After Team USA’s Rich Fellers and Flexible won the World Cup Final in 2012, the US was looking for a repeat as our team headed over to Gothenburg, Sweden – and fortunately, we found it in the stellar combination of Beezie Madden and her lovely mount Simon!
Our star-studded team was comprised of an impressive list of 11 riders including Kent Farrington, Katie Dinan, Beezie Madden, Reed Kessler, McLain Ward, Charlie Jayne, Rich Fellers, Ashlee Bond, Karl Cook, Lucy Davis and our very own Team SmartPak rider Chris McCrea.
We asked Chris McCrea and her longtime groom extraordinaire, Genna, to document their experience in Sweden. Genna traveled to Europe with Chris’ horses Romantovich Take One and Wannick WH and were greeted just a few days later by Chris and her husband Jonathon.
4/17 – Wednesday
“Our journey started this morning at 10am when the horses and equipment got picked up from the farm in Wellington.
The first leg is easy, an hour drive to the “Horse Country Club” in Miami. We will wait here for the afternoon before heading to the airport around 7. Our flight to Amsterdam is scheduled to leave around 10pm.” – Genna
“I don’t know who the pony is, but I am guessing it is going to Venezuela. There are a bunch of polo ponies here who all have export stickers for there and there are another two minis in the stall next to it going there. He has the best hair though.” – Genna
4/18 – Thursday
“We have made it to Amsterdam now and will be waiting at the airport for a couple hours before heading to the layover facility in Germany.” – Genna
4/22 – Monday
“First day Monday, April 22nd: My husband Jon and I flew out of Boston Sunday night and arrived here in Gothenburg, Sweden Monday morning. We are both exhausted! I went to the show to ride today and Dutchie and Wannick aka Freaky felt really good. It’s super cold here compared to Florida so they felt fresh and bouncy. I saw the ring and the size reminds me of Harrisburg but with way more seating. I can’t imagine what it will be like with a packed house! I cannot wait for a night’s sleep in a bed tonight instead of the airplane….Will be in touch.” – Chris
“Yesterday we were joined at Klatte’s by the rest of the Americans. Guido, his family, and staff were wonderful helping us load all the equipment for 10 riders (18 horses) and Rogers’s trailer was filled to the brim. We had an early wake up to be ready to load the horses at 3:45am. Guido was even up to help us and brought out coffee before we piled in the two trucks and van to head to Sweden.” – Genna
4/23 – Tuesday
“So today was the jog. It went well and all the Americans passed with no issues! Then we had a warm-up class that started at 6:30 pm. You had 90 seconds to yourself in the ring. They had a course set and you could jump the course or not. I took Dutchie in and he jumped around and felt relaxed and good. And Freaky was a little nervous in the beginning but finished up well. We also had a rider meeting and we took a group picture which was fun! Tomorrow freaky shows in the 1.45 I hope he goes well!” – Chris
4/24 – Wednesday
“Tuesday was a busy day. We had a practice jog at 9am for the American horses with the Dr. Ober (team vet) and Robert Ridland (chef d’equipe). The boys both got ridden in the am before we had the FEI jog around 1:30. Then, at 6:30 they had a 1.40m training session in the main arena. Riders are each given 90 seconds to jump the course set or flat their horses. Dutchie and Wannick both jumped a few jumps just to get reacquainted with indoors after Florida.
Today (Weds) Wannick showed in the 1.45 Power and Speed. He was clear and ended 11th. He was fast for him, but there were plenty of speed demons out there (Shane Sweetnam won on Cyklon). Chris was very pleased with him. Dutchie got flatted after Wannick showed and is getting a little stir crazy waiting around (this cold weather is only encouraging his wildness). Lucky for him, his big event starts tomorrow night.” – Genna
“Today freaky was great. He jumped double clear and was the highest placed American horse, he finished 11th. It was a power and speed and I wanted to be fast but not crazy because he has a whole week of showing ahead. After I showed him I rode Dutchie and he felt very good. I’m basically just waiting at this point to show him so it’s kind of like a waiting game. I want to keep him happy and fresh without letting him get too wild. Tomorrow we start the World Cup Finals. Because of how I finished in our league I was drawn from the first group of riders. I could have had to go first but luckily I go third and I will be able to watch two very good riders go before me! The first leg is a faults converted speed class so the faster you go the better. I am looking for a medium fast clear round to put me in the hunt, but then again so is everyone else in the final!!! I hope for luck and that I ride well. Till tomorrow.” –Chris
4/25 – Thursday
“Thursday started with some early morning riding since the ring was only open for us until 9 am before they had to set up for dressage. The rest of my morning consisted of shopping in the vendor area before taking Wannick for a quick lunge. Then there was nothing to do but wait.
