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Laura Graves and Verdades Second Place at FEI World Cup Dressage Final

Laura Graves and Verdades. Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Paris, France – With the FEI World Cup Dressage Final title on the line, Laura Graves and Verdades defended their 2017 second-place finish with a personal record score Saturday evening in the Freestyle to Music in Paris. Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and the 16-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Curt Maes finished on a score of 89.082 percent, just behind the reigning World Cup Final champion Isabell Werth (GER). Werth and Weihegold OLD scored a 90.657 percent, while Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Unee BB finished third on a score of 83.725 percent.

“I am very proud,” said Graves. “It feels like first place, and the horse won’t know the difference, that’s for sure. Now I have a little homework in my book bag and we will take that back and be prepared for the next time… I have to pay respect to my horse because without these top horses who want to do the job for us, who want to learn, who allow us to learn with them, none of this would be possible.”

The atmosphere was electric as first Graves, and then Werth, put on a show for the ecstatic French crowd. Chasing the title, both of these powerful, yet poised athletes, gave it their best and turned out performances aimed at contesting the FEI World Cup record of 94.300 percent set by Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) and Valegro in 2014. In the end, it was Werth who came out on top, but Graves had much to be proud of. “Today, we are second,” she said. “But still a big personal best for us.”

The Olympic bronze medalist began developing this particular freestyle test back in December 2017 to her previous music. The program was designed to be very competitive, difficult, and technical. The test included four pirouettes – two full double pirouettes and two that were a pirouette and a half. The combination performed its first full left piaffe pirouette into the full right piaffe pirouette in Saturday’s Freestyle.

“He was super today,” continued Graves. “I was really pleased with the half-passes and keeping clean in all the changes. He really felt super rideable through the whole thing. We changed the music and I haven’t ridden to it since. We have added a second piaffe pirouette down the centerline. I was really proud of him doing the pirouette both ways and directly into the right pirouette. For me, that was really a highlight.”

Fellow American Shelly Francis (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Danilo, Patricia Stempel’s 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding, performed a freestyle to an acapella accompaniment, finishing 12th on a score of 74.189 percent. When asked about her first FEI World Cup Dressage experience, Francis replied, “It feels good. I feel like we redeemed ourselves a little bit from yesterday, so that is good. He really felt very good. He is really trying and likes his music, so it’s awesome.”

Complete Results

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Werth Reigns Supreme to Become a Four-Time Champion

Photo: Isabell Werth with Weihegold. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

America’s Laura Graves chases her right to the line

In a dramatic conclusion to an extraordinary battle between two mighty forces, Germany’s Isabell Werth (48) posted a back-to-back victory at the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final 2018 in Paris, France.

America’s Laura Graves (30) and Verdades put all the pressure on the defending champion when pinning her into runner-up spot in the Grand Prix, so in this deciding Freestyle Werth had it all to do to put that behind her and come back out fighting. But with her trademark steely determination, the phenomenal athlete produced a pristine performance to see off the challenge and lift the coveted trophy for the fourth time in her incredible career.

It was right down to the wire, however, and she knew that the slightest error was out of the question when second-last to go. Graves had already posted a massive score of 89.082 which, the US rider admitted, surprised even her. “I knew anything was possible. I knew it would take a score like that to possibly get a win and it was a huge personal best for me!” Graves said.

However, Werth mustered all the skill and experience of a lifetime to squeeze her rival out of pole position with the winning mark of 90.657. She described the Grand Prix defeat as “motivating“, and simply used it to spur herself on to better things with the help of team coach and manager, Monica Theodorescu. “Like I said yesterday, I was not really disappointed or sad; I was just thinking about how I had to prepare for today and how I had to make it better and analyse what went wrong. So Monica and I, we decided to go in the big warm-up arena today, to bring her (Weihegold) forward and to make her free again, and that worked, and today she was the horse I wanted to show yesterday.”

“This is life; a lot of people think it’s easy; you win and you win again, but it’s not like that. You have to think about it all the time and keep listening to your horse. Yesterday was not our day, but today we could solve it. And this is what I really like to do, and that’s the reason why I love to compete!” — Isabell Werth (GER)

The result was another reminder of the continuing resurgence of the German Dressage powerhouse, with Werth’s compatriots Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (Unee BB) and Dorothee Schneider (Sammy Davis Jr) slotting into third and fifth places. Von Bredow-Werndl’s success was at the expense of Sweden’s Patrik Kittel who, as always, had the crowd right behind him when producing another one of his toe-tapping performances with Deja but who just missed a place on the podium when having to settle for fourth.

Graves threw down something of a challenge at the press conference. “I never practice my Freestyle as much as my other tests, so I think now I have a bit of homework to do and I think there are many more points to be earned in the future,” she said, so she is clearly marking Werth’s card for the next time they meet.

