The Unofficial Cultural Exchange Program

Flying The Union Jack in Richland, USA

Following the Richland CICs in the US from across the pond, reminded me to resurrect a subject I had long thought of writing about, and seeing Leslie Law doing so well over the in the States has provided the perfect opportunity.

One of the things I love about eventing is the “international community” feel it has, no matter which country you are in. Within a 20 mile radius of my yard we have riders from Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Brazil, Portugal, and the US. Whilst most eventing migration is to the UK and Europe, there is still plenty that flows to other nations, particularly the US. Some years ago I rode in continental Europe and the west coast of America, and loved every minute of it.

This international community can grow for many different reasons, in many different ways, and can sometimes involve a little ‘musical nationalities’. As riders settle in foreign countries, this can often lead to changes in allegiance, sometimes through marriage, sometimes for completely different reasons, which can sometimes mean riders end up representing two nations in championships during their riding career. Lucinda Fredericks adopted her husband’s nationality and represented Australia in the 2008 Olympics. Matt Ryan on the other hand decided to go the other way, switching from Australian to British in the hope of getting on a championship team, although I’m not sure he’s finalised this process yet, and I’ll bet his brother, Heath, doesn’t approve. The US WEG long list also contains 2 ‘previous’ Australians, Boyd Martin & Phillip Dutton. Phillip has represented Australia at the Olympics and will undoubtedly be on the US WEG Team this year.

Chris Bartle | Helping Out The German Team

It’s not just riders that play a part in this multi-cultural exchange program, plenty of horses are moved and sold around the world, and our Chef d’Equipes and team trainers are often foreign. The British team has a Swede, the Germans have a Brit, the Irish have Brit, the US have a Brit, and the Brazilians have a Brit., to name just a few.  I suppose this is no different to football, but at least we don’t have any real language barriers to contend with, although I’m sure Nick Turner probably needs a little interpretation assistance if a recent TV interview is anything to go by! Even course designing is very international, that is when a certain course designer, lets someone else have a chance.

Leslie Law | Still Favouring The Greys & Doing Well In The US

It’s not too often you see British riders set off abroad, but a few years ago Leslie Law began his big American adventure, settling on the East Coast. What I’ve found interesting about Leslie’s departure is, just before he left Leslie was at the top of his game, having won an Olympic Gold, been on a few medal winning teams and successfully campaigned his ‘grey brothers’ at 4* level.

When he moved to the States, I started to think “he’s slipped into obscurity”, but that wasn’t the case, you really don’t get much media coverage if you’re not running and getting placed at 4*. I was very pleased to see Leslie has been doing really well in the States, and bearing in mind there is only one 4* in the US, it shouldn’t have surprised me that we hadn’t heard much of him. He won the 2 previous runnings of the CIC*** at Richland, and probably would have made it a hat trick if he hadn’t sold the horse that delivered the two wins. This year he came fourth in the CIC**. So many riders go through a quiet period out of the limelight whilst they bring on the next generation of 4 star horses, Pippa Funnell & Andrew Hoy being two I can think, that have been out of 4* results in recent years.

Leslie Law | Settled & Happy In The US

I think Leslie is a very interesting character, who hasn’t come from the traditional eventing background, and whilst I’ve never been a great fan of eventers’ autobiographies, as they tend to be ghost written by either the same people, or in the same style so tend to be a little like reading the same story with the names changed, I’m very tempted to go and read his book (Shear Gold).

As I hadn’t seen Leslie since Badminton 2005, and I knew Samantha Clark (from the WEG 2010 Radio Show) was going to be at Richland, I asked her to grab a few pictures, and ask Leslie a few questions. Samantha went one better and grabbed a relaxed few minutes on video with Leslie. It’s good to see the Brits making it abroad – I’m very jealous!

Many thanks to Samantha (and Leslie).

Amateur event rider, aspiring photographer. Technologist by day.

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