Mill Spring, N.C. – An electrifying crowd and highly competitive runs from 22 combinations proved to be just the atmosphere needed for U.S. reiners Dan Huss and Cade McCutcheon as they fought for their spot on the podium Saturday evening in the Individual Reining Final at the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) Tryon 2018.
Fresh off their gold-medal finish with the U.S. Reining Team on Wednesday evening, Huss (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and McCutcheon (Aubrey, Texas) were the final U.S. runs of the night, going back-to-back as the home crowd waited in anticipation to see if the U.S. would claim not one, but two medals.
Huss and Ms Dreamy, Frederick R. Christen’s eight-year-old Quarter Horse mare, laid down a competitive run and the home crowd cheered them on. They needed a score better than 225.0 to land a spot on the podium. With easy precision and smoothly executed lead changes, the athletic, sorrel mare and Huss slid into a score of 226.5 to sit in the silver-medal position. With just McCutcheon to follow, Huss and Ms Dreamy had secured at least a medal in their first individual competition at a WEG.
“I loved the reining here,” said Huss about his first experience at the WEG. “The enthusiasm and support you get from the audience and your fellow countryman, and also your teammates, it’s a feeling you don’t get a lot of. Our team members, we make it easy for one another.”
Eighteen-year-old McCutcheon and Custom Made Gun, Tim and Colleen McQuay’s seven-year-old Quarter Horse stallion, followed just behind Huss and his mare. Having led the team event with a score of 229.0, the combination loped into the show pen looking to lay down another flawless run. However, with a few small mistakes in the circles, McCutcheon and Custom Made Gun scored a 225.0, tying them with Brazil’s João Felipe Andrade C S Lacerda and Gunner Dun It Again for third. A run-off of the same pattern would determine the bronze medal.
McCutcheon was second to go after watching Lacerda lay down a clean run that earned them a score of 227.0. With the home crowd behind them, McCutcheon and the palomino stallion entered the covered arena to a thunderous applause from U.S. fans. The cheers of support seemed to propel the combination as they executed nearly a flawless pattern, tipping their hat as the crowd roared and a final score of 228.0 sealed the bronze-medal victory.
“I was a little disappointed in my first run, but I just had to flip the page, have a short-term memory, and go try again,” said McCutcheon. “I didn’t do anything different with [Custom Made Gun]. I just tried to let him catch his breath, head into the arena, and be safe in spots. I talked to my dad a lot, because he was in the same situation in 2002 and he helped me. Pretty much everyone around me had a word of advice for me. I took it all in and it helped me.”
Earlier in the evening fellow U.S. reiner Casey Deary (Weatherford, Texas) and Heavy Duty Chex, Hilldale Farm’s seven-year-old Quarter Horse stallion, would put in a solid performance, earning them a score of 219.0. Jordan Larson (Valley View, Texas) and ARC Gunnabeabigstar, HDC Quarter Horses USA LLC’s seven-year-old Quarter Horse stallion, put on a show for the home crowd with their last ride together before the stallion’s retirement, earning a score of 215.0.
Huss on Ms Dreamy: “Your better mares, even though they are a little more sensitive, they’ll have some grit to them. They will step up there and compete with the boys. This mare, she does that. She has probably taught me more than I have taught her, so it has been a great experience.”
McCutcheon on turning professional: “I’m looking at it. It would have to be at the right time. I’m not really trying to plan it. I’m going to keep going and try to get better as a non-pro and when I feel ready, I’ll go to the open.”