Temecula, Calif. - Galway Downs International was hosted the 2020 Adequan USEF Futures Team Challenge – West Coast this year, marking the first time the program has been held on the West Coast. Part of USEF’s Eventing Pathway Program, the Futures Team Challenges give athletes at the CCI3* and CCI4* levels the experience of competing as part of a team and working with the USEF eventing coaches in an unofficial team competition.
Team Leslie, under the direction of USEF Eventing Development and Emerging Coach Leslie Law, earned a decisive victory in the challenge, finishing with a total team score of 129.3. U.S. Performance Director for Eventing Erik Duvander coached his team to a final score of 176.2. With three riders on each team and no drop score, the pressure was on to complete – a feat both teams accomplished.
Tamie Smith (Murrieta, Calif.) served as team captain for Team Leslie, riding her daughter Kaylawna Smith-Cook’s 11-year-old German Sport Horse gelding, Passepartout in the CCI4*-L. The pair were the highest placed competitors in the Futures Team Challenge with a final score of 32.4 and second place in the 4*.
“I had a crash course on trying to get to know him over the last month,” Smith said of Passepartout. “I’ve basically been riding him for the last five weeks. I competed him at Twin Rivers in the CCI4*-S and he won there. He’s my daughter’s horse, and we knew he was a great horse but I don’t think we all knew that he was as great of a horse that he showed he was this weekend. I think he’s actually a world-class horse, which is really exciting. He went around the cross-country with such ease and I’m just absolutely thrilled with how great he was.”
Smith had her first senior team experience last year as part of the U.S. gold medal-winning team at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. As captain for Team Leslie, she was able to share her experience with her teammates, Rebecca Brown (Seagoville, Tex.) and Team Junior Syndicate's Dassett Choice and Charlotte Babbitt (South Lake Tahoe, Calif.) and her own 2 A.M.
“We talked about what I’ve learned from being on the Pan-American team,” said Smith. “Basically, you know your horse the best. Get the information you need from the more experienced riders and coaches, but don’t forgo your own instinct.”
Smith admits that the team format helped to bring out an extra competitive side in herself and her teammates at Galway Downs International.
“If you looked at the teams, Erik’s team was quite stacked,” said Smith. “All of us on Team Leslie were pretty amped and determined to prove that we could really pull out all the stops and make it happen. I was stoked about [Team Leslie’s win] because we’re a little bit competitive.
“I’ve known Rebecca over the years and it was awesome being on a team with her, and Charlotte is a student of mine now, so that was really fun,” Smith continued. “Leslie was absolutely phenomenal with directing the team, giving us enough information without giving us too much, directing and guiding us in the way that we needed to be guided, and it was awesome. I was super happy with the results.”
Sophie Click (Snoqualmie, Wash.) and Quidproquo, the nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding she owns with Amy Click, were the top pair for Team Erik, finishing with a 55.8 in the CCI3*-L. Click has team experience from four years of competing at the North American Youth Championships, and she found her Futures Team Challenge experience to be a valuable step up.
“This was a higher caliber team and there’s some pressure being on a team with more experienced upper-level riders,” said Click. “It was really cool to share the experience with them and see up close how they do things, which I really appreciated and learned a lot from.”
Click’s teammates for the Challenge were Liz Halliday-Sharp (Lexington, Ky.) with The Monster Partnership's Cooley Quicksilver and Emilee Libby (Temecula, Calif.) with Linda Libby's Jakobi.
“Getting to learn from Erik Duvander all weekend was pretty incredible,” Click said. “This was the first time I’ve ever worked with him. He brought a fresh perspective to how I should ride my horse, which worked out really well. My horse and I have some good homework to work on this winter.”
The USEF International High Performance Programs are generously supported by the USET Foundation, USOPC, and USEF sponsors and members