Tryon, NC – April 20, 2019 – Ashley Holzer (USA) and Havanna 145 strutted to victory in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3* at Tryon Spring Dressage 1 CDI 3* presented by Adequan® at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), dancing in tandem to music compiled by Tom Hunt and earning a total score of 77.225%. Jill Irving (CAN) and Arthur, her own 2005 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Jazz x Contango), grabbed reserve honors on a score of 74.075%, while Jessica Jo Tate (USA) and Kynynmont Gunsmoke’s Gideon, 2008 Connemara Cross gelding (Gun Smoke x Kynynmont Tara) owned by Pam Liddell, combined to receive a score of 67.925% and third place.
“I’m thrilled. I’m really over the moon with her,” emphasized Holzer of the 2007 Hanoverian mare (Hochadel x Rodgau) owned by Diane Fellows. “We had a bit of a setback last year, so this is her just sort of coming out of it, and she is really exceeding my expectations. The one little mistake she made was completely my mistake and she was just phenomenal. She kept answering the call and I had some moments even in the warm-up where she’s just bringing it to another level.”
Holzer and Havanna danced to “Havana,” bringing some sauce with the new floor plan. There were several aspects of their performance that Holzer was particularly excited about, she detailed: “I was really hoping in the beginning to just flow with her. Sometimes I get a little aggressive in my forward and it ends up looking a little rushed and hectic, and think she flowed really well through the first half pass and then coming up to the first passage, and I was really thrilled with the way that flowed to the music.”
Holzer continued: “I love the music, and I was sort of laughing to it [“Havana” by Camila Cabello] while I was in there. It’s so her, and I was getting a bit of a chuckle,” she admitted. “It’s funny, because it was really her owner, Dianne Fellows, that truly was responsible for this freestyle. I was a little bit like, ‘Really, Havanna to Havana music? Come on,’ and she really put her foot down and was really the one that got it made. And she’s right – it’s amazing, and it really works! I have to thank her. Without Diane, that music would not be her freestyle.”
Despite a small bobble, Holzer relayed her excitement about the overall improvement she sees in the mare: “I was a little behind the music and then I gunned her a little bit, but the rest was right on. I think it’s a really great feeling when you feel the music and the horse sync so well together,” she said. “But I really think what was amazing for me is that I feel she has more power, and she’s ramping up with more power, and she’s able to control it instead of getting nervous, and is relaxing with that power. That’s a big step.”
Holzer and team were using this weekend’s CDI competition as a test for bigger steps planned, she elaborated. “We really wanted to see how this show went, and she exceeded our expectations. I’m hoping to go to Europe,” she concluded, “and hopefully it will be our next big step.”
Wellington, FL – March 29, 2019 – In the final “Friday Night Stars” of the 2019 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), Katherine Bateson Chandler (USA) and Alcazar captured the win in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI4* presented by Douglas Elliman Real Estate on Friday, March 29. It was a night full of freestyle competition with two classes held under the lights with a full crowd of spectators.
With the final Grand Prix Freestyle win of the season, Bateson Chandler and Alcazar, Jane Forbes Clark’s 14-year-old KWPN gelding by Cantango, have shown growth and potential through the circuit.
Their win garnered a final score of 75.850% from the judges, a personal best for the pair.
Ashley Holzer and Havanna 145 Win FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI3*
Earlier in the evening, the winner of the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI3* presented by Brooke USA was Ashley Holzer riding Havanna 145, owned by Diane Fellows. Holzer and Havanna performed a high degree of difficulty test to music based around the pop hit “Havana” by Camila Cabello, with music and choreography by Tom Hunt. The judges rewarded them with a final score of 76.995%.
“[In] the end she started to really settle with the Havana music and she came to that last piaffe and really sat down and started to swing in her back,” Holzer recalled. “I’m very happy that she was able to settle at the end. She started to feel really good so that was exciting. The passage half-pass felt nice for me.”
Second place went to Heather Blitz (USA) riding Semper Fidelis, a 13-year-old Oldenburg mare by Sir Donnerhall owned by Rowan O’Riley. They scored 76.705%. Anna Marek (USA) and Dee Clair scored 71.650% for third place. Dee Clair is a 11-year-old DWB mare owned by Diane Morrison.
Wellington, FL – February 10, 2019 – Week 5 of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) concluded on Sunday, February 10, with a win for Ashley Holzer (USA) and Valentine in the FEI Intermediate I Freestyle CDI3*, presented by Fair Sky Farm.
Holzer had the last ride of the day and just barely slid into first place with a score of 76.917%, ahead of Tina Irwin (CAN) and Laurencio who earned a score of 76.750%.
“I think my mare had a very tricky warm-up. She was so tense in the warm-up because she’s never done a freestyle before with the music,” commented Holzer about her first freestyle ever with her nine-year-old Oldenburg mare by Sir Donnerhall. “We actually had to run and grab a bonnet because she was unfortunately upset by the noise.
