Athens - Riding With Royalty - Portugal - World Equestrian Games
WORLD EQUESTRIAN GAMES ROMA’98
Karen was thrilled to be one of two riders chosen to represent Canada at the World Equestrian Games in Rome, Italy in October, 1998, with her horse Double Take. The other rider was Stuart Black with his horse Market Venture.
There were 92 competitors representing many countries in both the Team Competition and the Individual Competition. Stuart was in 27th place after Dressage with a score of 50.20 with Karen being in 55th place with a score of 60.80. The Cross-Country course was huge with very technical fences and it poured with rain during Karen’s ride. Karen was ecstatic to finish this demanding course on Double Take with a clear cross country round, moving up to 42nd place. Stuart on Market Venture had a run-out on one of the fences, putting them in 31st place.
Karen and Double Take finished the Stadium Jumping with 2 rails down, finishing in 40th place with Stuart and Market Venture placing 32nd with 3 rails down.
Karen was very happy to finish her first CCIO**** competition in the top half, with a clear cross country round.
A DREAM COME TRUE!
The World Equestrian Games was a dream come true for me! An opportunity all on its’ own, one that has etched a lasting impression on me and opened my eyes to the top International level I have to aspire towards. With the immense satisfaction I feel from completing our first four stars, also comes the humbling realization that I have a lot more to learn in order to be highly competitive at that level.
Let me share with you some of the highlights of our trip. First, there was the plane ride……. All summer long I would look into the sky and see those big birds flying by and think “Merlin (Double Take) will be in one of those soon”. To me, putting your horse on a plane is an exciting event! Merlin was in a crate by himself and was positioned right in front of the cargo area. Whenever the door opened into the back, I could peek at him from my seat. I had my peanuts and wine - he had his carrots and water.
We flew from New York to Zurich, Switzerland and then shipped to Milan, Italy by Van which took six hours. The scenery in Switzerland was breathtaking. The severe jagged mountains, the high green pastures, narrow, twisty lanes through quaint villages…. It was some of the most beautiful land I have ever seen.
We then shipped the rest of the way, stabling one km. From the WEG site until we hacked in on the Monday morning. I felt like a Pony Clubber riding to my first Pony Club Camp when I was eleven, only Patty was now Merlin, and camp this time would prove a little more demanding. The excitement of seeing foreign teams, looking for the big name riders, anxiously seeking glimpses of the Cross-country fences and the sound of Italian coming off the P.A. system, created a distinct atmosphere. YES, we had made it to the World Championships!
The Cross-country course was long and very technical. People said it was even more technical than Badminton with tougher terrain. One downhill fence was taken out the morning of Cross (as they say in Italy), due to the dangerous footing all the rain had created. The latter part of the course didn’t let up with maximum oxer following maximum oxer. After walking to fence #15 and feeling reasonably OK with the course, I soon began to change my views after seeing the second half. With ten steeplechase fences on Phase B, from enormous brush oxers to two open water fences, combined with the 32 fences on Phase D, I figured Merl would have at least fifty jumping efforts. This, together with the heavy footing due to the weeks worth of heavy rain, made me become concerned for Merlin’s sake and I felt I had to be wise to produce a clear, safe round
With my strategy in place from Coach Peter Gray’s and Teammate Stuart Black’s helpful advice, I was able to cross the finish flags with a conservative but clear round. MY LITTLE MERL DID IT! I was so proud of him. He was such a star!
We finished the competition with two rails in Stadium, completing in 40th place out of 92 starters. It was a remarkable feeling to know that we had just completed the World Championships! Stuart finished in 32nd place. With both of us completing in the top 50% of the starters, apparently Canada can now send two individuals to the 2000 Olympics.
The night before the competition started, I spent two hours reading the cards, letters, and faxes sent to me, and with each one I read, I felt more and more confident, and felt I truly had Canada’s support behind me. It really meant a lot to me. Thank you everyone!
Lots of love,
Karen and Merlin
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