Category Archives: JRPR

Johnny Robb

Chester Weber Climbs to Number Two in the World Rankings for Four-in-Hand Driving

Photo courtesy of Bas van Doorn.

Ocala, Florida (October 13, 2017) — Fresh off of a win at the World Cup Qualifier at Donaueschingen, Germany, Chester Weber returned home to Ocala with his and Jane Clark’s team of KWPNs for some well-deserved “R and R”. After a successful European tour culminating with Donaueschingen, Weber moved up the ranks to take over the number two spot on the FEI roster of top Four-In Hand combined drivers in the world and third on the list for World Cup Driving Team Qualifiers.

“I was really pleased,” said Weber of the latest ranking. “The FEI has two rankings lists. They have the World Cup rankings and the top driver awards. The World Cup ranking is just based on World Cup Qualifiers that qualify for the World Cup — we finished third there. And then the top driver award which is all the FEIs and we finished second.”

The current rankings are significant for Weber and his team since he is competing with this combination of horses for the first time internationally. Weber remarked, “I am so proud of my team’s performance throughout the European tournament schedule. It’s really exciting to look forward to next year, to think of the possibilities with the combination of the seasoned veterans like Jane Clark’s Splash, and the new horses on the roster. They were a new team to competing together in international competition and they really have started to hit their stride.”

The KWPNs are enjoying some quality pasture time back at the farm in Ocala; however, there will be little reprieve for the number two-internationally ranked FEI Four-in-Hand driver. “I will be racking up those Frequent Flyer miles, bouncing back and forth from Ocala to Europe to compete in the indoors,” Weber explained.

Weber’s recently acquired team of Lipizzans stayed behind in Europe to compete in the ongoing indoor tournament schedule. Weber will split his time between home and Europe throughout the fall season to hone his driving skills in the indoor competitions.

“Part of the reason we strategically decided to do the indoor World Cup is not only do we get to compete at some of the top show jumping and dressage venues in the world, but it also makes my timing better. And it makes me a better outdoor Marathon driver without a question,” explained Weber.

Aside from being one of the top ranked driving competitors in the word, 14-time USEF National Combined Driving Champion Chester Weber is also dedicated to promoting the equestrian sport of driving on a national and international level. For Team Weber updates, results, photos, and combined driving news as the indoor competition in Europe continues, follow Chester Weber on his official Facebook page, Instagram @ChesterWeber, or visit www.chesterweber.com.

For more information, contact:
Chester Weber
chester@chesterweber.com
1-352-895-1139

Chester Weber Wins Donaueschingen CHI3*

Photo courtesy of Nadine Pettersson Söderström.

Donaueschingen, Germany (September 29, 2017) – Chester Weber offers no rest for his rivals. When the 14-time USEF National Combined Driving Champion withdrew from the Breda CAIO4*, The Netherlands, to allow one of the team horses to recover from an elevated temperature, the world renowned driver turned his attention to competing in Donaueschingen, Germany. Keeping the welfare of his and Jane Clark’s horses foremost, and sure that all of them were feeling their best, Weber rolled through the three phases of competition in Donaueschingen, emerging the definitive winner of the Combined Driving Four-In-Hand CHI3*.

Among 21 starters, Weber marked an impressive score of 35.92 in the dressage phase with the powerful KWPNs, which included 14-year-old Splash in the right lead, 8-year-old First Edition in the left lead, 12-year-old Asjemenou at right wheel, and 11-year-old Boris W. at left wheel. The bay geldings performed their best, and with several outstanding horses on the team’s roster to choose from, Weber mixed up the order of things moving into the marathon.

“In the marathon it was the same team but eight-year-old Reno took the right lead and Splash came out. Reno is a new horse on the team, and possesses an interesting pedigree. He is half Friesian and half Orlov Trotter, a Russian breed,” Weber, of Ocala, Florida, explained. “We drove him and liked him, and thought that he would prove helpful to us in the marathon; he’s been doing just that. We purchased him from Hungarian four-in-hand driver József Dobrovitz, Jr.”

Added to the usual expected challenges of the marathon phase were rain and a soggy track, where Team Weber incurred penalty points but recorded a 102.93. “It’s a tough track there,” he explained. “It was muddy, but they fared well. It was a pity we had two knocked down balls, and that cost us the win in the marathon.” Team Weber rounded out the weekend with a good placing in the cones phase, and secured the overall top placing.

