An unscripted glimpse at the Canadian Equestrian Team's athletes, supporters & fans before, during and after major games. #CanadaStrong

With the Eventing medals now tucked away in their new owners’ pockets, attention now turns to Dressage. Competition kicks off tomorrow (August 10).

Full Riding Times Schedule for August 10 & August 11

Download riding times –> ORDERTOGO_2016_08_09_GrandPrix

August 10 – 11:36AM Rio time – Megan Lane & Caravella
August 11 – 10:00am Rio time – Belinda Trussell & Anton 

Both Belinda (Trussell) and Megan (Lane) have had the advantage of being in Rio for a few days now with their horses, so they’ve had a chance to get comfortable with the surroundings and see the sights.

#thesetwotho 💕

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Quick selfie before going off to the jog!! #olympics2016 #Dressage #twohearts #caprizledizzle

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And of course march in the Opening Ceremonies! (read blog here)

 

Being there early means Anton and Caravella are now well acquainted with the show grounds, with Belinda and Megan having an opportunity to ride in the warm up rings as well as familiarization sessions in the main competition arena.

Although care must be given when arriving early at a Games as some riders can have a tendency to override their horses. More time can mean more opportunity to dwell on things and let nerves get the better of you – especially when you are sharing the training rings with the best-of-the-best in the world. It’s even more difficult when most of these riders are used to riding several horses a day on top of coaching duties..and of course every day life. Being at a Games really does put you into an artificial “bubble”, where you only have yourself and your main equine partner to focus on. That can be great! As long as you don’t fall into the trap of over-focusing.

Getting acclimated to the big ring!! #twohearts #olympics2016 #itallstartstomorrow #Rio2016

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MLane-Caravellaphoto by Kelsey Rae

Look at that backdrop! 
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photo by Kelsey Rae

The Jog

The horse inspection for the dressage horses took place on cross-country day, and both Caravella and Anton passed with flying colours. And the horses were sparkling thanks to the hard work of Lynsey Rowan (Anton) and Evelyn Lucas (Caravella).

Megan will be the 10th rider down the centreline tomorrow’s Session I (Tuesday) , riding immediately after Denmark’s Anders Dahl & Selten HW and will be followed by USA’s Allison Brock and Rosevelt.

This is great as no one likes to go first, and particularly with Dressage as more often than not it takes the judges a few rides to get comfortable with their scoring (although I doubt you’d ever get a judge to admit that on record!)

How to watch in Canada!

CBC is providing fantastic picture-quality live streaming at http://olympics.cbc.ca
Although it is a little dry as there has been no commentary.

If you’re in the UK region (or have a VPN), BBC has been doing brilliant commentary for Eventing and I suspect this will continue for Dressage. http://www.bbc.com/sport/olympics/rio-2016

The Big Guns!

We're through the trot up. Two days to go!! #twohearts #jointhejourney #rio #valegro ❤️

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Let the dancing begin! 

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Today the focus was back in the main arena for Eventing’s Showjumping phase.

The day started with the horse inspection. You can bet that the grooms worked hard through the night and early morning horses to help their horse’s recovery from that oh-so-tough cross country course.

Of course our Canadian horses looked bright-eyed and spiffy, and all 3 passed with flying colours.

Jessie & Blue Eyes heading out to the Inspection
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(photo – Phoenix Equestrian)

Colleen Loach & Qorry Blue d’Argrouges getting the finishing touches
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Photo by Blue Eyes’ groom Sandra Andresen

Heading on down to the main stadium
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Photo by Blue Eyes’ groom Sandra Andresen

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Colleen Loach & Qorry Blue d’Argrouges

Colleen and Qorry were the first Canadians to go into the ring. As always, they looked cool as a cucumber and methodically worked their way through the course. Although they did pick up 4 faults for 1 rail, this pair should be thrilled with their Olympic debut performance! And I bet no one was as proud as owner Peter Barry, who competed in London 2012 for Canada with Colleen as his groom. What a story!

Yep…you’ve got this 🙂
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Watch the video of Colleen’s ride. 
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Jessica Phoenix & A Little Romance

Easily one of the smallest horses in the competition, but definitely not in terms of courage and heart – That’s the way they breed them in Canada! Jessie guided “Blue Eyes” through the course with tons of energy with only 1 rail at the second last fence.

 

 

Rebecca Howard & Riddle Master

Rebecca and “Rupert” came into this last jumping phase off an amazing cross-country round that saw them only pick up 12.40 time penalties over a super tough course and move them into 15th position. The pressure was definitely on to go clean so as to move forward into the Individual Medal round.

Rebecca is another cool cucumber, and had her game face totally on as she entered the main stadium. The pair cruised around the course looking stylish and showing no signs of yesterday’s huge athletic effort. Double clean put them into the top 10 before the final individual medal round! (and ahead of my hero Mark Todd)

They still looked great in the final individual medal round, but had 1 rail.

Top 10 Finish!!!!

Even with that 1 rail, they finished in 10th individually  – an amazing finish in arguably one of the toughest Olympic Eventing competitions since Sydney 2000. Way to go Rebecca and Rupert!!!  And how excited must owner Caroline Bazley of Blithe Hill Farm be about her Canadian-bred horse.

