Tag Archives: Ashleigh Conroy-Zugel

Sonia Zugel and Ashleigh Conroy-Zugel Gear Up for CDI Saugerties

Sonia Zugel and Afago da Raposa. Photos by Susan J. Stickle.

Holmdel, NJ – August 11, 2014 – The mother and daughter team behind Ramanessin are getting ready to return to the show ring for the Centerline Events at HITS Saugerties CDI, Aug. 14-17 in Saugerties, NY. Sonia Zugel, who competes as an amateur for Ireland, and 16-year-old Ashleigh Conroy-Zugel, who competes in the juniors for the United States, have been preparing themselves and their horses for the show with help from trainer Ashley Perkins.

Zugel will ride Afago da Raposa, a 10-year-old Lusitano stallion by Sedutor da Raposa, in the CDI1*. The pair recently prepped for Saugerties by competing at Dressage at Bucks Country Horse Park IV in Revere, PA, on Aug. 3. They won their Prix St. Georges class with a score of 64.737 percent despite bobbles in the tempi changes.

“I was really pleased with the result,” Zugel said. “He came out for his first show since March and did well even with the distraction of a horse neighing to him during his test.”

Zugel has had the stallion for just a year and has geared his training toward building up his fitness for upper level work.

“We’ve been working on getting him stronger,” she explained. “He has a really big trot and an amazing ability to collect. He’s got so much power, and we have to build the strength to match the power.”

Afago da Raposa has been very lightly shown. As a 5-year-old, he won the Brazilian national championship, and that was the only competition under his belt when Zugel purchased him as a 9-year-old.

During the 2014 winter season in Wellington, FL, Zugel competed him in the small tour. They collected numerous wins and top three finishes in Intermediaire I and Prix St. Georges at the competitive Adequan Global Dressage Festival national shows.

Ashleigh Conroy-Zugel and Ungaro
Ashleigh Conroy-Zugel and Ungaro

Conroy-Zugel will ride Ungaro, her mother’s former small tour mount, in the junior division at Saugerties. With Ungaro, Conroy-Zugel’s partner for her sixth place finish among the top junior riders in the country at June’s U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions presented by The Dutta Corp., preparation is a matter of keeping him happy and fresh coming into the show.

“He knows all of the movements,” Zugel said. “Ashleigh has been working on her accuracy as well as keeping him supple and enjoying his work. We’ve been mixing hill work with ring work to keep his mind fresh.”

Conroy-Zugel will have the chance to test her accuracy beginning with the Junior Team Test on Friday, Aug. 15. The CDI1* also gets underway that day, with Zugel and Afago da Raposa competing in the Prix St. Georges.

To read more about Ashleigh, Sonia and Ramanessin, go to www.ramanessin.com.

Mary Adelaide Brakenridge for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

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Junior Rider Ashleigh Conroy-Zugel Quickly Climbs CDI Ranks

Ashleigh Conroy-Zugel and Ungaro at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, FL. Photos by Susan J. Stickle.

Wellington, FL – May 30, 2014 – Ashleigh Conroy-Zugel, a 16-year-old junior dressage rider, has proven she has the grit and determination to accelerate her climb in CDI competition and then rise above an injury to place back in the ribbons.

After riding dressage for only nine months, Conroy-Zugel placed first in the Junior Individual and Team tests at Centerline Events Dressage Show in Saugerties, NY, their second CDI competition, and is qualified for the 2014 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions June 12-15 in Gladstone, NJ. After falling from her horse in November of 2013, she overcame a sidelining injury to fast-forward her rise in the juniors.

Conroy-Zugel, who lives in Holmdel, NJ and Wellington, FL, started her riding career at the age of 8, focusing on hunters and equitation. She successfully competed in 3′ hunter and equitation classes, placing at the Hampton Classic, Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), HITS on the Hudson and the Capital Challenge.

From time to time, she would tag along with her mother, Sonia Zugel, to dressage competitions. Zugel rides as an amateur in the small tour for Ireland. Her daughter decided to give dressage a try and in 2012, Conroy-Zugel rode her hunter horse, Rolex, in Training and First Level classes, earning scores in the 70 percent range.

She was hooked. She took the plunge and transitioned completely to dressage in November of that year.

“When I started going to dressage shows, I saw how people are supportive of each other and there’s a great camaraderie,” she said. “When I switched to dressage, it was a really easy transition. In school, I strive for perfection and in dressage you are always aiming for performance and precision. That matches my personality.”

By January, she moved up to the Junior level with Rolex and her mother’s successful small tour horse, Ungaro (Weltmeyer II-M. Lady One, Wenderkreis). By the summer of 2013, she and Ungaro qualified for the NAJYRC, where she represented Region 1, helping the team to a fourth place finish.

On November 4, 2013, a cold and blustery New Jersey day, Conroy-Zugel was riding a horse the family had owned for only a few months. The horse spotted a groundhog, spooked and began rearing and bolted. The young rider was unhorsed and was unable to ride for three and half months.

Forced to watch from the sidelines, she carefully observed her mother and analyzed other junior riders at competitions, noting what she could use to improve her scores. When she was able to ride again, she used those months of studying others to her advantage.

Conroy-Zugel began riding again in late February. After only 17 days back in the saddle, she went down centerline aboard Ungaro at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) 10 CDI-W in mid-March and placed in the ribbons in the Junior Individual test and in the Junior Team test. They went on to compete in the final CDI3* in the AGDF series the last week in March and again earned ribbons in the largest junior classes of the season against an outstanding field.

Ashleigh Conroy-Zugel and Ungaro
Ashleigh Conroy-Zugel and Ungaro

Trained by her mother and her new trainer Ashley Perkins at the family’s farm, Conroy-Zugel is focusing on keeping Ungaro fit and supple in preparation for the Festival of Champions.

“Every day they ask me to be precise in my riding even when I’m not doing my tests,” she said of her mother and Perkins. “That way it becomes second nature. My mom and Ashley teach a lot of theory and when you know the theory, it just makes sense. I am just taking it one step at a time but hopefully, within the next few years, I can move up to Young Riders.”

Her focus on detail is noticeable in her schoolwork as well. She maintained an A average in her sophomore year at the Ranney School in Tinton Falls, NJ.

“Ashleigh feels lucky to be in a school where they are so supportive of her riding,” her mother Sonia Zugel said. “They have created a program where she has the opportunity to excel in both academics and in the equestrian world.”

Administrators at the Ranney School nominated Conroy-Zugel for leadership opportunities and she will attend a Global Leadership Conference in Europe this summer. She also volunteers as a JustWorld Ambassador and she created a pilot Junior Ambassador program for the New Jersey Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

“I’m very proud of how quickly Ashleigh has excelled,” her mother added. “We have a lot of fun together and we can talk about the competition and prepare a strategy. It’s great to be able to share that and do it together. I’m just supporting her and giving her the ability to be the best that she can be.”

To read more about Ashleigh, Sonia and Ramanessin, go to their newly designed website, www.ramanessin.com.

Sue Weakley for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd #105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)