However, the lady taking centre stage was one of the great role models in the sport whose accomplishments are so many they may never be matched. Werth is taking great satisfaction from her fourth FEI World Cup™ Dressage title, not just because it’s another success but because of the way she achieved it.

“To have experience is an advantage if you use it in the right way, and I think we did that from yesterday to today,” she said. “After a lot of years in the sport you know how many things can happen, how things can change very quickly. It gives you the confidence to go in the ring and to try your best – you know what your horse can do and you know what you can do. This was just a great day today!” said the happy German star.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Laura Graves and Verdades Win FEI Grand Prix at FEI World Cup Dressage Final

Laura Graves and Verdades. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Graves and Francis advance to FEI Grand Prix Freestyle

Paris, France – In their triumphant return to the FEI World Cup Dressage Final, Laura Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and Verdades claimed victory in the FEI Grand Prix to open the competition. On a grand prix personal best score of 81.413 percent, the powerful combination rode the centerline with poise and grace, showing the world that they arrived to compete. Germany’s Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD placed second with a score of 78.261 percent, while Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (GER) and Unee BB came in third on a 75.668 percent.

“I am very happy with the performance,” said Graves. “It was our first time in this stadium with fans and it is going to be very exciting tomorrow. Everything is special. This is our third World Cup now, and I am hoping maybe third time is the charm for us. Today is actually Friday the 13th, isn’t it? That’s supposed to be bad luck, but not for us. So, a lot of special things. This is a big year for us. It is our first World Cup Final in Europe and a personal best today, so I am very excited going into tomorrow, and the rest of this year.”

Coming straight from competing in Florida, Graves and Verdades, the 16-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Curt Maes, were undefeated at the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival, scoring over 80 percent in all the freestyle tests in which they entered. At the 2017 CHIO Aachen, Graves and Verdades bested Werth for the first time in the FEI Grand Prix Special with an 81.824 percent, making Friday’s FEI Grand Prix at the Finals their second win over the talented German athlete.

“I always say it is a little scary with such a fierce competitor, because I know [Isabell] is going to ride even harder tomorrow,” continued Graves. “But that’s why I’m here. I like to put myself in a situation to also be challenged. I think it makes me a better competitor, a better rider, and we will certainly continue to put ourselves against the toughest competition.”

The 17 riders receiving scores above 60 percent in the Grand Prix will move forward to compete in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle, which will determine the champion of the 2018 FEI World Cup Dressage Final.

Fellow American Shelly Francis (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Danilo, Patricia Stempel’s 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding, finished the Grand Prix with a score of 68.236 percent. They will be the first combination down the centerline in the Freestyle.

Complete results.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Graves and Francis Primed to Compete for US in 2018 FEI World Cup Dressage Final

Laura Graves and Verdades. Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Paris, France – Two strong dressage combinations will represent the U.S. in the 2018 FEI World Cup Dressage Final at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France, April 13 and 14. Coming off high scores at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), both Laura Graves and Shelly Francis, and their horses, are prepared and ready to compete.

Meet the Athletes

Olympic bronze medalist Laura Graves (Geneva, Fla.) will look to defend her FEI World Cup Dressage Final second-place finish in 2017. She and Verdades, a 16-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Curt Maes, were undefeated in their showing at the 2018 AGDF. The combination topped the leaderboard in the Grand Prix CDI-W and Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W during week three, the Grand Prix CDI5* and Grand Prix Freestyle CDI5* during week five, and the Grand Prix CDI-W and Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W during week eight. Earning one of their highest scores ever, an 84.975 percent in the CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle, Graves and Verdades are hoping to squeeze every point they can out of their tests in Paris.

“Omaha was an especially important event for us,” said Graves. “It is always terrific to ride in your home country, but this is my third World Cup [Final], and we’re here in Paris and honestly, just as excited. Hopefully, we are better than last year; hopefully we are better than we were yesterday. That is always our goal. It is also the first time [Isabell Werth] and I will be head-to-head since Aachen last year, where we were able to come out on top in the grand prix special. A lot of top competitors are here from other countries. We are certainly going to give it our best shot.”

Graves and Verdades were a valuable combination in The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team’s silver-medal finish and gold-medal finish in the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ Germany, at CHIO Aachen, and the FEI Dressage Nations Cup The Netherlands, respectively, in 2017.

Shelly Francis (Loxahatchee, Fla.) will show at her first FEI World Cup Dressage Final with Danilo, Patricia Stempel’s 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding. The combination placed second in the Grand Prix CDI-W and Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W during week one of the 2018 AGDF. Francis and Danilo placed second in the CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle during week three of the 2018 AGDF with a 77.72 percent, earning Danilo’s highest freestyle score ever. The combination then posted a personal best score for their grand prix special test of 73.979 percent when they won the Grand Prix Special CDI4* during week 10 of the 2018 AGDF, then placed second in the Grand Prix CDI4*.

