All posts in “Show Jumping”

Plenty of surprises on the opening day

Plenty of surprises on the opening day

by Louise Parkes

Longines FEI Nations Cup™ final Barcelona 2018 Julia Houtzager-Kayser AUT riding Sterrehof’s Cayetano Z
Photo FEI/ Lukasz Kowalski

“We won already!” said Austrian Chef d’Equipe Marcus Wallishauser after his team shared top spot with Italy at the end of the first round of competition at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2018 at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain tonight. But there’s still a long way to go before the new champions are crowned on Sunday afternoon when the top eight teams from tonight’s class return to the arena for the second and deciding round.

The Austrians and Italians collected just a single time fault each, and with just four faults apiece Sweden, Belgium and The Netherlands have also made the cut along with the Irish who picked up five faults. But it came down to the combined times of team riders to separate the Swiss, French, Germans and Americans when they all completed with eight faults on the board.

And when the calculations were done it was the Swiss and French who were signed up for Sunday afternoon, while the Germans and Americans will join Canada, Great Britain, Brazil, the UAE and host nation of Spain in tomorrow night’s Challenge Cup for those that didn’t make it.

Wallishauser’s team booked their tickets to Barcelona when winning the Europe Division 2 qualifier in Budapest (HUN), but they were not hot favourites coming into tonight’s competition even though that victory in August was a convincing one when they trounced the opposition with a zero score.

“For us to be in the final is already perfect – now we just need to focus like we did today and let’s see what we can do!” said the Austrian team manager who is hoping that Roland Englebrecht (Chambery), Julia Houtzager-Kayser (Sterrehof’s Cayetano Z), Felix Koller (Captain future 3) and Max Kuhner (PSG Final) can continue this run of great form.

But as Italian anchorman, Lorenzo de Luca, pointed out tonight, the next challenge from Spanish course designer Santiago Varela is going to be considerably more testing.

“There’s still a big day ahead – Sunday is going to be huge!”

Lorenzo de Luca (Team Italy)

He picked up four faults with Ensor de Litrange but was under absolutely no pressure when last to go because team-mates Luca Marziani (Tokyo du Soleil) and Riccardo Pisani (Chaclot) had both jumped clear while Bruno Chimirri (Tower Mouche) clocked up just a single time fault. So that was all they would have to put on the board when the best three scores were taken into account.

“It was a very good night for Italy, my team all jumped great so I didn’t have to jump but I decided to bring my horse in to let him see the fences. We are going to celebrate tonight but we will still be focused for Sunday, I promise you!” de Luca added.

In stark contrast to the Italian rider, Irish anchorman Darragh Kenny had no room for error when he came into the ring. With five faults already on the board, another four would leave his team well outside the qualifying zone, but he kept a cool head to steer Balou du Reventon through the finish with nothing to add. “Our goal was to get into Sunday, that was the most important thing for us so we were very happy we did that. We have a great team and we’re all working really well together so I think we should do well. We’ll go out there trying to do our best and see what happens, that’s for sure!” he said.

If there is one name in the American equestrian story that everyone knows, it is George Morris.

UNRELENTING-REV-SUB-300The Real Story: Horses, Bright Lights, and My Pursuit of ExcellenceGeorge H. Morris with Karen Robertson Terry

If there is one name in the American equestrian story that everyone knows, it is George Morris.


Carouser, competitor, taskmaster, dreamer, teacher, visionary. George Morris has been ever-present on the rarified stage of the international riding elite for most of the seventy years he’s been in the saddle. He has represented the United States as an athlete and a coach and, at one time or another, instructed many of the world’s best horsemen and women. His carefully chosen, perfectly enunciated words are notoriously powerful. They can raise you up or cut you to the quick. His approval can be a rainmaker; his derision can end a career.

But as much as people know and respect the public face of George Morris, he has lived, in other ways, a remarkably private life, keeping his own personal struggles—with insecurity, ambition, and love—behind closed doors. It is only now that he has chosen, in his own words, to share the totality of his life—the very public and the incredibly private—with the world.

Trafalgar Square Books ( is proud to announce the autobiography of George H. Morris:

UNRELENTING: The Real Story – – Horses, Bright Lights, and My Pursuit of Excellence Click here to pre-order 

Pan-American equestrian events continue with Eventing and Jumping

Lausanne (SUI), 16 July 2015

Pan-American equestrian events continue with Eventing and Jumping
By Louise Parkes

Eventing gets underway tomorrow, while Jumping riders and horses will be arriving over the weekend ahead of their first test next Tuesday at Caledon Pan-American Equestrian Park in Toronto, Canada where the Pan-American Games 2015 equestrian events continue through to Saturday 25 July.

