The German team held on to its lead in show jumping to win gold under the lights at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games on Wednesday.
Brazil and the United States got knocked out of second and third place by France and Belgium, respectively. France clinched silver after a clear round from the world's top-ranked rider, Kevin Staut, riding Silvana de Hus.
The Germans were so dominant that their first three riders went clear, meaning that the last rider, Marcus Ehning, got to ride without any pressure. (He had four faults.)
In show jumping scoring, all teams are able to drop the lowest score.
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The clincher for Germany came from its only American-born rider, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, who went third.
A Los Angeles native, Michaels-Beerbaum, 41, went to Germany in the early 1990s to train and stayed after she married prominent show jumper Markus Beerbaum. She has won numerous international medals for Germany, many of them on her famous horse Shutterfly. However, she brought another horse, Checkmate, to the Games.
"Checkmate has always been in the shadow of Shutterfly, but he's a great talent," she said after her winning round.
"I thought it was great when I rode in the ring and they said I was from L.A.," she said.
Michaels-Beerbaum said winning gold at the Games did come in second to having a baby girl earlier this year.
But "it's a great feeling for me to know we secured gold; to bring it home is great," she said.
After the first two rounds, only a few points separated the top three teams: Germany, Brazil and the U.S.
In the third round of jumping, competitors rode over the same course as Tuesday but with slightly higher jumps and no open water obstacle.
Still the course proved troublesome, especially for the Americans.
The first American to go, Lauren Hough, riding Quick Study, had three rails down for a total of 12 faults. Hough said she was worried after her horse uncharacteristically refused several warm-up fences. He knocked down a rail at the second fence, which he hates to do, and was rattled the rest of the round, Hough said.
"His brain, I think he left it out here," she said. "I'm devastated, but that's the sport, so onwards and upwards."
Mario Deslauriers' horse, Urico, had a hard knock at the seventh fence, causing Deslauriers to lose one of his stirrups and circle before the next fence, which counted as a refusal. Laura Kraut and Cedric were the only U.S. members to go clear, after McLain Ward and Sapphire knocked two rails.
"As a team, everything has not fallen where it needed to. It just wasn't our week," Kraut said.
With combined scores from all three days of jumping, the top 30 individual riders go forward to the individual finals on Friday evening. The top four riders from there will move on to the top four on Saturday night, in which all four riders ride all four horses.
Brazilian rider Rodrigo Pessoa is now in first place, followed by Belgian Philipe LeJeune and German Carsten-Otto Nagal. Of the U.S. riders, Kraut is 19th and Ward is 26th.