Category Archives: Dressage

The Discipline of Riding Dressage

All-Female American Team Seals Victory in Historic Nations Cup Contest at AGDF

Adrienne Lyle and Salvino. Photo © SusanJStickle.com.

Wellington, FL — March 29, 2018 — The all-female American team dominated the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center FEI Nations Cup™ CDIO3* team competition in the 12th and final week of the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.

In the first leg of the 2018 FEI Nations Cup series, the USA romped home with gold, while last year’s winners, Canada, clinched silver and Australia took a historic bronze — the first time the nation has ever won a dressage Nations Cup medal of any color. Spain finished fourth.

Unlike some other stages of this worldwide seven-leg Nations Cup series, teams at AGDF can be made up of big tour, small tour, or a mixture of big and small tour combinations. In order to level the playing field, 1.5% is added to each grand prix score, with the small tour results remaining unaltered. Teams consist of three or four riders, with the best three scores from day one and the best three from day two determining the final results.

Adrienne Lyle and Salvino posted personal best scores in both the grand prix and the special tests, culminating in 76.894% (78.394% after adjustment) in the special, a huge new best for the pair. A team from the USA has won six of the seven Nations Cup contests held at AGDF.

“This is an incredible event to be part of,” said Lyle, who was riding Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Juliano’s superb 11-year-old Sandro Hit stallion, Salvino. “I’m so proud of my boy, putting two really solid, clean, powerful tests in for our team. He was a little tired today, but came out fighting — and that’s what you want.”

Her performances were supported by Olivia LaGoy-Weltz (Lonoir), impressive newcomer Sabine Schut-Kery (Sanceo), and Ashley Holzer (Havanna 145).

Schut-Kery logged two plus-72% performances on Alice Womble’s 12-year-old San Remo stallion Sanceo, despite only performing their first CDI grand prix test in January of this year.

“I could not be happier with my horse in our first season of grand prix,” said the German-born rider who is now based in California. “It was really good practice to ride in another climate and see what your horse gives you. I’m super happy and look forward to the future.”

LaGoy-Weltz added more power to both her performances with Lonoir, and as a result ended up with a couple of small mistakes.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” she said. “There were still some bobbles, but when you go for more powerful, it can cause other things to happen. Then again, taking risks is how you make progress.”

Despite two solid performances on Diane Fellows’ inexperienced mare Havanna 145, Ashley Holzer was the drop score. An error of course meant a costly 2% deducted from her grand prix special score, and prompted a teasing text from Fellows to Holzer that read: “Which test did you prefer — yours of the FEI’s? Don’t worry; it’s about the big picture.”

Holzer added: “Nobody will beat me up about that mistake more than myself. My mare was a little green this week, but luckily my team-mates said, ‘Don’t worry, we’re all human’. They’re amazing girls and I’m very honored that everyone in the States has been so welcoming [since switching nationalities from Canadian].”

American Nations Cup team chef d’equipe, Robert Dover, added: “Since the inception of the AGDF, this show has been a dream come true. I’ve watched the state of both American dressage — and all the countries that are here — rise up because of this amazing venue and the shows put on here. It’s fantastic what it’s done for the sport.”

Of his team, he added: “I’m so proud of these amazing women who are not only rising to the occasion, but they are changing the game for American dressage as we go towards the [World Equestrian] Games. Of course, that wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for incredible people like [trainer] Debbie McDonald and [owner] Betsy Juliano, to whom we owe so much — and so many more people.”

Spearheading the Canadian charge with a new best in the grand prix special test of 71.304% (72.649% after adjustment) was Brittany Fraser and her 13-year-old powerhouse by Tango, All In, who has blossomed during AGDF 2018.

“I had a personal best today,” she said. “We still had a mistake in the ones — but I’ll fix that tomorrow in the freestyle! I was proud of All In today; he was tired, but he tried.”

Fraser’s team-mate Megan Lane had double cause for celebration. Not only did she help Canada to team silver riding Caravella, but she also won the Grand Prix CDI3*, presented by Grand Prix Services (for special) on Zodiac MW. The Canadian team was rounded out by Jill Irving (Degas 12) and Diane Creech (Chrevis Christo).

The bronze-medal winners, Australia, were delighted with their historic result. Small tour rider Kelly Layne (Furst Amante) said: “Australia is a very, very long way from here and to put a team together is not so easy. This AGDF competition series is something we could never even imagine; it’s brought us here and, over the years, helped improve our performances. I’m so happy we could do it this year — and put ourselves in a bronze medal position. My horse is really green, but really fancy. He was with me the whole ride and the little mistakes were completely mine.”

Individual medals were awarded in the under-25 Grand Prix CDIO, presented by Diamante Farms, with Spain’s prodigious talent, Juan Manuel Guimon, taking the gold. He rode his father Juan F Matute’s 15-year-old Don Diego Ymas to 71.669%.

“His performance today was quite good, apart from a mistake in the twos,” said the self-confessed perfectionist. “Once again, his overall attitude was quite competitive and fresh. We were indoors today, which I think helped. He’s a dark horse so he doesn’t have so much stamina; I think being indoors really benefited him.”

The 20-year-old flies to Europe at the end of April for the Segovia CDI before heading to the Spanish national championships in a bid for a place on his nation’s team for the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina, in September. Failing that, his goal will be the under-25 FEI European Championships.

Molly Paris improved on her score from the inter II to scoop silver for the USA. She rode her own 16-year-old mare Countess to 68.508%, edging out Spain’s Rodrigo Encinas Fuentes on Van The Man (67.778%).

“I enjoyed that test more than in I-2,” said Paris. “Countess has strong passage and piaffe and I really like to showcase it. She’s not the easiest, but once you get her going, she’s brilliant.”

Encinas Fuentes said: “Van The Man has been the horse that’s taught me how to ride a grand prix and compete at a high level. He’s a very competitive horse; every time he goes in the ring he proves it and wants to give everything.”