At the inaugural Pan-American Games staged in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1951, Eventing took place at the famous Cavalry School of Campo de Mayo where the host country claimed both gold medals along with individual silver. Jumping was held at the River Plate Stadium where Chile’s Capt Alberto Larraguibel on Julepe clinched double-gold in front of a crowd of over 60,000 spectators. The passion for equestrian sport in the region hasn’t waned ever since, and both the Eventing and Jumping disciplines are expected to draw big crowds over the next 10 days.


A total of 43 horse-and-rider combinations from 13 countries will line out in Eventing, with 11 nations fielding teams. And the host country will not be amongst those chasing the single available qualifying spot for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, as Canada already made the cut at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy, France last summer along with Australia, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and The Netherlands. The Brazilian side of Marcio Carvalho Jorge, Carlos Paro, Henrique Plombo Pinheiro and Ruy Fonseca won’t be under Olympic qualification pressure either as Brazil is automatically qualified as host nation. However they will undoubtedly want to test their strength against the remaining teams from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Uruguay, USA and Venezuela.

The Eventing action will take place over the track designed by Australia’s Wayne Copping which crosses nearby Will O’ Wind Farm, re-named Pan-Am Cross-Country Centre at Games time. And there is no overlooking the strength of the American squad who will be targeting that single Olympic entry opportunity. Philip Dutton flew the Australian flag at three Olympic Games and four FEI World Championships before acquiring US citizenship in 2008, and the 51-year-old has enjoyed a great 2015 season so far, including a fifth-place finish at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event (USA), the third leg of the FEI Classics™ staged in April, with the 10-year-old Irish gelding Fernhill Fugitive which he brings to Toronto.


He is joined by his former trainer, 35-year-old Boyd Martin who also hails from Australia but transferred to US colours in 2009. Martin was highest-placed American at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy when finishing eighth, and brings the 12-year-old French-bred Pancho Villa to the Pan-Americans. Lauren Kieffer (Meadowbrook’s Scarlett) and Marilyn Little (RF Scandalous) round up the US selection.

Canada’s Colleen Loach (Qorry Blue d’Argouges), Jessica Phoenix (Pavarotti), Waylon Roberts (Bill Owen) and Kathryn Robinson (Let it Bee) will, however, be intending to stand on the top step of the podium next Sunday afternoon. And Phoenix will be chasing a back-to-back individual title. The Americans scooped team gold at the last Pan-Ams in Guadalajara, Mexico four years ago when, sensationally, all four riders completed on their Dressage scores. But the USA had to settle for silver and bronze in the battle for the individual title as Phoenix stood firm to capitalise on the advantage she established with Pavarotti in the Dressage phase.

Eventing Dressage takes place on Friday 17, cross-country on Saturday 18 and the final Jumping phase on Sunday 19 July.


In Jumping, 58 athletes from 16 nations and a total of 10 teams will contest the medals, and the two highest-ranked eligible nations not already qualified will book their tickets to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. There are also six individual Olympic slots on offer.

With Brazil automatically qualified as host, and the USA also through due to their bronze-medal-winning performance at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2015 in Normandy it leaves the door wide open for many other keen countries including the powerful host-nation side.

It will be a home run for 44-year-old Yann Candele who lives in Caledon and has been selected with the 15-year-old Showgirl for his Pan-Am debut. And it will also be a first-time Pan-Am experience for Tiffany Foster who will celebrate her 31st birthday in 10 days time when she will partner Tripple X. Eric Lamaze is a Pan-Am veteran, having competed in four previous editions during which he collected team silver, team bronze and individual bronze medals. The 2008 Olympic champion was nominated with three possible rides, but has finally been listed with the 10-year-old stallion Coco Bongo. Elizabeth Gingras has also been named with Zilversprings but the man who will hold centre stage when the Jumping action gets underway is one of the greatest legends of the sport – Ian Millar who, at 68 years of age, will line out with Dixson.

It’s not without good reason that he has long been nick-named “Captain Canada”, leading his troops into many a successful battle and always flying his country’s flag with huge pride. The two-time FEI World Cup™ Jumping title-holder, whose career with the great Big Ben has earned him a special place in the heart and history of both Canadian and world sport, claimed Olympic team silver in 2008 and holds the record for most Olympic appearances of any athlete, notching up his tenth at London 2012. His successful record in the Pan-American Games goes all the way back to 1979 in San Juan, Puerto Rico where he took team silver and individual bronze riding Brother Sam. He took double-gold in Indianapolis (USA) in 1970 and individual gold in Winnipeg (CAN) in 1999 and is an 11-time National Champion.