“What is amazing to me is that I trot off, and right away she is looking, she’s attentive, but she’s so trying her very hardest,” continued Holzer. “When I’m in that trot tour I feel like I’m floating. She floats through the trot tour without hardly any aid whatsoever. So I think for me, sort of feeling a horse dance underneath you like that so easily, that’s a thrill no matter what class you’re in.”
Holzer made a last-minute change to her music and choreography choice, and luckily her student Brittany Fraser had kept Holzer’s Olympic partner Pop Art’s freestyle from 2004.
Holzer said, “I had a bit of a different pattern with different music, which we realized was too bold. So luckily Brittany is quite a hoarder, and she actually found my Pop Art small tour freestyle from 2004 and brought it. It’s got a nice flowing trot tour, and I rode Poppy’s 2004 freestyle!”
Earlier in the day in the FEI Young Rider Freestyle CDIY NAYC/USEF Qualifier, Benjamin Ebeling (USA) and Illuster Van De Kampert, a 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Spielberg owned by Nuvolari Holdings LLC, won with a score of 72.825%.
Second place went to Caroline Nicholson (USA) and Diozar, her 11-year-old KWPN gelding by Jazz. The pair earned a score of 70.925%.
Vanessa Creech-Terauds and Fleur de Lis L, a 10-year-old Hanoverian, by First Dance and Louise Leatherdale, earned a score of 70.400% to come in third place.
Wellington, FL — March 3, 2018 — The USA’s Ashley Holzer recorded Sir Caramello’s first ever international grand prix win in just his fourth CDI test, topping the Grand Prix Special CDI3*, presented by Peacock Ridge, with 70.149%. They were the only combination to break through the 70% barrier in the class of 13 finishers in week eight of the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.
The class was sponsored by PJ Rizvi’s Peacock Ridge, which was fitting as she is also the owner of the winning horse. Holzer was flabbergasted to win, having finished seventh in the qualifying grand prix. Sadly, she was not able to attend the prize-giving as she had to leave to catch a flight to Toronto.
“I’m speechless,” said Holzer. “This horse has been on the most incredible journey. Never in a million years did I think he’d win — I thought we might do a 65% test. But I’ve just watched the video back and some of the things he did in that test were unbelievable. And he whinnied at me for this first time in his life this week; I’m feeling very emotional about it.”
Indeed, the liver chestnut gelding’s extravagant movement and uphill frame command attention in the ring. At only 11 years old, the horse still has plenty of time to gain confidence, and Holzer blamed the only big blip — a miscommunication in the passage to canter transition at X — firmly on herself.
“I timed the canter aid completely wrong,” she said. “He is such a power machine and he’s been challenging to bring on. Andreas Helgstrand once described him as the most talented but most difficult horse he’d ever seen. He was sold at the PSI auction in 2011 as a four-year-old [for €500,000 to Russia], then ended up with Patrik Kittel, who called PJ and I about him.
“It’s been hard for him to balance his huge gaits and then close up again for the collected work; that’s taken a long time to develop,” she added. “I also got some last minute advice from Robert Dover and Carl Hester yesterday — about taking my time in the corners, and not worrying about him being too ‘up’ in the frame.”
Holzer credits Rizvi’s patience and understanding as an owner for allowing her the time she needed to turn the horse around.
“PJ’s been behind him 100% of the time and, believe me, we’ve had some major lows with convincing him that everything would be okay,” added Holzer. “This win is testament to the importance of having a supportive owner who understands these things — so it was fitting she was the sponsor of the class.”
Holzer plans to show Sir Caramello (Sir Donnerhall x Feiner Stern) in one more CDI at AGDF before whisking him off to Europe for the summer.
Katherine Bateson Chandler — another to benefit from British Olympian Carl Hester’s advice on-site — was second with Alcazar. The local rider was nip and tuck on the trending scores with Holzer until small mistakes crept in in the two sets of one-time changes. The finished on 69.979%. Like Holzer, she plans to spend the summer in Europe, training with Hester.
The top non-US rider was Canadian Olympian Megan Lane, who rode Deer Ridge Equestrian’s Zodiac MW, by Rousseau, to 67.915% for third place. The winner of the qualifying grand prix, the Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muñiz, had to settle for sixth place aboard Foco Loco W.
In the Intermediate I CDI1*, Spain’s young talent Pablo Gomez Molina made it two wins from two starts with Yeguada de Ymas’ 10-year-old mare Finest Ymas, a Westfalian by For Compliment. He also finished third in the class on Ulises De Ymas, with Germany’s Michael Klimke (Harmony’s Diabolo) splitting the 24-year-old’s two rides. Gomez Molina, who is competing at AGDF for the fourth consecutive year, scored over 67% on both his rides in the 11-strong class.