With his sights set on delivering peak performances at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina and known for his goal-oriented nature, laser focus, and dogged determination, Weber is using this year to build and fine tune his program. “It takes time competing to get it all put together, and I think that is the benefit of going to Europe in a non-championship year so we can really try new things,” he remarked. “Next year, it will be a little bit more homogenous in what we are going to do. We will figure out what works the best and work at refining that.”

As Team Weber moves through the latter part of 2017’s competition schedule, the new team of Lipizzaners, still stabled in Europe, will make a showing at several driving events in Holland. Come late 2017 Weber will focus his competitive energies stateside — along with many other major players in the sport of Combined Driving who winter in Central Florida — with plans to attend the Combined Driving Event at Grand Oaks, Weirsdale, Florida, in early December.

In the meantime, while Weber jets between the U.S. and Europe to keep his teams competing on the international stage, the three-time World Equestrian Games Silver Medalist always places his horses’ welfare foremost in his mind. Aside from catching up on much needed sleep in between trips, Weber explained his schedule when he returns home, saying, “I rest, go through mail, and try to get everything organized. When the horses return, we make sure the stable is in order and that we have all the quality hay and supplies we want for them. Now that the KWPNs are all back, they are having easier days hacking and also spending time in the paddock.”

Weber, who continues to be a major contender in the international world of four-in-hand combined driving, is also dedicated to promoting the equestrian sport of driving on a national and international level. For Team Weber updates, results, photos, and combined driving news as competition in Europe continues, follow Chester Weber on his official Facebook page, Instagram @ChesterWeber, or visit www.chesterweber.com.

For more information, contact:
Chester Weber
chester@chesterweber.com
1-352-895-1139

Cesar Parra Warms Up for Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse Dressage Nat’l Championships

Photo courtesy of Susan J Stickle.

Wayne, IL (August 22, 2017) –  Performance Farms has yet again earned top spots in the rankings of horses qualified to compete in the elite Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse Dressage National Championships. A consistent and strong competitor in this annual competition, Dr. Cesar Parra, founder and head trainer at Performance Farms, is ranked second in this year’s Developing Grand Prix Division with Fashion Designer OLD. Assistant trainer Katie Riley is also ranked second in the Five-Year-Old Division with GK Sir Beckmann.

Qualifying not one but two horses for the upcoming National Championships is an impressive feat, although one that is not surprising to anyone who has been watching Performance Farms’ horses competing this year. The qualification period for the Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse Dressage National Championships began on January 1, 2017, and concluded on July 31, 2017. Throughout that timeframe, qualifying took place at designated USEF/NAJYRC Qualifying Competitions. The National Championships will take place at the Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Illinois on August 24-27, 2017.

Parra and Fashion Designer OLD received qualifying scores as high as 75.313 percent in the Developing Horse Grand Prix Division. Bred by Heike Kind in Germany, Fashion Designer OLD is a nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Faustinus x Forst-Design, De Niro) owned by Parra and Martin Sosnoff. “Fashion is a star, and I am thrilled with how he is developing,” said Parra. “His results are great, but it is his development that brings me the most joy.”

In last year’s competition, Parra and Fashion Designer OLD won the Reserve Champion title in the Developing Prix St. Georges division.

Riley and GK Sir Beckmann also ranked second, consistently earning scores over 80% during the qualifying period. GK Sir Beckmann is a Hanoverian gelding (Sir Donnerhall x Witchita, Wolkenstein II) bred in Germany by Norbert and Petra Fockenberg. “Sir Beckmann is such a special horse and I am so very proud of him. He is an amazing five year old, but an even more amazing horse for the future. I am blessed and lucky to have the ride on him, and I’m grateful to Cesar Parra and his wife Marcela Ortiz for always supporting me,” said Riley, who is a founding member of Performance Farms.

Performance Farms is based in both Jupiter, Florida and Whitehouse Station, New Jersey and is dedicated to developing top notch horses and riders for the dressage ring. Founder Dr. Cesar Parra is an Olympian, a Pan American Games Dressage Team Gold Medalist, and a Nations Cup Silver Medalist, as well as a two-time World Cup Finalist and two-time World Equestrian Games competitor. To learn more about the training and lessons offered by Parra and Riley at Performance Farms, visit www.piaffe-performance.com.

Contact: Dr. Cesar Parra
Piaffe-Performance Farm
(410) 977-8352
www.piaffe-performance.com

Summer Sizzles with Fun Family Events This July at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center

Photo courtesy SDPhotography.

