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.