Wellington, FL — February 23, 2018 — On Diane Fellows’ rising superstar mare Havanna 145, Ashley Holzer (USA) recorded back-to-back wins in week seven of the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida. They won the Grand Prix Freestyle CDIW, presented by NetJets, under the lights with an impressive 78.2%, with two judges — the British judge Stephen Clarke and the judge from Luxembourg, Christoph Umbach — awarding the pair over 79%. The freestyle highlighted AGDF week seven, which continues through Sunday, February 25.
Holzer’s student, Canada’s Brittany Fraser, finished second on All In, with local rider Shelly Francis and Doktor slotting into third. The class was dogged by increasingly heavy rain, with last-drawn Holzer bearing the brunt of the weather.
Although Havanna, by Hochadel, is only 11, Holzer kept some elements of the freestyle floorplan fairly simple, but still produced 19 one-time changes on a straight line, a half pirouette into extended canter, and finished with a flourishing passage zig-zag.
“We’re so lucky to have horses who work so hard for us even when the weather conditions are bad,” said Holzer, 54. “Luckily the footing here is so good; you can still give it gas, no matter how wet it is.”
Holzer, who found her music by googling “emotional uplifting music” which Tamara Williamson then crafted to fit the floorplan, continued: “The best thing about tonight was that Havanna came out after a strong performance last night and she again tried her hardest. Thomas [Baur, AGDF director of sport] saw her a year ago and told me she’d do it — and he was right. She’s a good egg and she tries her hardest; every time I ask her to try harder, she says, ‘OK’. It’s testament to her incredible upbringing and character.
“I’ve been in this game long enough to be so grateful every time I win,” she added. “We all know you can win one day, and then maybe not the next day. I’m just so excited to be on this mare in such great company.”
Fraser rode her own and Marc-Andre Beaulieu’s 13-year-old All In to 75.85% — their highest ever score at the level. Fraser has had the Tango gelding since he was five, climbing the ranks together, and they have been competing at grand prix for three years.
“He’s a sensitive horse so you’d think the rain would bother him, but he does not care,” said Fraser, 29, who was riding to music by Joost Peters. “I had a little mistake in the twos, but each time I ride the freestyle, I get a higher score so I’m really happy about that. He’s finally saying, ‘OK, I know my job and I know what to do’. He’s trying harder and harder.”
Holzer was quick to praise her pupil’s riding, saying: “That horse has huge gaits and it’s taken a few years to be able to control them. The fact that she can make the collected movements so closed and then go huge in the extensions is really testament to her great riding.”
Francis, who was riding to a Marlene Whitaker soundtrack and floorplan, said: “Doktor felt like he warmed up well and started off good but he doesn’t like the rain; he’s wimpy about that. He’s a fireball and we had a little accident of miscommunication in the twos, but he was really trying. He’s a good little horse and we’ve had a long road together.”
Both American riders are hoping to be on the eight-strong squad making the trip over to Europe to pit themselves against the world’s best riders ahead of selection for the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina, in September of this year.
Allyn Mann of circuit title sponsor Adequan® was one of many to praise the AGDF venue, saying: “It’s exciting to be part of this and on the journey. The whole team here does the most wonderful job so that we can all turn up when the conditions are less than ideal and still see some wonderful dressage.”
It’s becoming an extremely familiar sight: Heather Blitz (USA) and Praestemarkens Quatero spearheading the small tour prize-giving, sporting the winner’s rug. And so it was, again, in the Intermediate I CDI3*, presented by Wellington Regional Medical Center, as they led the class of 16 starters, scoring 70.784%. A mistake and an unscheduled flying change coming out of the first pirouette couldn’t knock them off the top spot, so accurate, powerful and consistent was the rest of the test. This victory takes their tally to 10 wins from 11 FEI starts for the nine-year-old Quaterback x Rohdiamant gelding.
As per the prix st georges (PSG) the previous day, Canada’s Diane Creech gave Blitz the closest run, finishing just 0.19% in arrears on Louise Leatherdale’s 15-year-old Rubin Royal gelding, Robbie W. Melissa Taylor (USA) rose from 10th in the PSG to finish third on Ansgar, Nicole Polaski’s 13-year-old gelding by Special D.
Wellington, FL — February 22, 2018 — Ashley Holzer, who switched nationalities a year ago to ride for the USA instead of Canada, heard the American anthem ring out after she topped the FEI Grand Prix CDIW, presented by NetJets. Holzer and Havanna 145’s victory came under the lights, marking the opening day of week seven of the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.
The charming, bouncy mare is only 11 years old and their winning 72.826% represents a new personal best for the pairing who have only been at international grand prix since April of 2017.
“She’s an incredible mare; she always fights for you,” said Holzer, who will now contest the showcase freestyle class on Friday night. “People always told me that when you get a mare that’s amazing, they’re really amazing. I’ve had a few mares who weren’t so amazing, so I didn’t really believe them, but she has changed my mind. She’s a huge trier; every day I get on and have a great ride.”
When Holzer and owner Diane Fellows went to try the daughter of Hochadel almost a year ago at the previous rider Jessica von Bredow-Werndl’s barn in Germany, the plan was for Fellows to ride her.