Although a new face to the Final, Francis is a veteran and skilled competitor, selected as the traveling reserve with Doktor for the U.S. Olympic Dressage Team for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, as well as with Pikant in 1996 for the Atlanta Olympic Games and in 1998 for the WEG in Rome.

Competition Information

Competition for the Final begins Friday with the FEI Grand Prix at 9:30 a.m. EST. Saturday’s FEI Grand Prix Freestyle begins at 8:00 a.m. EST, with its results determining the FEI World Cup Dressage Champion. Watch the live stream on FEI TV.

View more information about the 2018 FEI World Cup Dressage Final.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Arredondo Dressage Society to Host Horses Helping Horses Benefit for Horse Protection Assoc. of Fl.

Peter Atkins, one of the clinicians for this year’s Horses Helping Horses Benefit for the Horse Protection Association of Florida. (Photo courtesy of Samantha Clark)

Newberry, Florida (April 9, 2018) – The Arredondo Dressage Society will host the 9th annual Horses Helping Horses benefit on Saturday April 21st at the Canterbury Equestrian Showplace in Newberry, Florida. Several of the region’s most talented dressage instructors will they donate their time and skills to perform a benefit clinic for Horse Protection Association of Florida (HPAF).  The Dressage Society website lists the clinicians, ride times and instructions for bidding on the clinics: www.arredondodressage.org.

The day is a day all about horses, and a day to raise awareness about equine rescues and sanctuaries and the lifesaving work they do year-round to care for the at-risk horses in their communities who have often been abused or neglected.  “Horses are majestic, loving animals, and we encourage our local and loyal supporters will come out so that we can continue our lifesaving efforts for years to come,” explains, Karen Curran the volunteer coordinator for the event.

To support this cause, Arredondo Dressage Society will sponsor events throughout the day.  The clinics offer riders and spectators a chance to see actual dressage training and work. The event will take place rain or shine in the Canterbury Showplace covered arena. In addition, the Arredondo Dressage Society will sponsor bake sales, used tack sale and raffles throughout the day. Equine companies such as Vita Flex, Triple Crown Feed, Omega Alpha, Transformer Equine and others have donated raffles prizes to support the cause.  The clinics offer rider and spectators a chance to see actual dressage training and work.  In addition, Arredondo Dressage Society has an online auction on its website, which will be finalized at the 5:00 pm Wine and Cheese Reception, with a live auction and bidding and a wine tasting sponsored by PRP Wines.

The Horse Protection Association of Florida (HPAF) staff will showcase some of the rescued animals and demonstrate some Parelli work with these horses, and they will be on-hand to answer questions and to educate the public about the work being done on behalf of the equines of Florida.

The following day, Sunday, April 22nd, Arredondo Dressage will sponsor a Schooling Show at the Canterbury Equestrian Showplace.  Interested riders can sign up on its website.

Horse enthusiasts are invited to come for a fun day and support a most worthy cause and the schooling show on Sunday is also open to the public.

For more information, contact Karen Curran, Volunteer Coordinator, at 561-542-4448 or email her at kcurranlaw@aol.com.

www.arredondodressage.org

Little Holds Lead Heading into FEI CIC 3* Cross-Country at The Fork

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous. ©ShannonBrinkmanPhotography.

Tryon, NC USA – April 6, 2018 – Marilyn Little (USA) and RF Scandalous were uncatchable on the second day of dressage competition at The Fork at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) and FEI World Equestrian Games™ Eventing Test Event (WEG), remaining in first place position and heading into the cross-country phase with 24.2 penalties. Second place was captured by Kimberly Severson (USA) and Cooley Cross Border on a score of 24.5, while Phillip Dutton (USA) and I’m Sew Ready held a tight grip on the third place position with a 26.4. The FEI CIC 3* competition continues April 7 on the White Oak Course, and concludes on April 8 with show jumping in the George H. Morris Arena.

Little reflected that her strategy for cross-country largely depends on how the 2005 Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold x Lario) reacts in the warm-up.

“I got to see the course yesterday and there are so many fly fences. I’m sure plenty will make the time, and I’m just not sure this is the event to push her. I’m working on rideability and control and it would be easy for the horses to get going out there because [Captain Mark Phillips] is using so many portables. So, we’ll have to see how she warms up. I just rode her down there and back and she’s been pretty calm, so it’s nice to see that she’s changed a lot in a year. We’ll just see how she feels.”

Little has been recovering from a broken foot injury that occurred last November, but wasted no time getting back in the tack just two weeks post the start of the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival, where she went on to compete successfully throughout the course of the circuit. “Initially, when I injured it, they thought I had just broken a lot of bones,” Little explained. “It wasn’t until January that they found there was more damage to the soft tissue. At that point we were getting quite close, so I thought I would try to see if it would heal, and I decided to keep riding and heading in this direction.”

