Meet the Horses of the United States World Equestrian Games Teams

David Saunders Team Morgan
David Saunders will drive a team of American-bred Morgans in the Combined Driving competition. Photo: Leslie Potter

People and horses from around the world are descending on the Kentucky Horse Park for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. With the world’s largest airlift of horses already underway, horses from every corner of the earth are making their way to the Kentucky blue grass.

The U.S. squad is represented by an international group of horses of all shapes and sizes too, here is a glimpse of the four-legged athletes that will be representing the United States at the World Games:

There are 23 different breeds represented on the U.S. Driving Team: Austrian Warmblood, Holsteiner, Oldenburg, Swiss Warmblood, KWPN, Thuringer Reitpferd, Westphalian, French Trotter, Hanoverian, Sachsen Warmblood, Belgian Warmblood, German Warmblood, Dutch Gelderlander, Swedish Warmblood, Friesian-cross, Quarter Horse -cross, Percheron-cross, Thoroughbred-cross, Welsh Sport Cob, Sport Cob, Morgan, Dutch Harness Horse, Hungarian Warmblood.

David Saunders drives a team of black Morgan geldings owned by Alan and Maureen Aulson. The team includes a set of full-bred brothers, Nordby Shadow’s Rocky and Nordby Shadow’s Sam Spade, both are by Ortawn Captain Royal out of Ribbon Shadow SRD. Sixteen-year-old Nordby Coalie’s Coal Dust, was also sired by Ortawn Captain Royal.

Cindy Jo O’Reilly drives a team of mares. Cindy is one of just two women drivers in the entire driving field at WEG.

For the first time since 2002 there will not be mare on the U.S. Dressage Team in a World Championship or Olympic Games. Brentina, ridden by Debbie McDonald, represented the US in the FEI World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain, the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, the FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany and again at the Olympic Games in Hong Kong, China. Danish and Dutch horses will represent the United States.

The US will be represented by three Irish-bred horses, BallyNoe Castle RM, Tipperary Liadhnan and Mandiba. Two Thoroughbreds bred in the Southern-Hemisphere, Woodburn (New Zealand) and Neville Bardos (Australia) failed on the racetrack but excel in their second careers. Both are ridden by Southern-Hemisphere bred riders (Aussie ex-pats Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton. Neville Bardos is by former Coolmore sire Dehere, who used to shuttle between the U.S. and Australia. Another former racehorse, Courageous Comet is a New York-bred.

All the horses on the U.S. Endurance Team are either full Arabians or part bred Arabians. These small rugged horses are perfectly suited to go long distances across all types of terrain. They have been training in the Blue Grass for two weeks in Shakertown.

Sapphire standing at 17hh towers over 2008 Olympic teammate Cedric who is just 15.2hh. Belgian, Dutch and French horses are ready to jump for the United States.

Paint horse Carlingford JD is the only pinto horse representing the United States. He (along with teammate Paxton Abbey) also had a former career as an event horse proving his versatility.

All the horses on the U.S. Reining Team, RC Fancy Step, Gunners Special Nite, Hollywoodstinseltown, Mister MontanaNic and Whale of A Whiz, are Quarter Horse Stallions. Mister Montana Nic, at 12, is twice the age of his six-year-old teammates on this all-American bred team. Gunners Special Nite is double registered as a Quarter Horse and a Paint (as Colonels Nite Special.)

The U.S. Vaulting Team is represented by 13 different breeds: KWPN, Hanoverian, Oldenburg, Mecklenburger, Rheinlander, Belgian Warmblood, Selle Francais, Percheron, Sachsen Warmblood, Danish Warmblood, Thoroughbred- cross, Shire and Westphalian.

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