Imagine you’re speeding down a highway in Porsche. Only you can’t see because it’s raining… No, scratch that. You’re blindfolded! Heading toward a brick wall at Mach speed. And the brakes don’t work. Also, the car is on fire.

Now multiply that perilous moment by a factor of 10 and you’ll have an inkling of the drama that went down in the Team Jumping Final at the Rio Olympics today.


Honestly, you better sit down for this.

From injury to elimination to team gold

©FEI/Richard Juilliart

©FEI/Richard Juilliart

The rollercoaster that was Team France’s Rio Games started with disaster when Simon Delestre’s horse, Hermes Ryan, fractured his hock in the stall five days before competition was to start. Delestre was devastated. Thankfully for the team, travelling reserve Phillipe Rozier was on hand to step in.

Two days before the 1st Individual Qualifier, things for the French took a turn for the worse again. This time, it was Penelope Leprovost’s Flora de Mariposa. The horse colicked the night before the warm up round. With around-the-clock medical care, she was deemed fit to compete when the Jumping started.

Only they didn’t get around that course.

Flora stumbled after the oxer at fence nine and Leprevost was unseated, effectively ending the world #3’s bid for an individual medal.

The French rallied for Tuesday’s team Qualifier, finishing on one time fault after Round One. They kept it on just two more faults today to capture the gold! Motion sickness, anyone?

Team USA loses a horse, gains a medal

Kent Farrington and Voyeur posted only a time fault today. ©FEI/Richard Juilliart

Kent Farrington and Voyeur posted only a time fault today. ©FEI/Richard Juilliart

After a spectacular first round in the team final that saw Team USA’s Kent Farrington, Lucy Davis, and McLain Ward all post clear rounds, the Americans were looking like strong contenders for the gold medal. Then misfortune struck.

Team anchor Beezie Madden withdrew her horse Cortes ‘C’ this morning citing an injured a tendon from Round One. (They posted an uncharacteristic eight faults yesterday.) Down to three riders, the Americans lost the luxury of a drop score but still managed to finish on a team total of five faults.

It was good enough for the team Silver. Buuuut not quite enough for Ward.

“When I realized we couldn’t win I was feeling like I was going to throw up, actually. But you’ve got to gather yourself a little bit. That takes the wind out of your sail a little bit when you are focused on winning. We’ve had a little bit of a rough 24 hours losing Cortes,” he mused.

David and Goliath go head-to-head for the bronze

©FEI/Richard Juilliart

©FEI/Richard Juilliart

On paper, it wasn’t supposed to happen. Four riders in the world top 18 against a team with only one proven championship horse between them. And yet that’s exactly how it played out.

After two rounds of nail-biting competition, Germany and Canada were tied on 8 faults. They returned to jump off for the bronze medal. In the end, it was Germany’s day. But with a double clear from Tiffany Foster and the second fastest time in the Jump Off by Amy Millar, the Canadians went down swinging.

“So close, so close! If Ludger had just helped us out! I offered him some money,” joked Lamaze.

“There no shame in being fourth at this Olympics. Considering everything, we put in a very good performance.”

Tick, tock. Time’s Up!

JUMPING INDIVIDUAL 3rd Qualifier Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum riding Fibonacci Photo Richard Juilliart

©FEI/Richard Juilliart

Seventeen jumping efforts in 82 seconds proved to be a formidable task today. More than half the class—14 of 28, to be exact—didn’t make it through the course within the time allowed.

Said Nick Skelton (GBR):

“The time’s very tight. The time is probably nearly too tight. But I think [the course designer has] done that for a reason because they’ve got a lot of teams on zero. That could be the fractions that break them down into medal positions. If the time is too easy, we could get a jump off.”

The Canadians were the only team to jump without a single time penalty today. Both Tiffany Foster and Eric Lamaze posted clear rounds.


A bee attacked me while interviewing Eric Lamaze in the Mixed Zone after the competition. It was traumatic. For at least one of us.

Stay up to date with our on the ground live coverage of the 2016 Olympics!

Follow Horse Network’s Editor, Carley Sparks, live coverage from Rio. And for even more behind the scene action from the ground follow us on twitter.