“When we tried her it was for Di,” said Holzer, “and Di said she had to have her because she was like riding a dream, but I told her she didn’t really need a fancy grand prix horse. She suggested I ride her for a few years, and then she takes over. Havanna has exceeded every expectation in the short time we’ve had her.”
At 11, there is still plenty of time for the horse to gain ring experience, but her potential is already evident.
“She’s so green, but she just keeps trying for you. I came into the piaffe and she got a bit stuck, but she’s so smart that I asked her to move a little forward and stay in piaffe, and she said, ‘OK’. At the end I thought, ‘My horse rocks!’” added Holzer, who hopes to make it into the top eight to join the American squad in Europe ahead of selection for the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) on home soil in Tryon in September.
However, Holzer has a few more aces up her sleeve as she will shortly debut three brand new grand prix horses, all of whom she plans to campaign in Europe this summer.
“It’s amazing to me that at my age  I can still get on and go round this ring and have the best, most fun time. I watched [American winter Olympics skier] Lindsey Vonn’s speech when she had finished her last downhill race and she said she can’t keep going because her body can’t take it, and she was crying. I thought to myself, ‘Wow, how lucky am I that I get to keep going?’ I feel very fortunate and everything felt pretty nice tonight.”
Loxahatchee-based Shelly Francis finished 1.1% adrift with Doktor, while Canada’s Brittany Fraser posted her third plus-70% grand prix test score at this year’s AGDF on the 13-year-old All In to finish third.
It was extremely tight at the top in the Grand Prix CDI3* class presented by Chesapeake Dressage Institute, with home rider Olivia LaGoy-Weltz on the 14-year-old Lonoir (by De Noir x Loran), coming out on top. The rider, who trains with Debbie McDonald, had been trending on over 74% mid-way through the test, but mistakes in the canter zig-zag produced a smattering of twos from the judges, bringing the score down.
The fact they finished with 71.652% was testament to LaGoy-Weltz’s sensitive, quick-thinking riding that rapidly refocused her horse’s attention. Second-placed Arlene ‘Tuny’ Page was only 0.2% behind riding Woodstock — particularly impressive given that she was riding with a fractured heel. Canada’s Jill Irving was the third and final rider over the 70% barrier, finishing with 70.609% on Degas 12.
Irving had further reason to be cheerful when fellow Canadian Brittany Fraser rode her horse Soccer City to a 70.392% unanimous victory in the Prix St Georges CDI1*. The 11-year-old gelding by Sir Donnerhall x Weltmeyer is being competed by Fraser while Irving concentrates on her two grand prix horses, Degas 12 and Arthur.
Heather Blitz (USA) bolstered Praestemarkens Quatero’s thus-far stunning record, having won nine of his 10 FEI small tour starts. The latest was a 72.255% victory in the Prix St Georges CDI3*, presented by Wellington Regional Medical Center. Imported three years ago, the Quaterback x Rohdiamant nine-year-old stallion is proving remarkably consistent at the 2018 AGDF under Blitz, 49.
Page and Dr. House 2 Victorious in FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 3*
Mill Spring, NC – April 22, 2017 – Ashley Holzer (USA) and Havanna 145 rode to their first major international win in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle presented by Adequan® at the Tryon Spring Dressage I CDI 3* hosted at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC). Holzer and Havanna 145 scored a 73.735% for the win, while Megan Lane (CAN) and San D’Or rode to second place, receiving a 72.660%. P. J. Rizvi (USA) and Breaking Dawn rounded out the top three finishers earning a 71.650%.
Holzer, who is representing the United States for the first time internationally after representing Canada at the highest levels of competition for majority of her career, guided the mare to an impressive win in the George H. Morris Arena. In their Large Tour debut, the pair picked up a seventh place finish in the FEI Grand Prix presented by Adequan® before returning to finish atop the class.
“This was the choreography that we used with Dressed In Black, so I know the pattern really well. I changed a few things for her and did change a bit of the music to suit her better,” explained Holzer. “I’m very aware of the music and I think the difficult part of the freestyle is the positioning of each movement. You have to have the movements exactly where the music is going to be and I thought that it would be a good introductory routine for us.”
The 2007 Hanoverian mare (Hochadel x Rodgau) owned by Diane Fellows, is a new mount for Holzer, as she only arrived to the United States in December 2016. Working on strength and conditioning throughout the winter season, as well as getting to know Havanna 145’s personality, Holzer feels that the mare is something incredibly special for the future.
“I was thrilled with today because it felt like she totally understood what I was asking her. I now am seeing that if she understands what I’m asking her to do, she’s going to do her best to do it. There’s a willingness and trust there that is very promising,” she added.
While Havanna 145 had only shown in the Small Tour in Europe before her purchase, Holzer felt confident the mare had the talent and drive necessary to move to Large Tour quickly. Holzer elaborated, “This is our first CDI together and really only one of the first few shows that we’ve done. Her personality is amazing. She just is one of those horses that only gets better every single day. Every time you see her it’s just better.”
