Tales of the Best Equestrian Highlights of the 2016 Rio Olympics

I never watch TV or any sports for that matter. This year was different. I watched literally four hours a day of the Equestrian games. I have complained sadly during past Olympics with the lack of equestrian event broadcasts. This year was superb, albeit they still didn’t broadcast through live national television. However, NBC did present an outstanding online, easy access live streaming as well as providing links to your local cable tv station for easy watching of all the events including full coverage of the equestrian games. It was thrilling to watch so many incredibly talented riders and their horses compete from countries we don’t ever get a chance to see. I am sure you agree that the 2016 Rio Olympic Equestrian Games was truly fantastic and thank you, NBC for outstanding coverage of all events.

Here’s the top highlights I’d like to share…..remember, to keep your horse in top shape to “Stay Competitive” with Grand Meadows products … investing in your horse’s long-term future health and performance.

USA’s oldest competing Olympian Phillip Dutton earns his first individual Eventing title.

Phillip Dutton, an Australian native, at 52-years-old, is the oldest Olympian on the 2016 Equestrian Team USA. He rode in the US since 1991 and joined the US Team in 2006 after becoming an American citizen. Dutton and Mighty Mouse were in sync and rode with precision making an incredible comeback from the No.15 spot to the No. 3 spot in the finals to claim the bronze for Individual Eventing. Dutton’s crucial, close to perfect cross-country performance awarded the duo a top five spot entering the jumping finals.
Dutton and Mighty Nice finished both jumping rounds with minimal time penalties and became the first American duo to earn an individual Eventing title since Beijing. Well done Phillip and your “mighty horse”, Mighty Nice.

Michael Jung makes history with back-to-back Eventing gold medal finishes.

Germany’s Michael Jung and his horse Sam earn their second consecutive Olympic gold in individual Eventing, making Jung the third rider in the history of the sport to do so in just his second appearance.
Ironically, Sam was not Jung’s first choice for the Rio Games. His intended horse picked up an infection a week before animals were due in Rio, but Sam proves to be Olympic worthy with another gold performance and a comeback from the No. 5 spot to make Olympic history. Both Dutton and Jung rode flawlessly to complete Pierre Michelet’s highly difficult cross-country course.
Jung was the only rider out of the 65 competitors to complete all three phases with just minor penalties in the dressage phase. Jung also helped win the silver team medal to his collection.

Laura Graves, the youngest rider on the team, riding her own horse, Verdades, she nicknamed, Diddy, “rode the test of her life” to help Team USA secure their first team bronze medal in team dressage for a spot on the podium for the first time since 2004 in Athens.

The fairly tale story of Laura Graves riding her own horse, Verdades, nicknamed Diddy after purchasing him 13 years ago. Diddy, an incredibly talented and challenging horse reached their pinnacle with Laura’s riding finesse with her telepathic understanding of her horse.

“I know exactly how he’s feeling every day and what I can do to make him feel better if I need to – If you don’t know your horse quite as well, you may not pick up on little things. I think because of that it helps me make the right decision for him, and so far it’s paid off.”

There couldn’t have been more pressure mounting as she was the final rider of the team dressage competition, and this ride would determine the fate of the US dressage team. Laura was cool and confident belying her young age as she rode a tremendously impressive test with the steel concentration of a seasoned rider. The pair performed superbly together with subtle communication, lightness, softness, riding harmoniously to secure the third place bronze medal for the Team USA for the Grand Prix special with their score of 80.644 to round out a 76.66 score for Team USA.
Germany took Gold – 81.93, Great Britain won Silver – 78.59.

It was definitely tense as the US Team had fallen short, after performances from Allison Brock, Steffen Peters, and Kasey Perry-Glass averaged out to only 73.984. Laura Graves and Diddy became the team’s last chance at trumping the Dutch in a nail-biting battle for the bronze title.  The duo’s 80.644 score on their performance secured the U.S. dressage team a spot on the podium for the first time since 2004. The US Team was ecstatic and Laura and Diddy’s ride will be etched in memories for a lifetime.

Spanish dressage rider Severo Jurado Lopez rideing, 10 year old Lorenzo, on of the youngest horses in the Rio Olympics dressage field perform to “Smooth” by Santana and Rob Thomas.

Spain’s Severo Jesus Juardo Lopez and Lorenzo stole everyone’s hearts with his flamboyant Spanish character as his horse “danced” to the jazzy music of “Smooth” in the Individual Freestyle, with an impressive, dynamic ride earing the pair a 5th place finish with a score of 83.62. “He’s a funny, happy horse day to day, you don’t have to worry about anything with him. He doesn’t care about the atmosphere. When there are people he can take all that pressure and becomes more expressive in an atmosphere like this.”