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“Blue Eyes” (A Little Romance) celebrates the completion of her first Olympic Games.
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Photo by Blue Eyes’ groom Sandra Andresen

Team Results

It was a nail biter right to the very end in terms of the team medals. In the end, France capped off what has been an amazing year for their athletes by taking the Gold. Heavy favourites Germany had to settle for Silver, and Australia slipped down to Bronze.

 

Canada were able to finish 10th out of 11 countries who were able to finish teams. This was definitely a disappointing result after having finished 6th at the World Equestrian Games in France 2 years ago. However on a positive note there were definitely some personal bests achieved, and they were able to finish a team unlike their US counterparts.

The Golden Man

Defending Olympic Champion Michael Jung did it again with Sam FBW……it still boggles my mind that Sam was his reserve horse!

Full results here

Host country Brazil finished 7th in the team competition. It really sucked to see Ruy Fonseca have a very unexpected fall, which resulted in his elimination. He was having a great round up until then, and the stop happened so incredibly fast.

Thankfully Ruy bounced back up very quickly, and being the awesome guy he is he even helped out the jump crew by replacing the top rail he dislodged from his spontaneous dismount.

 

 

Holy smokes what a day it was today! Olympic Eventing cross country took centre stage, and it was really great to see lots of people out on course watching compared to the lacklustre audiences for the 2 dressage days.

As predicted by many, the course really shuffled up the leaderboard. While I’m by no means an Eventing expert, watching today reminded me of the  types of courses you would see back in the 80’s and 90’s. Both horse and rider had to be very fit, very brave and very determined.

It was incredible to see many very seasoned riders and horses run into trouble. Who would have thought that the likes of Tim Price, Montgomery Clark and Karin Donckers wouldn’t finish.

Canada’s Jessica Phoenix and A Little Romance were again the trailblazers. At the best of times it’s a very challenging position to be in, but at an Olympic Games over a course like this make it even more so. Jessica didn’t have the advantage to see how the course was riding in order to make adjustments to her plan. Instead, she went out there and attacked it with Don  Leschied’s dynamo mare. Talk about true grit and fierce determination. It was obvious watching these two over the course that nothing was going to stop them for attacking and eating up this Rio course.

Although they did pick up 40 jump penalties and 35.60 time, they showed their teammates that the course was conquerable, and brought home valuable information to help Kathryn, Colleen and Rebecca refine their strategies.

Last minute adjustments before heading into the start box
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True grit and determination…this is what sets the good eventers from the great
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Kathryn Robinson

It was certainly a bummer for Kathryn Robinson and Let it Bee, who were eliminated on course. They looked great at the start, but it wasn’t meant to be their day today. Thankfully both of them are healthy and will fight another day.

Flying out of the start box
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Bummer to be eliminated, but we can’t wait to see you again Kathryn!
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Colleen Loach

Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue d’Argrouges looked like cross-country machines. Although they also incurred 40 jump penalties and 45.20 time, that really betrays how good they looked every time I could see them. And I loved how even at the end of the course, Qorry’s ears were pricked way forward almost as if he was saying “Ok, what else Mom?”

It was really hard to believe that this was the first 4* experience for this duo. The future is blindingly bright!

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Jumping all stylish like a hunter!
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Those ears though!
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Cooldown
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Rebecca Howard

I can’t imagine the pressure that Rebecca Howard was feeling as she headed towards the start box, knowing that with Kathryn’s out of the game, she had to make sure that they completed the course in order to keep a team result for Canada. Even more so when her Olympic debut in London 2012 was cut short due to a fall on course.

That’s one of the biggest differences when riding at an Olympic Games…. it’s not just about your individual performance, it’s about making decisions in the best interest of the team.

If Rebecca was feeling pressure, she sure didn’t show it. Her and “Rupert” tackled the course like the pros they are.  They added only 12.4 time penalties and jumped up to 15th position heading into the final day.

Heading out of the start box.
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The look of pure concentration and focus.
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On the way home!
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Yay!!
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I’d be celebrating too after successfully taking on the most difficult Olympic course in recent history!
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Video of Rebecca’s last few fences on course courtesy of CBC

Showjumping Day

The final day of Eventing Competition takes place tomorrow morning starting at 10am Rio time (9:00am EST).

Follow the live results at:
https://www.rio2016.com/en/equestrian-standings-eq-eventing-individual

And watch the lifestream on Olympics.cbc.ca

Go Canada!!

Shout Outs

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures, but I had to give a shout out to 2 combinations.

  1. Japan’s Yoshiaki Oiwa and The Duke of Cavan: If look up the word “relentless” and “determination”, you’ll see this guy’s picture. No was never an option for him going over this course. Even if the distance or angle was awkward, he just kicked on and let his horse do the rest. And his horse rose to the occasion every. single. time. It was quite something to see
  2. Chile’s Carlos Lobos Munoz and Ranco: If I had this horse during my Eventing days, things may have turned out a lot differently (ie. I wouldn’t have switched to Dressage). Not only does Ranco have the cutest face ever, but he looks like the most honest horse around who loves his job.