As for competing internationally as an American for the first time, Holzer said the competition has been emotional, but overall a very positive experience. Noting that Canada and her memories competing as a Canadian will always be held close to her heart, beginning a new chapter in her competition career is an exciting venture and ultimately the right choice.
“I am thrilled. I feel so embraced by the Americans and this program. I’m cantering around and they’re cheering for me. It’s thrilling for the owners of my horses who now get to see them competing under their own national flag. This country has been amazing to me. I’ve been here for more than 25 years and I feel American,” Holzer said. “Jumping across that threshold was terrifying, but for me personally, I’m thrilled to be competing as an American. It was the right choice that came at the right time.”
Page and Dr. House 2 Victorious in FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 3* presented by Adequan®
Arlene “Tuny” Page (USA) and Dr. House 2, a 2005 Oldenburg gelding (Don Schufro x Krack C) owned by Page, secured the win in the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 3* presented by Adequan® with a final score of 68.336%. Ashley Holzer (USA) and Sir Caramello finished in second place on a 66.784%, while Belinda Trussell (CAN) and Tattoo 15 collected third place honors after finishing with a 65.804%.
Dr. House 2 is the newest member of Page’s talented string, accompanying her already confirmed Grand Prix mount, Woodstock. In just their third CDI competition together, Page feels that their relationship and communication skills are vastly improving, making each test more expressive and accurate than the last.
“He was good. He just goes from strength to strength. Every time we bring him out I learn something about him. The most important thing that I’ve learned is that he’s incredibly honest and just wants to please,” commented Page.
Developing strength and stamina is key when perfecting the movements of the Grand Prix test and Page has been committed to helping the flashy gelding find his own confidence in the ring.
“At this stage, you have to have that strength to carry more expression. He’s so honest and does the exercises easily, and now has to develop that power in the ring to really move. Today, I felt many more moments where he took over in a good way. He was telling me where he could give more.”
After a minor mechanical mishap when Page’s helmet chin strap came undone as the pair rode down the centerline, the duo did not let the distraction impact their test and continued on with poise and accuracy.
“I’m sure you saw, as soon as I came up the centerline my chin strap came undone. I was trying to think of where in the test I could manage to secure it back,” she smiled, admitting that while the situation was not ideal, ended up working out with a great result. “I kept reminding myself to keep my head very still. He was a good boy and went along with everything like a veteran.”
Heather Blitz (USA) and Praestemarkens Quatero took their second class of the week in the Small Tour at TIEC, finishing the FEI Intermediaire I presented by Adequan® with a score of 71.211%. Ashley Holzer (USA) guided Radondo to second place after earning a 70.553%, ahead of Christilot Boylen (CAN) and Rockylane, who completed their test with a score of 69.553% for third.
Wellington, FL – March 12, 2017 – Week nine of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) concluded competition on Sunday, March 12, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL.
On Friday March 10, Olympian Ashley Holzer (CAN) and Sir Carmello, a 2007 Oldenburg stallion (Sir Donnerhall x Katharina x Feiner Stern) owned by Peacock Ridge Farm, were victorious in the FEI Grand Prix with a score of 72.800%.
Commenting on her mount, Holzer said, “I’m so very fortunate to be able to ride P. J. Rizvi’s Sir Caramello. P. J. bought him a year and a half ago from Patrik Kittel. This was just his second time showing at the Grand Prix level.”
Holzer debuted the stallion in February, winning the Grand Prix class with him then as well.
“He is such a talent,” Holzer continued. “I am looking forward to being able to ride this amazing horse in the international ring in the near future. He is so exuberant, and he is just learning to balance and control all of his power. The mistakes he makes are really when he tries too hard.”
Holzer said that the stallion is a favorite in the barn. “At home he is a complete sweetheart and loves spending hours in the paddock,” she explained. “His barn name is ‘Chewy.’ He is very spoiled by everyone and is such a kind horse.”
Placing second to Holzer in the FEI Grand Prix was Gloria Schriever (CAN) and Zenith De Pessel, a 2004 KWPN gelding (Gribaldi x Sgina x Ronaldo) owned by Schriever, with a score of 70.300%. Third place was captured by Nichole Suzanne Smith (USA) and Ebikur, a 2001 Oldenburg gelding owned by Patricia Gillian, with a score of 69.000%.
Yvonne Losos De Muniz (DOM) and Aquamarijn, a 2005 KWPN mare (United x Toermalijn x Gribaldi) owned by Losos De Muniz, topped the second FEI Grand Prix class of the show with a score of 67.400%.
Second place was awarded to Nichole Suzanne Smith (USA) and Ebikur, a 2001 Oldenburg gelding owned by Patricia Gillian, with a 61.600%. Third place went to Debbie Hill (USA) and Lord Sisley, a 2004 Oldenburg gelding (Lord Sinclaire x Landlady x Landadel) owned by Leslie Waterman, with a score of 57.900%.
