Tag Archives: Houston Dressage Society

Houston Dressage Society Hosts CDI Small Tour Showdown

Bonnie Canter and Fifinella in the CDI2* Prix St. Georges. Photo by Susan J. Stickle.

The Houston Dressage Society’s (HDS) Texas-sized clash of the Small Tour horses at the Shoofly Farm CDI and Houston Dressage Classic I & II in Katy, Texas was a battle for the books.

Adult Amateur Bonnie Canter and professional trainers Nancy Hinz and Marta Renilla duked it out and each took home a win in the CDI2* Prix St. Georges, Intermediaire I and Intermediaire Freestyle April 27-29 at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center.

Canter led the class of 12 competitors in the April 27 CDI2* Prix St. Georges, where she and her own Fifinella GCF captured the win with a 68.824 percent followed by Hinz on Carzanola with a 67.843 percent and Renilla on Rhustler with a 66.569 percent.

It was the 8-year-old Fifinella’s first Prix St. Georges. Canter wasn’t keen to start the mare’s Small Tour career with a CDI, but she was persuaded to do so in order to support HDS and to be a part of the only CDI in the state of Texas.

“It was all my husband’s idea,” she said of her husband Doug, a member of the HDS board of directors. “But the CDI was a great experience. It was fun to watch all the talented pairs at work, particularly since many of them are good friends. We are lucky to have a super well-run show like this, with this level of competition, in our own backyard. A big thank you to HDS, Shoofly Farm and the other sponsors.”

Canter has owned Fifinella, a 15.1-hand, Connemara/Hanoverian cross (ES Fred Astair-South Ridge Bliss) since she was 2 and has trained the mare up the levels herself. In the last two years, they have won a championship at Second Level and two reserve championships at Third and Fourth Levels at the US Dressage Finals.

“I was happy with the ride and really, really proud of Fifi. Looking at the video you can always see things that you’d like to do better. She is just 8 this year so it’s the very early days for her.”

Since the mare has just started competing at PSG, they did not enter the other Small Tour classes at the Shoofly CDI. Instead they entered the Developing PSG class where the pair earned a 68.897 percent on April 29.

“I hope to nudge her up to I-1 toward the end of the year,” she said. “At this point, she needs the strength and we need to tidy up the loose ends before we move up a level.”

Small Tour Showdown Continues with Intermediaire I

On April 28, with 11 in the class, the standings changed and Renilla claimed the blue ribbon in the CDI2* Intermediaire I on Rhustler with a 68.725 percent to edge out Hinz by a quarter of a percentage point.

“Rhustler is a horse that is just getting stronger and stronger,” Renilla said of her 9-year-old American Hanoverian gelding (Rosseau-Rheporter, Royal Prince). “He’s taking longer than other horses. He can do everything Grand Prix but now he’s starting to show off his power in the small tour.”

The pair has represented Spain twice in the Nations Cup in Wellington, Florida, and in 2017, they earned a team bronze medal there. She said he got a tune-up in late March while in Florida, where she trains with Conrad Schumacher.

“I had Nations Cup and then I was able to have the clinic with Conrad,” she said. “That brought me even more feel of what I am looking for and then at the show I had a plan. Rhustler is a horse who needs his mama. When I’m on his back, the world can explode but he has mommy on top. I think when you have that partnership with your horse, it’s very special. I feel very grateful that he gives me his best every time I ride him.”

Renilla said she will continue training the Grand Prix and enter some recognized shows at that level.

“Canter pirouettes are very easy for him and canter zig-zags are a piece of cake,” she said. “He’s very talented for everything. He can do the tempis for Grand Prix effortlessly. He has big suspension and big gaits but he has to learn to get shorter and quicker behind in the piaffe. Because his gaits are so huge, he’s boing, boing. He’s a dancer. He doesn’t know how to trot average.”

Freestyle Shoot-Out

On April 29, the tables turned and Nancy Hinz edged out the others in the Intermediaire Freestyle on Carzanola, her own 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Lanola-Tuschinski, Wellington) with a 71.808 percent. Renilla took second place with a 69.933 percent.