The Cooling Stations
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The Legend

I couldn’t end this blog without a pic of my Eventing hero – New Zealand’s Mark Todd. He truly gave a masterclass in riding over the course. The man’s leg never EVER changes position. Perfectly balanced at all times.

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Eventing Mini Blog!

Just a very quick mini blog to share an interview CBC Radio Canada did with Rio’s only all-woman Eventing team. Girl Power!

Sincere thanks for CBC Radio Canada for showing our Eventers lots of love with the coverage.

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Here’s a bird’s eye view of what the course will look like…lots of twists and turns over undulating terrain. It will be as much a test of endurance and fitness as it will jumping ability and braveness.

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Ride Times!

Access them here

*Note! All times are in Brazilian time.
Jessie Phoenix – 10:00am
Kathryn Robinson –  11:12am
Colleen Loach – 12:38pm
Rebecca Howard – 1:54pm

 

Also, here’s a great video of the galloping track at Deodoro. A taste of things to come tomorrow.

Bob doing his last gallop before XC tomorrow!!! #fitness #teambrazil #timebrasil #rioishere #retrainingofracehorses #rio2016

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Here’s to Canada dominating the course tomorrow, and all coming home safely with happy horses and riders.

Game on!

Another Olympic day full of brilliant, if not sometimes punishing, Brazilian sunshine.

Definitely more spectators today, but still tons of empty seats in the main stadium. Reminds me of Beijing 2008 Olympics where you were spoiled for choice as to where to sit because the seats were largely empty for Eventing Dressage.

Colleen Loach & Qorry Blue d’Argrouges’ Olympic Debut

Quebec’s Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue d’Argrouges kicked things off for Canada today. Every Olympian has a great story of their journey to the Olympics, and Colleen is no exception. I first met  Colleen at the London 2012 Olympics where she was a groom for Canadian Eventer Peter Barry. Fast forward 4 years, and now it’s Colleen’s turn in the limelight with Peter being her support (Peter is the owner of Qorry Blue d’Argrouges). How cool is that!

Unfortunately the pair experienced a costly break in their trot work early in the test, but in true Olympic style they finished strong.

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It almost looks like Qorry is acknowledging all the applause for him!
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Support from the Kiss & Cry box.
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Yay! We did it! No longer Olympic Greenies
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Rebecca Howard & Riddle Master

Rio is the second Olympics for Rebecca and Riddle Master as their debut was 4 years ago in London. The pair are now veterans on the international scene with a long list of impressive accomplishments under their belt in addition to the Olympics, including some of the toughest courses in the world:  Badminton, Burghley and Luhmühlen just to mention a few. And to boot, Rebecca is a previous Equine Canada “Equestrian of the Year” recipient, with Riddle Master receiving “Horse of the Year”.

You can just make out Team Canada support in the background.
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Reminiscent of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games….not many spectators 😦
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Mad props to Rebecca’s groom for the polished turnout and maple leaf quarter marks!
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Another Olympic dressage test in the books
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En route to post-test steward check.
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Now onto the fun stuff – Cross Country!

If the reports back from the riders are anything to go by, tomorrow should be an exciting day and will likely see some shuffling of the leaderboard before the day is done.

There’s been lots of talk about Pierre Michelet’s cross-country track. Michelet also designed the cross-country course for 2014 World Equestrian Games, which saw even top ranked riders not finish. Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt described it as “a decent course, the biggest Olympic course I’ve walked……..it’s a true Michelet course, four corners and four skinnies, always committing you so that if you are not right on line then you will have a run-out, always encouraging you to attack it. The distances are all on the long side, it’s the most difficult Olympic Games I’ve seen but that’s how it should be. It will be a pretty good feeling if I go clear!”

Phillip Dutton of the USA remarked that it’s the toughest cross-country course he’s seen since the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Kathryn Robinson, who has experienced Michelet’s courses at Pau (France), shared her thoughts with Horse-Canada.com.  “It’s definitely a tough course with a lot of questions from the very beginning to the very end. It’s going to be a tough day on Monday, but I am looking forward to it. I’ve got all day tomorrow (Sunday) and I think I’ll just keep walking it, and walking it, and walking it, to see if it looks any better!”

“Blue Eyes” (A Little Romance) already looking ahead to cross-country day – photo by Sandra Andresen, groom extraordinaire for Blue Eyes!
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Walk the Course!

Horse & Hound have done a terrific fence-by-fence virtual course walk.
View here

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Watch Online!

Cross-country starts at 10:00am Rio time (9:00am EST).

CBC continues to offer amazing quality live streaming at
http://olympics.cbc.ca/online-listing/

Live Results

https://www.rio2016.com/en/equestrian-schedule-and-results

Teamwork

And ending with something fun that exemplifies the sense of camaraderie that always permeates a major games. This is courtesy of Canadian FEI Steward Jan Stephens who is on duty in Rio.

“When I dropped my glasses and they became loose/- the farrier came to my rescue and tightened them with a nail! Everything is possible here!”

Teamwork

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