Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Team USA!

September 25, 2010

Team USA leads after Day 1 of the team reining competition at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

By Holly Clanahan of America’s Horse

U.S. rider Craig Schmersal and Mister Montana Nic lay down a 223.5 -- currently the second-highest score.

With roughly half of the rides completed in the team reining competition of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Team USA is on top.

Here is the team ranking so far:

  • Team USA – 444
  • Team Austria – 432.5
  • Team Brazil – 425
  • Team Belgium – 424.5
  • Team Netherlands – 422
  • Team Mexico – 420.5
  • Team Australia – 420
  • Team Great Britain – 404.5
  • Team Italy – 224
  • Team Germany – 220.5

Scoring highest individually was Italian Stefano Massignan, with a chart-topping 224 aboard Yellow Jersey, winner of the 2009 Italian Reining Horse Association Level 4 Open Derby. Yellow Jersey is a 6-year-old American Quarter Horse stallion by Wimpys Little Step and owned by Arcese Quarter Horses USA.

“He’s an easy horse, but he has a big heart, a big mind,” Stefano says of his mount. “He’s phenomenal. You can make that go-round if you ride a special horse (and) he’s special – for the rest of my life.”

The team reining competition continues Sunday, September 26, with the remaining 35 riders.

Team USA rider Craig Schmersal is currently the second-highest scoring rider, with a 223.5 aboard his “old faithful” horse, Mister Montana Nic, a 12-year-old American Quarter Horse stallion who was the 2005 FEI World Reining Master silver medalist.

“That feels great (to turn in a solid performance for the team),” Schmersal says. “I don’t usually get nervous, but I get more nervous for this event than any other event we go to all year, because it means a lot to me to be a strong part of our team, and I don’t want to let those guys down. I’ve looked up to those guys all my life, and I don’t want to be having to apologize to anybody.”

Tim McQuay of the United States and Grischa Ludwig of Germany both scored 220.5.

Grischa, who was the last rider of the day Saturday, admitted to having some nerves as he entered the World Equestrian Games arena, but midway through his run, he was actually smiling.

“When I saw the second stop there, I knew, exactly, we were going to have a good run. And then I was trying to get the German corner (of fans) a little bit loud,” he says.

The adrenaline even got to Tim, a veteran rider who earned a team gold and individual silver at the 2006 WEG in Aachen, Germany.

“When I quit getting nervous, I won’t do it anymore,” he says.

Another highlight of Saturday’s reining competition was the performance of dressage star Anky van Grunsven of the Netherlands. She scored a 211, her personal best.

“I know it can be much better than this, but for me, I am very happy that I was here and that I did the equestrian games in reining. It’s a new challenge. … I love it.”

She rode Whizashiningwalla BB, an American Quarter Horse bred in Belgium. As most of the horses in the reining competition are Quarter Horses, the American Quarter Horse Association is the official breed sponsor of reining at the games.

Countries competing with full reining teams include: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Mexico, The Netherlands, Sweden and the United States. Eleven of those countries will field four riders, allowing them one drop score while the remaining three teams will have three competitors. Countries competing as individuals include: Colombia, Dominican Republic, Spain, Ireland, Israel, Poland, South Africa and Uruguay.

Other fun tidbits from Saturday’s competition:

  • Bogdan Czarnik of Poland is his country’s sole reiner. In an interview after his run, he talked about his past career as the elephant caretaker at the Krakow zoo. He is now a professional horse trainer. He marked a 200.5 aboard Colonel Pepenator.
  • Janna McCabe of Denmark rode Starbucks Starlight, who was Dell Hendricks’ team gold-medal mount at the 2006 WEG in Aachen. She says, “I’m really honored to ride (Starbucks Starlight). … He’s a really good horse, as soon as you get to know him a little bit. I thought he was really honest in there, for me not really knowing him.”

Check out amazing competition photos. Click on the pics to read the cutlines. Don’t forget to check back here for regular updates, and our Facebook page for some fun on-the-scene observations. We’re also on Twitter @AQHA and @Americashorse

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