Articles: Press Release
Team USA Takes Gold Medal in XV Pan American Games Dressage Competition
in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
United States Equestrian Federation, Inc.
4047 Iron Works Parkway
Lexington, KY 40511-8483
Tel: (859) 258-2472
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Web site: www.usef.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 14, 2007
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil-Gold is definitely a color that looks good on the
necks of Americans equestrian athletes, and Team USA's dressage squad
were the first to have the honor to wear it among the three disciplines
invited to the XV Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro. The three-member
team comprised of Lauren Sammis, Katherine Poulin-Neff and Christopher
Hickey finished their combined work to bring home the top honors in the
dressage team final on Sunday at Deodoro Stadium and the National
Equestrian Center, July 15.
Two Americans entered the dressage arena on Sunday to add to the
Saturday score laid down by Lauren Sammis, who stood at first coming
into the second day of dressage and final day of the team competition.
Thirteen pairings entered the ring this morning, and the American team
ended their work with an average score of 68.633%. Canada took the
Silver medal (67.250%) and the host country-Brazil-was awarded the
Bronze medals on a score of 64.933%.
To add to the excitement, after two rides for both the Americans and the
Canadians, there was only a two-tenths difference in the total scores
deciding the team medal.
Poulin-Neff was the first of the Americans to enter, and aboard
Brilliant Too, she scored a 66.550%, very respectable for a horse that
had yet to experience the atmosphere of such a large event.
"I felt good about the test," she said. "There was one little mistake at
the end-a flying change. I corrected it, but overall he [Brilliant Too]
felt good. I thought he would be more nervous in there...but, overall, I
was really happy."
"I'll be more relaxed next time," she said, referring to the upcoming
Individual finals. Overall, the pairing finished the Individual 1st
Qualifier in sixth place.
Then, the Gold medal came down to the scores for Hickey and Canadian
Andrea Bresee aboard Raffles.
Hickey and Regent wrapped up the American effort and scored a 69.150%,
which sat them in second place overall. Bresee's 65.250% secured the
Silver for her country.
"I made a few little mistakes, and part of those were rider
error...going for it a little too much," said Hickey. "But, I'm very
happy with our ending score, and to be able to represent the U.S. team.
We've had a wonderful time here in Brazil."
Hickey's mount, Regent, was fresh entering the ring today, and the rider
was cautious not to over-warm-up the horse. However, some gutsy chances
were taken during the test and a resulting few mistakes were made.
"I was a little overzealous trying to make him more expressive, and I
could have ridden him a little calmer," said Hickey. "That is one place
where I rode too much, and tried to make him higher in the neck and
little more forward over the ground with more expression. It didn't
work today." Regardless, his efforts were enough to secure the medal.
Sammis spoke for the team when she shared her enthusiasm for the
competition and her appreciation. "The way that this show has been run
has been fantastic, and the reception from the people has been
fantastic," she said. "We are so very grateful to be here as a team."
Team USA chef d'equipe Klaus Balkenhol was obviously pleased.
"Considering that all of these riders are riding in a large
international event for the first time, each and every one did a
fantastic job," said Balkenhol. "I am thrilled that these riders were
able to get the Gold medal. I also want to thank to everyone-the grooms
and the others who worked together...that's really important."
Looking toward the Individual competition, Sammis said that she was
ready and was fortunate to be competing on her mount, Sagacious HF (an
eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Hyperion Farm, Inc.). "I
have a wonderful horse, and I would take a bad day on that horse any
day," she said, thrilled with her Team Gold medal.
Poulin-Neff said that she showed come nerves in her Pan American debut,
as did her mount, the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood/Thoroughbred cross
gelding owned by Sharon Poulin. However, this was to be expected on such
"I'm happy with the way it went," she said. "We'll be less nervous here
tomorrow. Being here, overall, has been really great, and we have such a
wonderful support group here helping us...It has been absolutely
"Tomorrow, I'll be a bit bolder, and the Intermediaire I is our better
test," said Poulin-Neff.
Hickey, too, shared this appreciation, specifically for all those that
have helped him get to this level in his career.
"I'd like to start by saying that we are very thankful that at the USEF
[United States Equestrian Federation] we have a very strong organizing
body that makes the decision and makes all the arrangements, for
everything at the USET Foundation. From our team leader Gil Merrick and
Jim Wolf, down to the people in the office, and our team vet and, of
course, Klaus, our chef," he said.
Hickey looked forward to Monday's first Individual challenge. "Tomorrow,
he and I will have been in that arena once...so I will still ride
boldly, but with a little bit more care."
He took an opportunity to joke about the rest of competition, which now
has the riders competing as individuals. "Now, the gloves come off!" he
said. "We will stay play nice, but we are here to play for medals!"
As for Sammis, she plans for more of what she has already shown the
dressage fans at Deodoro. "We'll stay true to the training that I have,"
she said. "I've been very consistent, so it's the same game plan. Keep
smiling and keep on track."
The two-day Individual finals begin on Monday with the Intermediaire I
and wraps up on Wednesday with the Intermediaire freestyle.
As the National Governing Body (NGB) of Equestrian Sport, the United
States Equestrian Federation(r), Inc. (USEF) is the regulatory body for
28 breeds and disciplines, including our country's international teams
competing in the disciplines of dressage, driving, endurance, eventing,
para-equestrian, reining, show jumping and vaulting. With over 87,000
members, it is the country's largest multi-breed organization and
annually license more than 2,800 competitions nationwide. The USEF
governs all aspects of competition, including education and licensing of
all judges, stewards, and technical delegates who officiate shows.
Vision Statement: The vision of United States Equestrian Federation(r)
is to provide leadership for equestrian sport in the United States of
America, promoting the pursuit of excellence from the grassroots to the
Olympic Games, based on a foundation of fair, safe competition and the
welfare of its horses, and embracing this vision, to be the best
national equestrian federation in the world.