29 June 2011


"I can't express how glad I am that I did the tour. It was an amazing experience and I learned something everywhere we went like how I am the kind of person that needs a warmup show before i start a tour, staying patient with yourself and putting the previous show behind you and riding what you have that day, picking classes and riding geared towards the nations cup, and most of all I learned a huge amount about my own horse. Anyone who is really serious about being on a senior team should absolutely do the tour. Not only was it an amazing learning experience riding, it was so much fun! We had a blast exploring europe, meeting new people, and our team really turned into a family! I had to admit i was really emotional when the team parted ways but I know we had an amazing 5 weeks together. I STRONGLY recommend that anyone serious about their riding sign up for the tour next year, you definitely won't regret it!"

-Reed Kessler

"The tour helped me learn not only about European show jumping, but about how to represent the country as an equestrian. It also let us bond as a team and get to know how to manage on a team. It was very well worth it!"

-Meg O'Mara

"I didn't know it was possible to learn so much in just 5 weeks! I learned about what it takes to be a team member and represent your country, how to manage your own show schedule, drive in a foreign country, and even picked up a little French, Belgian, and German along the way. Most importantly, I learned a lot about myself and that this is something I really want to do. I know now that I want to go all the way to the top of the sport and I want to represent USA in many more nations cups to come. I had a blast touring different parts of Europe and meeting new people. I am going to miss the team and the extended family we became, but I am looking forward to doing it all over again with a whole new group! I am so thankful to have gotten this opportunity"

-Catherine Pasmore

Final Grand Prix: Hagen

Despite the torrential downpour Sunday, USA managed to get one clear round in the grand prix, Ricky Neal! It seemed not jumping in the nations cup, as disappointed as he was, proved advantageous. Not only was he clear, but he jumped a fast double clear to win the grand prix of Hagen! Thanks to Ricky, the USA European Young Rider Tour Team went out with a bang.

Among many other prizes for the the grand prix winner was a bright yellow scooter! It couldn't have come at a better time as Ricky is staying in Europe for a few more weeks and was going to be without transportation!

Ricky and Tranny 
Ricky and all the prizes!

Hagen: Future Champions

Hagen, Germany was our fourth and final competition of the tour. It's known to be one of the most competitive young rider shows. Everyone sends their best teams to Hagen. A lot of countries were using Hagen to make their final decisions for their team for the Europeans (comparative to our North American Young Rider Championships). Both teams we lost to at the first two shows, Great Britain and The Netherlands, were there with basically the same team members. The pressure was on.

Most of us had good placings in the first few classes of the week, but no major victories were had. We were saving up for the nations cup!

The team was decided as Catherine Pasmore (me) and My Boy, Karen Polle and What Ever, Reed Kessler and Onisha, and Jessica Springsteen and Vornado. Lucky for me, USA drew first to go, which meant I was literally first to step foot in the ring.

I actually don't mind going first. I walk the course, make a plan, and execute it. There isn't time to watch other people go and second guess your plan. I rode a clear in the first round, and had four faults in the second. Karen rode to a twelve fault score in both rounds. Reed had four faults in the first round but came back to jump a clear in the second round. And Jessica had eight faults in both rounds.

It was close, but unfortunately we let both teams beat us again!!! We tied for third behind The Netherlands and Great Britain. Obviously we wanted to win, but third at Hagen is still respectable. And best of all, we still won coolers for third place!

Photos to come...

18 June 2011

Victory for USA in Lamprechtshausen!!!

USA wins the nations cup in Austria!!!!!!! And placed 4 in the top 10 on the Young Rider Grand Prix!

More detailed updates coming soon...

Press links from the show in Austria:







Field Trip to St Gallen

Thursday evening the whole team flew to St Gallen, Switzerland to watch the big tour team compete in the nations cup on Friday. Switzerland is beautiful. As are the Swiss Franks we had to get at the airport (since none of us knew that Switzerland wasn't part of the EU).

Passing time at the airport in Brussels 
Belgian Chocolates, Yumm!
Goodbye Belgium
Hello Switzerland
Mama Michele and her van for 9 kids!
We finally arrived at the at hotel after turning wrong more than right. And lets just say turning our bus around on the tiny one-way streets was not an easy task....

Radisson Blu Hotel
Friday morning Little Michele and her 9 giant kids piled in the van with their matching USA rain coats. Thankfully we left about 30min early because by the time we found the riders hotel to pick Lizzy and the wrist bands up, we were only 15min late. George does not like people to be late.....

View from the in gate 

Viewing hill (I think it used to be a bank for the derby)
View from the stands opposite the in gate
The ring was gorgeous and the the footing held up spectacularly even after days of rain. Miraculously the one day we were there, was the one day of the week it didn't rain! One side of the ring had a beautiful view of the Swiss Alps, and the other side a view of the biggest Ikea store you've ever seen.

