Despite the fact that some people think watching dressage is as exciting as watching paint dry there are times when dressage competition can be an edge of the seat nail biter! This is how it was at the Pan American Games in Lima today. The Canadian dressage team, of four riders, were under a lot of pressure. They had to win a medal in order to secure a berth to send a dressage team to the Tokyo Olympics. Yesterday was the first day of competition. The Canadian team had four horse rider combinations. First to go were Tina Irwin and Lindsay Kellock competing in the Prix St. George.
They both had good rides and for some time they were in the lead with Tina scoring 73.375 and Lindsay 73.176. But…the last horse and rider to go were the American rider Sarah Lochman and her horse First Apple who swept into the lead to take the win with 76.088.
Then came the Grand Prix level of the competition. Naima Moriera Laliberte riding Statesman came in and did a marvelous ride for a score of 71.413 to win the class.
The second Canadian rider , Jill Irving and her horse Degas 12 also did well with a 68.391.
As the Grand Prix is a higher level than the Prix St. George the highest Grand Prix score of a team is awarded an extra 1.5% and this went to Naima.
At the end of the day Team USA was a gnats whisker ahead. The totals were USA 219.970 and Canada 219.828. Brazil was in 3rd place with 204.472 It could not have been closer for Canada and the US. It did look like Canada would get a medal and a berth for Tokyo. But those riders wanted the gold and they went for it.
The second day got off to a good start with Tina scoring 73.853 in the Intermediare 1 and Lindsay 73.147. Then came the Grand Prix Special. The USA had won the Intermediare 1 with Sarah Lochman scoring 75.912. It was going to be very tight for that gold medal!
At the barn this afternoon and we were all on tenterhooks waiting for results. When Naima rode my coach Belinda Trussell and I both had live results coming up on our phones. As each movement was completed the score would go up from each judge. It was going well. “I think she can do it.” Belinda said. “Come on Naima!” Movement by movement the scores went up. Then the final tallies for the final scores. We waited. “I think she’s done it” Belinda said. Then….. yes…..it looked like her score of 71.787 would be enough. Adding the 1.5% to the highest score of a team that took her score to 73.287. YES!! Team Canada’s total 440.11, the USA 437.7921 and Brazil 408.696.
Belinda and I jumped up and down and gave each other a hug. Team Canada Dressage had won the Gold Medal and a berth for the Olympic games in Tokyo 2020.
Congratulations to all the riders: Tina Irwin, Lindsay Kellock, Jill Irving and Naima Laliberte. I would like to add that Naima is 22 years old and this is her first time representing her country in a major international competition. The pressure was really on her to go out there and be the one to get the top score that would win the Gold Medal for Canada. She did it. In my humble opinion that is a considerable feat.
The next stage of the Pan Am dressage competition will be the individual medal competition. So there is more to look forward to.
All the photos of the riders in Lima are by Cealy Tetley who is the official photographer. Thank you to Jessie Christie of Equestrian Canada for making these photos available to me. The featured cover photo is of Jill Irving, taken by me, last year at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon N.C. I thought the Canadian flag on the horse’s fly bonnet was appropriate!