The USA’s Sarah Daehnert rode just one CDI test this week, but she capitalized on it, winning the Prix St Georges CDI1* on her own and Robert Price’s nine-year-old Vivaldi x Jazz gelding, Evander 3. Their 70.784% marked a giant improvement from their one and only other showing, a month ago, where they scored 65.8%.

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Spain Victorious in U25 CDIO at AGDF

Juan Matute Guimon on Don Diego Ymas. Photo © SusanJStickle.com.

Team USA in Control at Halfway Mark of Nations Cup Contest

Wellington, FL — March 28, 2018 — Young riders came to the fore as the tussle for the under-25 Nations Cup team title unfolded in the Intermediate II CDIOU25, presented by Diamante Farms. The team result is decided solely on the results from the under-25 inter II class, and it was Spain’s young talent that shone brightest, with Juan Matute Guimon and Rodrigo Encinas Fuentes filling the top two spots individually to clinch the team gold. The USA’s team picked up silver, while Canada finished in bronze position.

The under-25 Nations Cup class was a highlight in a packed second day of the 12th and final week of the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.

Matute Guimon finished at the top of the class with 72.294% aboard his father Juan F Matute’s Don Frederico gelding, Don Diego Ymas, who was stepping back from grand prix level, where he has mostly been competing this summer. Matute Guimon and the 15-year-old black gelding are seven on the FEI youth world dressage rankings.

“It’s always exciting to be part of a team,” said the 20-year-old, who was suffering from a touch of jet lag after having returned from a weekend at the FEI sports forum in Lausanne, Switzerland, just the previous day. “It was a great opportunity to try to improve on last year’s results in the Nations Cup as unfortunately we didn’t have a great week here last year, so I wanted to change that. Today our test was quite good; there were some things that can be improved, but overall it was pretty clean and with a good, competitive attitude, which I think was the highlight.”

His team mate Encinas Fuentes, who finished second individually with 68.294% on Cesar Parra’s 16-year-old former grand prix horse Van The Man, added: “I’ve just tried to keep up the progress we made two weeks ago [at the Florida International Youth Dressage Championships, where the pair topped the under-25 division] and get better and better. We aren’t making mistakes so often now and we’re more consolidated. It means a lot to me to be on this team, to be with my friend Juan — two young guys from Madrid making a team on the other side of the world. It’s one of the biggest things of my career and makes me feel proud of all the work that I do.”

The USA team’s Molly Paris logged the highest score for her nation, 66.706%, riding her own 16-year-old Danish warmblood, Countess.

“These girls are like family,” said Paris of her silver medal-winning team-mates Kerrigan Gluch and Natalie Pai. “We’ve known each other since juniors and we’ve been through everything together. My mare tries so very hard for me; she’s super talented and I really can’t ask for more. We just ran out of a little bit of steam at the end today; hopefully we can find a little more tomorrow [in the under-25 grand prix, which is an individual contest] and get a better score.”

The top scorer for the Canadian bronze medal team was Naima Moreira Laliberté — who has also risen up the ranks with her team-mate Laurence Blais Tetreault. Moreira Laliberté finished third individually on her own I Do Kiss, a 12-year-old stallion by French Kiss.

“We did teams together in juniors and young riders — and now we’re back!” said Moreira Laliberté. “We’re finally moving up to u-25 and it’s a difficult step, but we’re taking it. I was quite happy with my test today — it was a huge improvement since my first CDI. We’ve worked hard since January and I’m happy to see that all the work I’ve put in at home is showing in the test. I had a little mistake where he walked in the pirouette, which was costly, but hope I can improve that for tomorrow.”

In the big tour, Kasey Perry-Glass (USA) came back with a bang with her Rio Olympic bronze medalist ride Goerklintgaards Dublet after an eight-month absence from the competition arena. The pair looked fresh and full of energy en route to their 73.217% victory from last draw of 18 starters. This was their highest score in this test for a year.

“He’s had three years of really hard work; he did the Pan Am selection tour, straight into Rio, and last year being a really big year too,” said the 31-year-old. “I felt like it was time for him to have a break and just be turned out and have down time — we both needed the reset. He deserved it and I’m so glad I did it. It’s his third year at grand prix and he came back no problem. He works really well when you don’t drill him. I started bringing him back in December with the aqua-tread and trail riding and then very slowly brought him back to work.”

Her partnership with the Diamond Hit son (who loves bananas) has gone from strength to strength, and this was their 11th international win together, having logged top placings the world over.

“He was hot in there today and it caught me a little off guard,” added Perry-Glass, who trains with Debbie McDonald. “I haven’t had that feeling in a long time. He’s 15, but he felt like a young horse again, which made me really happy.”

The pair will now contest the freestyle class on Friday, as will fellow American Arlene ‘Tuny’ Page, who finished second on Woodstock (71.435%) and the third placed rider, the Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos De Muñiz, who scored 70.804% on Foco Loco W.

The senior Nations Cup team competition is at the half-way mark overnight, with the USA currently in the lead. Unlike some other legs of this worldwide seven-leg competition, the AGDF teams can be made up of big tour, small tour, or a mixture of big and small tour combinations. In order to level the playing field, 1.5% is added to each grand prix score, with the small tour results remaining unaltered. Teams consist of three or four riders, with the best three scores from day one and the best three from day two determining the final results.

Spearheading the American team’s charge with the contest’s highest score, Adrienne Lyle and Salvino topped the CDIO grand prix class with 76.478%. A fault-free performance from Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Juliano’s beautiful Sandro Hit stallion Salvino — another coming from last draw — was met with wild cheers from the crowd. Lyle’s efforts were bolstered by her team-mates: Sabine Schut-Kery’s newcomer to the scene, Alice Womble’s Sanceo, produced a superb 73.109%, having only contested his first CDI grand prix two months ago. He is another stallion — this one by San Remo. He has scored over 72% in all five of his international starts this year. Just behind her, on 72.804%, Olivia LaGoy-Weltz produced the nation’s third counting score for the day riding Lonoir.

Team Canada — also fielding all big tour combinations — sit second overnight, with the star performance coming from Brittany Fraser and All In, who came tantalizingly close to 70%, with 69.804%. Jill Irving (Degas 12) and Megan Lane (Caravella) provided the day’s two other counting scores.