Jacksonville, FL –The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is turning up the summer heat through the rest of July with a sizzling lineup of exciting events that are fun for the whole family. Sparking things off on July 15th is the Jacksonville All Breed Open Horse Show. Sponsored by Holmes Ranch, this show offers all the favorite classes including Open Halter, Showmanship, Hunter Classes, Western Classes, Gaited, Saddleseat, Trail Classes, Dressage and Western Dressage. Kids 7 & under are able to show their stuff as well in the Walk Classes including lead-line and walk equitation. The show runs from 8am – 5pm, and AQHA/ARHA/Breed Specific rules apply to applicable classes.

The following week, take advantage of the chance to spend a cool summer evening with fellow equestrians in the spacious main arena on Tuesday, July 18th, in the Community Night Schooling program. The program runs from 3pm – 8pm and costs only $10 per horse. After that, things will heat back up again at the Jacksonville facility with a different kind of Horsepower. The 3rd Annual Rollin Sound & #GetLikeHeather Car Show and dB Drag on Saturday, July 22nd provides the opportunity to see Hot-Rods and Muscle Cars and hear some hot tunes like never before! Car Show classes include Best of Truck/SUV, Mini Truck, Import, Domestic, Exotic, Lights, Paint, Donks, Bike, and Best of Show. Be sure to stick around for the chance to participate and cheer on your favorite for the Crowd Pick award as well. Spectator parking is only $5, and goodies will be handed out to the first 100 people. Raffle tickets will be sold throughout the day for $1. The show starts at 10am and trophies and raffle will be awarded at 4:30pm.

July at the JEC then wraps up on Tuesday, July 25th with the rare opportunity to see some of the best Belgian Warmblood Horses in North America at the N.A. Division’s Belgian Warmblood Inspection Tour. This spectacular event runs from 7:30am – 1:00pm and gives Belgian owners and breeders the opportunity to register their youngsters and certify mares and stallions, demonstrating that they meet strict guidelines for conformation, performance, and breeding standards within the registry.

The event will be the sixth stop in the fifteen-city breed inspection tour, which is conducted by the Belgian Warmblood Breeding Association’s North American Division. Executive director, Chris Sallee, is excited to host the event at the Jacksonville facility this year. Sallee stated: “After doing some research, we knew it was the obvious choice for our keuring event in Florida. The facility is unbeatable – it has all the amenities you could ever ask for when hosting an event like this.”

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center looks forward to welcoming these sizzling summer events to its world-class facility. In addition to these exciting and fun summer events, plans are also in place to enhance the world-class Jacksonville facility with even more additions and construction projects set to take place over the coming months. The facility hosts a wide range of popular family-friendly events throughout the year, such as horse shows, recreational events, car shows, family fun days, dog agility trials, and equestrian events for every breed and riding discipline. For nature lovers, the property also features miles of hiking and riding trails as well as a picnic pavilion.

Known for its extensive amenities and ideal location only a short drive to the city and beautiful beaches, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center’s 80-acre facility includes two outdoor 36,000 square foot show rings, four permanent barns, 422 stalls, 78 full hook up RV spaces, indoor and outdoor vendor spaces, and an Olympic sized swimming pool. For more information and to find out about other exciting upcoming events, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call (904)-255-4215.

Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Debbie Stegner (904)-255-4215
dstegner@coj.net
13611 Normandy Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL 32221

Todd Minikus Racks Up Big Wins Bringing Young Horses up the Ranks at Tryon CSI 2*

Todd Minikus at award ceremony for finish on Incitatus in the $86,000 Adequan® Grand Prix FEI CSI2* (Photo courtesy of Todd Minikus)

Tryon, NC (July 6, 2017) – Todd Minikus and Incitatus opened up the Week V competition at Tryon CSI 2* in a big way, handily winning the $6000 1.40m Nutrena Power CSI 2* and Speed Open, by besting a field of 56 entries. After going clean in the first round, the duo prevailed in the jump off, finishing out the round with a sizzling 31.45. Lawaetz’s flashy Oldenberg gelding Incitatus then forged onward with Minikus at the helm, seizing an impressive 3rd place amongst 45 entries in the $86,000 Adequan® Grand Prix CSI2*.

Minikus noted, “This was a nice win for Incitatus. His owner, Alice Lawaetz, and I are so pleased with his progress. He continues to show his great potential and I am excited to see how he develops. I think he is going to be a top-notch jumper.”

As usual Minikus’ feet barely hit the ground between rounds – jumping from one mount to another to notch additional wins and top placings on a bevy of mounts throughout the competition.  VDL Excel continued to shine in the 1.40m Open Jumper division, seizing another first place win and several additional top placings. Minikus and Chablis S owned by Los Establos SportHorses, dominated 55 other horse and rider teams to win first place and bragging rights in the Adequan 1.30m Open Jumper class. Chablis S and Minikus then stayed the course, picking up another reserve ribbon in the same division to boot.