Put that to rights

At the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 last summer however, Candele, Foster, Millar and Lamaze had to settle for eighth place and well outside the Olympic qualification zone so they will be hoping to put that to rights next week. In the race for an Olympic slot, they are likely to face strong opposition from the Colombians who finished just two places behind them in France. Daniel Bluman, Fernando Cardenis, Rene Lopez, Andres Penalosa and Roberto Teran Tafur could be tough nuts to crack, while strong selections from Argentina and Venezuela could also present a challenge.

The Brazilians look major contenders for a podium placing with Felip Amaral, Eduardo Menezes, Marlon Modolo Zanotelli, Pedro Veniss and Rodrigo Pessoa to choose from for their four-member side. They took team silver last time around in Guadalajara, but there is no denying the effort it will take to overpower the defending champions from the USA. With Georgina Bloomberg, Kent Farrington, Lauren Hough, Todd Minikus and McLain Ward all on call-up they are likely to be the ones all the rest have to beat in the battle for gold. Farrington and Ward both stood on the top step of that 2011 podium, and from the moment Jumping begins next Tuesday it promises to be a right royal regional battle for the 2015 Pan-American Jumping titles.

Ahead of the first phase of the Eventing discipline tomorrow at Caledon Park, FEI Olympic and Eventing Director, Catrin Norinder, said today, “the Pan-American Games are not only an important route to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for some countries, but are also a tremendous developmental opportunity for equestrian sportsmen and women across the North America and Central & South America regions. I wish them all the best of luck, and I believe we can look forward to tremendous sport over the coming days.”

Iran’s Pourrezal pips South Africa’s Hendry in three-round Final thriller

FEI NewsFEI World Jumping Challenge Final 2015

Zhitnica (BUL), 6 July 2015

Iran’s Pourrezal pips South Africa’s Hendry in three-round Final thriller 

By Louise Parkes

Iranian rider, Davood Pourrezal, galloped to gold in an exciting three-way jump-off against the clock in the closing competition at the FEI World Jumping Challenge Final 2015 in Zhitnica, Bulgaria yesterday. South Africa’s Simon Hendry took silver ahead of Namibia’s Michelle Kuenzle in bronze at the event which was staged at the HRC Trakietz Equestrian Centre. 

 The Final is open to Category A riders from 10 FEI regional zones and this year attracted 22 riders from 17 countries. And the flags of Bermuda, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, India, Iran, Libya, Morocco, Namibia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Syria, Swaziland, Uruguay and Venezuela were all flown with pride over the four days of competition.


 The action got underway last Wednesday when 29 horses were presented for the veterinary inspection. The purpose of the FEI World Jumping Challenge series and Final is to introduce less experienced riders in comparatively remote countries to international-level competition. And the first test they face at the Final is building a relationship with a borrowed horse which is no mean feat at any time, even for the most professional of riders.

 As always, the horse-and-rider combinations were decided by a draw, which was followed by a training session and then a confidence-building Warm-up competiiton. Run under Table A, article 238.1.1 rules, athletes with equality of penalties shared the prizes, so it was a seven-way divide between Giorgia Iermazzo from Dominican Republic, Uruguay’s Jorge Rossi, South Africa’s Simon Hendry, Chile’s Alfonse Anguita, Colombia’s Alejandro Castilla Galan, Saad Jabri from Morocco and India’s Rushil Patel when they all jumped clear.

The official Opening Ceremony was held that evening with all 22 competitors taking part in the athletes parade, and it was a very special occasion as the Organising Committee put together a programme that included traditional music and a video montage for each competing nation. Afterwards the athletes released air balloons to mark the beginning of the event.

 Perfect start

 The eventual champion got off to a perfect start the following day when, partnering the nine-year-old Drazki, he topped the one-round First Qualifier ahead of Colombia’s Castilla Galan while Saudi Arabia’s Meshal Alharbi slotted into third. It was an impressive opening effort from all the competitors, with 14 steering their mounts clear over the course. 

 It was in Friday’s Second Qualifier that South Africa’s Hendry began to look seriously competitive when lining up second in the two-round class over a 1.20m course with the 11-year-old Mirella Freni. Winner here was Saad Jabri with the 10-year-old Finesse whose speedy turn of foot in the second round gave the Moroccan rider more than two seconds of a winning advantage.  Giorgia Ieromazzo finished third with Viziorka while Bulgaria’s Zhelyazko Dimitrov was fourth when producing the only other double-clear of the competition with Piquer.

