U.S. Clinches Silver Medal to Conclude Team Dressage Competition at Lima 2019
The U.S. Dressage Team posted strong performances on the final day of team competition at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games, earning team silver with an overall score of 437.791 after two days of intense competition. Canada was presented with the gold medal after finishing on a 440.111, securing a coveted qualification for Tokyo 2020, alongside Brazil, who collected bronze with a score of 408.696.
The U.S. contingent of Nora Batchelder and Faro SQF, Jennifer Baumert with Handsome, and Sarah Lockman aboard First Apple each contested the Intermediate I test and, ultimately, captured their first career championship medal together for the United States.
Batchelder and Faro SQF, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Batchelder and Andrea Whitcomb, were the first combination to enter the arena for the U.S., receiving a score of 71.529 percent to begin the day on a high note for the team.
“The tempi changes were pretty good, and I thought the pirouettes were also very good. We warmed those up quite a bit with Debbie [McDonald], and I thought they went pretty well in the ring. I think our biggest challenge was balancing going for it, but also keeping him relaxed at the same time. I had to balance the expression and the relaxation together,” explained Batchelder.
Leading off at the conclusion of the afternoon break once again was Baumert and Handsome, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Betsy Juliano LLC, who received a 70.382% from the judging panel for their efforts in the ring. “I thought the left pirouette was really quite good, and I was excited about that. The pirouettes can be difficult for us, but I was really happy with that. I actually thought on the whole, the canter work was a lot more rideable than yesterday,” said Baumert.
Earning a team medal for the U.S. has been on Baumert’s career bucket list her entire life and achieving that goal today was a significant accomplishment for both her personally and for Handsome. She described the environment of the competition, which ultimately provided both challenges and rewards for the pair. “I can speak for myself and Handsome, he is pretty experienced and has been to a lot of shows, but this is definitely the biggest for him. The venue just has a great atmosphere. It’s electric, but not overwhelming, and I was pretty proud of my horse. He did get a little bit more excited as my test went on, which is unusual, but it was nice, and he really gave me his all.”
Sarah Lockman and First Apple, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Gerry Ibanez, concluded the day’s Small Tour competition with another impressive high score, as the duo received a 75.912 percent, the day’s top mark. “Today was another amazing day that I want to pinch myself for. Apple brought out all of the stops and felt amazing. We had a pretty much mistake free test, and I couldn’t ask for much more from him under pressure in this team situation,” said Lockman.
Lockman has been overcome with emotion the past two days, recording a personal best in yesterday’s Prix St. Georges and earning a class-topping score today in the Intermediate I with First Apple. In her inaugural appearance donning the official U.S. tailcoat, Lockman described how much she has cherished the opportunity to compete alongside her teammates and for her country at Lima 2019.
“It’s a feeling like no other. It really started with us walking around the barns in our country’s colors, and there’s so much pride. It’s such a great experience for us since our sport for the most part is an individual sport, so it’s very cool to be on a team. We root for each other as professionals all the time, but it really brought a different element here to this event,” she commented.
Chef d’Equipe Debbie McDonald was ecstatic with the team’s overall performance in the pressurized environment of the Pan American Games. The U.S. Dressage Team has consistently performed well at these championships, which has offered a platform for combinations to test their skills and composure in a team-focused setting.
“I’m really proud of the team and their performances over the last two days. There is a lot to look forward to when you look at the direction of this program and I believe the future is very bright. The more international and championship exposure we can give our athletes, the better we become as a team,” said McDonald. “Overall, I think everyone handled the environment to the best of their ability, and they have each benefitted so greatly as a group and individually from this experience.”