During the course walk for the nations cup, George was proud to announce to the world that we are the "next generation." St Gallen was invaded by USA. Seven young riders wearing their USA rain coat, five senior riders wearing their USA rain coat, plus Michele, George and Lizzy all wearing their USA rain coats. It was quite a sight.

Nations Cup Course Chart

Jump 3

Triple Bar - Plank line 

Triple Combination
Water jump and everyone in deep discussion about the placement of the tape...
Tidy Bowl Blue! 
The dreaded last jump that came down quite a lot
Charlie 1st for USA
Rich over the 1st jump
Rich over the 2nd jump
Margie coming out of the triple
Chris jumping the oxer after the water
The winning team

To be continued....

15 June 2011

Sports Psychology with Tini

The Nooren family was kind enough to invite all of the team members and any family members who were around to their home for a home-cooked meal before we left for St Gallen. Mrs. Nooren cooked a beautiful multi-course meal consisting of a typical belgisch appetizer, the most delicious lasagna I've ever had, and home-made whipped cream with fresh-from-the-garden strawberries. Everyone was so happy and felt right at home.

Just before dinner we had a meeting with a sports psychologist and friend of Michele Grubb's, Tini Nicholai. She had a lot of interesting information. There is always a reason for why you feel one way or another and if you take her Reiss Profile test she can tell you what those reasons are. By taking the profile test, she can give you your own 'owners manual.' She says if you are constantly with someone or train with someone whose profile is extremely different from yours, than that person will constantly be "taking water out of your bottle." She can also tell you by looking at your profile what things to do to "replenish your bottle." Only a few of us were brave enough to take the 100+ question test. Michele took her's again and Meg, Victoria and I took it too.

Here are some beautiful pictures from around the Nooren's farm during the week off:

Little lamb with a diaper to go in the house
One of the many old barns turned chicken coup 
Walking to the ring
Stealing chocolate croissants by the dozen from the hotel 
Walking path around the paddocks
Tricked out groom's van. Brought a lot of attention on the road- not all positive! :o
Jane's salon is officially open for business!

5 June 2011

Week of Rest... Sike!

Sunday after the grand prix in Reims, we all drove to Henk Nooren's farm in Belgium where the horses would be laying over for the week. There are not quite enough apartments at the farm for all the riders and grooms, so all the riders are staying at a hotel about 15 minutes away near the Liege airport.  It was about 11pm by the time we arrived (thank goodness we found a gas station with a pizza hut inside!!) so everyone went to their rooms and fell asleep right away. We didn't meet for breakfast until 11am Monday morning! We all enjoyed the fresh-from-the-oven chocolate croissants and then took a few to go for everyone at the barn. When we arrived, most of the horses were out in the paddocks soaking up the sun and everything had been cleaned from the show already so there was not much to do besides enjoy the beautiful weather! Or, if you're a guy, play pool and make up games with the gravel! Haha

Jane and Kate
Asa and Jeroen
Really guys? :-)
Meg in the main barn
The outside stalls
The indoor
Nooren Mascot
Tuesday was polar opposite weather from Monday. It thunder stormed almost all day and it was freezing cold! We got the horses out as quickly as possible in the morning, then waited for our new chef, Michele Grubb, to arrive. Later in the day we took a road trip to find a grocery store. Eventually we came across a Carrefour. Carrefour's are great, they're kind of like Walmart. We managed to fill the whole trunk of the car with drinks and snacks for the week.

Wednesday and Thursday were dressage lesson days with Mr. Barnabas Mandi. Mr. Barnabas is from Hungary and he was a dressage judge at the Hong Kong Olympics. He was a little intimidating to most of us but he is a very good teacher as long as you can understand what he says! Reed was his first Victim. The rest of us got to watch and learn, but she had to figure out what he was saying all on her own. When he says "three and three," that means sit for three and stand for three. When he says "polish your saddle," that means sit deep. He also had other little sayings such as "stop that with your hands, you are not a dentist!" Everyone enjoyed working with Mr. Barnabas and he definitely improved our flat work greatly in just two days. 

Kessler and Barnabas
Kessler and Barnabas
Polle and Barnabas
Polle and Barnabas
O'Mara and Barnabas
Kessler waiting for Barnabas
Polle after lesson with Barnabas

Thursday night we are off to Switzerland to watch the senior team compete in the nations cup in St Gallen!

... To be continued 

31 May 2011

Reims: Nations Cup & Grand Prix

So Close But Yet So Far

Friday was Nations Cup day. When we walked the course, it seemed like a long way around but not too big or technical. The triple combination at the end of the course looked much smaller than the rest of the jumps. Many chefs felt the same way and actually went to the course designer to complain and have him put the combination up. We didn't mind because bigger is better for our team! He said it was a solid 1.45 and took his measuring stick over to prove it. Just to make a point, he put the whole combination up to 1.46. Boy were people regretting that decision. The course proved to be much more difficult and ride much bigger up and down the hills than it walked. Plus, the time allowed was so tight it practically had to be ridden as a speed class. 