Minikus continued on with this winning ways with his own horses — Exceptional outperformed in the Green Hunter 3’ 3” classes again, winning a championship ribbon and taking three reserves. Minikus’ mare Spring Girl took a second place in the 1.10m Open Jumper class with Minikus at the reins.

“Most of these horses are young and gaining experience. This summer at Tryon is all about bringing them up the levels. It is so rewarding to see them come into their own and fulfill their potential,” explained Minikus.

Minikus is scheduled to compete at Tryon throughout July 17th. To keep up with FEI Nations Cup veteran and U.S. Pan American Games Team Bronze Medalist Minikus and his crew, follow on Facebook and Instagram @Todd_Minikus, or visit www.ToddMinikusShowJumping.com.

Contact: Amanda Minikus
amandajl16@aol.com
562-762-3762
www.toddminikus.com

Florida’s Belgian Warmblood Inspection to Be Held at Jacksonville Equestrian Center

Photo courtesy Belgian Warmblood North American Division.

Jacksonville, FL (July 5, 2017) — This July, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center will welcome the area’s newest batch of superior Belgian Warmblood horses as the southernmost stop on the Belgian Warmblood North American Division’s Keuring Inspection Tour. Set to take place at the prestigious Jacksonville, Florida facility on Tuesday, July 25, 2017, the event will give owners and breeders the opportunity to register their youngsters and certify mares and stallions, demonstrating that they meet strict guidelines for conformation, performance, and breeding standards within the registry.

The event will be the sixth stop in the fifteen-city breed inspection tour, which is conducted by the Belgian Warmblood Breeding Association’s North American Division. Noted Belgian Warmblood judge, Boudewijn Schepers, will be judging the keuring tour for the eighth consecutive year, and will be joined by Belgian Warmblood North American Division’s Board Chair, Kelly Gordon, at the Jacksonville event. The event will include breed inspections and registration for mares aged 3-6, mares aged 7+, colts, fillies, yearlings, 2-year-olds, and stallions.

Belgian Warmblood North American Division’s executive director, Chris Sallee, is excited to host the event at the Jacksonville facility this year. Sallee stated: “After doing some research, we knew it was the obvious choice for our keuring event in Florida. The facility is unbeatable – it has all the amenities you could ever ask for when hosting an event like this. The spacious indoor arena also allows for us to host free jumping classes, which is perfect.”

Sallee went on to explain how breeders and owners alike will benefit from attending this year’s keuring event: “Our judge, Boudewijn, is very helpful to our breeders in offering individualized breeding advice for each mare, and is helpful in securing semen for our breeders in Europe that is not offered in the U.S. He also helps to keep our breeders up to date on the latest breeding trends, and up and coming young stallions to utilize.”

The keuring, or breed inspection, is set to begin early in the morning, when inspectors will obtain DNA samples from mares and foals, as well as take note of their markings. DNA is obtained to create permanent DNA markers for each foal, as well as for parent verification. Next, owners will formally present each horse in front of a panel of judges in the facility’s indoor 123,000 square foot coliseum. Mares will be shown in hand with a bridle, while foals will be stood up for an evaluation of conformation, and then shown at liberty without their halters, and with their dams. Yearlings will be shown in halter or bridle, and 2-year-olds and stallions will be shown in bridle.

During the keuring, judges will watch each horse carefully, making a thorough assessment of soundness, movement, and conformation, evaluating their potential to perform at the highest levels of international sport. At the end of the presentations, mares and stallions may advance to the Belgian Warmblood North American Division’s studbook registry, while “premiums” are given to the youngest horses and “predicates” can be given to all horses.

Attendees are highly encouraged to have their foals micro chipped prior to the keuring to ensure that their microchip numbers accompany their registration to Belgium, as well as their lifetime US Equestrian registration. Micro chipping will also be available at the event for a $30 fee. Free jumping will be set up for stallion inspections, and will be available to other horses as well. Attendees will have the opportunity to work with expert free jumping instructor and judge Boudewijn Schepers to learn and practice the correct way to school horses to jump for a $75 fee.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center looks forward to welcoming the area’s newest group of Belgian Warmbloods and their owners to its world-class facility. Known for its extensive amenities and convenient location, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center’s 80-acre facility includes two outdoor 36,000 square foot show rings, four permanent barns, 422 stalls, 78 full hook up RV spaces, indoor and outdoor vendor spaces, and an Olympic sized swimming pool.

