September 18, 2002 -- The U.S. Equestrian Team took the lead in driving and
reining as those sports got under way today. It had to settle for seventh in
show jumping, but two out of three ain't bad, as the song goes. The jumping
started out in a promising fashion with Peter Wylde as the lead-off rider for
the U.S., and I held my breath, knowing there had been problems with his
horse, Fein Cera, yesterday.
She came out of the stall stiff and "didn't feel like the horse I know," said
Peter. He had three theories about what happened -- she had gotten cast in
her stall, she was in heat and it just passed, or she was hurting from
sitting on her tailbone on the plane. Re: the latter -- I know the feeling.
Peter got his own vet here from Belgium to check out the horse, and she was
"I tend to overreact," he conceded with a sparkling smile.
Her good health was obvious from the way she jumped in the one-rounder
against the clock, which counted toward both team and individual placings.
Fein Cera left everything up and went around in a speedy 75.2 seconds,
placing Peter fourth of 97 starters.
"It was such a great feeling. She's just unbelievable," said Peter.
"Like a picture book," was the way coach Frank Chapot assessed the round.
Peter is being helped here by Conrad Homfeld, who was on the gold medal team
the last time the USET won a world show jumping championship, in 1986.
"He has all the experience and knows what this is about. He's a genius," said
Peter is behind Switzerland's Markus Fuchs, France's Eric Levallois (like
Peter, one of my picks for the Final Four for the individual medals) and
Olympic gold medalist Ludger Beerbaum of Germany.
Next best was Nicky Shahinian-Simpson, who had the last fence down with El
Campeon's Cirka Z. Hey, she was in good company. Reigning World Champion
Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil on Baloubet du Rouet also had it down. Beezie Madden
ran into trouble with Judgement at the next-to-last jump, a double decked out
with Spanish fans that she thought may have distracted the stallion, who
dropped rails at both jumps.
I was worried about the water jump for Leslie Howard, whose Priobert de
Kalvarie has had problems there, but he was fine with the H20. It was the
triple that got him when, Leslie thinks, he saw a shadow and started to jump,
then didn't. It looked as if he misjudged his take-off point and smashed into
the first element. When she turned him around and tried again, he was
perfect, but he was charged five seconds for the knockdown, and four seconds
for the crew having to reset the fence.
So Nicky is 31st, Beezie, 47th; and Leslie, 59th. In the teams, France leads
the way, followed by Germany and Sweden.
The jumps were terrific. I always like it when they're in keeping with the
setting of the competition. We had standards shaped like castanets, a Jerez
2002 jump flanked by replicas of the WEG mascot, Fino, a blue-winged horse;
and a double of giant Spanish fans. It made the course walk entertaining.