13 April 2018
Beezie Madden is Untouchable in Paris: Strengthens Lead in World Cup Jumping Final
On a day full of surprises at the 2018 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final, there was one constant element, and her name was Beezie Madden. The American rider didn’t just maintain her overall lead aboard Breitling LS, she strengthened it, jumping foot perfect and will go into Sunday’s Jumping Final III with a fence in hand, and a certain peace of mind. “It’s always nice to have a rail in hand, but we’re only halfway through,” Madden said. “We’ve done two rounds and a jumpoff, and we might do that again on Sunday. So, a lot can change. I just hope my horse stays on good form and I stay on good form.” On Friday, April 13, 2018 Jumping Final II—a classic round with jumpoff—supplied plenty of hair-raising moments over Santiago Varela’s 1.55m – 1.60m course Overnight 2nd placed rider, Daniel Deusser with Cornet D’Amour, picked up 14 faults and Cornet took a hard look at the first element of the double on course, forcing Deusser to pull up inside the combination. Marcus Ehning’s Cornado FBW also picked up 12 faults, moving him down the class rankings. Steve Guerdat also suffered some bad luck, when Bianca lost her power going into the triple combination, forcing the former World Cup Champion to pull up and have another go at the fences. But there was plenty of good news for plenty of others, especially those nine who made it into the jumpoff. Jamie Barge of the USA stepped up to place 6th with Luebbo, and Kevin Staut of France had a redeeming day with his second mount Silver Deux de Virton HDC to place 5th. Olivier Philippaerts was 4th for Belgium for H&M Legend of Love. Into the top three, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann is very close to the position he was in at last year’s final with Tovak’s Mary Lou. He placed 3rd in Round 2 and is sitting in 4th place in overall standings. While Harrie Smolders delivered a strong performance with Emerald to place 2nd in Round 2, his overall 16th place ranking leaves him with an outside chance for a podium placing. “Zinius had a very good indoor season and he’s also naturally fast, especially in a speed class, so that’s why we made the decision,” Smolders explained. “Ok, it didn’t work out like we hoped, but I must say, Emerald jumped fantastic today. He was very feisty, but he had a lot of fighting spirit.” In Round 1, Smolders picked up faults with his other mount Zinius, and while he admitted that hindsight is 50/50, he was happy with Emerald’s performance. And it’s the overall ranking that matters most at the moment, although Round 2’s prize money of 250,000 was helpful for those who rode strongly today. Six pairs went clear in Round 1 only to suffer a time fault that kept them out of the jumpoff, demonstrating the importance of keeping on pace all the way through the finish timers. With the top 30 coming back on Sunday for two rounds after a day of rest, the overall ranking has remained the same over Round 1 and 2 of this final. Madden, Deusser, Devin Ryan—who is giving a banner performance with Eddie Blue at his first World Cup Final, especially as he is mounted on the youngest horse of the competition—and Ehning rank 1st through 4th going into Sunday. Carlos Lopez of Colombia turned heads with Admara overextending behind over every single fence of Round 1. The mare jumped clear but a time fault kept them out of the jumpoff. Jumping Final III takes place on Sunday, April 15th at 14:00 local time. Overall standings
13 April 2018
Beezie Madden is Untouchable in Paris: Strengthens Lead in World Cup Jumping Final
On a day full of surprises at the 2018 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final, there was one constant element, and her name was Beezie Madden. The American rider didn’t just maintain her overall lead aboard Breitling LS, she strengthened it, jumping foot perfect and will go into Sunday’s Jumping Final III with a fence in hand, and a certain peace of mind. “It’s always nice to have a rail in hand, but we’re only halfway through,” Madden said. “We’ve done two rounds and a jumpoff, and we might do that again on Sunday. So, a lot can change. I just hope my horse stays on good form and I stay on good form.” On Friday, April 13, 2018 Jumping Final II—a classic round with jumpoff—supplied plenty of hair-raising moments over Santiago Varela’s 1.55m – 1.60m course Overnight 