The facility hosts a wide range of popular family-friendly events throughout the year, including horse shows, recreational events, car shows, family fun days, dog agility trials, and equestrian events for every breed and riding discipline. For nature lovers, the property also features miles of hiking and riding trails as well as a picnic pavilion.

You can find out more about the Belgian Warmblood North American Division’s breeding standards and procedures at www.belgianwarmblood.com. Attendees can also take advantage of a special discounted rate at the nearby Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Hotel, the official hotel of the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. Those interested in booking a room for the event can do so at the following link: Book your group rate for Belgian Warmblood Inspection.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is easily accessible from major highways in Jacksonville, Florida, and is located just minutes away from popular beaches and the downtown Jacksonville area. For more information about the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, and to find out about other upcoming events at the facility, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call (904)-255-4215.

Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Debbie Stegner (904)-255-4215
dstegner@coj.net
13611 Normandy Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL 32221

Dressage Star Natalie Pai Follows in the Footsteps of Trainer Kevin Kohmann

Natalie Pai and Unlimited at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions (Photo courtesy of Susan J Stickle)

Natalie Pai, age 20, and her dressage trainer Kevin Kohmann, a trainer at Diamante Farms in Wellington, Florida, have a lot in common. They have both broken the industry norm to achieve impressive accomplishments in the sport they love at a young age.

Last month, Pai won the Reserve Championship in the Brentina Cup at the 2017 Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions in Gladstone, New Jersey aboard Unlimited, a 16-year-old KWPN gelding (Jazz x Clairudith, Winckenburgh) that she is leasing from P. J. Rizvi and Peacock Ridge, LLC. She also competed on Fritz San Tino, a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by her mother Melanie Pai.

Natalie Pai is the youngest competitor in history to bring two horses to compete at the Festival of Champions, and the youngest to qualify for and compete a horse in the Intermediate I division of the Festival of Champions. Like his protégé, trainer Kevin Kohmann started racking up successes at a young age. He is the youngest in history to pass the Bereiter in Germany at the age of 18, the youngest to earn the title of Master Bereiter, and to earn his German gold medal.

Kohmann said that he and his fellow trainer at Diamante Farms – Devon Kane, who owns Diamante Farms alongside her mother, Terri Kane – can easily relate to young, driven riders. Riders who have such a strong love for dressage that they are determined to achieve momentous success even at a young age especially resonate with Kohmann and Kane. After all, the Diamante Farms trainers themselves were highly successful in the Under 25 division not so many years ago. Kohmann and Kane are also able to offer a variety of methods to teach their riders. “We use many teaching methods,” Kohmann said. “We stick to classical methods, but we also acknowledge that all roads lead to Rome. That’s how Devon and I train everyone – we understand that every horse and rider has a different learning style, and we try different approaches to achieve goals.”

Pai, who has been serious about the sport of dressage for the past five years, has been working with Kohmann for four years. She followed him to Diamante Farms when he moved there three years ago.

“The best thing about Kevin is that he is such a good rider and a good coach,” she said, adding that since she is a visual learner, it’s helpful for her to watch him ride so that she can copy him. “Sometimes, when I don’t understand something, it’s really important for the way I learn for someone to show me how to do it rather than tell me how to do it.” Pai’s mother, Melanie Pai, is also a dressage rider who grew up in the show ring. She agreed that her daughter clicks with Kohmann’s teaching style.

“He’s really good with Natalie,” she said. “He’s a perfect match for her personality. He’s funny, and Natalie is a prankster and hysterically funny, so they can really ham it up together. Because he’s young, everything is very fresh with him. He has a lot of ways of explaining things. He keeps coming up with a different approach.”

The younger Pai said that her mother was probably even more excited than she was when she clinched the Reserve Championship at Gladstone. She doesn’t plan to change trainers any time soon – although recently Devon Kane gave Pai some lessons while Kohmann was competing, and Pai found her time with Kane invaluable. Both Kane and Pai are petite, and the trainer gave the younger rider some valuable tips on how to adjust her technique for her size.

“I think it was really helpful for me to train with someone who understands my body mechanisms,” she said. “She helped me with technique, especially with my seat. For example, in the pirouettes I used to sit back a little bit, and she told me to hinge my shoulders forward a little bit. That really helped. She also said that rather than using your strength to take the outside rein, push him more into the outside rein. That was helpful because I am smaller, so by pushing him into it, I don’t have to use quite as much strength. I made a lot of improvements with her.”

