Julie Brougham CREDIT: Libby Law Photography

John Thompson CREDIT: Libby LawPhotgraphy

New Zealand’s WEG dressage representatives get their first taste of American competition this weekend with a CDI in Saugerties.

Julie Brougham and John Thompson are both excited to see how their horses are after the long trip over. Both riders say they’ve “trod a bit of water” as they acclimatise to the hot and humid weather, and are pleased to be already Stateside.

“We need the competition,” says Julie. “The Taupo CDI was in April and this will give us a chance to assess where we are up to. Our preparation is going well and both horses are fit and healthy.”

The two leave for Saugerties on Wednesday with the trot up and arena familisation on Thursday, followed by the Grand Prix on Friday and Grand Prix Special on Sunday.

The competition will give them a “good base line to be able to tweak for the ultimate goal of competing at WEG”.

Julie says Vom Feinsten is moulting in the hot weather but overall has adapted well. “We are very pleased with him in training but know we are lacking competition fitness,” she says. “We have the chance of another competition the week after and this will be very valuable to consolidate show performance before WEG.”

John is also amping to get back into the arena. “I am looking forward to getting back in the competition arena and doing a bit of cobweb cleaning,” he says. “It is a win/win whatever the outcome. This show will be a great way to test the training and either sustain the current direction or be able to change a few components to make a solid plan for WEG.”

He said JHT Antonello was feeling fantastic. “We have a great understanding of each other at this stage of our journey. I’m looking forward to being able to ride against some of the best in the business. The dream is being lived, that’s for sure.”

Wendy Hamerton, WEG chef d’equipe for the dressage, says the Saugerties outing is a good opportunity for the riders and grooms to run through their paces too.

“Although the field is small it is not so much about the competition itself but the preparation for Tryon,” she said. “The riders and grooms will be monitoring the horses’ reactions to the hot and humid conditions to see how well they have acclimatised with just three weeks before they move into the stable block at WEG.”

Saugerties has attracted a very experienced ground jury with 4* and 5* judges from France, Finland and Canada. “They’ll no doubt have some take-home messages for our riders and add value to the WEG build-up.”

Julie and John now have their full teams on the ground with them at their Avalon Farm base on the New York Connecticut border.

By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