The National Show concluded on Sunday, March 12, with a victory in the FEI Prix St. Georges for Esteban Quiros (CRC) and Farewell IV, a 2001 Westfalen gelding (Fidermark x Riga) owned by Theresa Davidson, with a winning score of 70.132%.
Second place went to Michele Sizemore (USA) and Carlovingio, a 2004 KWPN gelding owned by Marco Bernal, with 65.526%. Third place was captured by Pamela Davies (USA) and Lagerfeld, a 2003 Westfalen gelding (Leonidas x Gitana), with a score of 65.132%.
Competition at AGDF will resume Wednesday, March 15, with the CDI 4* and FEI Grand Prix Freestyle, presented by Havensafe Farm; CDI 3*, presented by The Dutta Corporation; and CDI 1*, presented by CaptiveOne. The week also features a National Show and the 2017 Florida International Dressage Youth Championships. For more information and to see a full list of results, please visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.
Chris Von Martels and Divertimento Win FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 3*
Mill Spring, NC – April 23, 2016 – The second day of the FEI CDI 3* presented by Adequan® at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) concluded with Ashley Holzer (CAN) and Dressed in Black securing another victory, this time in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3* presented by Adequan® with a score of 71.502%. James Koford (USA) and Don Principe finished in second place with a 66.100%, while Nora Batchelder (USA) and Bahai earned a 66.050% in their second FEI competition together for third place. Competition at TIEC concludes Sunday with the FEI Intermediaire I Freestyle CDI 3* presented by Adequan®, beginning at 2:45 p.m.
Holzer and Dressed in Black performed their first FEI Grand Prix Freestyle of the season, riding with poise and confidence in the George H. Morris Arena. The test was a good experience for both horse and rider, while Holzer admitted she made a few rider errors, which impacted their score.
“I would say that I have not ridden this freestyle routine many times and I was just really trying to navigate my way through and he doesn’t know the pattern that well yet,” said Holzer. “He hasn’t ever been out into anything like this and I was just trying to keep him calm and steady through it.”
Dressed in Black has come into his own over the course of the past few months and Holzer is pleased not only with the progression in technique and understanding, but also with his willingness in the ring. The impressive 2005 Westphalian stallion (Dresemann x Sweetheart) owned by Holzer and Dr. Diane Fellows has made a triumphant return to competition and Holzer will look to continue their progress over the next few months.
“There were some mistakes in the twos that were not his fault. What’s amazing to me though is that he goes into that ring, which has all of that feeling and electricity, and he really tries hard. He’s doing the very best he can for where he is right now in his fitness level. I’m just very proud of him.”
James Koford and Don Principe have a longstanding partnership, as the two have been working together for more than seven years. Koford noted that gaining experience, no matter the tenure of the relationship, is still very important to the pair.
“He’s been my buddy for a long time. This is his eighth year at Grand Prix so we’ve had this freestyle since he was nine or ten and now he’s seventeen. We pretty much have it down pat,” laughed Koford. “It’s always fun to ride a freestyle in this atmosphere though. The setting is beautiful and the crowd was very enthusiastic. I’m very pleased with how it went.”
In just their second FEI CDI competition together, Nora Batchelder and Bahai finished their Grand Prix Freestyle choreography with a score of 66.050%. Batchelder of Williston, FL and the 2004 Hanoverian mare (Baroncelli x SPS Rose) rose to the occasion and handled the mare’s anxiety in the large arena well during their test.
“This is our second CDI together and it’s been great to ride in this venue. It’s just unbelievable and the footing is incredible. The first test yesterday, she was a little bit worried with the atmosphere and the flags, but she was more confident today,” commented Batchelder.
“This is our third time riding the freestyle and the music gives her a bit of confidence. I was proud of her because she definitely stepped up to overcome some of what she was nervous about yesterday. It was a great way to finish the weekend,” she continued.
Adequan® has been a longstanding supporter of dressage for a number of years and served as title sponsor for this week’s inaugural FEI CDI 3*. Allyn Mann of Adequan® was on hand throughout the week and discussed the presence and importance of their sponsorship at the facility, as it generates interest and ultimately expands the sport.
“This goes all the way back to the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival and the relationship between Mark [Bellissimo] and me. Both of us really believed that venue would be something special. Coming to Tryon and seeing this beautiful facility, knowing that we’re dealing with the same footprint for the sport, is very special,” said Mann. “This will be a wonderful place for the dressage world to come and it will be a game changer for the community.”
Renowned judge Linda Zang (USA) also commented on the competition at TIEC this week and expressed her excitement with the possibilities and opportunities the facility offers competitors of all levels.
“I think that we had a great group of riders here this week and I was very glad to see a lot of Canadian combinations in this group. This will become a great stop for people traveling from the south back up north after the winter season,” elaborated Zang. “I think we’ll see more and more riders here. I’m hopeful that there will be a lot more American riders who can swing through as well. This venue will encourage more CDI competitions outside of Florida and California, which I think is fantastic.”
