Tag Archives: Chris Von Martels

Holzer and Dressed in Black Earn Second Win in FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3*

Ashley Holzer and Dressed in Black. Photos: ©SharonPackerPhotography.

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%.

Chris Von Martels and Divertimento
Chris Von Martels and Divertimento

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.

Chris Von Martels Named “Premier Equestrian” at Adequan Global Dressage Festival

Chris Von Martels with Divertimento (Photo courtesy of JRPR).

Wellington, FL (February 19, 2016) – Canada’s 2015 Pan American Games team silver and individual bronze medalist Chris Von Martels is known not only for his exemplary skills in the saddle, but also for his professional conduct and humble attitude towards his achievements. Premier Equestrian, an innovative company known for providing advanced riding arena systems throughout the United States, recognized Von Martels for his many accomplishments this past year at the highest level of dressage and rewarded him with the title of “Premier Equestrian” at the 2016 Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida.

Premier Equestrian presented Von Martels with a tri-colored ribbon, an engraved plaque, and the title of “Premier Equestrian” for his exemplary skills, sportsmanship, and achievements in the dressage world. Von Martels, of Ontario, Canada, is consistently a strong contender at the Grand Prix level in prestigious competitions. He is based in Wellington during the winter, where he trains with fellow Canadian Ashley Holzer.

“I absolutely think that good sportsmanship is essential,” Von Martels explained. “I think it is very important that everyone remembers that we are all here on an equal level.”

When asked how he maintains a positive attitude through the ups and downs of intense international competition, Von Martels said, “You can have good days and you can have difficult days. It’s nice when you have your peers and sports colleagues to be there for one another – of course when you’re winning, but also more importantly when you are having a difficult time. I think that support is very important.”

Von Martels has a few star equine partners at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival this season. Later this season, he plans to get his two-time Pan American Games medalist partner Zilverstar, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding, back into the show ring. He also plans to compete with his up-and-coming Grand Prix mount Bellissimo, a 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding. Von Martels is now actively campaigning with Divertimento, a 14-year-old Westfalen gelding also known as ‘Divert,’ who previously competed on a Swedish Nations Cup team with Swedish Olympian Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén.

“Divert and I are a new combination since just around the holidays, and we are all very excited and hope to have some great results in the future,” Von Martels said.

The Premier Equestrian Award will be presented each CDI week during the twelve-week Adequan Global Dressage Festival to honor riders who are not only competitive, but also kind and gracious to other competitors and show staff, put their horses first, and contribute to a positive overall atmosphere on the show grounds. Premier Equestrian hopes that this award will let competitors know that their outstanding attitudes are noticed and appreciated, and will encourage all riders to enter the show ring in winning spirits.

Premier Equestrian is proud to offer continued support of the dressage community as an Official Partner and Sponsor of the 2016 Adequan Global Dressage Festival show series. The company offers high-quality and affordable products to dressage riders – including premier dressage arenas, world-class arena footing, revolutionized horse jumps, and accessories. For more information about the presenter of the Premier Equestrian Award, visit www.PremierEquestrian.com or call 1-800-611-6109.

For more information contact:
Heidi Zorn, Premier Equestrian

Double-Gold and Individual Silver for USA in Pan-American Games Dressage

(L to R) Laura Graves (USA) silver, Steffen Peters (USA) gold, and Chris von Martels (CAN) bronze. (FEI/StockImageServices.com)

Lausanne (SUI), 14 July 2015 – America’s Steffen Peters and Laura Graves today added individual gold and silver to the team title secured on Sunday at the Pan-American Games 2015 in Toronto, Canada where the host nation’s Chris von Martels scooped individual bronze this afternoon.

The result is a sensational fifth consecutive Pan-American team victory for the Americans, bringing their tally to eight team and nine individual Dressage titles in the 64-year history of the event, and earning a team berth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

And it was a back-to-back double of individual gold for Peters who, although he didn’t surpass the Pan-American Games record score of 80.132 which he set at Guadalajara in Mexico four years ago with Weltino’s Magic, came close when posting 80.075 for today’s individual win with Legolas.

Team competition

The Americans took the lead from the outset of the team competition and held on for gold, but the host Canadians chased them all the way to the line to claim silver, while Brazil just pipped Mexico for the bronze. Results were combined from two days of mixed Small and Big Tour competition that began with Prix St George and Grand Prix last Saturday (11 July), and only teams with Grand Prix combinations were eligible for the single Olympic berth on offer so only USA, Canada, Mexico and Brazil were in that race.