Kimberly Severson of Charlottesville, VA and the Cross Syndicate-owned 2007 Irish Sport Horse gelding, Cooley Cross Border (Diamond Roller x Whos Diaz), snuck into second place after putting in a solid day two dressage test. Severson commented, “He was very good today. I missed both of my flying changes – this has been quite a thing with him and me – but he’s a really good boy and does a good job, and he tries really hard. I am most happy with his rhythm and frame, but we still have little things to fix, like everybody.”

Severson, who has represented the United States at four FEI World Equestrian Games™, commented on the venue in regard to its purposes come September. “I think there’s a lot of room in there [George Morris Arena]. It’s obviously going to feel a little bit smaller with the seating full, but I actually went all the way to the outside and it feels a lot roomier than it has certainly in a number of other WEG locations.”

As she plans a strategy for her run on the cross-country course, Severson also has Kentucky in mind. Much of her goal will be focused on a smooth water ride. She joked, “You mean don’t fall off in the water?! No, I think he’s good. We did two little water schools in the past weeks. He’ll either be really good for it or worse for it, but I actually think he’ll do much better. That’s how I’m going to plan to ride it – the whole thing.”

The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Bronze Medalist Phillip Dutton moved down one spot from second place standing, but will still enter the cross-country phase in the top three rankings, aboard I’m Sew Ready, the 2004 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Lupicor x Jarda), owned by Kristine and John Norton.

“I was pleased with my tests, but like Kim said, there’s a lot to improve on,” said Dutton. “I haven’t run them a lot, so it is good to see where your training is at and what you’ve got to work on. The cross-country course I think is nice and not overly taxing, which I like at this time of year. The ground’s a bit firm, but I think they’re holding off watering because of the rain coming and I think that ultimately the footing’s going to be really good.”

Dutton is riding a total of three horses across the FEI CIC 3* track, and noted, “[I’m Sew Ready] wouldn’t be the easiest horse I’ve ever had to ride, but we’re just working on getting him reaching in his neck and not being tight in his back. You have to kind of be patient in the warm-up because he doesn’t give you the greatest feel in the beginning, and a lot of times in the past I’ve reacted to that and tried to fix him too quickly, so a long warm-up is good for him because over time he just loosens up anyway. He’s a very quiet horse, so that’s just kind of him. So, I was pleased with yesterday, and had him more forward than I’ve had him and we started to lose a little bit of power at the trot, but otherwise it was good.”

Like his cohorts, Dutton is here in preparation for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018. “I feel that horses go better once they’ve been to an event at least once,” he said, “and you see this a lot at Championships where a brand new course causes a lot of trouble and rides much better the next year. So I think there’s definitely an advantage to being here, and that’s one of the reasons I sent my entry in!”

Please visit www.Tryon2018.com or follow @Tryon2018 on social media for more information.

Little Fights to Preserve Winning Title at The Fork FEI CIC 3*

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous. ©ShannonBrinkmanPhotography.

Tryon, NC USA – April 5, 2018 – Marilyn Little (USA) and RF Scandalous sit atop the leaderboard in the FEI CIC 3* division at The Fork at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), receiving 24.2 penalties on the first day of dressage competition during the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG) Eventing Test Event. Phillip Dutton (USA) and I’m Sew Ready currently hold second with a 26.4, while Jordan Linstedt (USA) and Revitavet Capato round out the top three on a 26.7.

For the second year in a row, Little and the 2005 Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold x Lario) claimed the top spot during the first day of dressage at The Fork, as they strive to maintain their winning record at the event since its relocation to TIEC last year, as they head into their second phase on Saturday. While their position is the same now as it was last year, Little acknowledged that her partner is a much different horse.

“I think RF Scandalous is much more mature than she was a year ago. She went in there today and had some of the best canter work she’s ever done. I was really pleased with her changes. She was perfect. She’s a dream!”

After a graceful start for the duo this spring, Little hopes to go at a more consistent pace throughout the month, keeping “Kitty” active and her fitness level intact as The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event approaches later this month. “This is her final competitive run before Kentucky,” said Little. “I was really thrilled with her today, given that she is incredibly fit right now. My plan was to get her as fit as I could by this time, and then be able to back off a little bit in April and fine tune some things, so she’s coming into this event right where I’d like her to be.”

Thirty-six horse-and-rider combinations will contest the track on Saturday, designed by Course Designer Captain Mark Phillips, who is also responsible for course design at the WEG later this year. Little will strategically map her intentions for her run after she walks the course and confirms a plan for the pair.

“Last year we had a mixed bag of success,” she continued. “The Fork was wonderful for us; that was a great event. I came back in the fall for AECs and that didn’t go so well for me, so there are some things that I would like to accomplish out there.”

Little also plans to use The Fork to prepare the mare, owned by Jacqueline Mars, Robin Parsky, and Michael Manders, for possible WEG contention. “I think it’s a very important prep event for a lot of reasons,” she explained.