2nd placed rider, Daniel Deusser with Cornet D’Amour, picked up 14 faults and Cornet took a hard look at the first element of the double on course, forcing Deusser to pull up inside the combination. Marcus Ehning’s Cornado FBW also picked up 12 faults, moving him down the class rankings. Steve Guerdat also suffered some bad luck, when Bianca lost her power going into the triple combination, forcing the former World Cup Champion to pull up and have another go at the fences. But there was plenty of good news for plenty of others, especially those nine who made it into the jumpoff. Jamie Barge of the USA stepped up to place 6th with Luebbo, and Kevin Staut of France had a redeeming day with his second mount Silver Deux de Virton HDC to place 5th. Olivier Philippaerts was 4th for Belgium for H&M Legend of Love. Into the top three, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann is very close to the position he was in at last year’s final with Tovak’s Mary Lou. He placed 3rd in Round 2 and is sitting in 4th place in overall standings. While Harrie Smolders delivered a strong performance with Emerald to place 2nd in Round 2, his overall 16th place ranking leaves him with an outside chance for a podium placing. “Zinius had a very good indoor season and he’s also naturally fast, especially in a speed class, so that’s why we made the decision,” Smolders explained. “Ok, it didn’t work out like we hoped, but I must say, Emerald jumped fantastic today. He was very feisty, but he had a lot of fighting spirit.” In Round 1, Smolders picked up faults with his other mount Zinius, and while he admitted that hindsight is 50/50, he was happy with Emerald’s performance. And it’s the overall ranking that matters most at the moment, although Round 2’s prize money of 250,000 was helpful for those who rode strongly today. Six pairs went clear in Round 1 only to suffer a time fault that kept them out of the jumpoff, demonstrating the importance of keeping on pace all the way through the finish timers. With the top 30 coming back on Sunday for two rounds after a day of rest, the overall ranking has remained the same over Round 1 and 2 of this final. Madden, Deusser, Devin Ryan—who is giving a banner performance with Eddie Blue at his first World Cup Final, especially as he is mounted on the youngest horse of the competition—and Ehning rank 1st through 4th going into Sunday. Carlos Lopez of Colombia turned heads with Admara overextending behind over every single fence of Round 1. The mare jumped clear but a time fault kept them out of the jumpoff. Jumping Final III takes place on Sunday, April 15th at 14:00 local time. Overall standings
12 April 2018
Retirement Announced for Kevin Staut's Reveur De Hurtebise HDC
Kevin Staut and his owners at Haras du Coudrettes stud made a sudden announcement on the evening of Thursday, April 12, 2018 that their champion horse Reveur de Hurtebise HDC would be retired from the sport. The announcement followed Staut’s appearance in Round 1 of the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final with the 17-year-old SBS gelding (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Capricieux des 6 Censes). The horse pulled uncharacteristic rails all over the course, leaving Staut out of contention for this final held at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France. With the announcement of Reveur’s retirement came the strong sense from his owners and rider that he owed them nothing else, and that the day had come when the horse had simply stopped wanting to clear the fences. Like many horsemen, when that day occurred, their choice was immediately clear; instead of pushing the horse forward, they will instead reward Reveur’s long and successful career with a happy retirement in the fields. Staut and Reveur de Hurtebise earned team gold for France at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, team silver at the 2014 World Equestrian Games, and helped France win the Nations Cup at CSI5* La Baule, twice. Last December, he carried Staut to victory in the Rolex IJRC Top Ten Final at CHI Geneva. Their individual victories included the Grand Prix of Monte Carlo, wins at Rotterdam and Gijon, and 11th place in the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup Final. Reveur will be retired to the beautiful HDC Stud in Normandy, France, joining Staut’s former mount Silvana HDC, and teammate Orient Express in their retirement.