US stalwart, Steffen Peters, posted the biggest Grand Prix score of the day with Legolas at 77.240, and when added to Laura Graves’ 75.080 with Verdades, and Kimberly Herslow’s 75.184 in the Prix St George the first-day US tally was 230.504. Three scores from each team were taken into account, so Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo’s 71.790 in the Prix St George was the team discard.

However, the Canadians were hot on their heels when Brittany Fraser and All In scored 76.105 and Chris Von Martels and Zilverstar posted 75.026. Of the Canadian Big Tour pairs it was Belinda Trussell and Anton who scored highest with 74.949, Megan Lane and Caravella awarded 72.400 for the discard. And going into Sunday’s decider Canada trailed the USA by just 4.433 points while the three-member Mexican side of Jesus Palacios (Wizard Banamex), Jose Padilla (Donnersberg) and Bernadette Pujals (Heslegaards Rolex) lay only 0.203 points ahead of Brazil’s Joao Paulo Dos Santos (Veleiro do Top), Sarah Waddell (Donelly 3), Joao Victor Marcari Oliva (Xama dos Pinhais) and Leandro Aparecido da Silva (D Caprio).

Plenty of pressure

There was plenty of pressure as the action got underway on Sunday in the Intermediaire 1 and FEI Grand Prix Special, but the Americans stood firm, bolstered by personal-best scores from both Graves in the Special and Herslow in the Intermediaire 1, and backed up by Peters‘ 72.667 while Schut-Kery posted 73.533. Their final tally of 460.506 moved them just over 5.5 points ahead of the Canadians to secure the gold at the end of the day, while the Brazilians leap-frogged the Mexicans for the bronze.

US Chef d’Equipe, Robert Dover, said his team’s great result “showed that our Small Tour horses are beautifully trained and our Big Tour combinations showed why they are ranked seventh and eighth in the world right now. What could be better for a Chef d’Equipe than to bring a team and have them earn personal bests at a very important moment. Having earned qualification for the Olympic Games, it allows us to now focus and put our energy into preparing for Rio (2016 Olympic Games).”

Graves, whose meteoric rise to prominence only began in the lead-up to last summer’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy where she sensationally finished tenth individually with Verdades, was delighted with her personal-best 77.177 in the Grand Prix Special. “He was amazing out there, really on again today!” she said of her horse. “He loves Toronto!” Graves and Verdades and Peters and Legolas were key players in the US team that lined up fourth in Normandy behind the three European powerhouses of Germany, Great Britain and The Netherlands who earned the three Olympic berths on offer there.

Paid tribute

Steffen Peters paid tribute to the silver medallists. “The Canadians did a wonderful job. They rode extremely well and gave us quite the run – it wasn’t easy!” he said.

Canada’s Belinda Trussell, an Olympian and three-time competitor at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ who was lining out in her first Pan American Games said, after scoring 76.578 in the Grand Prix Special, “I think, for Canada, that this Games has pushed us to a new level. To be coming away (from the team event) with nothing below 70 per cent, and highlights of 76 per cent, has never been done. It’s really exciting for Canada. We are so pumped as a nation, and pumped to go forward to the next Games. We are international contenders – there is huge excitement!” she added.

Individual medals

And the excitement continued today when a total of 21 horse-and-rider combinations lined out to contest the individual medals. Of these, 17 performed Intermediaire 1, while the final four Big Tour partnerships performed the Freestyle.

With just six left to go, von Martels and Zilverstar rocketed to the top of the leaderboard with a percentage score of 79.500 for his Intermediaire test. Judge at M, Great Britain’s Stephen Clarke, awarded 81.500 and at judge at H, America’s Lilo Fore, awarded 80.750, and all five Ground Jury members put the Canadian temporarily into first place.

The 32-year-old rider from Ontario held on to the advantage until overtaken by Peters and Legolas who posted the first, and only, over-80 per cent score when third-last into the arena. Fore, Clarke and Ground Jury President Elizabeth McMullan chose this pair for the no. 1 spot this time around, setting the new target at 80.075. And when, last to go, 27-year-old Graves and Verdades collected 79.825 they scooped silver and pinned von Martels and Zilverstar back to bronze. It was an extremely close-fought affair, with only 0.575 separating the three medal-winners.

