A European rider has claimed the individual gold reining medal at the FEI World Equestrian Games for the first time, with Belgium’s Bernard Fonck and What A Wave perfectly executing pattern #12 at Tryon in North Carolina.
US riders took out the placings, with silver going to Dan Huss and Ms Dreamy with 226.5, and bronze went to 18-year-old Cade McCutcheon aboard Custom Made Gun, putting up a score of 228.
Fonck has won close to $1.8 million in reining competition and his mount, an 11-year-old American Quarter Horse stallion owned by Gina De Pauw and Steve Vannietvelt, scored 227 for the win.
“What A Wave is the sweetest horse I have ever had the pleasure of riding. I am very fortunate to have had more than one ‘once in a lifetime’ horse, and he is at the top of this list. Every time we show, he gives me all he has and every time it gets better and better. When I came here I knew that we could probably make it to the top five positions but I would have never imagined that we would claim the gold.”
Dan Huss’s double-registered eight-year-old Quarter Horse and Paint Horse Ms Dreamy, owned by Frederick Christen, is the first mare to earn an individual medal in reining at the FEI World Equestrian Games.
“Mares are a little more sensitive so you have to be very good as far as technique and horsemanship are concerned,” said Huss, 58. “They are not so forgiving but, if you understand them, your better mares will step up and compete with the boys. She probably taught me more than I’ve taught her, and it’s been a great experience.”
A run-off determined who would take home the bronze medal as both Cade McCutcheon (USA), riding Custom Made Gun, and Joao Felipe Lacerda (Brazil) aboard Gunner Dun It Again scored a 225 during the finals. They returned to the arena to battle it out.
Lacerda and Gunner Dun It Again, a 7-year-old American Quarter Horse stallion owned by Paulo Francisco Tripoloni, laid down a powerful performance paid back by the judges with their highest score of the Games: a 227. “I am so proud of my mount,” he said. “He has a heart as big as this arena and is one of the most powerful horses I’ve ever ridden. He was great for me from day one and I am truly blessed to have had this opportunity.”
Fighting until the bitter end was Cade McCutcheon aboard Custom Made Gun, the flashy seven-year-old double registered Quarter Horse – Paint Horse stallion owned by his grandparents, Tim and Colleen McQuay. Having topped the first individual qualifier with 229, the pair was last to go in the seeded Individual finals. Once it was time to ride back into the arena, they performed to a 228 score and firmly captured the bronze medal.
“I was a little disappointed with myself after my first ride so I let him catch his breath and, when we went back in, I tried to perform a cleaner run,” said the young rider. “He was incredibly good for me and I am thrilled to have represented my country and to have won the team gold and individual bronze medals. I could not have done this without my team, my coach and my family and I still cannot believe that I made it to the podium. It will take a while before it sinks in!”
Both Gunner Dun It Again and Custom Made Gun were both bred by McCutcheon’s grandparents and they are both by the legendary stallion Gunner (AQHA Colonels Smoking Gun) and out of two mares by yet another stallion that has made history, Hollywood Dun It. Both stallions were owned by the McQuays.