Eventing has started at the Escuela de Equitación Regimiento Granaderos equestrian venue in Quillota, Chile. There are 34 individual entries from eight countries competing for the Championship including: USA, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, and Canada. There are two qualifying spots for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games on offer this week; the Americans have already booked their place, so the remaining seven countries are in contention for those two coveted slots.
First up for Canada was Mike Winter and his own KWPN gelding, El Mundo. These are Winter’s third Pan Am Games, having attended 2003 in 2007. Winter has made his home in Gloucester, England, with his wife, Emma, where they run a sales barn as well as offer a pay-to-play equestrian facility with cross-country, jumping and dressage arenas that can be booked online.
“It was fine,” said Winter of his test result. “There is better work in him, and I probably didn’t execute as sharply as I wanted to.” The pair scored 32.3 and finished 6th.
Winter is one of the rider representatives on Eventing’s new High Performance Committee.
“None of this would be possible without the [Eventing] High Performance facilitated by Equestrian Canada,” he enthused about the more scientific approach being taken to team selection and athlete trajectory by the newly-formed High Performance group. “We have put a really new and exciting program together. The support I feel here is unprecedented.”
Next up for Canada was Colleen Loach and FE Golden Eye, a Hanoverian gelding she co-owns with Peter Barry and Amanda Bernhard. The pair earned a 28.6 and finished 4th, the highest-placed Canadians after the Dressage phase.
“I’m pretty happy with it,” said Loach, who was pleased with how Goldie stayed with her during the test. “He wasn’t bothered by any of the atmosphere. He really stayed focused on me and the ring. He’s just a pleasure to ride.“
Loach is looking forward to cross-country tomorrow. “It looks really good. It’s not huge efforts, but there’s lots to do out there and some technical questions. You always have to wonder how they are going to react with the different-looking jumps compared to North America, but it looks great and we just have to be ready for whatever comes.”
Third in the ring and making her Canadian team debut was Lindsay Traisnel and Bacyrouge, a Selle Francais gelding owned by her mother, Patricia Pearce.
“I felt awesome,” said a happy Traisnel after her test which scored 32.6, placing her in 7th. “He felt really great and went just as I expected. He’s such a good boy, very dependable.”
Traisnel runs Windsor Equestrian Centre in Windsor, Ontario with her husband, Xavier.
“We have an awesome team and our clients at home are just so supportive,” she said of the support team that has helped her get here. “We just feel very lucky.”
The final Canadian was Karl Slezak and Hot Bobo, an Irish Sport Horse mare he co-owns with his wife, Katlyn Hewson-Slezak.
“I was a little disappointed with the score,” said Slezak after his ride that scored 32.7 to earn him 8th place, “but I’m pleased with the test. I couldn’t be happier with her. She felt amazing; she warmed up great.”
The pair lost marks in the two flying changes movements, receiving 4s and 5s from the judges.
“The second change is our weak one, but she anticipated the first change a little as well,” he explained of the result. “Unfortunate about the change, but that’s kind of where we are at at the moment, so we’ll definitely keep working on it at home and it will be better for next year.”
Slezak is looking forward the cross-country phase tomorrow, noting that is her strong suit.
“She’ll be full of running when we leave the box and I expect that she’ll tackle everything with confidence.”
After dressage, Team USA is in the lead with 79.8, followed by Team Canada with 93.5 and Brazil in third with 99.9. The US riders hold all top three individual spots with Liz Halliday and Miks Master C in the lead with 24.8, Caroline Pamukcu and HSH Blake with 26.8, and Sharon White and Claus 63 with 28.2.
Cross-country starts at 11 am local time tomorrow.