Banners fly above the converted military base that is now the equestrian center at Deodoro, outside Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo by rider Lauren Sammis of the USA dressage team.
From a release by Joanie Morris, reporting for the US Equestrian Federation from the Pan Am Games in Brazil:
Deodoro, Brazil - Thirty-five horses from 13 nations were presented for the dressage horse inspection on Friday, July 13 at 8 a.m. The horse inspection ensures that all the horses in the event are fit to compete.
The horses were inspected in alphabetical order by nation, with the United States last. All four horses looked super, led off by the diminutive Brilliant Too and rider Katherine Poulin-Neff. Brilliant Too appears to grow in stature whenever he gets in front of a crowd but Poulin-Neff had her running shoes on and kept up with the 15.1 hand Hanoverian/Thoroughbred gelding.
"He's really happy," said Poulin-Neff after she presented her horse. "Actually he's been really fresh. Every day he's been coming out, twisting his head up and bucking...we were riding here in the indoor and the wind was blowing and they must have been doing helicopter training because the helicopters were going over and he was higher than a kite. He definitely feels really good and he's going really well. We're definitely excited to be here."
Alternate rider Susan Dutta and the Hanoverian stallion, Pik L were second to present. Susie's husband, Tim, who organizes the shipping for the US horses (and accompanied the dressage horses in the air) presented Pik L for his wife. A seasoned veteran, Pik L handled the jog with no trouble.
Lauren Sammis and Hyperion Farm's Sagacious HF exhibited all the personality for which they are renowned and the 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding strutted down the lane as if all the people present had come just to see him.
Chris Hickey rounded out the quartet with Brenna Kucinski's Regent. The 9-year-old KWPN gelding was blindingly shiny in the Brazilian sunlight and appeared remarkably well in front of the ground jury.
After the horse inspection, Hickey let himself fully enjoy the moment.
"Now we're getting excited," he said. "We're really here and we've been training and working and the horses are fit and ready but not over worked. They're fresh and ready but not overworked and that's important coming into a competition like this."
While parasailors jumped from airplanes onto the surrounding military base in Deodoro, the riders went to work in the practice arenas at 11am, and took advantage of the opportunity to ride in the main arena before noon. The US drew the fourth team slot, meaning that Sammis will ride tomorrow and Poulin-Neff and Hickey will compete on Sunday.