August 31, 2014 -- The United States upped its medal count by three in the FEI Reining World Championships at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. In the Individual Final, the Adequan U.S. Reining Squad swept the podium with combinations putting in amazing performances. A field of twenty one riders hoped to top the leaderboard in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the Caen Exhibition Center but leading the way was Shawn Flarida who claimed the Individual Gold medal, Andrea Fappani earned Silver medal honors and Mandy McCutcheon stood with her squad members earning the Bronze medal.
Shawn Flarida (Springfield, Ohio) riding Michell Kimball's Spooks Gotta Whiz was the final competitor to take to the show pen Saturday evening but his ride did not go unnoticed leaving a lasting impression with a score of 233.5. A fan favorite coming into the competition, he did not disappoint with unbeatable work at the circles, powerful sliding stops and rollbacks and crisp transitions.
Overcoming the pressure of being the last ride of the night Shawn said, "There was a lot of pressure when you are seated like that going into the final. A great friend of mine and a great horseman, Andrea (Fappani) just lit the house on fire and thank god my horse was up for the challenge."
Thrilled with his performance, he added "I thought he was really, really good, it's so loud out there I don't think he heard any of my verbal communications but he is so used to me now, he ran his little butt off. That horse has a heart as big as his spirit."
Completing an impressive pattern, Andrea Fappani (Scottsdale, Ariz.) riding Silver Spurs Equine's Custom Cash Advance earned a score of 229 to claim the Individual Silver medal. Showcasing his mounts fast big circles and slow small circles, he was rewarded with high marks from the judging panel.
Energized after his ride, Fappani commented, "I just love that crowd out there. To have everybody behind me, I just kept pushing and pushing, it was really good. He felt great the last couple days riding him and I was just so excited to be there. It's the first time for me at the WEG and I wanted to top it off with a good performance and it went great."
As the first woman to represent the Adequan U.S. Reining Squad at the World Equestrian Games, Mandy McCutcheon (Aubrey, Texas) riding Yellow Jersey owned by Tim and Colleen McQuay, did not let that hold her back from scoring a 227 and earning the Individual Bronze medal. McCutcheon scored high marks for her work at the circles as well as impressive sliding stops and roll backs.
© Andrea Bonaga
"He is an amazing horse and apparently he knows the night to step it up and so I just go with what he says," McCutcheon said after her ride. "He gives you so much confidence that sometimes I feel like I should be worrying about more things but he just waits for you and does what you say. It was just really exciting and I just try to focus on my job rather than what's going on around me."
Chef d'Equipe Jeff Petska discussed the future of the squad saying, "The future is bright, we have some good horses in our future but the other countries are right there. What drives our riders is knowing that this could fleet and that motivates them to work even harder."
Finishing in eighth place, Jordan Larson (Whitesboro, Texas) riding Heritage Farm's HF Mobster earned a score of 223.5. With high marks from the judge's right from the start, Larson put in a consistently strong performance giving him a top ten finish. He scored well on his sliding stops as well as spins.
Continuing with his success throughout the week, Troy Heikes (Scottsdale, Ariz.) riding Jennifer Marley's Lil Gun Dunit, was pleased with his performance and his entire week competing. Receiving good scores from the judges for his stops and left spins, the pair had a couple mistakes that cost them valuable points. Finishing in 11th place, he marked a score of 220.5.
Discussing his ride, Heikes said, "I went in there and just enjoyed the moment. He's tired; he's had to go three times where most of the others have only competed twice this week," referencing his ride in the Second Individual Qualifier. "Overall he has felt really really good, I've had a blast."
Tom McCutcheon (Aubrey, Texas) riding Dun Git A Nicadual owned by Jennifer Marley received no score following the post check.
For more information on the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, visit www.normandy2014.com.
Follow the 2014 Adequan U.S. Reining Squad here.