After Sunday’s Grand Prix Special, Peters admitted to having some issues in the execution of his test, but today he put all that behind him and came out once again with all guns blazing. “I’m still on cloud nine!” he said, shortly after the prizegiving.

A good job

“On Sunday Legolas did a good job but I didn’t do my best riding job, so I wanted to prove today that Legolas deserves to be one of top horses in the world. I gave it every bit of my strength and he produced a wonderful clean test. And on top of that he allowed me to be within a tenth of a second to the music so we had high artistic scores,” he explained.

“This season we have had a few ups and downs, so to finish so strong in the last test of the season – I can hardly describe how I feel right now!” he added. When asked about team-mate Laura Graves’ close silver-medal finish, Peters continued, “I knew before the competition today that it would be awfully close. I saw her doing a beautiful clean test, so the tension to last second today was quite something. I have to admit I got very emotional when Legolas was called out the winner!”

And the 50-year-old rider was quick to refer back to his US team-mates and the success they have achieved over the last few days. “Let’s not forget that every single rider, including the fourth horse, contributed to the team gold medal. There was a combination of drop scores, so everyone did their job, and it is a fantastic group of people – all good-hearted athletes. It’s quite something to win with wonderful friends you almost have to call family!” he said.

Facts and Figures:

Victory in the team competition has secured a qualifying spot for the USA at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

This was another record-breaking performance from the Americans who already held the record for four consecutive team victories, and have now increased that to five.

16 nations were represented in Dressage at the 17th Pan-American Games while 10 countries fielded teams.

The Ground Jury consisted of: Hans Matthiesen DEN, Stephen Clarke GBR, Maribel Alonso MEX, Elizabeth McMullan CAN (President) and Lilo Fore USA.

A total of 21 horse-and-rider combinations competed for the individual medals.

The list of teams so far qualified in Dressage for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games now includes, Brazil (automatic qualification), Germany, Great Britain, The Netherlands (placings at Alltech FEI World Equestiran Games™ 2014 in Normandy), Australia (best ranked team from Olympic Group F or G at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy), and USA (single qualifier from Pan-American Games 2015 in Toronto, Canada).

Countries can also qualify “composite” teams. For full details of Olympic DRESSAGE qualification opportunities, and list of teams, check out this link: http://fei.org/system/files/Dressage%20-%20Rio%202016%20-%20Qualification%20System_13July%202015.pdf.

The next major Olympic qualification opportunity is at the forthcoming FEI European Championships in Aachen, Germany, 11-23 August 2015, where 3 further places are on offer.

History: Argentina staged the very first Pan American Games from 25 February to 9 March 1951 in its capital, Buenos Aires. A total of 22 countries took part, with four – Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico – competing in the three equestrian events. Just three riders from Argentina and Chile lined out in the Dressage discipline, with Chile taking team gold as well as individual gold and bronze. Individual champion was Jose Larrain with Rappel. At this 17th Pan American Games 64 years later, Argentina finished fifth, behind Mexico, in the Dressage team event on a score of 201.016.

Find out more about the Pan-American Games 2015 here and check out the programme of events here. Results are available here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:
At Toronto:
Jean Llewellyn
Press Officer

All Four Riders on Canada’s Pan Am Dressage Team Are C-DAAP Recipients

Belinda Trussell with Anton (left) and Megan Lane with Caravella (right) (Left photo –  CLiXPhoto.com; Right photo – Rob Madronich)

Toronto, Canada (June 23, 2015) — All four members of Canada’s recently announced dressage team for the 2015 Pan American Games have something else in common that they can boast about: they are former recipients of the Canadian Dressage Athlete Assistance Program (C-DAAP). Team members Brittany Fraser, Megan Lane, Belinda Trussell and Chris Von Martels all benefited from the funding that C-DAAP provides for the support and advancement of Canada’s high-performance dressage athletes in their pursuit of excellence.

The non-profit organization offers 100 percent of its net proceeds from fund-raising events to the riders to offset the cost of training and competing for high performance to compete against the world’s best. In fact, more than $130,000 has been awarded to seven riders since 2012 to help them achieve their goals with another $80,000 slated for distribution this summer.

“I am thrilled to see all four C-DAAP recipients represent Canada at the Pan Am Games,” said C-DAAP’s founder, Deborah Miculinic. “It shows how important it is to provide our riders with the necessary programs and funding so they can compete at the very top of their sport. Congratulations to each of these riders on achieving such a remarkable accomplishment. You can bet they will make Canada proud and we will be certainly cheering them on!”

