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2009 Pan American Championship
Images by Steph Teeter

2009 Pan American Championship
Images by Steph Teeter

2009 Pan American Championship
Images by Steph Teeter

Home || Starters List || Official Website || Final Results

Stories: Got Here Just in Time - Steph || Arrival in Uruguay - Dinah Rojek || Day Before the Race - Kathy Brunjes || Hola!! Kyle Gibbon
Vet In Day - Steph || Thursday Morning - Kathy Brunjes || Thursday Afternoon - Kathy Brunjes || On Loop 3 - Steph
Friday Night - Kathy || The Day After - Kathy|| Heading Home - Dinah || Pan Am Departure - Kyle
2 Medallas de oro para la Argentina - Claudia Quentin
Steph's Story:
Part 1, The Venue
Part 2, Team Effort - Uruguay and Argentina
Part 3, Team Effort - USA
Part 4, Team Effort - Guatemala and Malaysia

Images of the Event:
Vetting In || The Road || The Beach || The Camp || The Camp - more || The Finish || Awards Celebration || Team USA

Team Effort - Part 3 - USA

And the Americans had a great competition! Finally! The last time the USA won a Team medal was at the Pan American Championship in 2005 held in Argentina. It was a very good event for the riders, the crews, and the USEF staff. Grace Ramsey who came along to help with the team and crewing commented that this was the most enjoyable championship she has been to. (well maybe except for the World Cup in Qatar - back in the '90's when it was fun and exciting and the sport as just building in the Middle East). It's mostly a matter of chemistry - some groups just click. And it helps that all of the horses were sound and healthy and the riders were committed to a Team medal rather than focusing on Individual placements.

There was one 'OMG' moment when ten minutes before the official trot out when Grace was doing a 'test trot', Cheryl's horse stumbled and came up 3-legged lame. Everybody gasped, and Grace, who had been asked to be the official 'trotter' said when she saw what was happening she wanted to just keep on trotting, towards the beach and out into the water... and disappear. It was a fearful moment, but whatever Al had done to himself cleared up entirely in the next ten minutes. Maybe that just set the tone - things are going well, but holy crap anything can happen, and we better all stay really focused, every minute.

Three of the team riders paid all expenses to ship their horses over from the USA. Cheryl Van Deusen and Al Capone came from Florida, Steve Rojek and Savvy were in Georga, and Gabrielle Man and CM Big Easy travelled from California by FedEx and then shipped to Uruguay with the others out of Miami. This was a major commitment on their part. Valerie Kanavy rode an Argentine bred horse, LM Francesa Pharr which had been in training in Uruguay. She laughed when she said she rode the horse to the venue (it's a small country)!

The spirit of cooperation was very strong, and all of the small problems which could have been serious aggravations, became humorous, or at least tolerable, in the light of the good spirits. Riders getting locked into bathrooms, car keys breaking in half, the horses being confined to quarantine until the night before the event. But the horses were healthy and sound, the food was good, the hotel a real gem, transportation adequate, staff minimal but skilled and committed. Plenty of laughing and helping each other.

The team also did a stellar job riding, pacing, following instructions. They were only 4 minutes off the gold medal, and maybe if they had ridden just a little faster... but they rode according to plan, and followed instructions from Becky Hart, the team Chef d'Equipe. And there were no major mishaps - no lightening bolts - no lost riders. Gabrielle and Easy had to slow down during the last 2 phases. Easy's pulse was higher than normal for him and she was instructed to back off and insure a finish. If either of the other three riders were pulled, Easy's completion would at least guarantee a bronze medal. So she backed way off, and yes they finished. As luck would have it all of the horses completed, and Al, Savvy and Francesa turned in an amazing final loop.

TheUSA was just four minutes ahead of the Guatemalan Team and 25 minutes behind Argentina going into the final loop and the USA riders were able to close the gap to 4 minutes behind Argentina. According to Ms. Hart, “We needed the riders to pick up the pace to assure a medal and the riders responded by turning in a phase speed of just under 16 miles per hour. The combined experience of not only the riders, but the crews, Team Veterinarian, and Team Staff contributed greatly to the overall result. This win was a true team effort.”

Happy team!

more later -