SVAG FEI World Championships Young Riders Podium • Photo courtesy of Tom Hautmann Photo & Design

2019 SVAG FEI World Championships

An amazingly high level of competition, incredibly talented young riders and athletic reining horses kept everybody glued to their seats during the 2019 SVAG FEI World Reining Championships.

Team USA posted a total composite score of 646 thanks to a great performance offered by Taylor Zimmerman and Wimpys Dolled Up (Wimpys Little Step x Dolled Up Gunner x Colonels Smoking Gun [Gunner]), first to go for the United States. The duo nailed each and every maneuver required by pattern No. 5, closing their run with a 220.5 score.

“I knew riding in the warm-up pen, and as soon as I walked in the show arena, that my mare was going to be good,” Zimmerman said. “She likes the big circles, has a lot of space to run in this big arena, and I am on cloud nine, especially being here running for my team.”

Adding to Zimmerman’s great score was past FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) Team Gold medalist Cade McCutcheon, who marked a 218 riding Smart Little Dunnit (Smart Spook x Jan Van Bar B Dun It x Hollywood Dun It). Dani Latimer’s 207.5 score atop Could You Be Loved, a horse (Ricochet Rooster x Ninja Jac x Jacs Little Pine) she borrowed from Italian Letizia Tosetti, also added to the final total.

When the picture seemed to depict Team USA on the highest step of the podium, Axel Pesek and Uncle Sparky (Shining Spark x Cats Okey Dokey x Doc’s Oak), the 2017 SVAG FEI World Championship Junior Individual gold medalists, came back with yet another outstanding performance paid back by the judges with a 220 which brought the composite score to a 646, thus tying with the American team. Before Pesek, teammate Margaux Legrand and Wound Up Whiz (Topsail Whiz x Wind Her Up Chic x Smart Chic Olena) had closed their run with a 214.5, and third team member Estelle Sole, guiding RS Bloody Mary Spat (Spat Olena x RS Hollywood Hglo x McJac Flash), had performed to a 211.5.

“My horse was absolutely fantastic,” said Pesek, who also represented his country with his mount at the 2018 FEI WEG in Tryon, North Carolina. But it wasn’t over yet, and the tiebreaker ultimately came down to reserve and third place honors.

In the last set of riders, Team Germany had anchor rider Michelle Maibaum and her Star Sailor Whiz (Star Spangled Whiz x Sailor N Glo x Frozen Sailor) ready to turn the cards on the table. The pair entered the show arena determined to give their best, and they did.

“Nobody told me what score I had to post to beat the leading composite score and, although the pressure was on big time, I concentrated on my run,” Maibaum said at the end of her go. “On top of it all, since I’ve only had my horse for three months, I don’t know him very well, but he was really good for me. I am super happy that I made my team win the gold.”

The total score for Germany after Michelle and her mount scored a 217.5 was elevated to a 646.5, and the Gold was all theirs thanks to additional performances by Germany’s Johannes Heil, riding Whizper Lil Gump BB (Little Gump x Soft Whizpers x Topsail Whiz), who marked a 218, and Franziska Engel, riding her KD Whizoffthefuture (Storm Warning Whiz x Mae Be A Hobby x How D Mae Bee) to a 211.

“Once again I can only say that I am extremely proud of my young riders,” said Team Coach Nico Hoermann, who collected yet another medal in the prestigious SVAG FEI World and European Reining Championships held in Givrins.

The top 20 scores plus ties automatically advanced to the SVAG FEI World Reining Championship for Young Riders Individual Final.

Young Riders Individual

When American Cade McCutcheon burst in the CS Ranch Arena to run pattern No. 10 aboard Smart Little Dunnit, it was clear to all that he had one goal in mind: the Individual Young Riders Gold medal. With the athletic 7-year-old stallion (Smart Spook x Jan Van Bar B Dun It x Hollywood Dun It) owned by Turnabout Farm Inc. between the reins, McCutcheon rode to a 227.5 and the Individual Young Riders Gold medal.

“My horse felt really good in the team competition as he did today in the warm-up pen and in the show arena. I am very proud of this result and would like to thank all our team,” McCutcheon said.

For the Netherlands, Yessie Van Der Zwan fired up the crowd as she rode Suzanne Scharroo’s 10-year-old Walla Whiz N Tari BB (Topsail Whiz x Walla Walla Sunshine x Shining Spark) to a 222 score, which firmly secured the Silver medal.

“He’s an amazing horse and he gave me everything he had today,” said Van Der Zwan, who was also part of Team Netherlands. “I’ve been riding him for less than a year, and I love everything about him.”

Riding What A Wave, an 11-year-old stallion (Tidal Wave Jack x What A Sunrise x Sunrise Enterprise) owned by Gina De Pauw that boasts, amongst other feats, the 2018 WEG Individual Gold medal, young Nimroid Vannietvelt rode to a 221, which earned him the Individual Bronze.

Senior Individual

During the Team competition, Grischa Ludwig and Coeurs Little Tyke (Coeurs D Wright Stuff x Sweet Remy Chexs x Little Remedy Chexs) scored a 220, securing Team Germany’s Gold medal. In the Individual Competition, the duo closed their run with a final score of 225.5, which clinched the Individual gold medal in the SVAG FEI European Reining Championship.