I rode first for the team riding My Boy. We definitely weren't on our A game as usual. I'm not sure if it was the ground or what, but My Boy was not feeling up to the task at hand on Friday. I finished my first round with a disappointing twelve faults plus one time fault. Not a good start for USA, but not nearly as bad as some of the others. I came back in the second round finishing with eight faults. 

Karen Polle rode second for the team aboard With Wings. She finished her first round with an unlucky four faults and two time. Her second round kept us in the hunt for gold finishing with just one time fault. 

Reed Kessler showed in the third position for the team riding Onisha. She was one of only a few clear rounds in round one and the only double clear of the day. 

Jessica Springsteen had her work cut out for her as the anchor of the team. It couldn't have been a worse first-time-anchor experience. She truly had to carry the whole team around with her in the second round. She finished with one time fault in the first round. Her second round would decided the outcome of for the team. If she jumped clear, we win. If she jumped clear with a time fault, we still win. If she had four faults, we jump off against the Dutch team for the win. Anything else we would be second. Vornado ticked the sixth jump, an oxer with the top front rail a plank on flat cups, just lightly enough to turn the plank on it's side so it sat long side up, but did not fall. It was a nail biter. The whole US team grabbed each others shoulders with our right hands as our left hands were still in our pockets from the last Dutch rider who had just come out of the ring. All the Dutch were pretending to blow on the plank and yelling something I didn't understand! Finally, coming out of the triple combination on the home stretch, a rail fell. Then, one time fault appeared on the score board. So close but yet so far. 

It's so strange how the team score is accumulated by ALL the team members, but all the weight lies on the shoulders of the anchor rider in their final round. Jessie's final round was one of the better rounds of the day, but yet it was the most disappointing just because of when she went in the order. 

It was a great effort made by all (except me :o ) and coming so close has made everyone that much hungrier to win the nations cup at the next two shows! It was aggravating and motivating to learn that if none of us had had any time faults, we would have won...

We had to say goodbye to Katie Prudent as our chef after the show on Sunday. We were sad not to win a nations cup before she left, but Michele Grubb is taking over the job for the last two shows and Kate knows we will get it done before the tour is over. Her final words of wisdom to us all were: "Clear rounds, NO time faults." 

Grand Prix

The young rider grand prix course proved just as deceiving as the nations cup course. It got the better of Karen Polle with With Wings and Ricky Neal with Uleia. Ricky Neal's Transmission decided to pull a shoe in his stall after the first day of showing and it left him a little sore so even though the track on Sunday was bigger than anything Uleia had ever jumped, Ricky decided to give it a try. She made a good effort but it was just too big for her right now. 

Reed Kessler (Onisha), Catherine Pasmore (Vandavid), and Jessica Springsteen (Cincinnati) all finished with eight faults. However, the format of the class was like the format of the Global Champions Tour Shows grand prix's except we did not have a second round, just a jump off. All the clears or the top 25% of the class get to come back for the jump off, but they carry their faults with them. Reed Kessler was the fastest eight-faulter and was in eighth place after the first round. I was in twelfth place after the first round and the show announcer originally announced they would be seeing twelve back for the jump off, so I was getting on to school again when the in-gate person came over and said they are going to take the three scratches into account and only bring back eleven for the jump off. It was quite a bummer. Jessica finished in fourteenth place after round one. 

Speedy Reedy went for it in the jump off and had the fastest time by a lot, but unfortunately had to carry forward her eight faults from the first round. After some of the clears and fours had more rails in the jump off, Reed moved from eighth place to fourth place and proudly represented USA in the prize giving for the young rider grand prix.

Meg O'Mara (Sinatra IV) and Victoria Birdsall (Little Lady D'Elle) represented USA in the junior grand prix. Lady was getting tired just as all the other horses were by the end of the week and had an unfortunate twelve faults in the first round. Sinatra, however, was still full of energy as always and jumped a beautiful first round just barely knocking down the last jump. The same format as the young rider grand prix also applied to the junior grand prix. A four fault round was easily in the top 25% to come back for the jump off. Just as Reed, Meg had the fastest jump off time and moved up for a fourth place finish in the grand prix. She was the only female in the award line up and also won the overall leading junior rider award! 

Great finish for team USA in Reims, France. Lots of Champagne, trophies, and ribbons were won. On to Belgium now for the horses to get a much needed rest. The team goes to St Gallen on the weekend to watch the big tour team compete in the nations cup. Monday we start our 14hr trek to Austria to try our hand at winning the nations cup once again! 

Reims loves us!