Strong Performances by US and Canadian Teams on Day 1 of Pan Am Games Dressage Competition

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Sarah Lockman on First Apple helped put Team USA in the lead after their individual first-place finish on day 1 of the 2019 Pan American Games dressage team competition (Allen MacMillan/MacMillan Photography)

US leads team-medal standings with top-5 finishes and an individual personal best for Sarah Lockman on First Apple

By Kim MacMillan

It all came down to a difference of 0.146 point on the first of two days of dressage team competition at the 2019 Lima Pan American Games. When the last score was tabulated late yesterday, July 28, at the Equestrian Club La Militar La Molina, Team USA held a slight advantage (219.970) over Team Canada (219.824).

The Canadians are working hard here to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The Brazilian team, which also has yet to qualify for a spot in Tokyo, is standing in third at the moment (204.473,) less than two points ahead of Mexico (202.246). Colombia is currently in fifth (198.117), followed by the host nation of Peru (188.677).

Back-to-back eliminations of horse-and-rider pairs from Argentina and Chile (Luis Maria Zone on Faberge d’Atela and Christer Egerstrom on Bello Oriente, respectively) resulted in the elimination of both of those nations from the Pan Am Games team competition, because each country had fielded a team of only three combinations—meaning that a drop score was not an option and all three had to finish. The exact reason for the eliminations was not available at press time, but both horses were “rung out” by the ground jury during their tests. Uruguay’s Jose Ramon Becca Borggeo and Zaire, competing as individuals, also were eliminated while in the ring.

In total, 30 Prix St. Georges combinations and eight Grand Prix combinations cantered down center line yesterday, with eight nations fielding teams and an additional 11 riders competing as individuals. The test also served as the first qualifier for the individual medal final, the freestyle competition. Scores from the two days of team competition—which continues today—will determine the top 15 pairs who will move on to the freestyle on Wednesday, July 31.

Taking the early lead was the only US dressage competitor from the West Coast, Sarah Lockman, Wildomar, California, on Gerry Ibanez’s nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion, First Apple (Vivaldi x TCN Partout). The first-time Team USA representatives earned a score of 76.088% from the five-judge panel: Janet Foy (USA), president; Mary Seefried (AUS); Thomas Kessler (GER); Brenda Minor (CAN); and Eddy de Wolff van Wester (NED).

It was a personal-best score for Lockman and “Apple” to date. The rider was emotional as she talked about realizing long-term goals and hugged Ibanez, her coaches, and her family after being interviewed by the press.

“He came out feeling super and was 100 percent with me,” Lockman said of her mount. “He goes around that ring and is like, ‘I am here,’ and that’s what I felt the whole time. He was answering every question I asked him perfectly. There are little things that I think we can still improve on, and it can be better tomorrow, but I’m more than happy with that, obviously. The final center line was my favorite part, and then it all just hit me. I’m just so happy.”

Jennifer Baumert and Handsome enter the Pan Am Games arena for their Prix St. Georges test
Allen MacMillan/MacMillan Photography

Lockman’s teammates also had top-five finishes. Jennifer Baumert on the 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding Handsome (Hochadel x Weltmeyer, owned by Betsy Juliano LLC) was fourth with 72.441%. In fifth was Nora Batchelder on the 11-year-old US-bred Hanoverian gelding Faro SQF (Fidertanz 2 x Rotspon, bred by Jill Peterson and owned by Batchelder and her cousin Andrea Whitcomb), on 71.441%.

“I was really happy how Handsome handled the environment,” Baumert said. “He really lit up when we got in there and got all ‘big.’ I knew it was going to be nice. For the most part, I was super happy with the performance. Toward the end he got a little too much go, but I can’t complain. It’s a good thing to have. Trot extensions aren’t his best thing, so it was really nice to feel his front end come up and float a little bit. I was really happy with that and overall the consistency. He goes in there and does it every time.”

Of “Faro,” Batchelder said: “I thought he went in and took it all in and was pretty brave about it. We had the one uncharacteristic mistake [in a canter depart at A when Faro was momentarily distracted by something outside the ring] that is unfortunate because he’s usually a pretty clean-test kind of guy. He tried really hard, and I thought overall his canter work was really strong and the trot was accurate. I was proud of him.”

The USA’s Nora Batchelder and Faro SQF during their Prix St. Georges test
Allen MacMillan/MacMillan Photography

All three scores will count toward the team total. The US has no drop score because Endel Ots on Lucky Strike withdrew after the horse suffered an injury while in transit prior to leaving for Peru.

These Games are the first major continental championship for Debbie McDonald in her new role as US national dressage technical advisor and chef d’équipe (she previously held the role of dressage developing coach).

“We have tomorrow too, so I think we have to wait and see, but I could not be happier with the riders and their horses today,” McDonald said after the first leg of competition. “It makes me emotional. I can’t help it. It shows the passion they have for their horses and how hard they’ve worked to get here. It just means everything. I’ve been there and I know,” said McDonald, who has her own set of Olympic and Pan Am Games medals.

Canada in the Medal Hunt

The veteran international competitor Ashley Holzer is coaching the very strong Canadian team in Lima, with two Small Tour and two Large Tour pairs.

After day 1, Prix St. Georges competitors Tina Irwin on Laurencio stood in second place with a score of 73.735%. Lindsay Kellock on Floratina (also PSG) was third with 73.176%. Of the two Grand Prix-level Canadian competitors, Naïma Moreira-Laliberté on Statesman was sixth on 71.413%, and Jill Irving on Degas 12 finished twelfth on 68.391%.

The Final Team-Medal Battle

Day 2 of the Pan Am Games dressage competition will start at 8:30 a.m. Monday, July 29, and run until approximately 3:50 p.m. Central Time. Last to ride for the US will be Lockman on First Apple. For start lists and more results, visit https://online.equipe.com/en/class_sections/435483 or https://www.lima2019.pe/en/results.

Tidbits from Lima

  • US dressage competitor Sarah Lockman’s mother, Francie Lockman, designed and crafted red, white, and blue rhinestone stock pins for Sarah and her female teammates Nora Batchelder and Jennifer Baumert; and a matching lapel pin for male teammate Endel Ots.
  • Baumert sported mismatched earrings during Sunday’s competition—on purpose. She explained that she had done the same thing by accident for the arena-familiarization ride. U.S. chef d’equipe Debbie McDonald told Baumert that, if she had a good schooling ride, she would have to continue the tradition. So Baumert will wear two different earrings again in today’s team final.
  • July 28 was not only the start of Pan Am Games dressage competition; it also marked the anniversary of Peru’s independence from Spain, which happened in 1821. The celebration of Fiestas Patrias includes Peru’s national beverage, the Pisco Sour, a grape brandy. All Peruvian buildings are required to display the red-and-white national flag on this holiday—so everywhere we went we saw Peruvian flags and festive red-and-white ribbons.

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