McLain, you are aiming for your third Olympic medal. How are you feeling about what you have seen so far in Greenwich Park?
We just arrived. The facility, from what we have seen so far, is very impressive, it’s a beautiful setting. We saw some of the three-day on the television and it looked like a great atmosphere. Great Britain is a real equestrian country and the enthusiasm looked wonderful. I think we’re excited, we have a great team here that has tried to prepare as best we can. All top riders with top horses and great people behind us. I think at the same time, the experience of this being my third Olympics allows me to stay focused on the goal without letting excitement overwhelm me.
Beezie, this is your chance for a second Gold after Beijing, what are your thoughts?
Same as McLain, I think the venue looks great from what we’ve seen so far. The heritage here with equestrian sport being very popular, we’re excited to participate, and we’re looking forward to getting going.
Rich, the reigning World Cup Champion, this is your first Olympics, how has it been so far?
It’s been a great experience. We had a great week and a half getting to know each other as a team. I’m just proud to be a part of it.
From a Team perspective, how is it being in London rather than at a more distant venue?
Reed: It’s kind of real. It’s been such a long build up through the Trials in our country. To finally be here, it feels like it’s really happening and everything we’ve been training for is here. It’s time to shine.
George, this is your last Olympics, how do you feel right now?
I am not saying it’s my last Olympics. This is my last Olympics officially with our country. I feel great. We have great riders, a lovely group of horses. I love the venue, last year I was here for test event. As far as being in a city with lots of other sports, I remember my first one, which was 12 or 13 Olympics ago. I’m very focused on my sport. I never was one to run to the other venues. Some people do that, but it’s very distracting to me. I’m here for the equestrian.
We’ve seen Bob Ellis courses, they are big, they are demanding, what do you expect to see in the coming week?
George: Up until 1984 in Los Angeles, the Olympic Games were a different sport. Bert DeNemethy turned the corner to make it an extension of grand prix show jumping. The Olympics is just another grand prix. Bigger, wider, more difficult, but it’s still the same sport. Before Los Angeles it was a different sport. I think we’re very tee’d up. We had great mileage in Wellington, Thermal, and also Calgary, Kentucky and Devon with our Observations. We know this course builder. Also years ago, every country was totally different. Their conception of course building was totally different. Their conception of obstacles was totally different. Now it’s a one-world sport. We’ve had beautiful preparation, and I think we will see like we saw, especially in Wellington and Calgary, more of that, but difficult.
Beezie, you’ll be riding one of the smallest horses, does she feel small to ride?
She does not feel small to ride. I think people that walk up to her and shocked by how small she is, because when you see her go she has a huge stride, and lot of scope. When you feel her stride and her scope you don’t feel like she’s a little horse. I think maybe Flexible is almost as small. We’ve never measured her, but she’s probably 15.2.
What about the other team horses?
Rich: Flexible would be considered a small horse. He doesn’t measure that small, he’s 16 hands at the withers, but he’s a little more compact. He feels like a small horse to ride normally, except when he’s in the ring. He’s a real ring horse, a real competitor. He rises up. I’ve never been concerned about his size.
Reed: My horse, Cylana, is probably the easiest horse to ride at the Games. She’s fantastic. She a lot bigger and she jumps and the way she goes is very different than she looks. She doesn’t have the most beautiful, huntery canter, but she’s very light on her feet. She has all the scope, and she’s naturally very careful and brave. She’s a dream horse for a kid like me.
McLain: Anatres is not small. He’s an incredibly talented horse. He has the stamina for these types of competitions over multiple days. He’s a beautiful, great jumper. I think we’re in good form, so hopefully we can continue like all the other horses on the road we’ve been on leading up to this.
Charlie: My horse is nine years old. He’s about 16.1, which is one of the biggest horses I’ve ever had competing. I think his best attribute is his attitude. It never changes. When I am on him I feel like I am back at USET Finals. He has a huge stride. It’s nice for me because I normally ride littler, difficult horses. He makes it easy for me. Any situation I put at him, he really overachieves. He’s a great horse.
Beezie and McLain, you’re both here with different horses. Do you feel different than at Athens and at Hong Kong?
McLain: I think each Olympics is definitely a different experience. We’re riding different horse and we had long time partners in Sapphire and Authentic. That was a pretty established relationship. For me, all three experiences have been very different. Athens was bit of a blur, I kind of rode the coat tails to that medal - I was the baby. Hong Kong, I thought Sapphire and I were really at the prime of our career together. This is a new horse; I know him well enough and had some different challenges this year. I just try and focus on each round and having the best performance. I think if we all do that we’ll be in the hunt.
Beezie: Same as McLain. Athens was out first time and things went by kind of fast. I think in Hong Kong we felt more seasoned. As far as having different horses, you can’t compare really compare one horse to another. They are all special in their own way. I think we’ve been lucky enough to find two more special horses, and that doesn’t always happen. We’re looking forward to seeing what we can do.
George, what are our chances for the Gold, and who are the medalists, team and individual?
You can’t ever predict with horses. I think this time, there are five or six for the team that are very even. I couldn’t even predict. You always have to say the German team because of their work ethic. They want it. Not just today, they want it all year, all their life. They have an incredible history and tradition of the sport. I think there are five or six teams that could go on anybody’s day. The Individual is an absolutely fresh day grand prix. I stress to my riders, it will be the freshest, soundest horse at the end. Don’t think of the first day, don’t think of the second day, think of the third day, think of the third day. Work backwards. It’s very difficult for people because they get nervous and they over train. You want to go the other direction. I think the last day for the individual will be a fresh slate. It think it will be very indicative of not the best rider, but of the best horse manager.
Reed, do you feel pressure because of your age?
Yes, I think there is a certain amount of pressure for someone my age to make an Olympic Team. I think that’s what so great about our country though, we have the trial system. Everyone on this team earned their spot and worked to get it. I think that’s a great part of country’s system. There are no lucky, random people here; everybody earned their spot. Everybody coming into the Olympic Games has a lot of pressure. I have an unbelievable horse, a top championship horse, and a fantastic team of people around me.
Rich, you’ve had some fantastic horses over the years, but obviously Flexible has done so much for you. He’s also competed quite a lot this year, how is he feeling and looking right now.
He feels as fresh as ever. It doesn’t seem like it has taken that much toll on him. I know he has done quite a bit this year. I don’t anticipate a let down. He’s a great fighter.
Reed, have you asked McLain or Beezie anything specific?
We’ve had a lot of team dinners and everyone has talked about their experiences though the Games. We’ve also done a lot of these interviews, so just being around them, I have absorbed their past experiences. Besides being a great team of riders they are a great team of people. I feel really lucky to be on the team with a such a welcoming group.
Rich, coming off of the Trials and World Cup, do you feel Flexible is built for these types of competitions because he has a bit more blood?
I think in general, a hotter horse just has more energy and more endurance. He seems to be where he’s really good at these long ordeals.