The third placed team overnight, Australia’s top scorer came in the form of Kelly Layne and her small tour partner Furst Amante. They scored 69.353% to finish second overall to Spain’s Pablo Gomez Molina — yet another rider to top a class from last to go. Riding the Yeguada de Ymas’s expressive 11-year-old chestnut gelding by Furst Piccolo, Gomez Molina scored 69.912%.

The fourth team in the mix, Spain, is fielding all small tour combinations. The Nations Cup competition concludes on Thursday after the intermediate I and grand prix special classes.

In the FEI Intermediate I CDI3*, it was Melissa Taylor (USA) and Nicole Polaski’s 13-year-old gelding Ansgar who replicated their prix st georges form from the previous day to take the blue ribbon. From last draw, they scored a personal best of 70.784%. She was joined on the podium by the same two riders as in the PSG, but reversed: Canadian Brittany Fraser was second on Soccer City, while Nora Batchelder (USA) and Fifi MLW dropped a place to third.

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Little Horse ‘Hot as a Tamale’ Scorches to Victory on Opening Day of Week 12 at AGDF

Melissa Taylor and Ansgar. Photo © SusanJStickle.com.

Wellington, FL — March 27, 2018 — It’s taken 16 attempts this season, but Melissa Taylor (USA) and Ansgar finally have a blue sash and a winner’s blanket to their name after winning the Prix St Georges CDI3*, presented by Yellow Bird Farm. It was the only class on the opening day of action during week 12 of the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida. This popular CDIO (which incorporates the Nations Cup team competition) had to be extended by a day — starting early, on Tuesday — to accommodate the huge number of accepted entries across the plethora of international classes.

Taylor, who is married to Danish Olympian Lars Petersen, piloted Nicole Polaski’s light-footed 13-year-old Dutch gelding by Special D to a 69.441% victory in a class of 19 starters. Her marks from the five judges included two plus-71% scores, from American judge Kristi Wysocki at C, and the M judge, Colombia’s Cesar Torrente.

“I’m pretty excited about this,” said Taylor, brimming with enthusiasm. “I’m thrilled with Ansgar, but most excited for the owner because she’s an adult amateur who has put a lot of money into the sport and it’s finally giving her some results. Also, she had a surgery on her hip recently, so she was here to watch on crutches. She’s elated — and she’s been through a lot.

The other great thing is that the horse is finally trusting me in the arena, which is a big deal for him. This is my second full season with him at small tour and last year was really a learning curve,” added Taylor. “When Nicole first gave me the ride, I wanted to sell him. She can’t ride him; he’s way too hot and way too sensitive for an adult amateur to handle, but then one day she asked if I wanted to try showing him. Last year he still had his own agenda and still tried to get away with certain things in the test — he had beautiful pirouettes at home but thought that he didn’t have to do them in the ring — and he was a little bit rude in there.

“It was a question of retraining, and Lars has always said that retraining a horse is more difficult than training your own horse up. I never really understood that until I tried to compete this one. It was quite the procedure.”

Taylor has been working on showing a more cadenced trot, closer to passage, in tests, so she wasn’t 100% convinced the judges would like it and at the final half didn’t let herself feel that she’d pulled off a winning performance despite the positive reaction from the audience.

“We’re still changing little things, so I wasn’t sure how it would go over,” she explained. “And he’s a little horse — with a lot of movement — but it’s not always movement through the back. So even when I feel like I have a great ride, sometimes the judges say — correctly — that he’s too tight in the back. So I wasn’t really sure if I’d nailed the test or not. But the two plus-71s made me realize I’d done okay.”

Taylor, who has taken advantage of the concentration of CDI shows at AGDF to bring on Ansgar in the competition arena, added: “I love Global. For the U.S., this is the best showcase you could have. It’s an intense ring with the catering, tents and noise, but I love coming here.”

So what does the future hold for this duo?

“I need to talk to Nicole, but I’d love to be able to take him to the national championships and we’re trying to work the grand prix stuff, but Ansgar is hot as a tamale, so I’m not sure if I can ever get him to stand still enough for 15 steps of piaffe,” concluded Taylor. “But we’ll see in the next couple of months and then make a plan.”

Fellow American rider Nora Batchelder finished as the runner-up in this PSG riding her own nine-year-old Fifi MLW (by Fidertanz) to 68.559%, while Canadian Brittany Fraser’s ribbon-collecting season continued unabated. She logged third on Jill Irving’s Sir Donnerhall gelding Soccer City, with 68.265%.

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Top Entries Compete at 2018 AGDF 11 National Show

David Marcus and Dean Martin. Photo © SusanJStickle.com.

Wellington, FL – March 26, 2018 – The 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival continued with a national horse show on March 24-25 at Equestrian Village at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, and top entries competed for impressive scores.

Horses procured through Danish Olympian Andreas Helgstrand on opposite sides of the planet converged on the AGDF show grounds to showcase their burgeoning talent.

2012 London Olympic Games rider David Marcus of Canada won Saturday’s grand prix with 69.348% on his own 10-year-old Dimaggio gelding, Dean Martin. This was the horse’s third grand prix and he is undefeated to date.

“I purchased the horse this past summer at Helgstrand’s in Denmark, so it’s a fairly new partnership,” said the Wellington-based rider. “He’d only been there a few days — he’d been trained and competed by a rider from Luxembourg — and I felt he was a really complete horse in general, with a very good work ethic and three really good gaits. He knew the grand prix work, but he wasn’t really a confirmed grand prix horse yet.”

Marcus has spent the summer gelling with the chestnut gelding and consolidating the grand prix work, with help from his husband Nicholas Fyffe and local trainer Oded Shimoni.

“Dean is very green still and needs to build strength, but I was really happy with how hard he tried this weekend,” added Marcus. “Seeing as I’ve had him for such a short time, he was the best he could be for this stage of his training. This was only his second show, and he’s handled both competitions perfectly and feels the same at competitions as he does at home.”

