The Canadian Reining Team stepped up to the plate, placing ninth overall at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy, FRA after earning a combined score of 642 points in the Team competition on August 26.

As a result of their fantastic runs, all four riders placed in the top 35, qualifying them for the individual consolation round on August 28.

The first Canadian to perform on day two of the Team and First Individual Qualifying Competition was Matthew Hudson of Marieville, QC aboard Its All About Smart (Smart Spook X Nu Cash), Andre de Bellefeuille’s seven-year-old Quarter Horse stallion. During the first manoeuvre, they showed strong spins with centred stops to earn great scores.

Hudson gathered top speed on the left-lead circles and demonstrated absolute control transitioning down for the small circles. Changing over to the right-lead large circles, they returned to high speed, but regrettably, the horse swapped its hind lead, impacting Hudson’s score with a penalty. However, the pair zipped down the straight runs to sliding stops, finishing strong for a final score of 213.5 points, tying them for 31st place.

“I was happy with my ride, he was really honest. Besides the lead that we popped on the left circle, which isn’t common for him, it was a great run. Today he even tried harder than he has all week in training,” commented Hudson on his ride. “He has always been an honest horse. Any time he’s in the pen he seems to perform better and he still has so much potential.”

Overall, Hudson was pleased with his ride at the Games, stating, “I’m so proud to be here representing Canada and I can’t wait for the next time I can do this again.”

Rounding out the individual rides was Cody Sapergia of Lermoos, AUT riding Nu Chexomatic (Nu Chex To Cash X Tejons Peppy Doc), a seven-year-old Quarter Horse stallion owned by Tina Künstner-Mantl, Jac Point Quarters. The Saskatchewan native felt the freshness of his horse as they entered the ring. The crowd was on their feet, cheering them on and Nu Chexomatic sensed the excitement in the air. Their initial spins were powerful, although the power caused the horse’s hind end to move past centre, resulting in a penalty. They went on to demonstrate a nice lope for the run downs, and peaked their max speed heading for their stops. They encountered a little bit of slipping, affecting their score, but redeemed themselves with style and precision. The pair tied with Hudson for 31st place with a score of 213.5.

“My run started well, he turned for me as well as I could hope for. As I took off on the circles, the crowd was getting behind me – which was super. You can kind of feed yourself off that energy, but so did my horse, so he got a little bit nervous,” said Sapergia. “The stops are his strongest manoeuvers. With the footing being a little bit deep, he found a slick area, causing him to miss his footing a little bit in the first stop, but they were still really strong manoeuvres.”

Sapergia went on to explain that he is gearing up for the consolation round. “I sure can’t complain about my results. I will compete in the consolation round to hopefully put a nice strong pattern down to make it into the finals. The Games are a lot of fun. It’s a big event and experience, so I’m just trying to treat it like any other horse show.”

The Team and First Qualifying Competition concluded after a total of 82 reiners from 16 countries completed the run.

“I am so happy that everyone went out and did their best. We planned the runs for our riders to keep them safe and demonstrate their strengths. Our team finished eighth out of 16 countries, which is great,” said the Reining Team Chef d’Equipe, Lyne Laforme. “The entire team made it into the top 35 with their scores, so now we are going to work on the next runs. We have really good horses, so now we just need to focus on the individual rides, as they still have a chance to make it to the finals.”

Canadians, Josiane Gauthier and Lisa Coulter placed 23rd and 27th, respectively, and will join Hudson and Sapergia in the consolation round on August 28. A total of 20 riders will take part in the consolation round, and five will move forward, joining the top 15 from the First Individual Qualifying Round in the finals.

Currently leading the individual rounds after the completion of the First Qualifiers are Americans Shawn Flarida, Andrea Fappino, and Mandy McCutcheon.

The U.S. Team won the Gold medal with a score of 677.5. Following for the Silver medal was the Belgium Team with 663, and Austria took Bronze on 658.5.