“The management and the staff are really allowing the riders to train for WEG here. Not only do we get to keep an eye on things and see where things are going, but everyone has been very sensitive to the horses and the fact that the next time they come in this ring, it will be for that. You saw that today in the amount of time they gave us around the arena before we started the test. I thought that was very kind, and I thought the horses were able to truly settle.”

Eventers from across North America arrived to test the waters at the venue this week, many taking their turn in the George H. Morris Arena on Thursday in anticipation of the prestigious events to come. “Of course, if there are people that couldn’t get here, there are plenty of opportunities to come to the other shows during the summer and I’m sure that we’ll see people taking advantage of that because it’s such a fantastic opportunity for us to have that chance,” concluded Little.

Later in the afternoon, Lynn Symansky of Middleburg, VA and Under Suspection posted the lead in the Advanced-A division with a score of 25.70, while Symansky reigned supreme once more on Donner, claiming the second place position with 28.20 penalties. Boyd Martin of Cochranville, PA and Kyra rounded out the top three on a 28.90.

Will Coleman of The Plains, VA and Obos O’Reilly currently sit in first place in the Advanced-B division on a 24.50, while Lauren Kieffer of Middleburg, VA and Veronica earned a 26.10 to stand in second. Leslie Law of Ocala, FL and The Apprentice follow in third with a score of 27.00.

Please visit www.Tryon2018.com or follow @Tryon2018 on social media for more information.

Is Anyone Betting on the Boys This Time Around?

Photo: Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD. (FEI/Jim Hollander)

Defending champion, Germany’s Isabell Werth, may be clear favourite to reclaim the title with her fabulous mare Weihegold, but as the lady herself so often says, “with horses you just never know what’s going to happen!” and there isn’t an equine expert in the world who will argue with that.

A total of 18 combinations from 12 nations will be strutting their stuff at the AccorHotels Arena when the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2018 Final kicks off in the heart of the City of Lights on 11 April. The final start-list shows a single change, as Australia’s Mary Hanna has withdrawn with Calanta and is replaced by Great Britain’s Hayley Watson-Greaves and Rubins Nite. This means that four countries, Great Britain, Netherlands, Sweden and USA, will field two riders each, but Germany continues to have the largest representation as Werth is joined by Dorothee Schneider riding Sammy Davis Jr., and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl with Unee BB, giving their country a very strong hand. Making waves as the very first rider from the Philippines to qualify for the Final will be 26-year-old former model, Ellesse Jordan Tzinberg, whose captivating back-story includes a determined recovery from a life-threatening accident, and who is likely to attract plenty of attention throughout the week.

In the history of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage series, which is celebrating its 33rd Final, only four men have ever claimed the coveted title.

First was Germany’s Sven Rothenberger with Andiamo in 1990, and it would be another 19 years before America’s Steffen Peters followed suit with Ravel in 2009. Edward Gal and the amazing stallion, Totilas, were champions in 2010 and then his Dutch counterpart, Hans Peter Minderhoud, came out on top with Glock’s Flirt in 2016.

Otherwise, the ladies have been the dominant force, and the most dominant of all was the incredible Anky van Grunsven who posted nine victories over an extraordinary 13-year period between 1995 and 2008, a record unlikely ever to be challenged. To a large extent she is responsible for bringing the sport to the level of popularity it enjoys today, as she championed the early development of Dressage Freestyle to Music which has become so popular with audiences all around the world over the intervening years.

Watching horses “dance” to the rhythm of their Freestyle musical score is quite an experience, the sense of symmetry and the depth of understanding between man and horse is spine-tingling stuff. Edward Gal and Totilas were one of those mesmerising partnerships that left audiences with goose-bumps during their relatively short, but hugely successful, career together, and the Dutchman, the only previous male FEI World Cup™ Dressage champion in contention this time around, brings another really exciting horse to Paris next week, Glock’s Zonik whose extravagant movement has been delighting spectators throughout the winter season.

At 27 years of age Denmark’s Daniel Bachmann Andersen will be one of the youngest competitors at the Final, earning his place with three great performances from the stallion, Blue Hors Zack. And although Britain’s Emile Faurie just squeezed into a qualifying spot after having to withdraw at the last leg in ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED), he has been showing tremendous form with Delatio who shot to centre-stage when runner-up behind Sweden’s Patrik Kittel at Olympia in London (GBR) in December.

Kittel of course is a master show-stealer. If you want to easily understand the appeal of Freestyle Dressage then he’s your “go to” rider right now, as his gift for combining crisp, quality choreography with the most toe-tapping music is second to none. And his unbounded enthusiasm is, quite simply, infectious. It was no surprise when he galloped to the top of the Western European League table this season, and he brings the brilliant Deja to Paris in a few days’ time where the host nation will be represented by Rio Olympians Ludovic Henry and After You.

