“WEG is not everyday showjumping. WEG is a whole new level. It’s a serious championship. I think it will take me a few weeks to really take it all in and realize what we asked of our horses and our riders.”
Tryon 2018 wrapped up last Sunday after a grueling two weeks of competition across eight disciplines. Competitors rode through the aftermath of a hurricane, hellacious humidity and fierce competition to represent their country. We met up with four international show jumpers to get their take on their performance at this year’s World Equestrian Games.
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I think I’ll be reliving this week for a very long time. With a team gold medal and a top 12 individual finish at my first world championship, all I can say is thank you. I have unending gratitude for my wonder horse, my incomparable team, and my family and friends who support this crazy dream.
On advice that influenced their rides:
Adrienne Sternlicht, USA-“The best piece of advice given to me by my teammate and mentor, McLain Ward, was ‘I’m not asking for perfection, I’m asking for clarity.’ He told me this as I entered the ring at my final observation event preceding WEG and I think it definitely carried with me throughout the week. The most important lesson I’ve learned that was reinforced during WEG is to be decisive on course to trust my gut instincts. Not every distance may show up perfectly, but there is always something that can be done to support your horse. The best direction we can give a horse is to be clear and purposeful, giving the horse a heightened level of confidence to do what we are asking of him!”
Regarding their horses:
Adrienne Sternlicht, USA-“[Cristalline] has the biggest heart in the world, she gives me everything, and I couldn’t feel luckier or be more grateful. I think we both improved during the week and our best efforts came when we relaxed. I cannot ask any more of her, only more of myself.”
Erynn Ballard, Canada-“Daka jumped his heart out for me. It’s such a new partnership at a level that is also brand new to him. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner to be here and jump these courses with! These jumps were huge!”
Karen Polle, Japan-“All week I spent a lot of time in the barn with Wings after we jumped. I would sit on my trunk right outside his stall, and he would poke his head out and play with me when he felt like it. It might sound funny to say, but there’s nobody I’d rather spend my time with. He always brings a smile to my face! Once he gets home, he’ll spend most of his time eating grass in his paddock, which is his favorite thing to do.”
On competing at WEG:
Erynn Ballard, Canada-“WEG is not everyday showjumping. WEG is a whole new level. It’s a serious championship. I think it will take me a few weeks to really take it all in and realize what we asked of our horses and our riders. It’s something that you have to experience once to really be prepared for the next time you ride in a championship.”
Cian O’Connor, Ireland-“Championships are a whole different experience to the other shows that we do each week. They bring a different kind of pressure and are hugely demanding on both the horse and the rider. Personally, I find that suits Good Luck and knowing there is so much support back home for all of the team really pushes me to try even harder!”
Karen Polle, Japan-“I felt pretty nervous [Wednesday] morning, but once I started warming up I started really having fun and enjoying myself. Wings felt great, and I knew he was ready. He felt fantastic on course. He was right there with me, and I could feel that I could go pretty fast and take a bit of a shot.”
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Long tough week here in Tryon but I'm not disappointed with our performance because "Luke" my whole Karlswood Team and I gave it our very best. I love the challenges and demands of these major championships. I particularly enjoy the planning and strategy it takes to build a horse to peak at these events. Good Luck is an outstanding athlete and finishing 13th at these World Games was no mean feat. Upwards and onwards to the next challenge and my quest for more championship medals continues!! #teamkarlswood
If you had to compete in another WEG discipline, which would you choose?
Cian O’Connor, Ireland-“I’d say eventing. I love cross country. The jumping would be okay, but I might have to brush up on my dressage!”
Erynn Ballard, Canada-“I am in awe of the four-in-hand [driving] horses. They are incredible, so if I had to try another discipline that would be the one I would pick.”