Olympic Happy Hour: August 8

Throughout the Olympics, Horse Nation is capping off each day with a pint-sized synopsis of the most recent Olympic equestrian sporting festivities. Here’s your Happy Hour report for Wednesday, August 8.

For the 10,000th day in a row, our fantastic Liz Fletcher woke up at the bum-crack of dawn to watch Olympic show-jumping. Here’s her report.

From Liz:

[via Steve Guerdat’s Facebook]

If we didn’t know it before, this Olympic games has proven to us that in horses, ANYTHING is possible.

Congratulations to Steve Guerdat, the Individual Gold Medalist from Switzerland!!! As a quick aside, I’m pretty sure Steve Guerdat speaks three languages and is super cute to boot! Gerco Schroder on the aptly named London won the silver for the Netherlands, and Cian O’Connor, a last minute ride for Ireland after the disqualification of his teammate Daniel Lynch, won bronze. O’Connor and Schroder contested a jump off to decide the silver medal, as both picked up 1 time fault, Schroder in Round A and O’Connor in Round B. I’m also pretty sure that Schroder rides London in a hackamore.

We were all hoping, or at least assuming, that the Brits would win an individual medal, but Nick Skelton, Scott Brash and Ben Maher all had rails, and Ben had one in the first round and one in the second, giving him 8 points. The final rider, Nick Skelton, just rubbed the 3rd to last and it fell to the ground, crashing with it the hopes of a nation for an individual show jumping medal. They had reason to hope: Big Star had gone clear the entire week.

7ABC caught out a lot of riders, and understandably so. It was a large vertical to a HUGE oxer and back to another vertical and a lot of horses either dropped their back legs or didn’t have enough spread to make the oxer. Frankly, I’m in awe at the power and talent of these horses and riders. Even though they weren’t “perfect,” they are infinitely more talented than I will ever be. For their dedication and perseverance in a sport that isn’t always forgiving, I salute them.

Rich Fellers and Flexible had one rail and one time penalty in Round A, but Round B was picture perfect. They finished the medal round in 8th place with 5 points. My assumption is that the 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse will not be competing in Rio.

Saudi Arabia also had a great day, just ending out of the medals, but certainly a group to watch for the future. My favorite horse of the day was the Saudi horse Noblesse des Tess. This scrappy mare gave it her all over every fence, and they went clear with one time penalty. She didn’t have the prettiest form of the day, but she turned herself inside out to get over the fences clear.

If you did not watch any of the Show Jumping, check out pictures from our friends at Smartpak or Fleeceworks on Facebook because the jumps are truly amazing. My personal favorite was the Abbey Road fence, but I’m a huge Beatles fan. Check out this PDF describing all of the jumps for Round A, why they were chosen, and their particular importance in British culture.

In an effort to express his extreme frustration regarding the elimination of his teammate Tiffany Foster, Eric Lamaze says that he will boycott all future team rides until the national federation steps up and supports Tiffany publicly. Today Equine Canada’s president, Michael Gallagher, released the following statement regarding the incident: “We fully support the FEI in its hypersensitivity testing protocol.” Read more here. Lamaze finished this Olympics with Derly Chin de Muze tied for 29th. Others have recently chimed in of their feelings on the issue, including Akaash Maharaj, former CEO for Equine Canada. Read his article here.

Update: Only moments before I sent this article to John and Leslie, Equine Canada clarified its earlier comments: “We feel that further discussion of the hypersensitivity protocol needs to take place in order to ensure a balance is reached between the philosophical intent and the real-world application. Canada looks forward to playing a role in those discussions along with other nations within the FEI family,” stated Gallagher.

Thank you for tuning in, and come back tomorrow for the round up of AWESOME Freestyles! Beginning at 12:30pm GMT, riders will compete in reverse order, so Charlotte Dujardin will compete last at 3:50pm GMT. Steffen Peters and Ravel, the lone US qualifiers, ride at 1:45pm GMT after a break.

Go show jumping! Go pretty prancing ponies!

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