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:

7-year-olds

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

31st – Doug Payne and Quantum Leap (36.5)

6-year-olds

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.

Nov 21, 2019 Education

USCTA Throwback: Preparing for the Cross-Country

Start teaching your horse to jump by working over cavallettis first at the walk and then by trotting over them slowly. Then school him over a variety of small fences at the trot. Schooling over low fences will build the horse's confidence. Then do the same thing at a slow canter. Remember, never force your horse over high fences as he will lose his confidence.

Nov 21, 2019 Competitions

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The St. Johns Horse Trials takes place at the St. Johns Equestrian Center in Saint Johns, Arizona (Area X) in April of each year, offering Pre-Comp through Preliminary/Training levels in addition to a derby class meant as an introduction to the sport for new horses and riders.

Nov 20, 2019 Competitions

Through the Lens: 2019 Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event

This year the Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event forgot that it was set in sunny Florida - the 2019 event had a cold and drizzly backdrop for the 153 horses and riders who competed across four days.

Nov 19, 2019 Eventing News

Multiple Olympian Klimke Takes FEI Best Athlete Award in Moscow

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