Mill Spring, N.C. – The U.S. Reining Team turned in an epic performance to start the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) Tryon 2018 on a high note for the U.S. contingent. Under the guidance of Chef d’Equipe Jeff Petska, the team of Casey Deary and Heavy Duty Chex, Dan Huss and Ms Dreamy, Jordan Larson and ARC Gunnabeabigstar, and Cade McCutcheon and Custom Made Gun clinched the fifth consecutive team gold medal for the U.S. with a score of 681.0.
In the morning session, Deary (Weatherford, Texas) and Heavy Duty Chex laid down a solid run to kick off the competition for the U.S. Reining Team. Hilldale Farm’s seven-year-old Quarter Horse stallion showcased his strength with Deary in the saddle to score 223.5. Next up, 18-year-old McCutcheon (Aubrey, Texas) made his WEG debut a memorable one by wowing the crowd with his run on Custom Made Gun. McCutcheon and Tim and Colleen McQuay’s seven-year-old Quarter Horse stallion executed the pattern with ease and were rewarded with a score of 229.0 from the judges.
“I was really nervous, but having all these guys at the gate with me really helped,” McCutcheon said of how he handled the newfound pressure. “Their words of encouragement made a big difference.”
Huss (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Ms Dreamy headed into the arena midway through the afternoon session and did not disappoint. Huss and Frederick R. Christen’s eight-year-old Quarter Horse mare gave an excellent effort to earn a score of 226.5. Larson (Valley View, Texas) and ARC Gunnabeabigstar closed out the U.S. team performances with a bang. Larson and HDC Quarter Horses USA LLC’s seven-year-old Quarter Horse stallion showed off their great style and flair to earn a score of 225.5, in spite of a minor bobble.
Petska expertly explained the reason for the U.S. success over the year, saying, “The strategy was obviously to mark all you can mark [in the pattern], but the heat was a factor. The riders are tremendous horseman and they know their horses well. In this situation, we really have to give credit to Dr. John Newcomb and our grooms and what they do. They do such a great job monitoring these horse, keeping them cool and comfortable and doing all those little things. We have been very fortunate to be successful five times and win the gold medal, but I think what separates us is the horsemanship of our riders and, obviously, the quality of these horses. We are talking about training and we are talking about maneuvers, but the vet and the grooms are talking about if the horse is happy, comfortable, a little too fresh, a little too tired – all those little subtle things that make so much difference at this level.”
Belgium earned the team silver medal with a score of 671.5 and Germany received the team bronze medal with a score of 666.5.
Gabe Hutchins (Joseph, Ore.) and FM Shine N Tag Chex, Tamarack Ranch’s seven-year-old Quarter Horse stallion, represented the U.S. as an individual combination in Wednesday’s competition. In their first appearance representing the U.S., their run had a few bobbles but demonstrated quality movements to score 216.5 and an impressive accolade to their resume.
All four team combinations will move on to Saturday’s individual final.
Deary on competing here in Tryon: “It is a great feeling. The whole goal here [as the pathfinder] is to make it better for my team, so my job was to go out and try to put a good run together so they could follow on their horses.”
On how Huss prepared for Tryon: “The main thing is there are so many good riders and so many good horses. It is just like any other sport; it is a mind game. You have to visualize it, and when you go out there, you are more likely to do it. I spent more time prepping myself than I did the horse. We [put her on the aquatread] every other day since the selection trials and that has really helped her get strong and be able to handle the heat.”
Larson on his horse: “He is just a great horse. He has been a great horse for my family; we have done a lot [of shows] on him and this is his last horse show. I am a little choked up about it. He has just got the heart of a champion.”
Hutchins on representing the U.S.: “It is awesome; it is probably the most humbling day of my life.”