Girl-power will be out in force, but while the boys will be fewer in number they won’t be overwhelmed.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Yvonne Losos de Muñiz Rounds Out AGDF with ‘Spectacular’ Personal Best

Yvonne Losos de Muñiz and Aquamarijn.

Wellington, FL — March 31, 2018 — The Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muñiz left her best performance with her own Aquamarijn to their last test, pulling off a 71.596% victory in the Grand Prix Special CDI3*, presented by Grand Prix Services. It was the final class on the last day of the 12-week 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) held at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.

Their score was a personal best for the pair in any CDI grand prix — including freestyle — and was also the 13-year-old Dutch mare’s first ever international win.

“It’s a lovely, sweet ending to the season that the last anthem is the Dominican one; I thought that was kind of cool,” beamed the 50-year-old. “My other grand prix horse Foco Loco is doing amazingly and he’s the powerhouse — he’s everything I always thought he was — but Aquamarijn is turning out to be 10 times what I thought she was ever going to be.”

Losos de Muñiz found the mare, who is by United out of a Gribaldi mare, through Kathy Priest in Denmark two years ago while on a shopping trip for a client.

“I thought she’d just be a really nice, compact grand prix horse, though I did feel that there was a little extra in there,” she said. “But she’s turning out to be absolutely spectacular. I’m only riding her at 50% or 60% in the ring; I can get more at home, yet I’m not doing it in there yet because she’s such a big character that she has to really trust me and stay with me — and today she did.”

This was the fifth win of a whirlwind 2018 AGDF season for the Dominican rider, who gave up dressage completely after a controversial decision by the FEI in 2012 which meant she could not participate in the London Olympics. This year she is back on the championship path, and flies to Europe next week with both of her grand prix horses. Foco Loco W is headed for the FEI World Cup Final in Paris in April, while she has been invited to compete at Aachen CHIO in Germany with Aquamarijn.

Losos de Muñiz attributes her upward trajectory with the mare to going back to basics.

“During the Wellington season we’re showing so much that there’s really no training time to go home and do the basics,” she explained. “I started trick-riding in there and that caught up with me. When we do a big prize-giving, it takes me three days to calm Aquamarijn down — she doesn’t want to walk after that. So I wasn’t getting the ‘throughness’ — I was having to be a bit rougher, a bit quicker, and that’s not the smooth, nice image that we want.

“Since the last show, I went home and, with Ton de Ridder, went back to basics, teaching Aquamarijn to wait and listen,” she continued. “Today we didn’t aim for spectacular. We just went for correctness, but once she gives me that correctness, I’m able to ask for spectacular, which I could do at times today.”

Both her top horses are qualified for the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina in September. After Aachen they will head to Asturias, northern Spain, where both horses’ training and preparation will include trips to the beach.

It was American rider Katherine Bateson Chandler — another who divides her time between Florida and Europe — who came closest to Losos de Muñiz. Bateson Chandler’s score was trending higher, but a costly mistake at the end of the two-time changes meant the final score was a smidge lower, at 71.234%. Aside from in the freestyle, this was Jane Forbes Clark’s Contango gelding’s first plus-70% score at the 2018 AGDF, and he looked full of energy. The winner of the grand prix, Canada’s Megan Lane, filled the third podium spot, with 68.021% on Deer Ridge Equestrian’s Zodiac MW, by Rousseau.

Melissa Taylor capped an impressive final flourish to her and Ansgar’s busy AGDF 2018 season by proving unbeatable at small tour. They won the Intermediate I Freestyle CDI3*, presented by Yellow Bird Farm, to land their third win of this CDI.

“I’m so excited; I don’t even know what words I can say. I’m thrilled with the horse; he was extremely tired today, but he really tried for me,” said Taylor of Nicole Polaski’s gelding by Special D, who scored 71.833%. “I was not expecting to win; I had mistakes in there and was a little late in some of the changes, so I didn’t think I’d make it three in a row. When I did win I was really excited, and my owner is elated.”

What has been the key to the pair’s ever-improving performances in 2018?

“Ansgar became more relaxed in that show ring,” explained Taylor, who found the concentration of CDI shows at the AGDF hugely helpful for the horse’s training. “It’s a very intense ring, but he’s finally starting to trust me. I also read the judges’ comments from the earlier tests — and I take those very seriously — so I knew I had to work on getting a more relaxed look, which for him is hard because he is so hot. It also helped that some good competitors didn’t show up this weekend — in fact I even called Jennifer [Baumert] and thanked her for not showing with Handsome!”

Taylor, who is married to Olympian Lars Petersen, is based in Florida year-round and plans to work on the grand prix movements with the 13-year-old over the summer.

“I’m sad the shows at Global are over, but Ansgar showed me some nice passage this past week, so I’d love to see if I can get the piaffe in him,” she said. “He’s already got the one-tempis so that’s not an issue, but getting him to wait for 15 piaffe steps; I’m not sure yet that I can keep that consistent. Hopefully we’ll qualify for the national championships in Lamplight in August of this year, while focusing on grand prix at home and, if I feel I have the grand prix stuff, then we’ll campaign him at that level next year.”