Brittany Fraser with All In (left) and Chris Von Martels with Zilverstar (right) (Left photo courtesy of Horse Junkies Unlimited; Right photo courtesy of Jessica Mendoza)
Brittany Fraser with All In (left) and Chris Von Martels with Zilverstar (right) (Left photo – Horse Junkies Unlimited; Right photo – Jessica Mendoza)

Miculinic added, “C-DAAP depends on the generous support of organizations like Omega Alpha Pharmaceuticals, Reser’s Fine Foods and many others for financial support and product donation for our fundraisers. Without these generous sponsors, we would not be able to support the riders to the extent that we do.”

The funding criteria for 2015/2016 have been established with guidelines available at www.cdaap.ca. The deadline for applications is July 31 and recipients will be announced on August 17.

For more information about C-DAAP, visit www.cdaap.ca. Check out C-DAAP’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CanadianDressageAAP.

Contact: Deborah Kinzinger

Chris Von Martels and Zilverstar Win the FEI CDI 1* Intermediaire 1 Freestyle at AGDF

Chris Von Martels and Zilverstar. Photo copyright SusanJStickle.com.

Wellington, FL – January 8, 2015 – Chris Von Martels (CAN) and Zilverstar finished the last day of competition at Week 5 of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) with a win in the FEI CDI 1* Intermediaire 1 Freestyle presented by Mission Control. Von Martels and Zilverstar finished the afternoon on a 75.650% followed by Olivia LaGoy-Weltz (USA) and Rassing’s Lonoir scoring a 71.184% and Dawn White-O’Connor (USA) and Aristo coming in third with a 71.400%.

Von Martels was very happy with his test today and felt Zilverstar got better with each test in Week 5. The pair placed 5th in the Prix St. Georges on Thursday, 7th in the Intermediaire 1 on Friday, and finished the week off with a win in the Freestyle.

“I was thrilled with Zilver. He was totally on his game and he was able to show a lot of his strengths and highlights throughout the tests, which is always a really nice thing to accomplish,” he said. “He was fantastic throughout the whole week, so I’m really pleased with everything.”

As the pair looks to qualify for the Pan American Games, Von Martels feels like he has a good idea of where he needs to put in work to prepare.

“With every show you go home with a little bit of homework. For instance, I rode quite early in the class and the morning in the Intermediaire, it was cold and windy and I could have used 5 to 10 more minutes in the warm-up to get that focus,” he explained. “Those are the little details you always need to pay attention to and use to your advantage the next time.”

The extremely talented gelding continues to grow stronger and Von Martels expects big things to come from Zilverstar in the future.

“I’ve been riding him for three years now and he just has so much quality. He’s very sensitive and intelligent. It’s actually quite fun because when you have a horse like that and you do build a relationship, in the long term it gives you a lot more,” Von Martels expressed. “He does have quite a few highlights and strengths. His extended trot and his half-passes and his pirouettes and flying changes can be brilliant when he is in his best form.”

LaGoy-Weltz and Rassing’s Lonoir also finished in great form, after a competitive week of competition in the CDI 1* Small Tour classes. “He was a really good boy today. He was very quiet and soft and did everything I asked. We had one mistake but we need to tweak the choreography and work on that because it was a mistake that we usually don’t make and we need to make the music a bit more complementary,” she explained.

Rassing’s Lonoir, a 2004 Danish Warmblood gelding, is a very large horse and LaGoy-Weltz really focuses on making sure “Lono” is relaxed and rideable, also helping him to control his range of motion.

“I think the rideability is so nice because he can be really hot and it’s nice to have him simmer down in the ring. We’ve really focused on the rideability and relaxation because I can really push for things,” she commented. “I think the pirouettes are always something we can work on because he is such a big horse. It is about trying to get him where we can really get him to come on the spot and we’re always working on the straightness in the changes.”

The pair will aim towards qualifying for the Pan American Games before making the move to Grand Prix.

“Right now we have to see about Pan Ams because if we qualify we will focus on that. If we weren’t to make the qualifications then we would turn our focus to the Grand Prix, but we will definitely be showing more and hopefully do the Nation’s Cup,” she said, describing the pairs future plans.