Chris went 3rd so at least I could get started with the braiding and brushing once he finished his dinner (around 4). Dutchie was very excited to finally go jumping. So was I because he has been extra annoying with all his pent up energy. They had a nice clear round, but missed one of the inside turns she was planning on doing. Unfortunately, the faults converted format did not work in our advantage. The good news is Beezie and Simon pulled through for the Americans I was lucky that Wannick was not scheduled to show in the jump off class starting at 9:50. I finished Dutchie and made it to the salad bar at the grocery store before heading to bed.” – Genna
4/26 – Friday
“Friday was a day of highs and lows. I headed to the barn in the morning to take care of the horses and then headed back to the hotel for a leisurely breakfast. Wannick was scheduled to show in the 1.50 meter class at 1:30 and then Dutchie would be ridden after. Luckily, Lizzy called to tell me the class was now starting at 11:45. So, back to the barn for a quick lunge before showing.
Wannick was excellent and jumped double clear. We were the last to go in the jump off (12 horses were clear) so we watched a couple go on the TV in the war- up area. France’s speed machine Roger Yves Bost (aka Bosty) sped around almost 2 seconds faster than Marcus Ehning’s current leading time. Chris and Robert discussed the plan on the way to the gate: clear, confident and comfortably quick. Everything went according to plan and they ended fifth. Perhaps the harder part for Wannick was the prize giving, set to Eye of the Tiger, with an enthusiastic audience. He held it together and Chris managed to hang on to him, the flowers, and the plaque he won for the victory gallop.
Now it was time to put him away and get Dutchie ready. Fortunately, Chris went 21st today so she could watch a few rounds before getting on. The warm-up went great, however today was not our day. Three rails fell. Luckily, we still had something to cheer for as Beezie was heading into the final day in second place and McLain tied for third place.” – Genna
4/27 – Saturday
“Saturday’s morning hacks were squeezed in around the pony teams warming up for the mounted games. Dutchie thought this was fantastic and there was plenty of squealing and bucking. After the pony teams it was dressage time for the rest of the afternoon.
Once the boys were exercised and put away I had a few hours to rest before the Grand Prix. Wannick had a good draw going 30/39. The course was by far the biggest track he has jumped. He held it together with just one rail down at the very end of the course. Everyone was very pleased with him and it was nice to end our show on a good note.” – Genna
4/28 – Sunday
“Both Dutchie and Wannick seemed to know Sunday was a casual day as the both spent a lot of time resting. Chris’ husband Jon rode Wannick today while Chris rode Dutchie. That way they could both stretch their legs for a while and Chris and Jon could be done in time to walk the final rounds and watch.
And what an exciting class to watch! Team USA was on the edge of their seats watching the jump-off. Beezie and Simon were amazing. We had a lot to celebrate, of course after the trailer was all loaded with our equipment.” – Genna
4/29 – Monday
“Monday morning came way too quickly. We had a 2:15 wake-up call so we could be have 20 horses loaded and be on the road before 4am. I was lucky enough to sleep for the first few hours of the trip and then managed to wake myself up for breakfast on the second ferry. We arrived back at Guido Klatte’sa little after 4:30. Once the horses were settled we had to rearrange some of the equipment onto different trucks because some horses were staying in Europe, some flying to California, some to New York, and one to Miami.
Then we headed to the hotel and had a wonderful dinner with the Klatte staff. White asparagus is now in season, but I have to say my favorite part was the apple streusel.” – Genna
4/30 – Tuesday
“We were lucky enough to have an 8am departure time for the airport today. That meant sleeping until a daylight hour and having breakfast before loading the horses up and heading to Schipol Airport.
We arrived a little after noon. The horses are required to be there at least five hours before the flight. Then the hurry up and wait games began. We had to get all the equipment onto pallets. Then wait for the final paperwork for the horses. Then we loaded all the horses into the crates before heading to the terminal for a late lunch and check in. Since we were flying on a combination passenger and cargo flight, I was glad that I had a clean jacket to wear so I didn’t smell like horse.
We boarded a little after 5. All the horses traveled well. I watched Argo and Salt to pass some time since airplane seats are not the most comfortable beds.
We landed just before 8 at JFK. Once we went through immigration and customs we met back up with the horses in the cargo area. They were unloaded onto the trucks and then the equipment pallets arrived again. Luckily we had lots of help and a forklift to get it all loaded.
Then we drove to the USDA quarantine facility in Newburgh, NY, arriving a little after midnight. All the horses were unloaded, unwrapped, and moved to their stalls. Then it was time for the equipment (again). Everything got sorted and stored and it was time to head out.
I headed back to Mclain Ward’s farm for the night (or what was left of it since we arrived at 2 am). I got picked up Wednesday morning and finally made it home. Dutchie and Wannick have to wait in Newburgh for their blood-work to come back. They are expected home Friday afternoon.” – Genna
5/4 – Saturday
“Like they never missed a beat.” – Genna