Another Helgstrand horse — this one bought out of Helgstrand’s new sales barn in Wellington — breezed to victory in Saturday’s 17-strong prix st georges class. Australian rider Kelly Layne piloted John McGinty’s gigantic Blue Hors Romanov gelding Brizard to a clear 73.235% win.

“We had been searching for a horse for John for a long time,” said Layne. “He’s 6’4”, so it was hard to find a horse big enough but good enough to be competitive, and Brizard is 18 hands at a minimum, but so light and sensitive to the aids. I worried that the eight-meter circles might be a problem for him, but he’s so supple everywhere that they were easy for him.”

Layne is accustomed to big horses, having competed the tall Udon P.

“Brizard is very experienced in the small tour in Europe, but I took him out for his debut here in Wellington so I can help John better by understanding what the horse is like in competition,” said Layne, whose barn is so close to AGDF that she hacked to and from the venue. “He was wonderful; [he was] on the aids and powerful but waiting for me the whole time. He absolutely did the job exactly as you’d want, and we were thrilled with him. In fact, if anything, he was more sensitive in there than in training, which means I can be very light with my riding.”

Since the sale of Udon P and her other grand prix horse, Layne is relishing the opportunity of having a quality small tour horse, though she will shortly hand over the competitive reins to McGinty.

It was an emotional win for Krystal Shingler (CAN) in Sunday’s grand prix, as this was her first show since the death of her mother less than a month earlier.

Her horse, the 10-year-old Fidelio by Fidertanz, is the first she has trained up to grand prix herself and this was their fourth ever grand prix. They won with 70.543% — the only plus-70% of the class.

“I got him in Germany as a coming five-year-old and he was a bit of a wild child,” recalled Shingler, who is originally from Toronto but is now a Wellington resident. “My trainer Kevin [Kohmann, of Diamante Farms] and I brought him up to the grand prix — though there were times that we nearly got rid of him because he was very difficult and liked to bolt. We soon realized that he’s a worker bee and needs to be busy. He said, ‘No thank you’ to most of the lower level stuff but, as it’s got harder, he feels more and more like it’s where he should be.”

Shingler, who works for the equestrian boutique Show Chic and fits riding and competing around her job, added: “My whole weekend was emotional and I got in my own head a bit because it was my first show without my mum. But I could feel that she was with me on my shoulder the whole time; it felt incredible. I’m just so glad that she got to see our first grand prix in February before she passed away.”

Fidelio — just like David Marcus’s Dean Martin — will now continue his training over the summer with the aim being in the CDI ring at AGDF next winter season.

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester Head to Royal Windsor Horse Show

Royal Windsor Horse Show is delighted to announce that leading British Dressage riders, Carl Hester MBE and Charlotte Dujardin OBE, will join the competitive line-up at the Show this May (9-13) when it celebrates its 75th year.

The Al Shira’aa Grand Prix and Freestyle to Music, taking place on the evenings of Thursday 10 and Friday 11 May, respectively, will attract some of the world’s greatest riders as they head to the private grounds of Windsor Castle for the CDI 4* FEI Dressage competition.

After captivating crowds with her auspicious prospect, Mount St John Freestyle, during a demonstration at Olympia, The London International Horse Show last December, the triple Olympic champion, Charlotte Dujardin and her new Grand Prix partner will be gracing the Castle Arena at Royal Windsor Horse Show.

Dujardin and the nine-year-old Hanoverian mare, who has been nick-named ‘Mrs Valegro’, recently took the Dressage world by storm after achieving an 81% debut Grand Prix score at the recent national show in Hartpury. The duo is anticipated to be Team GB medal contenders at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) this September and will be competing at Royal Windsor Horse Show as part of their road to WEG campaign.

Charlotte Dujardin, OBE, said: ‘I’m really looking forward to Royal Windsor this year, and I am especially excited to showcase Freestyle’s talent to the British public. Freestyle has been performing so well this season so a win at Windsor would be really special.’

Joining Dujardin will be Carl Hester, Team GB representative, who will be trying his luck with Hawtins Delicato, a 16.3hh British Hanoverian gelding. Hester will also be looking towards WEG team selection with Delicato, who also recently made his national Grand Prix debut, scoring 76.8%.

Hester, who has many years of international success and experience, is no stranger to winning at Royal Windsor, having taken the 2017 title riding Barolo, and is a sure contender for prime podium position.

Carl Hester, MBE, said: ‘Royal Windsor is such a unique Show; the setting is like no other and the competition is always fantastic. It is great being back after winning here last year. Delicato and I are looking forward to giving Charlotte and Freestyle a run for their money!’

Royal Windsor will give WEG hopefuls the invaluable opportunity to compete in front of a WEG Dressage judge, an element that is expected to draw in many of the biggest international Dressage names to the Castle Arena.

To see the Dressage action at Royal Windsor Horse Show first hand, or to find out more, visit www.rwhs.co.uk.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Telford gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk +44(0)7717 776928

Youth Comes to the Fore and Baumert and Handsome Complete a Clean Sweep at AGDF

Natalia Bacariza riding Dhannie Ymas. Photo Credit: ©SusanJStickle.

Wellington, FL — March 18, 2018 — The sixth annual Florida International Youth Dressage Championships (FIYDC) were the highlight of competition on the final day of week 10, Sunday, March 18, of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.

The 2018 Florida International Youth Dressage Championships — presented by Terri Kane, Hampton Green Farm, Sarah Davis, USEF Owners’ Dressage Task Force and Dressage 4Kids — took place alongside senior competition in week 10 at the AGDF. It featured competition for riders in the Under-25, Young Rider, Junior, Children and Pony divisions, offering them a chance to compete on the big stage and showcase their talent at one of the world’s largest and most high-profile dressage competitions.

There were five youth division winners, with 16-year-old Natalia Bacariza from Spain winning the overall trophy for the highest average score. She beat six other Junior riders, winning all three classes with over 71% on the Yeguada De Ymas’s 11-year-old Don Crusador gelding, Dhannie Ymas — former ride of her trainer Juan Matute Guimon and his kür gold medal-winning 2015 Junior European Championships partner.