Dawn White-O’Connor and Aristo finished in third, scoring very impressively for a relatively new freestyle routine for the pair. White-O’Connor, Steffen Peter’s assistant trainer, took advantage of her time in Florida with a solid week of performance.

“It was good. It was the first time I’ve done that freestyle and I changed it last week and we weren’t able to practice it a ton of times. We will change the choreography a little bit, but other than that I was very happy.”

The pair will stay in Florida for a few more weeks, changing their original plan of heading back to California this week.

“We were supposed to go back on Tuesday but we decided to stay and do the CDI here in two weeks. There are so many people in the classes in here compared to California. Just the number of horses and the quality make it great,” she stated.

Aristo, a favorite in the barn, is just starting to hit his peak with White-O’Connor. “He’s like a dog; he really has no concept that he’s a horse,” she laughed. “We will probably continue to do the Small Tour for the next CDI and then when we get home do a few more shows and see where everything works out too. I’d love to try a few Grand Prix’s with him at some local shows this summer.”

Today marked the last day of competition at Week 5 of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival capping off a wonderful week of FEI CDI 1*/3*/5* competition sponsored by Mission Control, Wellington Equestrian Realty, and Diamante Farms, respectively. With more than eleven countries represented and more than 200 entries, AGDF Week 5 proved to be the biggest yet this season. The winners from this week’s special awards are as follows: “Best Horse Turnout” presented by Horse and Rider was presented to Alice Tarjan and Elfenfeuer, “Best Seat” presented by Kastel Denmark was awarded to Pablo Gomez Molina, and “Best Dressed Rider” presented by Tack N Rider went to Olivia LaGoy-Weltz. Felicitas Hendricks was awarded with the “Perfect Conduct” award sponsored by Perfect Products.

The Adequan® Global Dressage Festival will continue on February 19-22, 2015 with CDI 3*/4* competition, sponsored by Havensafe Farm and the Dutta Corp., respectively. To learn more about the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival and for schedules and ride times, please visit www.globaldressagefestival.com for more information.

About the Adequan Global Dressage Festival:

The Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) is one of the world’s largest international and national dressage circuits featuring 7 FEI Dressage events, including a 5* and the only FEI Nations’ Cup Series CDIO in the Western Hemisphere. The AGDF offers more than $650,000 in prize money for the seven international competitions, making it one of the richest circuits in the world. The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center facility includes the Van Kampen covered arena (made possible by Kimberly and Frederic Boyer and family) and four outdoor arenas with world-class footing, 200 permanent stalls, and a VIP seating area.

Please visit
or call 561-793-5867 for more information.

Adequan Global Dressage Festival is located at
13500 South Shore Blvd, Wellington, Florida 33414

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations

Chris Von Martels Makes the Most of C-DAAP Grant

Chris Von Martels and Zilverstar campaigned in Europe for six months, thanks in part to a $20,000 High Performance European Training and Competition Grant from C-DAAP. Photograph Courtesy of Chris Von Martels.

Wellington, Florida – Canadian dressage competitor Chris Von Martels recently returned to North America following six months of training and competing in The Netherlands. As a recipient of a $20,000 High Performance European Training and Competition Grant from the Canadian Dressage Athlete Assistance Program (C-DAAP), Von Martels was able to apply the funding towards his training and competition expenses.

While in Europe, Von Martels and his two horses were based at the stables of Tim and Leida Collins in Riethoven, The Netherlands, which was a short drive to his trainer, Sjef Jannsen. He represented Canada in three International Equestrian Federation (FEI) sanctioned competitions in three different countries: CDI3* Compiegne, France; CDI2* Peterhof in Perl, Germany; and CDI3* Zandhoven, Belgium. In addition, he competed at a number of national shows and also showed a horse on behalf of one of his German-based clients at the Trakehner Championships, giving him great exposure to European breed championships.

With his top mount, Zilverstar, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Von Martels ended his European tour on a high note at CDI3* Zandhoven, placing fourth in the Intermediaire I and taking third in the Intermediaire Freestyle with a score of 71.85%. His second mount, Winsor Rox, an 11-year-old black Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Barbara Nitsch, also gained valuable mileage during their time in Europe.

While Von Martels was already planning his six month stay in Europe before learning that he had successfully acquired one of five C-DAAP grants awarded in 2014, the additional funding allowed him to apply a larger amount of funds towards his training, as well as help off-set the costs of boarding, competition, and horse maintenance. Being the recipient of a C-DAAP grant has also strengthened his vision of his long-term goals, both personally as well as for Canadian dressage in general.

