Postcard from WEG Selection Trials 2

The second weekend of the World Equestrian Games (WEG) dressage selection trials was a nail-biter. Coming into the weekend, the top riders Debbie McDonald, Sue Blinks and Guenter Seidel were separated by less than one percent. However, the fourth, fifth and sixth place slots for the short list were still up for grabs.

It seemed like the two competitions over two weekends were taking a toll on horses and riders. Sue Blinks didn’t feel that her partner Flim Flam was feeling himself during the warm up and test on Saturday. Later, they discovered that he was a bit colicky. With some veterinary attention and fluids, everyone hoped he’d be back in form by Sunday’s freestyle.

In addition, Debbie McDonald’s Brentina broke into hives just two hours before their Grand Prix test. Thankfully, the allergic reaction wasn’t as bad as it had been during last year’s Festival of Champions when the same thing happened, and Brentina put her heart into the performance bringing home the gold medal for the day’s competition and moving the pair into first place overall.

Something must have been in the air on Saturday because Guenter Seidel and Nikolaus 7 didn’t have the usual oomph in their performance. Seidel blamed the ride on himself saying that Nikolaus was unusually relaxed and he should have made sure the horse was awake before going into the arena. The pair still came out third but dropped from second to third place in the overall standings.

Tom Noone had to withdraw Fresco after the horse fell during schooling and tore his pectoral muscle. He is expected to make a full recovery but was unable to compete. In addition, Shelly Francis withdrew Gala for unspecified veterinary reasons.

The cool weather was just perfect for Sunday’s freestyle. Flim Flam was feeling better and got better and better as the test progressed. By the end Blinks said he felt completely normal. In addition, Brentina’s hives had disappeared. Unfortunately, Betsy Steiner had to withdraw with Rainier due to some reported lameness issues.

When all was said and done, five riders from the selection trials and one rider who qualified using her scores from European competitions were named to the short list that would compete for the final four team slots and one alternate to attend WEG in September. Debbie McDonald, Guenter Seidel and Sue Blinks were named to the team, and the final spot will be filled by Lisa Wilcox of Germany, Christine Traurig or Steffen Peters. The riders will travel to Europe to compete in several competitions including Aachen in Germany at the end of the month. The final team will be announced in mid-August.

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