“I asked, and he tried as hard as he could,” said Ludwig about the 9-year-old stallion owned by Georg Hozwarth. “He is a small horse who was there for me all the way in this big arena. We started our pattern really well, his spins were great and his ‘trademark’ maneuver, the circles, were truly special. I could not be any prouder of him and our nation’s double gold.”

Adrienne Speidel and her 7-year-old mare ARC Walla Smart (Walla Walla Whiz x Please Pass The Chic x Smart Chic Olena) performed to a 218 in the Team Competition, pushing Team Switzerland to the third step of the podium. In the Individual competition, they raised their score to a 221, enough to earn the silver medal.

“I still cannot believe this,” said an enthused and teary-eyed Speidel following the awards presentation. “Bringing home these medals is a dream come true, and I cannot thank my mare and my team enough for this great result.”

Early in the draw, Italian Lorenzo De Simone and The Cocked Gun, a 14-year-old stallion (Rooster x Katie Gun x John Gun) owned by Gildo and Giuliano Mercuri, burst into the arena, performing the big stop and back-up required by pattern No. 10. The pair continued their great performance and was paid back by the judges with a 220.5, a score which earned them the Bronze medal. It was a magnificent way to close the stallion’s career, as this was his last show. His life now will be between the pasture and the breeding barn.

“I could not be any happier and am thrilled and honored to have closed his career this way,” said an emotional De Simone.

Junior Team

Sixteen National Federations were represented by 34 riders and six teams (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the USA) at the CS Ranch during the SVAG FEI World Reining Championship for Juniors.

Draw three in a field of 34, Sarah Armenta made her way in the pen aboard Julia Kraetschmar’s Gun Smoke Dennis, a 14-year-old stallion. The first to ride for Team USA, young Armenta gave it all she had, and so did “Dennis.” Once the duo walked out of the arena, a 217.5 appeared on the scoreboard, along with a huge smile on Armenta’s face.

“I don’t know what to say! It felt awesome, especially since it’s my first time really showing him,” she said of the son of Lil Dry Peppy who is out of Gun Smoke Denise (by Mr Gun Smoke). “Because he wasn’t being shown anymore, the owners — who are really good friends of ours — had decided to turn him out in the pasture. When they found out that we were looking for a horse for me to try to qualify for the team, they offered him to me. I tried him out at the Red Bud, decided to try to qualify, got picked, and here we are!”

It was yet another Team USA duo that came in to perform in the third set — Mattie Gustin riding her Guns R Spooky (Smart Spook x Berry Yer Guns x Gunner). The 16-year-old has owned the 9-year-old gelding for four years, and this was her first FEI team experience. The duo scored a 217 after a clean run.

“My horse has made my whole career and I simply love him…he’s my best friend,” she said, fresh off her ride.

At this point of the competition, with two more horse-and-rider combinations left to go, the USA was firmly leading with a 434.5 composite score, followed by Germany with a 425. Raeanna Thayn and Coded N Karma (Electric Code x Whiz N Snap x Topsail Whiz) kept up the reigning trend for Team USA by performing to a 216.5 and bringing the composite up to a winning 651. The pressure was off for the U.S. team’s Emma Lane, who rode her father’s Gunner Gump (Gunner x Little Patrasha Gump x Little Gump) to a 211.

“This is a great group of young riders, and I am extremely proud to be here with them,” said team coach Jeff Petska.

After claiming the Gold medal in the European Senior Championship, Team Germany took the Silver medal with a 641 composite thanks to Lenya Lamberg and SH Topsail Badger (214.5); Celine Beisel and Gunner Be Good (214.5); Georgia Wilk and A Lunar Revolution (212); and Leann Stein and Litn Up Conquistador (210.5).

“I am very proud of my junior riders,” said Team Coach Nico Hoermann. “It’s pretty hard for these young reiners to go to the championships, but this group is really outstanding. My congratulations go to Team USA and, of course, to my riders. They did a great job.”

The very first Junior Team for Switzerland was made up of Flurin Staub and Don With Chrome (210.5), Nanina Staub and Chant For Chics (207.5), Sophia Staub and Gunslinger Lil Step (204.5), and Justin Haeberlin with Wimpys Cody Step (185). With a total composite of 622.5, the team wore the FEI bronze medals around their neck.

“I was very confident our team could make it to the podium,” said Team Coach Terry Schultz. “They are all extremely hard-working, very talented, and I am so proud of them!”

The top 20 scores plus ties automatically advanced to the SVAG FEI World Reining Championship for the Juniors Individual Final.

Juniors Individual

Raeanna Thayn rode her own Coded N Karma (Electric Code x Whiz N Snap x Topsail Whiz), an 8-year-old gelding, to the Gold medal with a 218 score.

“Once again he was super cool today, and I am thrilled for this second medal,” Thayn said.

Sarah Armenta rode Julia Kraetschmar’s 14-year-old stallion, Gun Smoke Dennis, to Silver with a 217.5, and Emma Lane guided her Gunner Gump, an 11-year-old gelding, to Bronze, a half-point behind.

“I could not be any prouder of our teams,” said team coach Jeff Petska. “Every time I have the honor to follow a team, my family gets bigger!”

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