Photos: The World Equestrian Games

Photos: The World Equestrian Games
Alisa Schmidt, of Canada, performs on Badge during the world vaulting championship at the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Ky., on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010. (AP Photo/ James Crisp)

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - The German show jumping team earned the gold medal on Wednesday night at the World Equestrian Games.

In the team final, the first three riders for Germany all had clear rounds, which mathematically secured the gold medal before the competition was complete.

Their last rider, Marcus Ehning, knocked down a single rail, but it did not matter because the worst score for each country is dropped.

"It is really unbelievable," said Janne-Friederike Meyer, one of Germany's riders. "I was really happy that I could support the team."

Although it was a close competition coming in, Germany finished as the runaway winner with just 17.8 cumulative faults after three days of jumping. France finished second with 24.32 faults and Belgium was third with 24.7.

France and Belgium also had impressive showings as they came into the final round of the competition in fifth and eighth place, respectively.

The United States started the evening in third position, but had a rough night and wound up last of the 10 countries that competed in the final.

The team final also served as the last qualifier for the individual competition. It will begin Friday with the top 30 riders, and the field will be narrowed to four for the final on Saturday.

The first medals in para dressage were also awarded on Wednesday.

It is the first time the event has been part of the World Equestrian Games.

Britain's Sophie Wells took the gold medal in the Grade IV individual test. The Netherlands' Frank Hosmar was second and Denmark's Henrik Weber Sibbesen was third.

In the Grade III individual test, Germany's Hannelore Brenner won the gold medal. Denmark's Annika Lykke Dalskov was awarded silver and Australia's Sharon Jarvis received the bronze.

"Since 1999, the para sport has really taken a step forward," Brenner said. "It's great. It's the first time for us to be with the other German riders. We are like one big German family now. This is the first time we are together with them, and I hope there will be more."

Riders compete in different grades depending on the level of severity of their disability. Competition resumes Thursday with individual tests for Grades Ia, Ib, and II. Meanwhile, Britain continues to lead in the team competition.

Vaulting also got started on Wednesday. The United States team is in the lead after the first day of competition. Germany is second and Austria is third.

Joanne Eccles of Britain leads the individual female competition after the compulsory test, while Germany's Simone Wiegele is second and American Megan Benjamin is third. Germany's Gero Meyer leads in the male division, while his countryman Kai Vorberg is second and Switzerland's Patric Looser is third.

The World Equestrian Games will finish on Sunday.
     
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