The Pais keep five horses at Diamante Farms in Wellington, Florida, and Natalie rides three of them. She keeps busy with her six-day-a-week riding schedule with Kohmann, while also attending Palm Beach Atlantic University, where she is majoring in Business Management.

“I think it’s quite incredible what she has accomplished with Unlimited in the short amount of time she has been riding him,” Kohmann said, explaining that she had only leased the gelding for five months before she had her major win at Gladstone. “Going from riding Prix St. Georges in Young Riders to the Grand Prix is a huge jump. I remember this well, as it’s not so long ago that I made that jump myself. There’s a lot more going on in the Grand Prix. It’s a complete game changer from Prix St. Georges – a different sport. She has learned a lot in a very short time.”

Pai counts herself lucky that she has such a great support system in her parents, Kohmann, and Kane. In fact, she had a fan club watching her at Gladstone, including Kohmann, her mother, father, aunt, and groom Emilija Anderson, as well as friends watching through the live stream.

“It’s really nice to be able to talk about dressage with my mom,” Pai said. “I think that’s really important. My mom can give a lot of pointers and I think she enjoys it. When I won the 2015 North American Young Rider Individual Gold medal at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) [aboard Fritz San Tino (Falkenstern 11 x Wanessa, Wanderbursch 11)], she was sobbing.”

Melanie Pai said her main advice to her daughter is to do her best but to enjoy it. “I always tell her to smile and have fun,” she said. “If it’s not fun, why are we doing this? Natalie has learned so much. She has the ability to feel and fix things. It’s been fun to watch her growth in becoming a real, professional rider.”

She credits Kohmann and the atmosphere at Diamante Farms for helping her daughter excel in dressage. “I enjoy the Kanes,” she said, adding that she has known the facility’s owners from when they all lived in Texas years ago. “They run a top-notch, professional barn. It’s a very calm, relaxed atmosphere. We are good friends. They move the horses along at their own pace; nobody is pushing them. It’s a great atmosphere to work in.”

She was thrilled when her daughter won the Reserve Championship at the Festival of Champions. “It was a proud moment,” she said. “It’s amazing to see your own child achieving such great results. Obviously you are on cloud nine; you are over the moon. To come out and achieve Reserve Champion the first year is phenomenal.”

The younger Pai hopes to return to the November U.S. Dressage Finals in Kentucky and to compete in the Brentina Cup again. “I have five years left in the U25 division,” she said. “And, I’d like to do Young Riders again. NAJYRC is a great experience.”

Her long-term goals include the Olympic Games, the World Equestrian Games, and the Reem Acra World Cup of Dressage. And through it all, she plans to stick with Kohmann and Diamante Farms. “Devon and Kevin inspire me,” she said. “To be able to watch Devon and Kevin excel in competition and in business from such a young age is amazing.”

Many who follow the sport of dressage have heard U.S. Olympic icons Robert Dover and Debbie McDonald refer to the “pipeline of dressage” as the future of the sport in America. Riders like Natalie Pai and trainers like Kevin Kohmann and Devon Kane are not only part of that pipeline, but are also encouraging other young equestrians who dream of competing at high levels to ride along with them.

A Magical Beginning for Sahar Hirosh and Whitman

Joanna Jodko Photography.

70% and Grand Prix Blues for Israeli Rider

Wellington, FL  (June 27, 2017) — Sahar Daniel Hirosh and Whitman notched a first place finish in the Grand Prix at the Gold Coast Summer Solstice in Wellington, Florida this past weekend — marking their first foray together on a path toward the 2018 World Equestrian Games (WEG). In their competitive debut as a horse-and-rider combo, the pair earned the blue ribbon with a 70.00 percent, propelling Hirosh one step closer to realizing his dream to ride for Israel at the WEG. The Israeli-born Hirosh is an American citizen poised to seize the unique opportunity to bring glory to both countries.

He began preparing the 2003 KWPN gelding (Rhodium-Camora, Saluut) owned by Jane Suwalsky for competition this year at the beginning of the winter equestrian festival show season in Wellington, Florida.  Hirosh met Sulwalsky for the first time as when he was as a child in Israel.  “Jane used to live in Israel and when I was a child I was lucky enough to meet her there. She was one of the people who influenced the development of dressage in Israel. She is an extremely knowledgeable horsewoman who has taken horses up to Grand Prix and it’s amazing to ride for someone I respect so much,” Hirosh shared.

Hirosh had as much praise for Whitman as he did for his owner. “The best part of the test was how much he was with me,” Hirosh said. “The harmony. Whitman is an amazing horse. He took me out there and he did everything I asked. He’s hot, yet light. He doesn’t question what I ask. I think he was made for me.”

