Puissance in the Park

Which is more daunting, the 6’9″ Puissance wall or the hack between the ring and the stabling areas at the Central Park Horse Show?

Emanuel Andrade (VEN) and Clouwni are shown “hailing a cab” over the wall. Although this was Andrade’s first Puissance competition, he pulled off a three-way tie with Kama Godek (USA) and De Grande and Todd Minikus (USA) and VDL Excel.

Almost more exciting is the video that Godek shot as she hacked her Puissance mount back to the stabling area where the face a ton of baby carriages, bikers, roller bladers, food trucks, brick tunnels and a lot of other things not typically confronted by a Grand Prix jumper. Sure, Da Grande was a bit skittish, but the pair get high marks for bravery both in and out of the ring.

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Nick Skelton and Big Star win Individual Gold in Show Jumping

After seven Olympics and one team gold medal, Nick Skelton has won the individual gold in show jumping riding “the best horse that I’ve ever had or likely ever will,” Big Star. Skelton is the first British rider to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics and, at 58, is the oldest equestrian to win the gold.

The crowd favorite won a six way jump off.  Peder Fredericson (Sweden) won the  and Eric Lamaze (Canada) the bronze.

Big star
Nick Skelton on Big Star won the individual gold at the Rio Olympics. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Skelton’s win today on Big Star is quite a comeback story — for both horse and rider. Skelton retired in 2000 after a fall that broke two his neck in two places and damaged a ligament. Doctors told him that another fall from a horse could be fatal. His retirement lasted a year, then he was back in the saddle. He started competing again two years after the accident.

He had a hip replacement in 2011, but that didn’t stop him either. In 2012, he and Big Star were part of the gold medal winning team at the London Olympics but only finished fifth in the individual standings.

Big Star, a 13-year old Dutch warmblood stallion has been sidelined with injuries since 2013 when he won his last Grand Prix event. Even Skelton described him as “rusty” when they came into the Olympics. For the past two years, Skelton has nursed the stallion back to health. So to ask the stallion to jump a course of this height and at such speed, was an act of faith.

“I always knew in the back of my mind, if we could get him right, he could do this.

“He’s an absolutely amazing horse. You can trust him. He wants to do it. He has all the right attributes. He’s the best horse that I’ve ever had.

“I’m so pleased for him. He has worked so hard. This is for him.”

Skelton, who is in chronic pain from his injuries, says Big Star is the only horse he still rides. He will retire when the stallion does, he says.

Tickets on sale now for NYC horse show

Central Park Celebration of the Horse
The Central Park Celebration of the Horse presented by Rolex and produced by The Chronicle of the Horse, will be held Sept. 18-21, 2014, at the Trump Rink (Wollman Rink) in New York City’s Central Park. This event will feature the best equestrian sport in the world along with daily exhibitions featuring

Tickets for the Central Park Horse Show Presented by Rolex, the first-ever, outdoor four-day equestrian sporting event coming to New York City from Sept. 18-21 are now available. Tickets are priced at $30 for matinees and $250 for evening events, and are available through the event website. The event will take place in the skating rink — Wollman Rink for the old timers, Trump Rink today.

As a native New Yorker, I was very excited to see an event like this taking place in Central Park. When I first heard about it, I even thought about scheduling a trip back to the city. When I was a kid, I looked forward to the National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden. Every year I’d go several times and loved going back into the stabling where I watched the jumpers warming up in an impossibly small ring. I can still remember the smell of the footing in that indoor and the thrill of watching some of the famous horses  — such as Jet Run and Idle Dice — behind the scenes.

However, the price tag for the tickets gave me more than a pause. They stopped me in my tracks. It would be wonderful to see the show — and the venue, surrounded by skyscrapers — would be spectacular, but for $100 I can buy a seat at a table for the Sliver Oaks Grand Prix Jumper Classic to Support the MSPCA’s Equine Center up on Boston’s North Shore. That ticket comes with lunch and the chance to schmooze with some of the big jumper riders.