 The results of the first two qualifiers decided the top-10 who would go into the final day.


Satisfying result

 Sunday’s action began with the Farewell competition for the athletes that didn’t make the cut to the Final, and Bermuda’s Krista Rabain had a particularly satisfying result when finishing third here with Rubine following her elimination for a fall in Friday’s class. There were only two clear rounds, and Venezuela’s Diego Malave Cariello produced by far the quickest of these when taking the win with Charizma who raced through the timers in 62.43 seconds. India’s Rushil Patel opted for a safe clear with Paris, and the decision paid off handsomely when the pair broke the beam in 77.8 seconds but left all the timber in place for runner-up spot.

 Now it was down to the Final itself, and when only three managed to stay double-clear over the first two rounds, a thrilling jump-off was guaranteed. And it didn’t disappoint.

 First out was Hendry who really put it up to the others when clear and fast in 36.00 seconds with Mirella Freni. And when Namibia’s Michelle Kuenzle had a pole down with her feisty stallion Charodey, then only Pourrezal stood between the South African and the coveted title. 

 But the Iranian managed to squeeze home with Drazki in 35.23 seconds and that would clinch it. Pourrezal said afterwards that he knew Hendry would be his strongest opponent. He had selected him as the rider most likely to succeed in a survey undertaken earlier in the week by all the competitors. “I knew what I had to do, and when I came into the arena and saw the cup I thought to myself that to win it would be a dream!” His dream came true only a few seconds later. 


Eclectic group

 Pourrezal said he thoroughly enjoyed competing against such an eclectic group from all around the globe. “I’d really like to compete in an event like this again” he said. Asked about riding an unfamiliar horse he explained that he is used to different rides, so it was not a particular challenge for him. And he was delighted with the performance of the horse allocated to him.

 “My first impression was that Drazki was maybe not the best in the lot, but had potential” he said. He changed his mind after riding him for the first time and winning the First Qualifier however. “I could clearly feel that he was a good horse, and we really clicked!” said the delighted new champion.                                                                                  


FEI World Jumping Challenge Final 2014:

  • GOLD – Davood Pourrezal IRI; 
  • SILVER – Simon Hendry RSA; 
  • BRONZE – Michelle Kuenzle NAM.
Beginning Trot Poles

Beginning trot poles

Beginning trot poles.

The natural length of your horse’s step this is, usually, between 4 feet and 5 feet, but this varies depending on your horse or ponies height. When you introduce, the ground poles do your best to set them to match your horse’s natural step. You might need some help on the ground to accomplish this but once you figure out the distance, measure it and memorize it and use it for future reference.

Begin this exercise by breaking it down to the most simple elements. The goal in the beginning is to introduce your horse to the trot poles. Do not start by trying to get your horse to change the length of his/her step. Let them have an opportunity to figure out where to put their feet without having to edit their stride. Figure out your horses natural step and if your horse has a 4-foot step then set your poles 4 feet apart.

If you or your horse have never worked through trot poles, then walk through poles until you are confident. Set your goal to keep your horse going forward through the poles. Another option is to set one pole out for your horse to step over then add a second pole continuing to add poles until you have four to five poles in place. The addition of poles does not have to happen all in one day. Depending on your and your horses experience, add poles accordingly. Take as much time as you need to get four poles in place.

When you have your poles in place, and you have ridden your horse through the poles at the walk. Pick you your working trot and start using your half halts through the corners to get your horse attentive, forward and soft in the bridle. Riding through the corners use your eyes to find your path. Try to keep looking in the direction you are going, using your eyes to define your path. Before you begin turning half halt your horse if necessary, then continue around the corner. Try to keep your horse balanced and bent in the direction you are heading. When you come down the long side approaching the ground poles, half halt if necessary, to help your horse remain balanced, try not to speed up while keeping your horse straight through the middle of the poles.

When you ride through the ground poles, make sure to allow your horse to adjust his step and feel the swing in your horse’s stride. Adjust your hips and try to be soft and accommodating to your horse’s step. Try to keep your upper body tall and centered over your hips and keep your hands, and arms supple following your horse’s mouth. Avoid pulling or gripping with your hands or legs. If your horse speeds up through the ground poles then make your adjustment in the arena where there are no poles and enforce the halt-halt and as you approach the ground poles. When you gain confidence, continue riding the ground poles in both directions changing rein through the diagonals.

Trot poles require more energy than simply trotting, and you want this exercise to be fun for your horse. Give your horse frequent breathers and quit while you are ahead. You are much better off working through any exercise accurately then excessively.