Now the duo is heading north to New Hope, Pennsylvania, where Hirosh hopes to continue garnering successful scores at Saugerties and Dressage at Devon.  “The goal is the World Equestrian Games and anywhere we can go, including the European Championships,” he said. “The sky is the limit.”

Hirosh also plans to compete Don Daiquiri, a 2002 Oldenburg gelding (Don Cardinale-Neastate III, Rubenstein I) owned by Beth Palmgren, in the Grand Prix at Saugerties and Devon and aim him for the 2018 World Equestrian Games, as well.  In addition, he rides Sakramenter (Samarant, Sandro Hit, Westminster), an Oldenburg gelding owned by Karen Ramsing-Bixler.

His formula of taking the time behind the scenes to ensure the horses are poised and well prepared before they go down centerline is a recipe for success. Not only does he have a proven formula, but Hirosh knows it takes a team to help him achieve his goals, including the owners of his horses and his sponsors.  “I have amazing owners in Jane, Beth and Karen and wonderful sponsors,” Hirosh added.

Hirosh’s sponsors also helped him display his patriotism on his debut Grand Prix ride on Whitman. Custom Saddlery and KEP Italia helmets designed special tack and gear with Israeli colors and designs. Custom Saddlery created a saddle with the blue of the Israeli flag on the seat and trimming cantle of the saddle. Beth Haist of The Horse of Course introduced Hirosh to KEP Italia helmets and worked with the international company to design a helmet sporting the Israeli flag.

While blue designs begot blue ribbons for Hirosh, there was also a lot of craftsmanship to make sure the equipment not only looked the part but also was the epitome of functional. Custom Saddlery’s expert saddle fitters worked with Hirosh to be certain that the saddle fit perfectly, including making the knee rolls “in just the right spot” to create the best communication between him and Whitman.

Another sponsor, Premier Equestrian, installed the world-class footing in the arena in Pennsylvania where Hirosh will train again this summer.  The company also bestowed the honor of Premier Equestrians to Hirosh for his display of sportsmanship and his commitment to always put his horses’ needs to the forefront over his own.

One thing is certain: Hirosh has surrounded himself with a top team as he launches on the journey to bring pride to Israel in the 2018 World Equestrian Games. “It is said, it takes a village,” said a happy Hirosh after the first show, “but I feel lucky enough to have nations of support for this exciting endeavor.” Hirosh is now settling horses into their northern training stable in Pennsylvania and picking up their training regimen right where he left off in Florida a week ago under blue skies. To learn more about Hirosh and the horses and their Journey to the World Equestrian Games, go to www.sdhdressage.com, and follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sahar.hirosh.

Contact: Sahar Daniel Hirosh
www.sdhdressage.com

Team Minikus Scores Again with Wins at Tryon Summer II CSI4*

Tori Welch (right) and Sniper pictured with Trainer Todd Minikus (far left) and his son Colt Minikus (middle) after winning two Low Jumper 1.2 classes and reserve in the $3000 Low Junior Jumper Classic at Tryon International Equestrian Center.

Tryon, NC (June 15, 2017) – Once again, Team Minikus has showed what it’s made of with wins and top finishes at the Tryon Summer II CSI4* at the Tyron International Equestrian Center in Tryon, North Carolina. Minikus and two of his students, Victoria (Tori) Zelch and Catherine Wachtell, all pocketed blue ribbons along with top placings on several mounts.

Minikus’ promising eight-year-old bay mare, Juju VDM, showed her mettle once again, winning the Nutrena 1.4 Open Jumper class. Juju VDM is coming into her own after having two foals. Even though she has only shown half a dozen times, her natural talent in the ring indicates a bright future ahead of her. Her illustrious bloodlines include her dam Derly Chin De Muze, who was the Bronze Medalist at the 2009 FEI World Championship at Lanaken and also Eric Lamaze’s mount at the 2012 London Olympics.

Along with his win on Juju VDM, Minikus finished second in a field of 19 horses on VDL Excel in Wednesday’s Nutrena 1.40m Open Jumper class. The following day, Minikus and Los Establos SportHorses’ Chablis S picked up a reserve in the Adequan 1.3m Open Jumper class.

Minikus also made it to the jump off with Alice Lawaetz’s gelding Incitatus, and finished a respectable seventh out of a roster of 40 entries in the Suncast Commercial FEI $35,000 Welcome Stake. “This horse just continues to improve and show his unlimited potential,” said Todd Minikus about Incitatus.