12 April 2018
Beezie Madden Leads 2018 World Cup Final After Round 1
Beezie Madden gave an absolute master class to win Round 1 of the 2018 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Paris, France on Thursday, April 12 with the 12-year-old SLS stallion Breitling LS (Quintero x Acord II). True to form, Madden gave the credit to her horse: “"He was fantastic. He was right there for me every time I called on him,” she told US Equestrian. The USA’s Madden was the only rider to break the 61 second mark in the single round, speed class, and she did it with foot-perfect style, handling a challenging course with what could only be described as relative ease. Not to be outdone, Germany’s Daniel Deusser was nearly as good with Cornet d’Amour, he placed behind Madden in 2nd, just .072 seconds behind her time. And in a strong showing for USA riders, Devin Ryan showed up to his first World Cup Final in top form, to place 3rd in the opening round aboard Eddie Blue. Pieter Devos was in top form to finish very well for Belgium, ending the day in 6th place after a quick clear round with Espoir. This first track, designed by Spain’s Santiago Verala, was full of light rails and tough lines, with faults coming all over the course, including several at the very first fence. Favorite and reigning champion McLain Ward got a bit hung up in the air over the third to last fence, a wide oxer going into a one stride, and his mount HH Azur ticked the rail to slide them down into 10th place. Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat will have a similar hole to climb out of; he placed 11th after a pole down with Bianca. Class results
12 April 2018
Beezie Madden Leads 2018 World Cup Final After Round 1
Beezie Madden gave an absolute master class to win Round 1 of the 2018 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Paris, France on Thursday, April 12 with the 12-year-old SLS stallion Breitling LS (Quintero x Acord II). True to form, Madden gave the credit to her horse: “"He was fantastic. He was right there for me every time I called on him,” she told US Equestrian. The USA’s Madden was the only rider to break the 61 second mark in the single round, speed class, and she did it with foot-perfect style, handling a challenging course with what could only be described as relative ease. Not to be outdone, Germany’s Daniel Deusser was nearly as good with Cornet d’Amour, he placed behind Madden in 2nd, just .072 seconds behind her time. And in a strong showing for USA riders, Devin Ryan showed up to his first World Cup Final in top form, to place 3rd in the opening round aboard Eddie Blue. Pieter Devos was in top form to finish very well for Belgium, ending the day in 6th place after a quick clear round with Espoir. This first track, designed by Spain’s Santiago Verala, was full of light rails and tough lines, with faults coming all over the course, including several at the very first fence. Favorite and reigning champion McLain Ward got a bit hung up in the air over the third to last fence, a wide oxer going into a one stride, and his mount HH Azur ticked the rail to slide them down into 10th place. Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat will have a similar hole to climb out of; he placed 11th after a pole down with Bianca. Class results
12 April 2018
Retirement Announced for Kevin Staut's Reveur De Hurtebise HDC
Kevin Staut and his owners at Haras du Coudrettes stud made a sudden announcement on the evening of Thursday, April 12, 2018 that their champion horse Reveur de Hurtebise HDC would be retired from the sport. The announcement followed Staut’s appearance in Round 1 of the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final with the 17-year-old SBS gelding (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Capricieux des 6 Censes). The horse pulled uncharacteristic rails all over the course, leaving Staut out of contention for this final held at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France. With the announcement of Reveur’s retirement came the strong sense from his owners and rider that he owed them nothing else, and that the day had come when the horse had simply stopped wanting to clear the fences. Like many horsemen, when that day occurred, their choice was immediately clear; instead of pushing the horse forward, they will instead reward Reveur’s long and successful career with a happy retirement in the fields. Staut and Reveur de Hurtebise earned team gold for France at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, team silver at the 2014 World Equestrian Games, and helped France win the Nations Cup at CSI5* La Baule, twice. Last December, he carried Staut to victory in the Rolex IJRC Top Ten Final at CHI Geneva. Their individual victories included the Grand Prix of Monte Carlo, wins at Rotterdam and Gijon, and 11th place in the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup Final. Reveur will be retired to the beautiful HDC Stud in Normandy, France, joining Staut’s former mount Silvana HDC, and teammate Orient Express in their retirement.
11 April 2018
Kent Farrington & HH Azur Recognized as 2017 Longines FEI World's Best Jumping Rider & Horse
In Paris on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, Longines and the FEI presented two awards during the World Cup Final draws, held in the Mairie de Paris (Paris City Hall). The Longines FEI World’s Best Jumping Horse and Rider Awards were established last year, as a recognition of the world’s highest officially rated jumping horse and rider. The recipients of the awards were HH Azur, owned by Francois Mathy and Double H Farm, and the USA’s Kent Farrington. The two awards are determined from accumulated points throughout the whole calendar year; the Longines FEI World’s Best Jumping Horse is determined from the horse’s 10 best results of the year in the Longines Rankings, and the FEI World’s Best Jumping Rider is the leading rider in the Longines Rankings at the end of the year. Despite spending the last two months on the sidelines due to a broken leg, Kent Farrington has maintain his Longines FEI World Number One Ranking for over 12 months. In 2017, he ended the year on 3313 ranking points, well ahead of World Number 2 Harrie Smolders, with 2953 points. In addition to winning the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Omaha with McLain Ward, HH Azur earned ranking points throughout the year with many top finishes and wins. Francois Mathy was in attendance with McLain Ward to accept the award, and a Longines timepiece as well as a crystal trophy. Farrington was also in attendance in Paris for the ceremony—it was his first public appearance since his injury in Florida earlier this year.