Chris Von Martels and Divertimento Win FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 3*
Chris Von Martels (CAN) piloted Divertimento, owned by Lövsta Stuteri, to their first FEI CDI win together in the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 3* presented by Adequan®, receiving a 70.490%. Karen Pavicic (CAN) and Don Daiquiri finished in second place with a 69.745%, while Megan Lane (CAN) and Caravella rounded out the top three with a 69.218%.
Von Martels and Divertimento have continued to solidify their partnership and displayed a continued sense of growth and understanding in the ring. Von Martels expressed his excitement with the progress and noted that he felt like this was the best the two have performed together.
“I was very delighted with him today. He was very with me and I think today was even more electric in the stadium than yesterday, because there were more spectators here this afternoon,” said Von Martels. “He was really in tune with me and waiting on my aids.
“I really believe that this was the best test I’ve ridden on him in the way our relationship has gone so far. I’m very happy. I think this is my fifth show with him and each show you learn something new and take something else away from it. Now, I really would like to keep these nice, clean and accurate tests, but add a bit more power and brilliance where I can,” he continued.
Karen Pavicic and Don Daiquiri picked up second place with a strong showing, receiving a 69.218% from the judging panel. Pleased with their performance, Pavicic felt as though she entered the ring with more horse behind her leg than Friday in the FEI Grand Prix.
“He was much better today than yesterday. I was happier with my ride overall and I still would like to have a little bit more energy and brilliance within the movements. I was going for a clean test and he felt more energetic and in front of my leg,” she elaborated.
“I’m overall really happy with this week. A big thank you to Mark Bellissimo and his team for this; also a huge thank you to Adequan® for their support. Without their sponsorship, shows like this wouldn’t be possible,” she noted. “It’s so impressive and I will come back here with every opportunity for sure.”
Lane, who also placed third in Friday’s Grand Prix, felt that improvements made in the day prior carried over to Saturday’s class with her own Caravella. The duo produced a harmonious and balanced test, only hindered by a small mistake in the one tempis.
“Honestly, I feel a lot of the same sentiments as Chris. I went for a little bit more energy today and had an unfortunate mistake in the one tempis, but she gave me everything I asked of her in terms of the cadence,” explained Lane. “There are improvements in the piaffe for sure, which I was really pleased with throughout the show.
“She reacted really well to this stadium and this atmosphere. This was a great show for us and we were able to execute a lot of the concepts we’ve been focusing on in our training,” she continued.
Lindsay Kellock (CAN) and Royal Prinz, owned by Teresa Simmons, won the FEI Intermediaire I CDI 3* presented by Adequan® with a score of 67.684%. Jessica Jo Tate (USA) and Kynynmont Gunsmoke’s Gideon, owned by Pamela Liddell, finished in second place, receiving a 66.368%, while Emily Miles (USA) and Sir Sherlock, owned by Leslie Waterman, earned third place with a score of 59.263%.
Competition at TIEC will conclude Sunday with the FEI Intermediaire I Freestyle presented by Adequan® beginning at 2:45 p.m. For more information on TIEC, please visit www.tryon.com.
Mill Spring, NC – April 22, 2016 – Ashley Holzer (CAN) and Dressed in Black took home a historic win in the first ever FEI Grand Prix CDI 3* presented by Adequan® at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC). Holzer and Dressed in Black earned a 70.320% for the win, while Chris Von Martels (CAN) and Divertimento received a 69.880% for second place. Megan Lane (CAN) and Caravella rounded out the top three with a 68.580% to complete a Canadian sweep. Competition at TIEC continues Sunday featuring the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 3* presented by Adequan® beginning at 5:00 p.m. and the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3* presented by Adequan® starting at 6:30 p.m.
Holzer and Dressed in Black, a 2005 Westphalian stallion (Dresemann x Sweetheart) owned by Holzer along with Dr. Diane Fellows, made a strong return to FEI CDI competition. The pair only contested a few national shows at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) this past season and Holzer was pleased with their performance. The talented stallion has been brought along carefully under Holzer’s watchful eye and she is beginning to see the hard work pay off, as the pair continues to display confidence in the ring.
“This is the first CDI for us in a long time. I have to thank AGDF because those shows gave me the opportunity to compete a few times nationally and get him settled in the ring a bit,” said Holzer. “It’s different when you haven’t done a CDI in a while because you’re a bit rusty.”
Holzer and many of her students traveled to TIEC on their way up from Wellington, FL after concluding the winter circuit. Arriving early on Monday of this past week, she explained that the extra time spent at the facility was well utilized, as it helped Dressed in Black become accustomed to the ambiance of the venue.