The Central Park Show will benefit several New York City charities, including the Central Park Conservancy, City Parks Foundation, Gallop NYC, Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, NYPD Mounted Unit and the Police Athletic League NYC. Additionally, 50 percent of the matinee tickets will be donated to local children’s groups in order to broaden the exposure of equestrian sport. The problem is that for many of us die-hard equestrians, it’s just too much to ask.

However, if I had money to burn, I’d be very tempted to see the Grand Prix or the Speed Class. Luckily the Grand Prix will be televised live on NBC sports (September 18 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.) so perhaps I can catch it then

Highlights of the event will include:

  • Thu Sept 18th at 6:30 p.m. – FEI Central Park Grand Prix
  • Fri Sept 19th at 6:30 p.m. –  NYC v. The World 1.45m Speed Class
  • Sat Sept 20th at 9 a.m. – Morning Matinee
  • Sat Sept 20th at Noon – Afternoon Matinee
  • Sat Sept 20th at 6:30 p.m. – Central Park Dressage Challenge presented by Axel Johnson Group
  • Sun Sept 21st at 9 a.m. – Morning Matinee
  • Sun Sept 21st at noon – Afternoon Matinee
  • Sun Sept 21st at 3 p.m. – Sunday Polo in The Park

For each event, gates open one hour before event time. Matinees on Saturday and Sunday will feature different equestrian performances and exhibitions, featuring Australian horseman extraordinaire Guy McLean, that celebrate the magic and majesty of the horse.

The Thursday Grand Prix event is sanctioned by the United States Equestrian Federation and the Federation Equestre International and is the first equestrian show at the Trump Rink.

Paul O’Shea wins the $100,000 Devon Grand Prix

Paul O'Shea and Primo de Revel won the $100,000 Devon Grand Prix.
Paul O’Shea and Primo de Revel won the $100,000 Devon Grand Prix.

It was very cool to watch the $100,000 Grand Prix at Devon from the comfort of my living room chair. I miss the smell of the horses, the dust from the ring, and the crowds, but you got a darned good view on the live streaming and if you missed something you could go back and watch it again.

It was a tough course — only nine of the 31 competitors were able to jump clear  in the first round of competition at Devon last night. In fact, the initial time limit was adjusted down by a second after the first few riders finished over the limit.

In the end, it was an elite group of riders, four of whom brought two horses to the jump off: Maclain Ward, Laura Chapot, Paul O’Shea and Kevin Babington. Also going clear was known speed demon Todd Minikus. Ward was riding last year’s winner, Rothchild, and was looking to win his 10th Devon Grand Prix.

It was an exciting jump off with O’Shea, riding the 13-year old Belgian Warmblood gelding Primo de Revel, to victory with a winning time of 38.95 seconds. Second place went to Minikus on the 11 year old Oldenburg mare Quality Girl, who clocked in at 39.63 despite breaking a snaffle rein on course (superb job of riding despite the equipment failure). And Ward was third on Rothchild with a time of 40.798.

Note: On Saturday night, with a new set of reins, Minikus and Quality Girl won the $50,000 Idle Dice Stakes.

Below are the top two finishers of the Grand Prix but you can still watch all of the events on the USEFnetwork on demand.

 

Two New Sidesaddle Jumping Records Set

Back in July, Michaela Bowling set a new British Record for sidesaddle jumping. Now Susan Oakes, an Irish equestrian has set TWO new World Records by clearing a 6’8″ Puissance wall (2″ higher than the previous record) on SIEC Atlas, then switching horses and clearing a 6’5″ triple bar on SIEC Oberon.

It is hard to imagine what it would be like to canter a horse at jumps of that size. Even more amazing to ride a horse that would consider jumping it. And completely beyond the realm of reality to consider you might actually clear one.

Oakes is an accomplished point-to-point rider who only took up show jumping two years ago.