Belgium won the team silver medal, while Italy earned the bronze.
The order of finish for the remaining top-10 teams was: Austria, Canada, Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Mexico.
U.S. Reining chef d’equipe Jeff Petska noted how tough the competition was at this year’s World Games, but he said the United States “brought a bunch of heavyweights to a heavyweight fight.”
Veteran rider Tim McQuay – who also won the individual silver medal in reining at the 2006 World Equestrian Games – said, “The difference in quality of the overall exhibitors at this event has grown so much. It’s just unbelievable how much better they’ve gotten.”
But Team USA, as Petska said, brought its best. In order of their runs, McQuay and Hollywoodstinseltown scored a 220.5; Craig Schmersal and Mister Montana Nic scored 223.5; Tom McCutcheon and Gunners Special Nite scored 224; and Shawn Flarida and RC Fancy Step earned a team-competition high score of 227.
Flarida’s performance came after the United States had effectively sewn up the gold medal, so his score wasn’t even necessary for the win. But it’s not like Flarida, who claimed the 2002 WEG individual gold medal and has earned more than $3 million in National Reining Horse Association competition, to back down.
“I’m not good when I go in there and cruise around,” he said. “I need to go in there and do my job.”
For Belgium, which has a small but developing reining community, the 2010 World Games brought the country’s first-ever team reining medal.
“We were dreaming for third place, but getting silver is like a dream come true,” said Belgian chef d’equipe Susy Baeck, whose sister, Cira Baeck, is a team member. “Tomorrow morning when we wake up, we will realize, and we will have a headache for sure.”
For the Italians, however, international success is nothing new. They have claimed reining bronze medals in each of the previous World Equestrian Games. In 2008, they bested the U.S. team by winning the FEI World Reining Championships.
“We’re tired of being third for the third time. It’s time to move up!” said Italian chef d’equipe Mario Sbrana.
The Belgium team members were Baeck, Jan Boogaerts and Bernard Fonck and his wife, Ann Poels. Italy’s team members were Nicola Brunelli, Dario Carmignani, Stefano Massignan and Marco Ricotta.
A “second-chance” qualifying competition for the individual finals will be held Tuesday. The top five riders will advance to the finals, which will be held on Thursday, along with the top 15 horses from the team competition.
About the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games
The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are the world championships of eight equestrian disciplines recognized by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). The Games are held every four years, and this will be the first occurrence in the United States.
The Games will be broadcast on NBC Sports, which marks the largest commitment to network coverage of equestrian sport in U.S. television history. The 2010 Games are expected to have a statewide economic impact of $167 million, and current sponsors include Alltech, Rolex, John Deere, Ariat International Inc., Meydan, Kentucky Ale, and Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital.
For more information on the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games please visit, www.alltechfeigames.com.
Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games