On the first day of equestrian competition at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, the Canadian Dressage Team won its third consecutive silver medal in the team competition.  By winning the silver medal, the Canadian Dressage Team also earned a berth for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The first Canadian team member to enter the main arena at the Guadalajara Country Club was Roberta Byng-Morris, 48, of Godmanchester, QC.  Byng-Morris performed a harmonious test on her 12-year-old gelding Reiki Tyme (by Royal Diamond).  A score of 65.158% placed Bing-Morris 25th individually out of 47 entries representing 14 nations.
Crystal Kroetch, 54, of Calgary, AB, was the second Canadian rider to compete on her 10-year-old Hannoverian gelding, Lymrix (by Loerke).  Making her Canadian Team debut, Kroetch executed the test almost flawlessly, with highlights in the trot tour and canter pirouettes.  Kroetch’s resulting score of 68.790% earned her 11th place individually.
“Lymrix was fairly electric today, but he stayed with me the whole way,” said Kroetch after her ride, which would prove to be a building block toward Canada’s team silver medal.
Next in for Canada was 30-year-old Tina Irwin of Stouffville, ON, riding Winston, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (by Whinny Jackson) owned by Mary Ellen Horgan.  Irwin’s test was full of power and expression, though Winston had an uncharacteristic spook during the trot work that took Irwin by surprise.
“It came out of left field but luckily he got right back to work,” Irwin said.  “He has proven that he is really consistent.  Even with a mistake, he can manage 70%.”
Irwin received a score of 70.737% from the panel of five international judges to place seventh individually.
Last to compete was Canadian Team anchor Tom Dvorak, 46, of Hillsburgh, ON, riding the Hannoverian stallion Viva’s Salieri.  Owned and bred in Canada by Augustin and Christine Walch of Stratford, ON, Viva’s Salieri is sired by Viva Voltaire.  Dvorak, the only member of the 2011 Canadian Dressage Team who has previously competed at a Pan American Games, displayed the confidence of team experience in his performance.  Viva’s Salieri moved fluidly from one movement to the next, showing both correctness and brilliance.
“First of all, I want to say that I love my horse and I love his owners,” said Dvorak with emotion following the team medal ceremony.  “They have been so supportive.  My horse gave me his best today.”
Although there were several strong horses still to compete for the teams from Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, Dvorak’s score of 71.711% clinched the team silver medal for Canada.  Placing fifth individually, Dvorak led his team to the podium for the second consecutive Pan American Games.
A powerhouse team from the USA won its fourth consecutive Pan American Games gold medal, with Olympic and World Equestrian Games medalist Steffen Peters leading the way.  Riding Weltino’s Magic, Peters set a new Pan American Games record with a score of 80.132%.  The USA also dominated the individual leader board with Americans occupying three out of the top four placings.  However, the slate is wiped clean for the individual competition, in which only the Intermediaire I and Intermediaire Freestyle will count toward the individual medals.
Team bronze and 2012 Olympic team qualification went to Colombia.  The host team from Mexico finished fourth.
All four members of the Canadian Dressage Team are among the top 25 horse-rider combinations that will advance to the first round of Individual competition, the Intermediaire I test, on Monday, October 17.  Following a one day break, the top 15 pairs from the Intermediaire I will return to a sold-out stadium for the popular Intermediaire Freestyle to Music on Wednesday, October 19.
The Canadian Dressage Team is assisted at the Pan American Games by Team Technical Leader Markus Gribbe of Germany, Chef d’Equipe Gina Smith of Brockville, ON and Team Veterinarian Dr. Alan Manning.  The Canadian Equestrian Team is supported at the Pan American Games by Team Leader Kerri McGregor of Newmarket, ON, and Assistant Team Leader Tina Collins of Loretto, ON.  The Canadian Dressage team is grateful to their many supporters for their success in Mexico.
2011 Pan American Games Team Dressage Results – October 16, 2011
Gold: USA – average score 75.754%
Steffen Peters/Weltino’s Magic – 80.132%
Heather Blitz/Paragon – 75.105%
Marisa Featherling/Big Tyme – 72.026%
Cesar Parra/Grandioso – 69.526% (drop score)

Silver: Canada – average score 70.413%
Tom Dvorak/Viva’s Salieri – 71.711%
Tina Irwin/Winston – 70.737%
Crystal Kroetch/Lymrix – 68.790%
Roberta Byng-Morris/Reiki Tyme – 65.184% (drop score)
Bronze: Colombia – average score 69.614%
Constanza Jaramillo/Wakana – 72.158%
Marco Bernal/Farewell – 70.237%
Maria Ines Garcia/Beckam – 66.447%
Juan Mauricio Sanchez/First Fisherman – 65.500% (drop score)
The competition schedule for Dressage at the 2011 Pan American Games is as follows:
October 17 – Intermediaire I – Individual Dressage
October 19 – Intermediaire I Freestyle – Individual Dressage Final
For more information on the 2011 Pan American Games, held every four years, please visit http://www.guadalajara2011.org.mx/.