Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

They’re Golden!

September 26, 2010

Reining’s Team USA wins first gold medal of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

From left are teams Belgium, USA and Italy, with the chefs d'equip in front.

The powerhouse team from the United States took the gold medal at the FEI World Reining Championship presented by John Deere, making it a three-peat, with team wins in every World Equestrian Games in which reining has been included.

Belgium won the team silver medal, while Italy earned the bronze. The order of finish for the remaining top-10 teams is: Austria, Canada, Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Mexico.

U.S. Reining Chef d’Equipe Jeff Petska noted how tough the competition was at this year’s games, but he says the United States “brought a bunch of heavyweights to a heavyweight fight.”

Veteran rider Tim McQuay – who also won the individual silver medal in reining at the 2006 World Equestrian Games – says, “The difference in quality of the overall exhibitors at this event has grown so much. It’s just unbelievable how much better they’ve gotten.”

But Team USA, as Jeff says, brought its best. In order of their runs, Tim and Hollywoodstinseltown scored a 220.5; Craig Schmersal and Mister Montana Nic marked a 223.5; Tom McCutcheon and Gunners Special Nite scored a 224; and Shawn Flarida and RC Fancy Step marked a team-competition high score of 227.

Shawn’s performance came after the United States had effectively sewn up the gold medal, so his score wasn’t even necessary for the win. But it’s not like Shawn, who claimed the 2002 WEG individual gold medal and has earned more than $3 million in National Reining Horse Association competition, was planning to back down.

“I’m not good when I go in there and cruise around,” he says. “I need to go in there and do my job.”

For Belgium, which has a small but developing reining community, the 2010 games brought the country’s first-ever team reining medal.

“We were dreaming for third place, but getting silver is like a dream come true,” says Belgium Chef d’Equipe Susy Baeck, whose sister, Cira Baeck, is a team member. “Tomorrow morning when we wake up, we will realize, and we will have a headache for sure.”

For the Italians, however, international success is nothing new. They have claimed reining bronze medals in each of the previous World Equestrian Games. In 2008, they bested the U.S. team by winning the FEI World Reining Championships.

But referring to his team’s WEG placings, Italian Chef d’Equipe Mario Sbrana says, “We’re tired of being third for the third time. It’s time to move up!”

Belgium team members are Cira, Jan Boogaerts and Bernard Fonck and his wife, Ann Poels. Team Italy is Nicola Brunelli, Dario Carmignani, Stefano Massignan and Marco Ricotta.

Countries competing in reining at the World Equestrian Games are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, France, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, South America, Spain, Sweden and the United States.

A “second-chance” qualifying competition for the individual finals is scheduled for Tuesday, in which the top five competitors advance to the finals, which will be held on Thursday and will also include the top-15 scoring horses and riders from the team competition.

Check America’s Horse Daily tomorrow for a fun story that details how members of the media and the general public at WEG can experience the thrill of riding a reining horse. And don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @AQHA and @americashorse.

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