“It was great that I had a few days here to get him in the ring. He’s never seen a big ring like this before and there is a lot of atmosphere. I’m thrilled with the way he handled himself in there. The fact that he went in and felt like a teammate and a player was incredible,” noted Holzer, as she described her test, which earned the pair a score above 70%. “I was not pushing for a big test on him this time out. I wanted to go in and not over face him with the ring and I think that to me, as a rider, that is the nicest feeling. Instead of them feeling scared and nervous, they’re confident and trying their best for you.”
While in Florida for the winter circuit, Holzer focused on fitness and increasing strength with Dressed in Black. She explained, “We really worked on fitness. When you go in and do a Grand Prix it is one thing, when you go in and do a Grand Prix where they need to put more effort in, that’s a lot. We’ve been focusing on mostly getting him to a place where he’s comfortable and fit.”
Holzer’s student, Chris Von Martels, followed her in the standings, placing second aboard Divertimento, owned by Lövsta Stuteri. Von Martels took over the ride on Divertimento this past winter and the pair has continued to grow their relationship with each other as they gain more competition experience.
“I was pleased with the entire test today. Again, like Ashley said, it’s a very electric atmosphere in there and it’s just a huge stadium,” commented Von Martels. “I was mostly happy that, even though it is still a relatively new relationship, it seems that with each show we’re becoming more comfortable with each other and are starting to know what to expect.”
“Our goal today was to ride a clean and accurate test and we were able to do so. That brings us both to a new level of confidence. Looking forward, we’ll look to maintain that accuracy within the test and add a little bit more of a dynamic element,” he continued.
Divertimento is typically hot horse who can be reactive to sound in the arena, but his trust in Von Martels is evident and the pair handled the atmosphere of the George Morris Arena with ease.
“I really believe the horses who tend to be hotter in the ring, when you earn their trust and confidence, they’re the ones who try the hardest for you,” he said. “Maybe it takes a little bit longer and it can be a bit challenging, but I really love this horse and I think he’s fantastic. I’m thrilled that we were able to work this out with his owners and I know that when you really win over his heart he’ll give you everything he has.”
Megan Lane (CAN) was also very pleased with her own Caravella, as she felt the pair executed the fluidity and workmanship they had been working towards throughout the winter circuit. Lane explained that the test was a major stepping stone regarding the inclusion of improvements she would like to see consistently in the ring.
“She felt relaxed and I was really happy with the test. She did everything that I’ve asked of her. We’ve been working a lot on the animation and cadence within the test. I wanted to hit that next level of brilliance, but also keep the relaxation too,” said Lane.
“That’s why I was so happy with her today, because that was what exactly happened in the ring. It felt like a breakthrough ride, and no matter the score, it just felt different. It was one of those performances for me where I rode out of the ring and knew we had accomplished something great,” she continued.
All three riders made the journey from Wellington, FL to TIEC to contest the inaugural FEI CDI 3* presented by Adequan® and each individually voiced their opinions on the expanding venue and what the facility means for equestrian sport, as a whole.
“Honestly, wow. I was dumbfounded when I first came here and drove up to this facility. This is an amazing thing. We are so lucky to have the support of individuals who back and sponsor such a great horse show. It takes a vision and it’s very easy to say you want to act on that vision. I’ve had a lot of visions, but none of them have ever been executed,” laughed Holzer. “I have to say, just wow. This is unbelievable. I will be here with a lot of horses, for sure for many years to come. This is going to grow the sport in unbelievable ways.”
Von Martels echoed Holzer’s sentiments, stating that another world-class venue in the United States only benefits the riders and their horses, helping combinations to prepare for major championship events around the globe.
“I have to thank Mark Bellissimo and all of his partners. It’s just incredible what they do and I think this is truly an amazing group of individuals who actually get things done,” said Von Martels. “The whole sport and the whole industry grow because of this environment. It’s good for the equestrian economy, and honestly, it’s good for everyone’s economy.”
Lane, who like Holzer and Von Martels, is headed back north to begin training for the remainder of the spring and summer seasons, felt that the stop at TIEC was well worth it on their travels. Lane noted that she sees an array of opportunities available at the venue for both experienced Grand Prix horses and younger prospects needing practice in the competition arena.
“This is my first time here and honestly I had no words. I was absolutely blown away. I’m going to make sure that we are here, year after year, with all of my horses. This is an incredible venue and it’s just amazing. You can bring your top level FEI horses here and also school some of the greener horses as the same time. It really fits everything you could ever want in a competition facility,” she said.
Emily Miles (USA) and Floretienne, owned by Leslie Waterman, topped the FEI Prix St. Georges presented by Adequan® with a score of 69.316%, while Lindsay Kellock (CAN) and Royal Prinz, owned by Teresa Simmons earned second place with a 67.789%. Miles also finished in third place aboard Sir Sherlock, also owned by Leslie Waterman, receiving a 66.316%.
Competition at TIEC continues Sunday with the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 3* presented by Adequan® beginning at 5:00 p.m. and the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3* presented by Adequan® beginning at 6:30 p.m. For more information on TIEC and to see a full list of results, please visit www.tryon.com.