“It was really fun,” Hinz said. “It was fun for me because it was good competition. Everybody had good rides and the numbers were close. I had been working really hard to get him ready for the PSG and I-1 and everything paid off. What I like best about that horse is, personality-wise, he is very consistent so I can count on him to do the work he knows how to do. Wherever I take him, it doesn’t matter if it’s inside or outside or noisy or quiet, he’s not reactive to the environment.”

Hinz was quick to praise the HDS for consistently putting on an organized show.

“It’s an amazing group of people. There are a good number helping out and the volunteers are just wonderful. We have some people who don’t even ride who come and learn how to be a ring steward. A mother of one of my students pitches in and she’s not really an animal person and she was happy to run tests to the judges.”

Hinz is particularly fond of the camaraderie of the other professionals at the show and she’s thankful for the support of the competitors as well as her clients. One of her junior riders, Sarah Evans, earned her USDF Bronze Medal at the show on her new horse, Winterstolz.

“She just got him in January and it was her first time competing on him,” Hinz said. “This was her first third level experience. It was just a very exciting weekend for all of us.”

Long-time show sponsor Kimberly Rathmann of Shoofly Farm also had praise for the competitors, show organizers and volunteers.

“It was a great show,” she said. “As always, it was run to perfection. The volunteers work behind the scenes to make it happen and it’s always lovely. We have a wonderful lot of great riders – people coming up to different levels and willing to try things. There’s a lot to be proud of in this group of people.”

Valentino captured blue ribbons in the Grand Prix on both April 27 and 28 with Andrew Phillips aboard.

She was quick to point out that other USDF Group Membership Organizations (GMO) in Region 9 helped contribute monetarily to the show.

“The most important thing about this show is the team of people who put it on,” she said. “They just get it done and it is better every year. We have the most wonderful group of volunteers who work tirelessly – just super-duper nice people. I appreciate HDS. They are just awesome. It’s such a joy to watch people move up and really dance with their partners. I can’t wait until next year.”

For more information, contact:
Chris Renne
President, Houston Dressage Society

Texas Takes the Titles at US Dressage Finals

Bonnie Canter and Fifinella GCF. Photos by Susan J. Stickle.

Lexington, KY – (Dec. 6, 2016) – The state of Texas was well-represented when Region 9 raked in the ribbons at the 2016 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®. Thirty-three of the region’s 35 riders attending the Finals hailed from Texas with an almost even distribution of Adult Amateurs (16) and Open riders (19).

Region 9 placed third in the US Dressage Finals Regions Cup in which the top three scoring riders of designated divisions competed on regional teams to win bragging rights for their respective USDF Region. Participants Bonnie Canter from the Houston area rode Fifinella GCF to win the championship in the Second Level Adult Amateur (AA) Finals with a 72.317 percent, Terri Sue Wensinger from the Dallas area rode Valentino in the AA Prix St. Georges Finals to earn a 65.263 percent, and Arkansas’ Amanda Bailey and Les Paul scored a 69.621 percent in the AA Training Level Finals for a total regional score of 69.067 percent.

“We were well-represented in Region 9,” said Canter, adding that it was exciting to be among some of the elite in the sport at the event held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington Nov. 10-13. “You felt like you were in the big-leagues. It was fun to see a lot of the names you read about or have seen videos of actually riding. It was nice to be in the thick of things. That was a treat for us.”

She rode her 6-year-old 15.1 hand Hanoverian/Connemara cross mare (ES Fred Astaire-South Ridge Bliss) to victory in an AA Second Level Finals class of 30 riders.

“The amateur at Second Level was pretty darned good,” she said. “I was pleased and, in general, the amateurs got better scores than the Open riders at Second Level. The winning score of Open riders at Second Level was a 70.163 percent and that score would have come in fourth in the Adult Amateur class. You can still be a good rider and be an amateur rider.”

Ashlee Watts and Hampton

Another AA rider, Ashlee Watts of College Station, Texas, also earned accolades at the Finals. She and her 8-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Hampton (Hotline-Madiganl) scored a 72.059 percent for the championship in the AA First Level Finals, although it was a bit of a rocky start to this year’s event. In 2015 when she qualified for the Finals, she arrived early and settled in. This year, her demanding job as a veterinarian specializing in equine orthopedics at Texas A&M University changed the dynamics. Her husband trailered Hamilton to Lexington and Watts flew in with time for one warm-up before the show. She hadn’t ridden in a week.