This concludes action in week 12 of the AGDF — the final week of the 2018 circuit. The circuit returns in January 2019. For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.

Records Tumble as Lyle and Salvino Blaze to Freestyle Gold in Final Week of AGDF

Adrienne Lyle and Salvino. Photo © SusanJStickle.com.

Wellington, FL — March 30, 2018 — Every single one of the top four combinations in the FEI Nations Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle CDIO3*, presented by Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center, posted a personal best. But it was the last rider down the center line during “Friday Night Stars” under the floodlights that took the gold medal: home rider Adrienne Lyle produced a breathtaking test on Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Juliano’s 11-year-old stallion, Salvino, in the 12th and final week of the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.

They scored 81.75% to take the gold — the first time Lyle has ever surpassed the 80% mark. She led an all-female, all-American podium, flanked by Sabine Schut-Kery (silver with 78.145% on Sanceo) and Olivia LaGoy-Weltz (bronze on Lonoir with 77.385%).

They scored 81.75% to take the gold — the first time Lyle has ever surpassed the 80% mark. She led an all-female, all-American podium, flanked by Sabine Schut-Kery (silver with 78.145% on Sanceo) and Olivia LaGoy-Weltz (bronze on Lonoir with 77.385%).

“Everyone dreams of that 80% and I’m so proud of the feeling he gave me in there,” said Lyle, from Idaho, who was riding to a freestyle put together for her former top horse, Wizard, while she creates a new one with Terry Gallo. “I’m so blessed to have him. He’s getting a lot stronger and I can keep the power and the uphill balance — and I have the most amazing coach in the world in Debbie McDonald. This was just a wonderful night.

“The new freestyle will have a higher degree of difficulty; we’ve been using this new FEI system, and it will have a significantly higher degree of difficulty. We’re also using powerful and empowering music to showcase his power and gracefulness.”

The silver medalist Sabine Schut-Kery has exploded onto the grand prix scene with the stunning Sanceo — another stallion, this one a 12-year-old by San Remo belonging to Alice Womble. This was the duo’s second freestyle at the level and they smashed their previous score by more than 4%.

“We’re just starting out this year and I couldn’t be any more pleased or happier,” said the German-born rider. “I’m so happy coming here and riding tonight under the lights and pulling off that score. He’s really talented in the piaffe and passage.”

Of her score, she added: “You do your best, but you never know what the judges are thinking and the score is always a surprise! I’m just hoping now to be in the top eight to go to Europe and get him stronger and more experienced.”

Olivia LaGoy-Weltz, the bronze medal winner, rode her horse Lonoir in this same Nations Cup freestyle competition at AGDF last year but had a tough round and scored 68.8%. This year they had no such issues, upping their score by around 9%.

“He was very wild last year,” said LaGoy-Weltz of her own 14-year-old son of De Noir. “We were epically airborne for most of the test and I wanted to curl up in a paper bag and have a glass of wine afterwards. Tonight I was really happy with Lono. This week I’ve pushed for a bit more and yesterday it didn’t quite go to plan, but tonight it did. He’s a hot strong tamale and there’s so much in there; it’s just a question of me getting the recipe right — every single time.”

Judge at C, Gary Rockwell, was impressed with the quality he saw: “This is exciting,” he said. “I’ve not seen Sanceo since the Pan Ams, and I’ve never seen him do a grand prix — he’s amazing and definitely going in the right direction. I’ve never seen Olivia’s horse so engaged and then Adrienne just knocked me out — it’s all positive for this year.”

On behalf of sponsor Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center, Arlene ‘Tuny’ Page of Stillpoint Farm said: “This is a huge collaboration with the management and it really does take a village to make it all happen; we have incredible support in the community. And what’s great is that the kids at Vinceremos feel the same way about their riding as we do.”

The three chestnut horses who carried their riders to the podium in the Intermediate I Freestyle CDIO3*, presented by Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center, looked remarkably similar; in particular the top two, who were both sired by Furst Piccolo. Emerging with the gold medal — and undefeated in all three of his tests this week — was the 24-year-old Spaniard Pablo Gomez Molina on the Yeguada de Ymas’s Furst Fiorano Ymas.

“We’ve had this horse just over a year and his first CDI was the Nations Cup here in 2017,” said Gomez Molina, who was riding the flashy 11-year-old for his employers and scored 72.325%. “We know each other pretty well now and with each show we’re improving more and more. He’s a really big horse and we have some trouble keeping him high in the frame, but I’ve been working with my trainer Juan Matute and in the past three months that’s been going really well.”

The plan for the whole Yeguada de Ymas team is to decamp to Europe at the end of April.