Who said watching Dressage is like watching paint dry? They didn’t watch this pair! Wow!

Charlotte Dujardin and Velegro smashes every record and wins the gold medal aboard Valegro in another outstanding performance.

Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and Velegro, owned by Carl Hester have done it again earning their second consecutive dressage gold riding a stunning round on Valegro tying British Cyclist Laura Troff as the most decorated British female in Olympic history. Their winning score of 93.857 was the third highest of all time, beaten only by the record-breaking score they set in the London Games.
Riding 14th out of 18 final competitors in dressage’s ultimate event, performing a secret new routine, they produced a stunning display of conjoined, expressive homo-equine balletics, drawing whoops and cheers from the entire stadium as the infamous duo left the arena, Charlotte in tears, as this is their final competitive ride on Valegro, her constant companion.

The gold wasn’t the only life changing moment that happened to Dujardin. The 31-year-old agreed to head to the alter with fiancé Dean Wyatt Goulding after he sported an impatient message on his shirt from the crowd reading “Can we get married now?” How romantic is that and could life get any better for this phenomenal British rider!!!

Isabell Werth earns 10th Olympic medal to become the most decorated equestrian athlete in Olympic history.

Charlotte Dujardin’s main rival, Germany’s Isabell Werth, was riding last and slipped to second place with a silver. Isabell is the most successful rider at the Olympics as she helped lead the German dressage team get back to the top the week before with a top score in the Grand Prix Special. Her success wouldn’t stop at the team Grand Prix gold. The “Dressage Queen” delivered an extraordinary performance in the Grand Prix Individual Freestyle claiming silver and surpassing Anky van Grunsven of the Netherlands as the most decorated equestrian athlete in Olympic history with a total of 10 Olympic medals. Unfortunately, Isabell Werth has had a chequered doping past having served a six-month suspension in 2009 – fortunately, she recovered and came back to claim history.

France clinches Team Jumping gold after just three riders.

France comes out fighting in the Team Jumping finals from fifth place position in one of the greatest competitions of all times to claim the gold medal after three riders. Team USA takes home their first title since 2008,
France entered the finals trailing Brazil, Germany, Netherlands, and Team USA who remained in a four-way tie for first place with clear scores. Team USA took the silver. Unfortunately Team USA were down to just thee riders as Beezie Madden’s Cortes “C” had sustained a tendon injury the day before.

Team USA jumps to silver in equestrian finals.

USA takes home their first title since 2008 earning a silver medal just behind France. The fate of the US show Jumping team fell onto four-time Olympian, McLain Ward riding his new mare, Azur. The team entered the team finals in a four-way tie for first place with Germany, Brazil, and the Dutch after performing multiple clear rounds to earn perfect scores. The French trailed in fifth place with a mere time penalty.
Putting more pressure to the sad withdrawal of two-time gold medalist Beezie Madden.  As a three- member team, the U.S. was not given the opportunity to use a drop score.  The Dutch and Brazil teams also dwindled to three riders. The U.S. Show Jumping team , Kent Farrington, Lucy Davis and McLain Ward did not disappoint and delivered a phenomenal day in the arena with a 5 point penalty score claiming a spot on the podium for the first time since Beijing.

Individual jumping finals end in six man jump-off.

Six riders completed double clear rounds in the Show Jumping Finals to tie for first place. Kent Farrington (USA) , Nick Skelton (GBR) , defending champion Steve Guerdat (SUI), Sheikh Ali Al Thani (QAT), Peder Fredricson (SWE) and Eric Lamaze (CAN) compete in a Battle Royale of a jump-off to claim a spot on the  podium for individual glory.

Nick Skelton wins Individual Jumping gold with replaced hip.

Well, this jump off couldn’t be anymore exciting to watch as Great Britain’s Nick Skelton and his trusty horse Big Star take home Great Britain’s first individual show jumping  gold with a clear 42.82 second performance in the six rider jump-off.
Skelton, the oldest competitor to make it to the jumping finals, set the bar high for his rivals with a quick and flawless performance in a nail-biting six man jump-off that nobody could contest to.

Six Olympic Games, two broken CI vertebrae, and a hip replacement! “Skelly” likes to say he only feels pain when he is off his horse! Skelton earns a well deserved fairytale ending to his equestrian career by adding an individual gold title to his London 2012 team title.

Sweden’s Peder Fredricson, an eventer turned show jumper joins in celebration by adding another individual silver medal to his 2004 team silver. Fredricson was the only rider besides Skelton to clear the jump-off course, but fell short with a time of 43.35.

Eric Lamaze of Canada took bronze and US rider, Kent Farrington finished in 5th place to end the tremendously exciting 2016 Rio Olympic show jumping.