“It wasn’t quite the preparation that was ideal for either of us,” she said. On Friday, they competed in the AA Second Level Finals class to place fifth with a 68.699 percent. “He was a little too hot and spooky. As a result, I overrode the tempo and it was not a very good test.”

On Saturday, she warmed up a little more carefully and asked for a little bit less. “Whenever I enter at A, he turns it up at least 10 percent, sometimes 20 percent. When he doesn’t have time to get used to the venue, I think I really need to back off.”

Her Saturday ride was an early morning one and the temperature was in the high 20s to the low 30s – quite a change from the 90-degree temperatures in the Houston area. “He was awesome on Saturday and his normal, cocky, amazing self.”

She was impressed with the event and with the riders from her area. “The show was very exciting and very friendly with lots of nice people and a lot of really nice horses,” she said. “I think in my Second Level test there were three people from Region 9 in the Top Ten. Region 9 has become very competitive with quality horses, riders and trainers.”

Another hard-working Houston area rider, John Mason of Conroe, Texas, also dealt with a bit of equine excitement at the show. The head trainer at Tex-Over Farms rode four horses in 14 classes at the show.

“I had one horse [Adante’s Image, a 9-year-old Holsteiner/Cleveland Bay gelding by Linaro out of By the Grace of That owned by Nancy Kretschmer] that was slated to do well and the test was going really well,” he said. “He got a little exuberant and high on life and we had a small melt-down in our test. He won his Second Level warm-up test the first day with a 71.098 percent and got second in his warm-up test the second day. The first of his Finals test was absolutely spectacular and then in the canter work he just got a little bit rambunctious.”

Not only did Mason ride in 14 classes but he also brought one of his students to the National Finals.

“As always, I loved it,” he said. “Finals is our opportunity to play with the big boys and to see what the competition is like for some of the bigger shows. I enjoy it. It’s great having that level of competition and being able to be competitive against that caliber of horses. I think the difference between my eighth-place finish in the Freestyle Open on my I-1 mare [Christine Renne’s Faye, an 11-year-old Hanoverian mare by Forsyth out of Elfe] and first place was around two percentage points [Mason scored a 69.00 percent and the winner, Morgan Barrow, scored 71.708 percent on Janice Davis’ 8-year-old Oldenburg gelding, San Corazon]. To be that close to winning in a test I was really proud of – for me, that’s what it’s all about. It’s making sure I’m on the right track to be competitive with the best horses in the country.”

Another pro, Anna Whit Watkins, rode in her second National Finals. She said the Texas people took it in stride when things got tough, including when the electricity failed in the main arena due to a blown transformer.

“I was watching and Erica-West Danque was riding and she was doing her line of three tempis and the lights just went ‘poof’ and it was totally dark,” Watkins said. “It took 30 seconds or a little longer for the emergency lights to come on and she walked around for a little bit and the judge at C said, ‘Maybe you should start that line again.’ And she did.”

Watkins claimed the Reserve Championship in the Open Grand Prix on Friday night on her own Oublette, a 20-year-old KWPN gelding by Amulet out of MV Jinnardi. “I was Reserve Champion the first time I came to Finals in 2013.”

They placed fourth in the Open Grand Prix Freestyle Finals class with a 69.458 percent. She said her freestyle, created by Tigger Montague of Virginia, has been successful for she and Oublette in shows in Florida as well as in Houston. “My horse really likes the music,” Watkins said. “It’s been a blast to ride. The music really fits him and its fun. It helps that he likes his job. He’s a fine fellow.”

Watkins agrees that the US Dressage Finals is a unique opportunity. She appreciated the excitement and atmosphere of the show but was quick to say that it felt like old home week since she and her students were stabled next to fellow Region 9 riders Mason and Danque.

“When people go and get out of the region, they begin to appreciate the diversity and the amazing athletic ability that we have across the country,” she said. “When you go to the National Finals, you begin to go, ‘Oh these people are pretty good. There’s a lot of competition around here.’ It gives you perspective and it’s a fascinating place to go see people ride.”

To see the show results, go to results.horseshowoffice.com. To learn more about the Houston Dressage Society, go to houstondressagesociety.org, and like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HoustonDressageSociety.