“My goal is to represent Canada at a major games and, in doing so, to help raise the profile of dressage in Canada,” said Von Martels, 32, who operates Von Martels Dressage Inc. in Ridgetown, ON and Wellington, FL. “Being in Europe, where equestrian sport is much more mainstream than in North America, and being surrounded by the top performing horses and riders in the world, has been incredibly impactful in helping me to achieve these goals. The competitive environment and the quality of horses and riders play on the physical and psychological components of performance. Having this experience has not only advanced my physical skills and the training of the horses, but it has us much better prepared for the pressures and the atmosphere of major international competitions.

“I am also bringing back a stronger vision for what I believe we can achieve for dressage in Canada, not just for riders and horses, but also for sponsors, owners, grooms and everyone who supports us,” continued Von Martels. “They have a tremendous infrastructure in Europe, and there are some great ideas and small details that would be easy for us to implement in order to enhance the overall development and support for the sport.”

Von Martels is especially appreciative of the C-DAAP program as it has not only augmented his own training and competition efforts, but also those of his fellow athletes who may one day be riding alongside him as members of the Canadian Dressage Team.

“Through the grant program, C-DAAP is giving Canadian dressage riders increased opportunity to gain the experience, training and exposure that is needed to help develop truly competitive horse-rider combinations,” said Von Martels. “If our national goal is to have improved team placings at major games, and to ultimately be on the podium at an Olympics or World Equestrian Games, then we need to be able to provide riders with access to the European environment, and to be amongst the best in the world on a regular basis.

“I would like to express sincere thanks to Deborah Kinzinger Miculinic for her vision, her commitment, and her passion in bringing C-DAAP to life,” concluded Von Martels. “I also need to thank the Collins family and their team for all of their support, and Barbara Nitsch for trusting me with her lovely stallion in Europe. There is a host of others that deserve great thanks and without whose support I would never have got this far; the farriers and vets that keep our horses in top form, my family, friends, and sponsors are all incredible, and all of my clients have been amazing and encouraging. However, at the top of my list, I give thanks to the horses. They are the most deserving of all!”

The four other Canadian athletes to receive C-DAAP High Performance European Training and Competition Grants in 2014 were Brittany Fraser of New Glasgow, NS and All In, her nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding; Megan Lane of Loretto, ON and Caravella, her 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare; Karen Pavicic of Surrey, BC and Don Daiquiri, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Pavicic and Jayne Essig; and Belinda Trussell of Stouffville, ON and Anton, a 14-year-old German-bred gelding owned by Robyn Eames.

About the Canadian Dressage Athlete Assistance Program (C-DAAP)

The Canadian Dressage Athlete Assistance Program (C-DAAP) is a donor-driven program dedicated to supporting and advancing Canada’s junior, young rider and high performance riders. The program solicits contributions and will award grants to eligible Canadian dressage riders.

C-DAAP’s goal is to provide supplemental funding to Canadian dressage athletes to off-set training, competitive and educational expenses incurred during their quest for excellence, thus creating a bridge to high-level national and international competition.

Contact: Jennifer Ward
Starting Gate Communications
Cell: (613) 292-5439

Tiva Nana and Ashley Holzer Triumph in FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 3* on Final Day of 2014 AGDF

Ashley Holzer and Tiva Nana. Photos © SusanJStickle.com.

Chris Von Martels Claims First Place in FEI Intermediaire-1 Freestyle

Wellington, FL – March 30, 2014 – Ashley Holzer (CAN) and Marissa Mastranardi’s Tiva Nana picked up their second win of the weekend in the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 3*, presented by Diamante Farms, during the AGDF 12 CDI 3*/5* at The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Fellow Canadian Chris Von Martels and his own Zilverstar concluded competition for the weekend with a win in the FEI Intermediaire-1 Freestyle, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty. The classes wrapped up an incredibly successful season of the 2014 AGDF.

Holzer and Tiva Nana, a 14-year-old KWPN mare, finished first in the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 3* with a score of 71.922%. Second place went to Lars Petersen of Denmark and Willano for their score of 69.608%. Christilot Boylen (CAN) rounded out the top three with a score of 67.275% aboard Hudson 18.

