Team USA Wins WEG Reining Test Event

Team USA's Aaron Ralston made history when he entered the ring as the first athlete ever to compete in the Kentucky Horse Park's new indoor arena in Kentucky Cup Reining, the first test event for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG).

"I really didn't realize it was happening until afterwards, and then it opened my eyes and it really started to sink in," Ralston said. "To be involved in something so big and special as these test events for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and to be on the team with these athletes is so special. It's all bigger than just me. It's a great honor and it's very humbling."

Kentucky Cup Reining, a CRI4* competition officially sanctioned by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), featured teams from Canada, Mexico, and the United States. The United States finished first with a team score of 659.50, followed by Canada with 641, and Mexico with 631.50.

The individual final will be held on Thursday, July 23, at 7:30 p.m.

For the test event, Team USA fielded a seasoned team featuring four WEG Gold medalists. They were led to the win by Shawn Flarida, 40, of Springfield, Ohio, double Gold medalist in reining's WEG debut in 2002. Flarida received a score of 370 from the five-judge panel for his ride on Smart Spook, an 8-year-old sorrel Quarter Horse stallion.

Also turning in stellar performances for the winning U.S. team were Ralston, who scored 354.00 on Double My Whiskey; his 2006 WEG Gold medal teammate Dell Hendricks, who scored 367.00 on Starbucks Sidekick; and Tom McCutcheon, winner of team gold and individual silver medals at the 2002 WEG, who scored 362.50 on Darlins Not Painted.

While pleased with his team's performance, Team USA Chef d'Equipe Jeff Petska pointed out that the team selected for next year's games will face a formidable challenge.

"Getting ready for a World Equestrian Games is a very involved process and the teams get better every year," Petska said. "It is a sport that began and grew here, but now that advantage is dwindling as the sport is becoming more international. We're talking to riders and looking for horses because everyone wants to field the best athletes they can. As the sport grows, the level of athleticism required for both horses and riders continues to get higher and higher."

About WEG

The FEI World Equestrian Games are the world championships of eight equestrian disciplines recognized by the FEI. The Games are held every four years and 2010 will be the first time the United States hosts.

Further information on the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, including full results of Kentucky Cup Reining, is available at

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