When he’s not out winning three- and four-star grands prix, Eric Navet’s mount Catypso lives in sunny southern California, where a laid-back approach to most things parallels the 10-year-old Hanoverian’s approach to his job. “He’s not an emotional horse,” says Eric, the French Olympic and World Equestrian Games medalist and coach to fellow World Cup athlete Karl Cook. “The good thing about that is he’s equally happy in small indoor rings and big outdoor arenas. He doesn’t really care. It’s very helpful for me because whenever he’s confronted with a totally different situation, he’s just OK.”
That might help explain Catypso’s remarkable progression. In the last year, Catypso graduated from a quirky phase to dipping his hooves into the Longines FEI World Cup™ waters, to logging rock-solid performances in each round and a 19 place finish against the world’s best at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Finals last spring in Omaha. After that, they went on to CSI*** and CSI**** victories, in Kentucky and North Carolina, in the early summer. This past year’s accomplishments, however, did not come out of the blue. The famously patient horseman has been working with Catypso for about for four years and his vast experience enabled him to sense when the horse was ready for each new challenge.
Eric adores the Thunderbird Show Park venue in Langley, British Columbia, where Sunday’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping competition takes place, starting at 2 pm PST. “It’s a competition that both horses and riders love because everything is designed and organized to keep them happy and comfortable,” he explains.
The international jumping stage is a “fantastic huge grass field that’s very interesting to ride in because it’s not quite flat. It’s very subtle, but it’s not an easy ring to ride in because you need to deal with the horse’s balance down hill and find that push going up.” It’s very different than the large outdoor sand rings and indoor arenas that comprise the rest of the circuit. “I’m really glad that Karl and I have the chance to compete in this kind of situation.”
“It’s a competition that both horses and riders love because everything is designed and organized to keep them happy and comfortable."
Eric is also glad to simply be back in the saddle. A bad fall on another horse earlier in the summer resulted in a forehead gash requiring eight stitches. Eric only got back to riding a week before Thunderbird started and wasn’t “feeling quite 100%.” That didn’t seem to affect his riding, however, as he and Catypso finished third in two FEI classes last week.
On the bright side, the accident happened close to when Catypso and his stablemates were slated for a break anyway. At home in San Diego, the priority was maintaining their fitness and keeping them happy. Dressage work and gymnastic exercises kept Catypso fit, and jumping beyond that was minimal. “Technically, with a horse like him that I’ve been riding for a long time, I don’t have much to teach him: he doesn’t have much to learn because he’s doing everything well.” Going into Sunday’s showdown, “He’s happy and fresh.”
Thunderbird is also a happy place for Eric because his student Karl and Tembla won this competition last year. Tune in Sunday to see if their enthusiastic return finds one or both on the winner’s podium.
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