11 April 2018
2018 Longines FEI World Cup Final: Will History Be Made?
With HH Azur clearing the top of the standards today in her warmup jumps, all eyes are on the favorites this week going into the 2018 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final. Mclain Ward of the USA has returned with his superstar mare as the reigning champion and clear favorite to gun for a second World Cup Championship title, held this year at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France. Most riders used Wednesday's Longines ranking opening class, a €26,000 prize money two-phase speed, exclusively to allow their horses to stretch their legs over fences in the arena. Steve Guerdat took first prize with his 10-year-old partner Alamo, but this first glimpse of the competitors gives out little in the way of predicting what will unfold when the first round of the Final gets underway at 20:30 local time on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Thirty-eight entries will line out in the World Cup Jumping Final, and along with Ward, there are a few standouts that stand to make history, should they rise to the top. Becoming a back-to-back World Cup Champion is not unheard of, and Ward aims to join that company this week. Ian Millar and the unforgettable Big Ben were back-to-back champions in 1988 – 1999, as was John Whitaker with Milton in 1990 and 1991. The last time it happened was in 2015 and 2016, when Steve Guerdat won it Las Vegas and Gothenburg. In 2008 and 2009, when Meredith Michaels Beerbaum was World Cup Champion with Shutterfly. she also made history as one of just three riders who have won the World Cup Final three times, having also won it with Shutterfly in 2005. Hugo Simon (1979, 1996, 1997) and Rodrigo Pessoa (1998 – 2000) also hold that three-time distinction. Marcus Ehning has also won the Final three times in his career, and this year, he is the only entry with the chance of becoming a four time champion – a title that’s never been claimed. With the super strong Cornado FBW on form and a recent win under his belt, Ehning is another clear favorite at this year’s final. And the home side will be aching for history to be made as well; with the Final held in Paris for the first time in 31 years, and the last French victory in the World Cup Final nearly 15 years ago, the stage could be set for any one of the four French contenders to take an unforgettable win. Complete Orders of Go & Results
11 April 2018
2018 Longines FEI World Cup Final: Will History Be Made?
With HH Azur clearing the top of the standards today in her warmup jumps, all eyes are on the favorites this week going into the 2018 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final. Mclain Ward of the USA has returned with his superstar mare as the reigning champion and clear favorite to gun for a second World Cup Championship title, held this year at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France. Most riders used Wednesday's Longines ranking opening class, a €26,000 prize money two-phase speed, exclusively to allow their horses to stretch their legs over fences in the arena. Steve Guerdat took first prize with his 10-year-old partner Alamo, but this first glimpse of the competitors gives out little in the way of predicting what will unfold when the first round of the Final gets underway at 20:30 local time on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Thirty-eight entries will line out in the World Cup Jumping Final, and along with Ward, there are a few standouts that stand to make history, should they rise to the top. Becoming a back-to-back World Cup Champion is not unheard of, and Ward aims to join that company this week. Ian Millar and the unforgettable Big Ben were back-to-back champions in 1988 – 1999, as was John Whitaker with Milton in 1990 and 1991. The last time it happened was in 2015 and 2016, when Steve Guerdat won it Las Vegas and Gothenburg. In 2008 and 2009, when Meredith Michaels Beerbaum was World Cup Champion with Shutterfly. she also made history as one of just three riders who have won the World Cup Final three times, having also won it with Shutterfly in 2005. Hugo Simon (1979, 1996, 1997) and Rodrigo Pessoa (1998 – 2000) also hold that three-time distinction. Marcus Ehning has also won the Final three times in his career, and this year, he is the only entry with the chance of becoming a four time champion – a title that’s never been claimed. With the super strong Cornado FBW on form and a recent win under his belt, Ehning is another clear favorite at this year’s final. And the home side will be aching for history to be made as well; with the Final held in Paris for the first time in 31 years, and the last French victory in the World Cup Final nearly 15 years ago, the stage could be set for any one of the four French contenders to take an unforgettable win. Complete Orders of Go & Results
11 April 2018
Kent Farrington & HH Azur Recognized as 2017 Longines FEI World's Best Jumping Rider & Horse