Holzer was overcome by Tiva Nana’s performance on Sunday afternoon after a long weekend of showing. “She’s an incredible horse. She works for me in that ring. She was a trooper. A fun, fun, animal to ride and I feel very lucky to ride a horse like her. She really connects to you. She knows who you are and really wants to do well for you,” Holzer shared.

Overall, Holzer was pleased with their test and felt it was much cleaner than their previous special two weeks ago at the AGDF. ‘Nina’ was much more focused this week, and Holzer decided to lighten up on the aids.

“Last time, I was not so clean,” Holzer admitted. “It’s a little tough, because she’s so green that you don’t want to give such a small aid that she doesn’t know what she’s doing, but if you over-aid her, which I did last time, [it won’t go well]. It’s having the confidence to sit and give tiny little aids and trust that she’ll be able to do it. I just said, ‘Okay, I’ll trust in you. You go and do your job.’ And wow. She felt unbelievable.”

Like Michael Barisone with his ride earlier in the week with Ellegria, Holzer has been shocked by her horse’s quick progression in the upper level tests at the AGDF. “I’m speechless, frankly, to feel a horse work that hard and do that much. I was just trying to sit still! She was really hot today, and I just sat still. I wasn’t even asking for her to do more, that’s just all her trying,” Holzer explained.

Of her future plans with Nina, Holzer added, “We’re just going to have to take a look at what the next plan should be. It’s important that when you have a horse like that, that you look to the future, but without greedy eyes.”

For second place finisher Petersen, Willano is another horse he has brought back from a long lay-off. After having a large melanoma tumor on his neck, the gelding was out of work for two years after already debuting at the grand prix level.

“He did his first CDI two weeks ago, so he’s green,” Petersen acknowledged. “[I’m very pleased with him].He needs to be a little fitter, in a little better shape. In the grand prix, especially, I ran out of energy a little bit, but he was better today. I just did a little bit yesterday with him, so that helped.”

While they may have similar storylines of posting great comebacks after injuries, Petersen said that Willano and his 5* mount Mariett could not be more different.

“He’s maybe a little bit more laid-back than Mariett is. You know, she comes in and goes, ‘Bing!’ I wish he would do that a little bit more!” Petersen laughed.

He continued, “I won a lot on him in the small tour, and there he was actually [brighter]. He was in [great] shape then, so I just need to get him more fit after his lay-off. I think it will all come back. I’m very, very happy with him.”

Chris Von Martels and Zilverstar
Chris Von Martels and Zilverstar

Chris Von Martels was the second Canadian to take a victory lap on Sunday at the AGDF, winning the FEI Intermediaire-1 Freestyle, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty. Von Martels rode Zilverstar, his ten-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, to a high score of 76.333%. Second place went to American Christopher Hickey and Ronaldo for their score of 74.750%, while Canadian Shannon Dueck picked up third place on Cantaris with a score of 71.333%.

Sunday’s score was the best yet for Von Martels and Zilverstar, who he felt went incredibly well in the test Sunday afternoon. Sunday’s performance made Von Martels increasingly excited for what is to come with Zilverstar.

“Throughout the whole program, he was very energetic and definitely showed his highlights very well, which I believe are a lot of his trot work as well as his canter and changes. What I’ve always loved the most about him at the show is that he’s very enthusiastic to go in the ring and perform,” Von Martels said.

Von Martels’ choreography was set to a medley of songs from his favorite band, U2. In addition to personally liking the musical arrangement, produced by Jos Peters, Von Martels believes it suits his horse well. The familiarity of the music also helps put on a good show for spectators and judges alike.

Of his choreography, Von Martels shared, “What makes it difficult is that I do a lot of longer lines in the half passes and with a lot of power. I can really show the horse’s ability and show off his real talent. Most of the degree of difficulty gets increased, that I was able to ride this full power throughout the test.”

Zilverstar had a stand-out performance on Sunday, but Von Martels is thrilled with how the entire AGDF season has gone for the two of them. Besides Sunday’s personal best, winning a silver medal as part of Team Canada during the Stillpoint Farm CDIO Nations Cup was a major highlight for Von Martels.

“He did very well from the beginning of the season on. He steadily improved throughout the season, and I would like to put a little bit of credit to that we have so many shows available [at AGDF]. Your horse can go to the shows week after week and be able to stay focused and improve,” Von Martels pointed out.

He continued, “He’s still relatively new to me as far as competition goes. Our ultimate goal with all of our horses is to bring them to their maximum potential. That takes a lot of time and experience, both at home training and at the show. I would say that my goal is always to help them shine as best as I can, and I think today’s result I’m quite happy with. I think we kept that goal.”