“I am super happy about winning; I’ve wanted this for a very long time and I’m really happy that we finally did it,” said Bacariza, who is from Madrid and is the daughter of Cristina Danguillecourt and Javier Bacariza, owners of the Yeguada de Ymas. “I’ve been riding Dhannie for three months. He was ridden by Juan before, so he already knows his job, but you still have to ride him and not make any mistakes. Our best test was the individual [71.716%] and I’m very excited about our journey together.

“Our highlights were probably the changes and the trot work. We’re finished with the Wellington season now and then we’re going to be competing in Europe — first in Spain then Germany and maybe France,” added the teenager, who has big career aspirations. “I hope to improve my riding and continue my career in dressage and hopefully become another big champion.”

It was another win for Spain in the Under-25 division, with Rodrigo Encinas Fuentes and Van The Man leading the field of 10 entrants. The horse is owned by Cesar Parra, who rode the now 16-year-old gelding by Obelisk at grand prix at AGDF in 2013, 2014 and 2015 before handing the reins over to his young pupil.

Fuentes won only one of the three young rider tests, with Natalie Pai (USA) winning the other two on Unlimited, but his average score of 68.094% edged out Pai’s 67.746%.

“I was very happy with the horse; I felt he was truly with me and gave 100%,” said the 22-year-old Madrid native, who was competing at AGDF for the first time. “There are of course still some things I could improve, as always, but I’m truly happy with his attitude and he’s getting better test after test.

“This result means a lot. Just to compete at this level is great, but to win is better! I work really hard to get the opportunities to accomplish my goals, I’m really far from home and I sacrificed a lot,” added Fuentes, who left home at 18 looking for further riding opportunities in Europe before meeting Juan Matute, who invited him to the USA. “He really helped me, and the family opened the doors of their house for me. I learned a lot and its thanks to them, and also to Dr. Cesar Parra, who has treated me like his own son. He’s taught me not just about horses, but also how to be a better man.”

It was Canada’s Beatrice Boucher who came out on top of the 17 competitors in the Young Rider division. Riding Gilles Bergeron’s 15-year-old Del Piero gelding Delfiano, she averaged 69.415% across the three tests.

“The horse belongs to Camille Bergeron’s father and I wasn’t expecting to compete him at all, but I am so happy we can now do the young rider championships,” said the 20-year-old from Quebec, who picked up the ride when Camille no longer had enough time for Delfiano as well as her other horses. “I’ve only been riding him for a year but he’s such a puppy dog and always in your pocket — he’s so nice to be around. He’s never negative, he’s always your team mate and he’s so consistent. He’s a real pleasure and he gives his best all the time.”

The youngest division winner came in the form of 13-year-old Tori Belles from Pennsylvania riding PJ Rizvi’s pony Prince Z to an average score of 67.498%.

“I’ve been riding him for a month,” she said. “He’s been to the European Championships [he was a Dutch team medal winner under Febe van Zwambagt in 2011] and it’s a privilege from PJ Rizvi to show and compete him. He gives you the best feeling ever and supports you — even if you have a little mistake he tries to support you and help you out. I’m hoping to carry on showing him and also go to Lamplight festival of champions.”

The final winner was another to hail from Canada. Lily-Rose Lemaire, 14, rode the former broodmare World Lady, 18, to the Children’s title.

“My ride was very good this weekend and I’m so happy. My horse was with me and I think it’s my best ride with her,” said Lemaire, who only took up riding three years ago and began the partnership with World Lady six months ago. “This was my first CDI in Wellington as I had only done national shows before. This is my first season in Wellington and it is a beautiful place.”

Sponsor Terri Kane of Diamante Farms, who sponsors the under-25 division throughout AGDF and supports FIYDC, said: “This is the future of dressage and if these kids aren’t out there competing, then our sport will die. It’s very important for people in the dressage community to show that we support them and that we care.”

Of the entries from six different nations, she added: “It’s exciting. Just like for our national and international athletes, it’s very important for these athletes to compete against other countries to make themselves better. We had a huge junior group this year, so hopefully they continue riding and go into the u-25 and hopefully a lot of these riders will go on to become professionals and continue to compete after they age out of the u-25.”

Jennifer Baumert made it three wins from three starts on Handsome in week 10. PBIEC is a lucky venue for the American duo, who have won a staggering eight classes this season.

Baumert posted 75.2% on Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Juliano’s 13-year-old Hochadel gelding, with fellow American Jodie Kelly-Baxley on Caymus, by Sir Sinclair, slotting in to second (74.175%) and Canada’s Brittany Fraser filling third with Jill Irving’s Sir Donnerhall gelding, Soccer City (72.875%).

“He’s awesome,” grinned Baumert. “I was pumped in there because Debbie [McDonald] psyched me up to get him really in front of me and taking every opportunity I could between movements to push him up in front and come into every movement with a lot of power. And we did that!

“She was amping me up because I’m one of those people that wants everything to be really pretty and harmonious and nice, and she pushes me to shake it up and come out of my comfort zone. This is a great way to close, as it’s our last show at Global. We’re hoping to go to Tryon [for the test event CDI in April] and the national championships at small tour.”

Baumert, who was competing Handsome at the AGDF for the second successive year, usually returns to her Ohio base in April, but is staying on in Wellington this year.

“We’re going to stay until the team goes off to Europe to take advantage of Debbie’s help until then, so I’m looking forward to that,” she said. “That’ll probably be until June, when it’s really hot here in Florida, but Havensafe Farm has lots of trees and a covered ring and it always feels about 10 degrees cooler there, so I’m hoping that’ll work out for us.”

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Shelly Francis Is Back on Top with Personal Best Performance in Week 10 at AGDF

Shelly Francis and Danilo. Photo Credit: ©SusanJStickle.

Wellington, FL — March 17, 2018 — Shelly Francis (USA) and Danilo went one better than in the grand prix to clinch the Grand Prix Special CDI4*, presented by Mission Control. She and Danilo scored 73.979%, a new personal best in this test for the pair, who are ranked 42nd in the world. Week 10 of the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida, is the largest dressage show ever held outside Western Europe. AGDF continues through March 31.