For more information, contact:
Chris Renne
President, Houston Dressage Society

Houston Dressage Society Hosts Another Outstanding USDF Region 9 Championship Show

Isabel Gregory and Rock Star. Photos by Susan J. Stickle.

Houston, Texas – (Oct. 28, 2016) – If regional dressage championships are successful when amateurs, kids and pros shine in their Training Level to Grand Prix rides, then the Region 9 Great American Insurance Group/United States Dressage Federation Dressage Championships and Southwest Dressage Championships and HDS Autumn Classic was a huge success. Hosted by the Houston Dressage Society (HDS), the Great American Insurance Group (GAIG)/USDF Region 9 Championships and Southwest Dressage Championships (SWDC) were held at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, Texas, Oct. 6-9.

Isabel Gregory, a high school senior from Lake Highlands, Texas, rocked it when she not only placed first in every Junior/Young Rider class in which she rode 16-year-old Oldenburg mare Rock Star (Rubinstein I-Lorance), she often bested the scores of the professionals and adult amateurs (AA) in the same class. On Oct. 6, she and Rock Star claimed the blue ribbon in the FEI Prix St. Georges (PSG) with a 65.00 percent, topping the scores of the Open and AA PSG classes by more than five and a half percentage points. On Oct. 7, she upped the ante by scoring a 69.386 percent in the PSG in the SDWDC class, and on Oct. 8, she again notched a first place win with a 66.316 percent in the GAIG PSG. On Oct. 9, they finished with an amazing trifecta of an 85 percent in the USDF Dressage Equitation 14-18 Semi-Final Medal class, a 67.944 percent in the SWDC Fourth Level Test 3 class and a 73.167 percent in GAIG Fourth Level Test 3 class.

“Isabel has been riding with me for five to six years,” said her trainer Yvonne Kusserow of Rocking M Stables in Dallas, Texas. “She has a very good base. She is very fair to the horse and she listens to what I am saying. She is a good student in that, even if she is very frustrated, I wouldn’t know. You can really work with someone like that.”

Kusserow is a licensed “Pferdewirtschaftsmeisterin,” one of the few Federation Equestrian National certified trainers in Germany and America. While at the show, she was presented the eighth annual USDF Region 9 Teaching Excellence Award from The Dressage Foundation in which she will receive a $5,000 grant. The grant is for demonstrating adherence to sound dressage principles and the ability to communicate these principles so that students develop themselves and their horses in a logical, progressive and humane way up through the levels.

Yvonne Kusserow and Rusty 324
Yvonne Kusserow and Rusty 324

“I am thrilled,” she said. “We are trying to figure out now what the whole region can do to benefit from the money – maybe a clinic. We don’t know yet.”

Another product of the active HDS youth program is Andrew Phillips, now the head trainer at Shoofly Farm in Cypress, Texas. He came up through the ranks in the HDS shows and rode in his first recognized show as a 12-year-old.

“I grew up in Houston and went to my first recognized show at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center,” he said, adding that his experience with the HDS has come full-circle. “Now, I’m in my first year as head trainer at Shoofly and doing well. The show was a great way to cap off my year. It couldn’t have gone better.”

In fact, Phillips had a great show. On Oct. 6, he and Kimberly Rathmann’s Valentino, a 14-year-old KWPN gelding (OO Seven-Nilzefonda), earned a 70.526 percent for the blue ribbon in the SWDC Intermediaire I Open and on Oct. 8, the pair earned another first place in the GAIG FEI Prix St. Georges Open with a 70.132 percent. On Oct. 9, they again claimed the blue with a 68.816 percent in the GAIG Intermediaire I Open. Phillips also notched a first place finish on Youke of High Meadow Farm, Rathmann’s 9-year-old Friesian gelding (Anton 343-Geartsje Fan’t Feidfjild), in the Prix St. George-Open, and two first place finishes in Third Level Test 3 on Empire, a 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Jazz-Kadette) also owned by Rathmann.

Another professional, Christy Raisbeck, had an outstanding show on Herslev Mark’s Mister B, also known as “Bodi,” a 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (Michellino-Herslev Mark’s Candy) owned by her client, Gon Stevens. Raisbeck’s Freestyle Farm is just 20 min away from the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Fulshear, Texas. Bodi is the third horse she has brought up to Grand Prix.

