Andrea Fappani took three mounts to the Kentucky Reining Cup, increasing his odds of earning a spot on the team that will represent the US in reining at the World Equestrian Games later this year in France. Here, Andrea tells us about those three horses, what making the US team would mean to him, and how working with aged horses (7 and up) for FEI events differs from preparing young horses (3 and up) for futurities and derbies.
H&R: Tell us about the horses you've brought to Kentucky and why you chose them for this event.
AF: The first is a gelding named Star For The Chics. He was second place at this event last year. (When it wasn't an international qualifying event.) He's never marked huge at an event, but he's always been very consistent. That's very important for a competition like this, when each horse has to make two runs for a composite score. It can be hard to find an older horse that doesn't anticipate maneuvers, but I know I can count on this horse. He's always been healthy; he's been sound in all of the trots (lameness exams performed at FEI events); and he doesn't take much preparation, which is very important when he has to make two runs with one day off between.
The second horse is a stud named Smoking Whiz. He's just 7 this year, and I've shown him in quite a few derbies, but never in one of these events, so I don't know how well he'll perform in this format. He's the opposite of Star For The Chics: He marks high—once marking a 231— but he's less predictable. He's very dynamic, so the crowd loves him. If I can make the team on him, I think it'll be very good exposure for the US team and for the stud.
My last horse is Custom Cash Advance. I've never shown him before. One of my non-pro riders bought him from Jordan Larson, who has shown him in Level 4 NRHA competition and some FEI events. I've been riding him for about 30 days, and I think we're on the same page. But he's a little bit of a question mark for me. I trust him. He's very honest and has shown well for Jordan.
H&R: What does qualifying for the US team that travels to Normandy for the WEG in August mean to you?
AF: I tried to make the team four years ago, when WEG was in Lexington, and I was one spot out. I've been in the United States since 1998, I've built my business here, and I compete here, so I feel it's the right thing to try to qualify for the US team. I could compete for Italy, but that just doesn't seem right. I've thought more about this type of competition in the last few years. Personally, I know what I'm capable of and that hard work pays off. Making the US team would make the puzzle a little closer to complete for me. I have a dream career. I started out as a non-pro, was an assistant, and then went out on my own and have won major events. An accomplishment like competing at the World Equestrian Games would make me just that much more solid in my career.
H&R: Do you prefer showing younger horses in futurities and derbies or older horses in these types of events?
AF: I enjoy showing an older horse. It's easy to have more confidence in older horses. I usually know the horse a lot better, so it's more fun to go show. But I enjoy training the younger horses more than schooling the older horses. With a young horse, you're teaching him something new every day. With an older horse, you're just trying to keep him fresh and tricking him out a little. Both types of horse have different points of enjoyment for me.
Look for more from Andrea Fappani and other reining competitors as we cover the Kentucky Reining Cup this weekend, brought to you by Soft-Ride Equine Comfort Boots.