“When you’re really riding and pushing a bit and trying to make everything perfect, you kind of feel it’s not your best ride because you’re sweating more than the horse,” said Francis, who is based in Loxahatchee, Florida, and was contending with a pair of stiff new riding boots. “But he did feel good; I just have to relax a little and trust him. We had a little mistake at C when he thought halt and rein-back, like in the grand prix, when I was trying to make passage. Other than that, he felt straight up.”

Francis has been riding Patricia Stempel’s 14-year-old gelding since he was eight.

“Patricia was riding him and doing a nice job, but then she suggested I show him a bit, which was her mistake, because now he’s mine!” laughed Francis. “He kept getting better and better, though I did have to take it a little slow. He has a funny little edge in there that can come alive at the snap of a finger, so I’ve been trying to figure out how I can use a bit of that edge without getting too much. It’s really starting to come together this year. He used to get nervous in the ring about being by himself, but now he’s starting to enjoy it and he feels happier.”

Francis partially attributes Danilo’s improved performances to his well-rounded regime, which includes a broad variety of work, such as hacking and playing games.

“I get them fit enough and then I don’t work them all the time, because I feel they get mentally bored,” added Francis, who does not have a regular trainer. “I train with myself mostly, which works pretty good so far. Once in a while I have to kick myself around, but I’m a visual learner and I watch all the top riders. I’m a bit of an odd biscuit that way, but I did a lot of training in past years with great people like Johann Hinnemann, and now I have my own methods of training. I’m 59 — not 20 anymore — so I train my horses from all the things I’ve learned.”

On April 1, Francis will make the journey over to Europe with her two top horses, Danilo and Doktor. She will be based in Warendorf, Germany for the summer — her sixth consecutive summer in Europe.

“I have good friends there, I love that little town and area, and I get my own nice little apartment so I can do all my own cooking and not gain weight, like when living in hotels,” she added. “This year, Danilo gets to do the World Cup Final in Paris, which I’m really excited about. I’ve never been to Paris, so I’ll get perfume, croissants, brie, pate and some really good wine.”

Winner of the grand prix, Canada’s Brittany Fraser (All In) had to settle for second in the Special, while her fellow Canadian Jill Irving filled third on Degas 12, who is by De Niro, the same sire as Danilo.

Megan Lane (CAN) finished fifth in the four-star special on San D’Or, but sat atop the leaderboard in the Grand Prix Special CDI3* riding her own 17-year-old Caravella to 71.617%.

It was the first win in a year for the KWPN Contango x Riverman mare, who was bred by Jill Irving. Caravella and Lane have progressed up the ranks together, starting out at under-25 grand prix in 2012, and encompassing the 2015 Pan American Games and the Rio Olympics in their extensive career accolades.

Belinda Trussell (CAN) was second on Tattoo 15, her own 15-year-old Westfalian gelding by Tuareg, with 70.34%. Third was home rider Anna Marek on Diane Morrison’s Dee Clair who, at 10 years old, was the equal youngest horse in the class. Their 69.34% was the Sir Sinclair mare’s best score since starting international grand prix in early 2017.

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

LaGoy-Weltz Cruises to Freestyle Glory in Week 10 at AGDF

LaGoy-Weltz and Lonoir. Photo Credit: ©SusanJStickle.

Wellington, FL — March 16, 2018 — Olivia LaGoy-Weltz (USA) and Lonoir chalked up their fifth win from six starts at the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) by taking the Grand Prix Freestyle CDI4*, presented by Havensafe Farm. Their resounding score of 76.6% in week 10 of AGDF at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida was a personal best for the pair, whose previous high freestyle score was 74.425%, achieved in Aachen in July 2017.

“I was really happy with him, especially as he was epically airborne last time we were in this setting, so I’m thrilled we kept our feet on the ground,” said LaGoy-Weltz of her own 14-year-old Danish warmblood gelding by Le Noir. “When he’s waiting for me and on the same page, it’s a pretty cool feeling and there’s a lot available there — even more than we’re showing now.”

LaGoy-Weltz upgraded her music last year, adapting an existing small tour freestyle soundtrack.

“We hadn’t used it a whole lot, so I asked Terri [Gallo] if we could grow it. I like the music — it’s called ‘Ain’t Misbehaving’, which is somewhat fitting. Though we are working on something new as he’s a much ‘bigger’ horse now, it seemed to work for tonight, so we’re not in a huge hurry,” she added. “This one is not overly complicated as it was designed as a starter one, so we’ll have more challenging stuff in the next one. And we’ll highlight the flow and power that he’s so good at.”

Second-placed Arlene ‘Tuny’ Page (USA) finished second on Woodstock, logging their second best ever freestyle score of 75% exactly.

“He’s matured a lot in the last three months,” said Page, who rode to music from the movie Amistad that she used with her former grand prix horse Wild One. “We had a super rough start as he’s very sensitive with wind, but at every show this season he’s developed more.

“This was only ever starter music, but I knew one day I’d have another horse who it would suit, and Marlene Whitaker is a flipping genius and she reworked the music to suit Woodstock,” said Page.

The test is a technically demanding one, which Page designed two years ago with the intention of maximizing the difficulty.

“It’s full of difficult things in difficult sequences; the idea was to layer complicated sequences one after the other. I’m actually comfortable riding it now, and Woodstock is a horse with a lot of alacrity and sensitivity, though he can be a scallywag. It’s nice riding the freestyle because he never anticipates — because I rarely practice.”

Juan Matute Guimon, Spain’s 20-year-old riding star, was once again on the “Friday Night Stars” podium, finishing third on his father’s Don Diego Ymas, a 15-year-old by Don Frederico.

“Last time we had a few miscommunications,” said Matute, who was riding to music put together by his mother and a floorplan he designed with his double Olympian father. “But today he felt rather good, the piaffe felt better and I was pleased with the overall performance. My horse perhaps doesn’t have the highest quality of gaits, but we know how to fight with what we’ve got — and dressage is about trying to reach the full potential with what you’ve got.”