Team Minikus’ youngest competitor, 16-year-old Tori Zelch from Ohio, tallied two first place finishes in the Low Jumper 1.2m on her handsome liver chestnut gelding, Sniper, who she purchased from Todd and Amanda Minikus. She and Sniper also claimed the reserve placing in the $3,000 Low Junior Jumper Classic. Additionally, Zelch won second and third place aboard Musical Wood’s talented mare, Mary Jane, in the Low Jumper Junior Division.

“Tori joined us during the winter season at WEF competing in the Children’s Division, and wanted to move up to the Juniors. Now, not only has she moved up to the Junior Division, but she is winning in the Juniors,” said Minikus proudly.

Not to be outdone, 21-year-old Adult Amateur Catherine Wachtell and her mount Elarina won The Equis Boutique Low Amateur Owner Jumper 1.2m, toping a class of 20 horses as well as scoring two third place finishes in the Low Amateur-Owner Jumper 1.2m and the Low Amateur Owner-Jumper Classic 1.2m.

“I am proud of these young up-and-coming horses and riders. It’s so rewarding to see their progress,” added Minikus, who celebrated his own birthday during the successful show.

In between traveling and competing, FEI Nations Cup veteran and U.S. Pan American Games Team Bronze Medalist Todd Minikus is based in Wellington, Florida, where he offers sales and training services. Keep up with Team Minikus by following Facebook and Instagram @Todd_Minikus, or visit www.ToddMinikusShowJumping.com.

Contact: Amanda Minikus
amandajl16@aol.com
562-762-3762
www.toddminikus.com

USEF’s Dressage Equipment and Attire Booklet Outlines Tota Comfort System for All Levels

TCS Combined noseband double bridle.

Wellington, FL (June 14, 2017) – The revolutionary Tota Comfort System combined noseband, new drop noseband, and the popular Andros Poll Relief headstall have been included in the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF)’s 2017 Dressage Attire and Equipment booklet, confirming its use for competition in the US. Approved for international competition through the Grand Prix by the FEI in January of 2016, the USEF’s evaluation more precisely breaks down the legal uses of the Tota Comfort System combined noseband and new drop noseband in national level competitions in the United States. The patent-pending, standard-shattering bridle design has redefined the traditional tack paradigm by removing torque on the poll, reducing pressure on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and facial nerves, and delivering unmatched comfort for the horse in both competition and training.

The Dressage Attire and Equipment booklet released by the USEF is designed to assist exhibitors as well as USEF Dressage Technical Delegates, Judges and Stewards who officiate dressage classes at any federation licensed competition in the United States. In addition to dressage dress codes, a wealth of bits, and various other bridle designs, the Tota Comfort System combined noseband is depicted as legal for all levels, with the optional use of a throat latch. Full information on the FEI rules for the combined noseband when competing at the international level can be found in the FEI DRE-Rules 2017, page 48.

Further solidifying the Tota Comfort System’s growing legacy in the dressage competition arena in the United States, inclusion in this year’s USEF booklet provides greater clarity for riders as they strive to ensure the proper fit and function of their tack. While its origins and popularity in dressage are a natural extension of the bridle’s design and benefits, jumpers and eventers are also discovering the positive results of using the TCS noseband on their competition mounts.

The Tota Comfort System noseband creates stability in the jaw, reduces poll pressure, and alleviates stress on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ and facial nerves, delivering improved comfort for the horse and connection for the rider. With the goal of improving lightness and harmony in the contact the inspiration behind its inception, Olympians Ashley Holzer and Sue Blinks sought to eliminate unsteadiness in the mouth caused by traditional bridle designs. The unnecessary pressure applied to the poll, facial nerves, and TMJ left the horse uncomfortable, sometimes resulting in head shaking, open mouths, tension, an unwillingness to step into the hand, or leaning on the bit, detracting from overall performance. Holzer and Blinks brought their idea to Charles Tota of The Dressage Connection, and together the three devised a curved cheek piece and stabilizing chin strap that resolved pressure points and granted the horse comfort and relief in the jaw, TMJ, and poll. Soon after the TCS’s debut at the Grand Prix level with Holzer at the reins resulted in a major percentage point jump in their score, hundreds of riders have chosen to ride in the TCS noseband for the sake of their horse’s comfort whether in the arena or in everyday training.

Available as a complete bridle system or noseband attachment, the Tota Comfort System is offered exclusively through its website and retail partners.

For more information on the Tota Comfort System, visit their website at www.totacomfortsystem.com or via phone at 1-888-SNAFFLE.

Media contact:
Equinium Sports Marketing, LLC
Holly Johnson
holly@equinium.com