“I have two horses I hope to do under-25s with this season, but that’s a big step up from small tour and we want to make sure we are ready,” added Gomez Molina. “If we are, then that’s what we’ll do. Fiorano is really flashy in the extended trot and nice in the tempis, too, but we had a little mistake today. The whole team has been working a lot and competing a lot in this festival — for the past four years. It’s amazing to win gold.”

Kelly Layne picked up the silver medal on her own Furst Piccolo son, the 12-year-old Furst Amante, with 70.275%. Her Australian compatriot Nicholas Fyffe scooped bronze to add to team bronze earlier in the week — the nation’s first ever dressage Nations Cup medals.

Layne said: “We call Furst Amante ‘The Bouncing Ball’ as he’s got springs in his feet, which is really an incredible feeling. He has amazing suspension and cadence, which is really fun for me to ride. I’ve been riding him for two years, and it’s not always been easy, so I was very happy he was with me in the test. I had two little blonde moments — I think I was a little heat affected — and I wondered where my music was going. But I think Amante quite enjoyed it.”

Fyffe, who rode Hitchcock into bronze, is giving the 14-year-old His Highness gelding competitive miles before his owner Louise Cote takes over.

“I actually didn’t realize I was in a medal position today and that the small tour classes were awarded them too, so to come out with a second medal, I am really thrilled,” said Fyffe, who scored 68.425%. “Hitchcock isn’t young, but he’s inexperienced. He used to feel like the lion from Wizard of Oz — no courage — but he’s developing it, and it’s been a really fun process with him.”

Individual medals were awarded in the under-25 Grand Prix Freestyle CDIO, presented by Diamante Farms, with gold — for the third time this week — being hung around the neck of Spain’s 20-year-old charm bomb Juan Matute Guimon. He was unassailable on his father Juan F Matute’s 15-year-old Don Diego Ymas, riding a very bold test to a score of 75.458%. It was the 20-year-old rider’s final CDI test of the 25 he has ridden at this year’s AGDF. His freestyle ended with two-time changes into one-times and a final halt, close to the judge at C, Portugal’s Carlos Lopes (who awarded a meaty 78.75%, and the pair’s highest score).

“The highlight of any freestyle is that the rider gets to choose lines that best fit the horse and show off your creativity,” said Matute Guimon, who will fly to Europe next month for a tilt at a place on the Spanish FEI World Equestrian Games team. “I’m really happy with the way the season wrapped up. And I know I shouldn’t talk in a test, but I said to Don Diego, ‘Come on buddy, here we go’. And I was thinking that it was my last center line in Wellington until I come back next year.

“With any championship format when you’re competing three days in a row, horses get tired,” he added. “But Don Diego and I know each other very well and that experience really helps as he knew exactly what I was asking for. He has taught me everything since I was a junior rider back in 2012.”

Last to go in the class, Kerrigan Gluch (USA), pulled off her best performance to date with new partner Bolero CXLVIII, a former ride of Spanish Olympian Jose Daniel Martin Dockx. She scored 70.833% — the pair’s first plus-70% — to clinch the silver medal on Hampton Green Farm’s 14-year-old PRE stallion.

“The horse is very new to me still,” said Gluch, 21, who was riding to an old freestyle originally made by Marlene Whitaker for ‘Danny’ Dockx and his Rio Olympics horse, Grandioso. “I’ve only been competing Bolero for two months and this was our second freestyle. He’s so honest; he never says no, which makes riding any test that much more enjoyable — and his heart is really good and you don’t always find that.”

The bronze went to Spain’s Rodrigo Encinas Fuentes, who piloted his trainer Cesar Parra’s 16-year-old Obelisk gelding Van The Man. This was only the rider’s third ever freestyle. He was riding to a soundtrack put together for the horse by Parra, which — appropriately — has paso doble in it.

“It was made for the horse, which helps a lot,” said Encinas Fuentes, 22, who is hoping to compete in Europe this summer. “Sometimes it’s difficult as it was made for Cesar rather than me, but I love riding to it; it makes me feel great.”

Rio Olympic team bronze medalist Kasey Perry-Glass continued her stellar comeback with Goerklintgaards Dublet, after giving Diane Perry’s 15-year-old Diamond Hit gelding an eight-month break. They made it two wins from two starts this week by taking the Grand Prix Freestyle CDI3*, presented by Harmony Sporthorses, with an emphatic 76.125% — the unanimous winner from all five judges in a field of 15 riders.

Adrienne Lyle (USA) filled second on the inexperienced Horizon (74.2%), while the Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos De Muñiz finished third on Foco Loco with 73.8%. However, she turned the yellow sash into a blue one when she rode Kathy Priest’s Fredensdals Zig Zag to the top spot in the Intermediate I CDI1*, scoring 70.441%. Only Losos De Muñiz and second-placed Nora Batchelder (USA) broke the 70% barrier in this class of 13.

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