Judge Janet Foy, who was presiding from C, said: “Having judged these guys over the season, there has been so much improvement. It’s really exciting to be able to sit there as judges and give eights and nines. All three of these top tests were so clear and focused, so we could really enjoy watching and judging.”

Canada’s long-time, much loved combination of Jacqueline Brooks and D Niro bowed out of competition at AGDF, taking their final salute at the venue which has been so much part of the pair’s journey together. They finished sixth with 70.6%, and the 19-year-old grey gelding — fondly known as Goose — will now return to Canada. Familiar faces on the AGDF circuit since 2012, the crowd showed their appreciation for this popular duo with a standing ovation.

Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Juliano, whose Havensafe Farm sponsored the class, said: “It’s been a privilege to be involved with the AGDF from the beginning; it’s unique in that it’s an excellent facility with excellent management and ample opportunity to show. As you could see from the appreciation for Goose tonight, we are all one family, regardless of nationality. The performances tonight were spine-tingling — really a thrill.”

Beatrice ‘Trixi’ Marienau secured back-to-back wins, having also triumphed in the grand prix. She also took the winner’s sash in the Grand Prix Freestyle CDI3*, presented by The Dutta Corporation. Riding the equal oldest horse in the class, 19-year-old Gribaldi gelding Stefano 8, she posted 72.1% — the only plus-70% of the class.

The German-born 47-year-old American is an unlikely dressage winner, having formerly showjumped, then become a cowgirl on a ranch, before finally turning to dressage — despite what she terms “ring-phobia” that requires her to meditate before each test.

Their double win in week 10 was a first for Marienau, who has only two previous wins in the five years they have been competing together at international grand prix. Their winning freestyle score is their second highest ever, and their best for two years.

“He’s a firecracker, and I appreciate every day I have with him,” said Marienau, who bought ‘Fino’ in 2012. “I feel his age sometimes, so in the training we really work a lot on the suppleness so he can come through with the beautiful exercises that he knows how to do. Tonight I asked him to dance for me, so he did.

“He was already a trained grand prix horse but in the beginning the switch from a man to a woman rider was difficult, so we took our time and have been working with Lilo Fore ever since. I only rode my first grand prix in 2011, so Fino has done so much for me, including going to the Festival of Champions and onto my first Nations Cup team, which was a big dream of mine,” she added.

James Koford (USA) was second on Sherry Koella’s 11-year-old home-bred colored Friesian sport horse mare, Adiah HP (69.555%), with Canada’s Jill Irving finishing third on her own Jazz gelding Arthur with 69.12%.

Tina Konyot (USA) and PSD Partners LLC’s Desperados gelding Diamantino II led the huge Prix St Georges CDI1* class, which was sponsored by Horseware Ireland. Of the 26 entries, the top three all broached 70%, with Konyot posting 70.343 — bolstered by her high score of 73.088% from the judge at C, Janet Foy.

This was the horse’s second win in his nine small tour FEI starts, having kicked off his CDI career in January of this year. This was the first time he had scored north of 70%. American Lauren Asher (Honnerups Event) and Germany’s Michael Klimke (Harmony’s Diabolo) tied for second place, posting 70.098%.

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Last-Drawn Riders Secure Four-Star Victories in Week 10 at AGDF

LaGoy-Weltz and Lonoir. Photo Credit: ©SusanJStickle.

Wellington, FL — March 15, 2018 — In both CDI4* grand prix classes of the day, it was the last horse who took home the winning sash and rug. Olivia LaGoy-Weltz (USA) was the beneficiary in the Grand Prix CDI4*, presented by Havensafe Farm, putting an unassailable 73.783% on the score board. It was the showcase class on the second day of week 10 of the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.

LaGoy-Weltz and her own Lonoir, a 14-year-old Danish warmblood gelding by Le Noir, have won four of their last five CDI starts — interrupted only by Adrienne Lyle (USA) on Salvino.

“We managed to get everything in that test,” said LaGoy-Weltz, a Virginia native, referring to mistakes made in previous tests this season. “It seems like it’s been a case of if we get one thing, then something else goes away. There’s still stuff that can be better; he can pirouette for an eight in training, for example, but in there he was anticipating them and making them a hair too small. But I was super happy with his rideability and relaxation today.

“In Wellington, I keep him over at Oded Shimoni’s place and go to Debbie McDonald’s for lessons,” she explained. “If I’m riding at Oded’s then either he or Robert [Dover] is keeping an eye on me, so the past few weeks I haven’t been allowed to get off the straight and narrow.”

LaGoy-Weltz’s ultimate aim for the season is the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Tryon, North Carolina, in the fall, and she is conscious of peaking at the right time.

“There’s still a lot to improve, but we’re stepping in the right direction and things are becoming a little less exciting than they were in the first two shows,” she added. “It’s really crucial to try to make sure your curve goes up and up to that spot and it’s quite a few months that we’re working over; starting here and wanting to continue to make things better. We’re heading in the right direction — even though there is a bit more homework to do.”

The all-American, all-female top three featured Arlene ‘Tuny’ Page, whose 70% on Woodstock, a dainty 15-year-old by Havel, was good enough for second. Katherine Bateson-Chandler was a whisker under 70% in third, finishing on 69.696% with her own Contango gelding Alcazar after she took an uncharacteristic wrong turn.

From last draw of 11 starters in the Grand Prix CDI4*, presented by Mission Control, Canada’s Brittany Fraser’s 71.957% — a personal best in the grand prix test for her and the 13-year-old All In — was enough to grab victory by 0.1% from Shelly Francis (USA) and Danilo, who had led the class from the outset. Fraser’s trainer Ashley Holzer — a four-time Canadian Olympian who now rides for the United States — finished third on Havanna 145 (70.783%).

“That was awesome,” enthused Fraser. “I had a really good feeling coming up to this show — we were working on getting the piaffe a little more confirmed — and every time I sent him forward, he came right back to me. He was really on my aids and it was the first time we’ve won a grand prix. On the last center line he was right there for me; I aided and he did it. It’s his third year at grand prix and I feel he finally knows his job and feels more confident in what he’s doing. I’m so happy!”

