LIMA, Peru--Despite the U.S. Dressage Team posting strong performances on the final day of team competition at the Pan American Games in Lima, Canada overtook the U.S. team's first day's lead to take the gold medal, with the U.S winning the team silver with an overall score of 437.791 after two days of intense competition.
Canada finished on a score of 440.111, securing a coveted qualification for Tokyo 2020, along with Brazil, who won the bronze medal with a score of 408.696.
The U.S. contingent of Nora Batchelde on Faro SQF, Jennifer Baumert with Handsome and Sarah Lockman on First Apple each contested the Intermediate I test and, ultimately, captured their first career championship medal together for the United States.
Batchelder on Faro SQF was the first to enter the arena for the U.S., receiving a score of 71.529 percent to begin the day on a high note for the team.
“The tempi changes were pretty good, and I thought the pirouettes were also very good," said Btchelder. "We warmed those up quite a bit with Debbie McDonald, and I thought they went pretty well in the ring. I think our biggest challenge was balancing going for it, but also keeping him relaxed at the same time. I had to balance the expression and the relaxation together.”
LEADING OFF at the conclusion of the afternoon break once again was Baumert on Handsome, who received a 70.382 percent from the judging panel.
“I thought the left pirouette was really quite good, and I was excited about that," said Baumert. "The pirouettes can be difficult for us, but I was really happy with that. I actually thought on the whole, the canter work was a lot more rideable than yesterday.”
Earning a team medal for the U.S. has been on Baumert’s career bucket list her entire life, and achieving that goal today was a significant accomplishment for both her personally and for Handsome.
“I can speak for myself and Handsome, he is pretty experienced and has been to a lot of shows, but this is definitely the biggest for him," said Baumert. "The venue just has a great atmosphere. It’s electric, but not overwhelming, and I was pretty proud of my horse. He did get a little bit more excited as my test went on, which is unusual, but it was nice, and he really gave me his all.”
Sarah Lockman on First Apple concluded the day’s Small Tour competition with another impressive high score, as the duo received a 75.912 percent, the day’s top mark.
“Today was another amazing day that I want to pinch myself for," said Lockman. "Apple brought out all of the stops and felt amazing. We had a pretty much mistake free test, and I couldn’t ask for much more from him under pressure in this team situation.”
Lockman has been overcome with emotion the past two days after recording a personal best in yesterday’s Prix St. Georges and earning a class-topping score today in the Intermediate I with First Apple.
In her inaugural appearance donning the official U.S. tailcoat, Lockman described how much she has cherished the opportunity to compete alongside her teammates and for her country at Lima 2019.
“It’s a feeling like no other," Lockman said. "It really started with us walking around the barns in our country’s colors, and there’s so much pride. It’s such a great experience for us since our sport for the most part is an individual sport, so it’s very cool to be on a team. We root for each other as professionals all the time, but it really brought a different element here to this event.”
Chef d’Equipe Debbie McDonald was pleased with the team’s overall performance in the pressurized environment of the Pan American Games.
The U.S. Dressage Team has consistently performed well at these championships, which has offered a platform for combinations to test their skills and composure in a team-focused setting.
“I’m really proud of the team and their performances over the last two days," said McDonald. "There is a lot to look forward to when you look at the direction of this program, and I believe the future is very bright. The more international and championship exposure we can give our athletes, the better we become as a team,. Overall, I think everyone handled the environment to the best of their ability, and they have each benefited so greatly as a group and individually from this experience.”
All three team members are entered in the Intermediate I Freestyle, which will take place on Wednesday, July 31, alongside the Grand Prix Freestyle, crowning individual medals and concluding competition for dressage at Lima 2019.