In Paris on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, Longines and the FEI presented two awards during the World Cup Final draws, held in the Mairie de Paris (Paris City Hall). The Longines FEI World’s Best Jumping Horse and Rider Awards were established last year, as a recognition of the world’s highest officially rated jumping horse and rider. The recipients of the awards were HH Azur, owned by Francois Mathy and Double H Farm, and the USA’s Kent Farrington. The two awards are determined from accumulated points throughout the whole calendar year; the Longines FEI World’s Best Jumping Horse is determined from the horse’s 10 best results of the year in the Longines Rankings, and the FEI World’s Best Jumping Rider is the leading rider in the Longines Rankings at the end of the year. Despite spending the last two months on the sidelines due to a broken leg, Kent Farrington has maintain his Longines FEI World Number One Ranking for over 12 months. In 2017, he ended the year on 3313 ranking points, well ahead of World Number 2 Harrie Smolders, with 2953 points. In addition to winning the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Omaha with McLain Ward, HH Azur earned ranking points throughout the year with many top finishes and wins. Francois Mathy was in attendance with McLain Ward to accept the award, and a Longines timepiece as well as a crystal trophy. Farrington was also in attendance in Paris for the ceremony—it was his first public appearance since his injury in Florida earlier this year.
09 April 2018
Nationality Change for a Greater Goal: Team Israel
The arc of Team Israel reached a new high over the winter, when riders representing the country rode to numerous successes in Wellington, Florida, USA at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Daniel Bluman placed in every CSI grand prix of the season, and won two, CSI5* grands prix with two different mounts. Danielle Goldstein also won a CSI5* grand prix at WEF, marking unprecedented results under the flag of Israel (Bluman is pictured above at left, Goldstein at right.) Several years ago, both riders switched nationalities (from Colombia and the USA, respectively) to represent Israel, and with more riders following suit, Israel is quickly coming together to perhaps become the next show jumping team to make an impact on the world stage. At this young stage, the team does not have a big sponsor standing behind them, and Israel has never competed as a show jumping team at an Olympics, European, or World Championship. This year, at least one of those things will change. Under FEI requirements, riders who switch nationalities must wait two years before they represent their nation in team competition, and for that reason, the upcoming Longines FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon will mark the first time that Team Israel Show Jumping will have enough qualified riders to fit that requirement, and appear in international team competition. Even with two strong riders such as Bluman and Goldstein to count on, performing strongly at WEG going to be a big ask. Team Israel chef d’equipe Pascal Levy is fully cognizant of the challenge, but the Normandy, France-based coach is looking forward to what the year will bring. Levy coaches private clients of many nationalities, including Kristaps Neretnieks of Latvia, who will compete at this week’s FEI World Cup Jumping Final; an individual WEG contender from South Africa, and riders harking from Russia and other nations. Several years ago, he expressed interest to a few of his contacts in training a small, up and coming country. He received a call from Michel Finquel, CEO of GPA Helmets, and the Israel show jumping team director. Finquel, who has long been involved with the Israeli Equestrian Federation was working to develop Team Israel, and Levy has been involved ever since. “It’s really just begun this year,” Levy said about the formation of a team. “And even though we will not be able to all be together so much before the World Games, the atmosphere between the riders is really quite nice, with everyone giving support on WhatsApp, sharing the results and following each other. Now we are growing, and looking for sponsors to achieve the Olympic dream!” With the Olympics still two years away, the 2018 WEG will be an interesting first step to read the temperature of this new team. In addition to Bluman and Goldstein, Dan Kramer, Alberto Michan, Elad Yaniv, Theodore Boris and Simon Nizri are among the riders representing Israel that Levy will be able to consider for the team for Tryon. With their home bases in Europe, Florida and California, it’s truly a wide-ranging group of riders, who are mounted on horses at different levels and age experiences. “Israel began to be considered as a real show jumping country last year, with the fantastic European Championships that Danielle Goldstein had And I think the next few years will be totally different and bigger,” Levy said. “We also have two young French-born riders, Robin Muhr and Tressy Murh who will mostly likely represent Israel at the European Young Rider Championship this year, they are good riders and will be good for the future.” Why do riders change nationality? Most of the time (and Bluman is an exception