The long-term goal for Zilverstar is to advance to grand prix, but Von Martels is still unsure of when that will be. The pair will travel to Holland to compete over the summer before returning in the fall to Wellington in preparation for the 2015 AGDF.

Competition for the 2014 AGDF concluded with Von Martels’ win, along with a full day’s schedule of national and international competition. For full results and more information, please visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

About the Adequan Global Dressage Festival:

The Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) is one of the world’s largest international and national dressage circuits featuring 8 FEI Dressage events, including a 5* and the only FEI Nations’ Cup Series CDIO in the Western Hemisphere. The AGDF offers more than $400,000 in prize money for the six international competitions, making it one of the richest circuits in the world. The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center facility includes the Van Kampen covered arena (made possible by Kimberly and Frederic Boyer and family) and four outdoor arenas with world-class footing, 200 permanent stalls, and a VIP seating area for the International Arena fully catered for relaxing and having an enjoyable experience.

Please visit
or call 561-793-5867 for more information.

Adequan Global Dressage Festival is located at
13500 South Shore Blvd, Wellington, Florida 33414

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations

They’re Back! Trainers Converge on Florida for 2013 Dressage Season

Dr. Cesar Parra and his Grand Prix mount, Van the Man, arrive in Florida for the winter dressage season. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Cesar Parra)

Wellington, FL (January 7, 2013) – Every year, Wellington, Florida becomes a mecca for the who’s who in the world of dressage, the new year kicks off with the arrival of hundreds of riders and trainers, their horses and dreams for the season. We caught up with four riders who just settled in for a season of one of the world’s largest international and national dressage circuits. We caught up with George Williams, Chris von Martels, J. J. Tate, and Cesar Parra.  In between unpacking we got them to share their plans with us.

USDF President George Williams, who leads the charge at Elizabeth B. Juliano (Betsy’s) Havensafe Farm (Middlefield, Ohio and Wellington, Florida), shared with us his plans for the 2013 show season: “We arrived (in Florida for the winter) in November with eight horses. The four horses we plan to compete are Cleopatra, a 10 year old Hanoverian slated for the small tour, the amazing Big Tyme, Betsy’s 11 year old Belgian warmblood. They will continue their small tour success.  We also have Riccidoff, a 7 year old Hanoverian who is just starting small tour, and our youngster, Horizon, a 5 year old Oldenburg who is competing at second level.  Coming from Northern Ohio, the best thing about Florida has to be the weather! We really like the proximity of the shows to the farm and the variety of dates and venues. It will also be wonderful to watch competitions, conferences, forums, etc. This year, our goal is to work toward confirming all of the horses at their appropriate level.”

Continue reading They’re Back! Trainers Converge on Florida for 2013 Dressage Season

2011 Dressage under the Stars Kicks Off Third Year

Dressage under the Stars week one musical freestyle winner Chris Von Martels is joined by (l-r) Ted Rekal-Nuttall, Jane Savoie, Carole Grant, Tami Hoag, Rick Rockefeller-Silvia, and Juan Gonzalez. (Photo courtesy of JRPR)

Chris Von Martels Wins Dressage under the Stars Week 1

Wellington, FL (February 6, 2011) – For the third year in a row, Dressage under the Stars, held patio-side at The Players Club Bar & Grille, is the place to be on Wednesday nights in Wellington. This year will bring another eight weeks of exciting rider and horse combinations competing for weekly prizes and an opportunity for riders to return the final week to perform in the grand finale. Attendees were again guaranteed an enchanting night of FEI level musical freestyles, fine dining, cocktails, and new this year a VIP champagne tent.

Chris Von Martels stole the show with his winning performance on Don Darveen, a warmblood gelding by Donnerhall. Von Martels performed to music that included the Black Eyed Peas for a fun hip-hop combination musical freestyle. Don Darveen’s owner, Regina Sacha-Ujczo, drove all the way from Orlando to come see her horse perform.

Von Martels’ prizes included a custom Quantum Saddle, presented by Quantum Limited’s North American Representative Ted Rekal-Nuttall, 500 dollars cash, and VIP passes to the table service sponsorship tent. All competitors received a rider care package from The Wellington Institute, an American Express Gift Card donated by Jill Hoag of Keyes Company and a bundle of organic carrots for their horses.

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