membership to the rule change proposal for the USEF Rules For Eventing: Appendix 3 – Participation In Horse Trials, the United States Eventing Association (USEA) Board of Governors voted to modify the rule change proposal, but still to recommend the establishment of rider licenses and increase Minimum Eligibility Requirements (MERs) to the regulating authority of the sport US Equestrian (USEF).

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