to this, having already been to two Olympics for Colombia), it stems from the desire to have a better chance to compete on a bigger level, when you’re from a nation that has many strong riders before you. While Israel is not unique in attracting riders who have changed nationality, Levy notes that while there is motivation to gain an edge to compete internationally, all the riders who have changed flags to Israel share a common thread beyond just being able to show. Their sentiment for Israel is strong, and they are all Jewish. “When a team is built all from money, as we have seen with some countries, it’s not so good for the sport, but when it’s built from a sentimental motivation, it is very good for the sport,” Levy says. Israel regularly makes headlines in world politics at a level that concerns the whole world. So can an Israeli show jumping team help bring people together? In a manner of sport, for sure it can, says Levy. “There’s a big way that sport can bring people together. It’s the main goal of the Olympics, after all, to bring people together and have world peace. If Israel is part of that, it will be good for the sport.” “We may come from different places, but we ride for what brings us all together,” reads the Team Israel Show Jumping motto. It’s a valiant sentiment worth following, as the Israeli riders from different places gain individual strength, and prepare to come together under one flag at WEG 2018.
09 April 2018
World Cup Rider Jamie Barge is Ready for Paris
Jamie Barge is proof that the horse is a great equalizer. To watch her ride capably over the sport’s most advanced tracks, one would never know that she overcomes a unique challenge every time she enters the ring. The 32-year-old rider from the United States and her horse Luebbo are among the roster of qualified athletes, which include 11 Americans, competing in this week’s Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final at AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France. “Luebbo is unique in many ways!” Barge says about the 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Lord Pezi x Stakkato) with a big personality that she found through Germany’s Eva Bitter in 2014. “He’s top careful and he loves to jump. He always tries hard and has the biggest heart for this sport.” Last year, he proved it when he and Barge made their World Cup Final debut on home turf in Omaha, Nebraska. They finished inside the top 30. On this year’s path to Paris, Barge added a few extra stops into her winter season schedule that have helped pave the way with their successes. Normally based out of Southern California, Barge began her season where most West Coasters do, at the HITS Coachella Desert Circuit in Thermal, California. HITS Coachelle hosts the last FEI World Cup Qualifying class of the North American Western Sub-League during its one week of CSI competition. Barge and Luebbo jumped there, and then went on to Florida, where they also picked up points in the World Cup Qualifier at Live Oak International in Florida (pictured above). Then it was on to the nationally rated $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Ocala, with a super double clear performance that earned her the 4th placed-prize check of $100,000. “I was very happy that he jumped clean and had a positive class ,” Barge said. “The prize money is a huge help in helping us get to Europe to prepare for World Cup Finals.” While Barge and Luebbo have experience under their belt jumping the big tracks of a World Cup Final, this year they headed to Europe early, to get in some more practice jumping indoors. They spent several weeks in Germany doing just that. “We don’t have many indoor arenas in California, and it’s a much different feeling than riding outdoors in a big ring,” Barge says. “My plan has been to get Luebbo adjusted to the time change and the cold weather!” Barge counts Eva Bitter among her support team, as well as Marco Kutcher, whom she spent six months training with in Europe a few years ago. Gaby Salick and Alison Robitaille have helped her while stateside. As for that unique challenge: Barge has dealt with extreme hearing loss since her childhood. She is legally deaf. What does that mean in the ring? She cannot hear the starting bell, and instead has to watch the countdown clock to know when to start. But unless you already knew about it, Barge's hearing loss is unnoticeable, and it certainly hasn't held her back. Her support team is always at the rail to relay information, if needed, but once she is going, Barge has said that the hearing loss doesn’t really affect her ride. There are advantages and disadvantages to being able to hear a rail fall behind you. And as noted, the horse doesn’t care much whether you can hear or not. If anything, Barge relies on her horse’s body language reactions even more than the average rider. She rides with above average focus, and it has gotten her all the way to the World Cup Final. While the highlight of her winter season was qualifying for Paris, this week, she will be hoping to make the highlight of her spring an even stronger finish to go home with.