Fraser bought the horse as a five-year-old from the Equine Elite Auction in the Netherlands, after riding him “for 10 minutes”. Even then, the big-gaited horse had immense power.

“At five he was already huge, but awesome, and felt like a rocket ship taking off,” recalled the 29-year-old, who was logging her first win of the season on the Tango gelding. “I started at first level with him and worked my way up. He’s been an amazing horse for me and I’m so thankful.”

Fraser has been based in New York with Holzer for the past five years, but in September 2017 she and her husband Marc-Andre Beaulieu bought a house in Montreal.

“I’m married now and thought that I need to start my own business and do my own thing, and took All In there for a rest in the fall after competing in Europe last year,” she said. “Then I came down to Wellington to train with Ashley in December. But because Ashley has half the grand prix horses in all these classes, Jacquie Brooks has been amazing to step up and help me. We all work together and it’s an amazing, supportive team. That’s how you make it.”

She has not decided yet whether to compete on the European circuit in the summer of 2018, and it is not mandatory for Canadian riders wishing to put themselves forward for selection for WEG in September. The pair’s next stops include the Tryon CDI in April and Ottawa CDI in May.

Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven brought Benetton Dream FRH back into the international arena for the first time in over a year and won the Grand Prix CDI3* (for special) with 71.522%. She and Lovsta Stuteri’s stallion held the lead from first draw at 8am, just 30 minutes after the sunrise in South Florida, thanks to the recent change in the clocks for daylight savings.

Despite a year off due to injury, this was the Brentano II son’s second highest score in the grand prix test, and his first international win since his hugely successful young horse class days. This is the 14-year-old’s fourth year in a row contesting the big tour classes at the AGDF in Wellington.

Megan Lane (CAN) and her own 17-year-old Caravella came closest to beating Vilhelmson-Silfven — and was even trending higher at some points in the test — but had to settle for second place with 71% after a break to canter on the final center line. Third place went to the USA’s Adrienne Lyle, who was riding Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Juliano’s 11-year-old mare Horizon at international grand prix for the first time. The pair scored 70.109%.

It was another all-American podium in the FEI Grand Prix CDI3* (to qualify for the freestyle), with Beatrice Marienau and her own Stefano 8, by Gribaldi, taking the spoils with 68.174%. Stefano was the equal oldest horse in the class, at 19, and he has been competing at international grand prix since 2010.

Bianca Tota filled second on her own Cadento V (66.804%) in the horse’s third ever FEI test, and first-drawn James Koford was third on Sherry Koella’s striking colored Friesian sport horse mare, Adiah HP (65.804%).

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Handsome Is as Handsome Does on Opening Day of Record-Breaking CDI at AGDF

Jennifer Baumert and Handsome. Photo Credit: ©SusanJStickle.

Wellington, FL — March 14, 2018 — From an early draw, the USA’s Jennifer Baumert held on to the lead in the Prix St Georges CDI3*, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors. It was the highlight class of the opening day of action during week 10 of the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.

This four-star CDI show is the largest ever staged outside Western Europe, and was extended by a day — starting early on the Wednesday — to accommodate the huge number of accepted entries across the 35 international classes.

The top three in the Prix St Georges all broke the 70% barrier. Baumert and Handsome scored 70.441%, with Canada’s Brittany Fraser nipping at their heels in second (70.294%) on Jill Irving’s Soccer City. Jodie Kelly-Baxley (USA) finished third with 70.235% on Beth Godwin’s home-bred 11-year-old Caymus, by Sir Sinclair.

Handsome, by Hochadel, is owned by Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Juliano, who bought him four years ago in California from Marie Meyers and used to ride the gelding herself. But she handed the reins over to Baumert almost 18 months ago.

After only a year competing internationally under Baumert, the 13-year-old has clocked up eight wins in his 18 small tour starts — all of which have been at the AGDF.

“He’s a really special horse,” said Baumert, who turned 47 two days earlier. “Today he felt really good. He was soft and relaxed; though there were a few small things in the contact that I’d like to be better, but overall I couldn’t be happier.”

Juliano, who also owns Adrienne Lyle’s grand prix rides Horizon and Salvino, added: “I’ve owned Handsome close to four years but the main reason I stopped riding him is that he’s really talented and I felt he needs a rider who has equally as much talent. I also became very busy with my work — I own a litigation support and management business that I started 35 years ago tomorrow — and that has kept me away from riding consistently.

“So I asked Jen to finish him at grand prix, which she will do, but right now he’s doing so well in this division [small tour], that we’ll continue with it for now. I thought it best for Handsome to flourish under Jen’s guidance and Debbie McDonald’s training.”

Baumert clearly remembers the first time she rode Handsome: “Betsy and I were just getting to know each other. I lived in another state and I was there to help for a couple of days,” she said. “The first time I went, Betsy asked me to sit a little bit on every horse, and I especially remember Handsome because he’s an amazing mover, he’s got so much power — it’s really something to feel. I remember how, even though I was a new rider for him, he was really tuned in and that was pretty special, because they don’t all do that.”

“I’ve also had judges comment that he’s handsome, and then they look down at their sheet and say, ‘Oh it is Handsome!’,” she added.

“We’ll be old and grey together, the two of us,” added Juliano, who also praised the horse’s work ethic and temperament. “I keep all my horses, so I have 15 now. Some are in the ‘assisted living division’ all year round in Ohio, and then the performance horses come down here.”

This week, Handsome will contest the Intermediate I straight class and the freestyle. He is schooling the grand prix at home, and will return to Ohio with Baumert to continue his education at the end of the AGDF season.

In the first of the youth division classes — the under-25 Intermediate II, presented by Diamante Farms — 20-year-old Natalie Pai (USA) triumphed from first draw riding her mother Melanie’s 17-year-old Jazz gelding, Unlimited. They scored 67.235% to edge out 23-year-old Canadian rider Tanya Strasser-Shostak who posted 67.029% on Renaissance Tyme, another riding a horse owned by her mother — Evi Strasser.

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.