“We bought him four years ago from Sharon McCusker for Gon to ride,” she said. “Two years ago, Gon gave me the ride on him to focus on training him to Grand Prix. We showed I-2 last year and qualified for [the U.S. Dressage Finals in] Kentucky, and did the same this year at Grand Prix.”

Raisbeck and Bodi rode in four Grand Prix tests over the four days of the show, which she said sounds like a lot, but he settled more with each ride now that he understands that the show ground is an OK place to be. In fact, as the competition continued, their Grand Prix scores rose steadily from a 60.10 percent to a 62.50 percent and a 64.10 percent, and then a final score of 62.5650 percent to net two Grand Prix blue ribbons in the Open classes in the HDS Autumn Classic, one Reserve Championship in the GAIG/USDF Region 9 Grand Prix, and one fourth place in the Southwest Dressage Championships.

“Bodi has a super talent for piaffe and passage,” she said. “He has big expressive changes and nice pirouettes, which are only hindered by me getting ahead of myself in the test. My hopes for the future are for Bodi to get stronger and more confident, and for me to settle down to ride the test more methodically at the show like I do at home!”

Raisbeck had nothing but praise for the show and the Houston Dressage Society. The event not only featured four full days of competition, but a Saturday night gala with a fun “Duck Toss” to raise money for the youth riders, a barn basket silent auction, a scavenger hunt and the camaraderie of friends.

“HDS does an amazing job organizing the shows,” Raisbeck said. “Leslie Rohrer is the HDS president and show chair, and she and her super army of volunteers works tirelessly to pull off great shows all year, culminating in the championships. Judge Sandy Hotz told me that the judges love to come to the shows here, and think Great Southwest is a top-notch facility.”

To see the show results, go to showsecretary.com/rs.asp?Show_ID=605. To learn more about the Houston Dressage Society, go to houstondressagesociety.org and like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HoustonDressageSociety.

For more information, contact:
Leslie Rohrer
President, Houston Dressage Society
(713) 523-0448

Fun-Filled Houston Dressage Society CDI2* Welcome Respite for the Waterlogged

Taylor Rowsey and Poulidon. Photos by Susan J. Stickle.

Houston, Texas – May 19, 2016 – As the Texas floodwaters rose, the last thing young dressage professional Taylor Rowsey of Pattison, Texas was concerned about was the upcoming dressage show in nearby Katy. She was moving horses out of the flooded barn and into an uninhabited equestrian facility that was for sale until 2 a.m. just days before the competition. The arena was underwater and the weekend’s Shoofly Farm CDI2* and Houston Dressage Spring Classic I and II were low on her priority list. When the horses were safe in a total of four friends’ barns, the water abated and the arena began to partially dry out three days before the start of the April show put on by the Houston Dressage Society (HDS), Rowsey thought that perhaps a chance to reconnect with friends in a change of venue at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy would be just the thing to lift her spirits.

“I went there as a stress reliever and to be with my friends,” she said. “Everyone was super supportive. It was so great. I really feel like we are all comrades and I feel like you can’t find this camaraderie anywhere else. It was good to be around people who were so supportive. We went in thinking, ‘Let’s not worry about doing well. Let’s just go in and have fun.'”

And they did. The Houston Dressage Society has a reputation for putting on a well-run show with a festive atmosphere in a top-notch venue and, in their first CDI2* show, they did not disappoint.

“They always have a great time and great volunteers,” Rowsey said. “Everybody is involved.”

Not only are the HDS shows known for their attention to detail, their supportive show staff and a cadre of helpful volunteers, they are renowned for their Friday night competitors’ party. This show featured a “Rode to Rio” theme with a nod toward the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August. Colorful competition included stall decorating and hat contests. CDI title sponsor Shoofly Farm won the stall decorating contest by fashioning Olympic rings made from Houston Dressage Society ribbon rosettes. The Carmen Miranda-themed hat contest channeled the Portuguese/Brazilian samba singer, dancer and actress known for her extravagant hats and the contest winner’s topper was true to the flamboyant namesake. Angel Gunn, the Vice-President of HDS and a Houston radiologist, won with a chapeau heaped with mounds of fruit and three strings of flashing lights.

“It’s a creation, isn’t it?” she said of her hat, adding that it probably weighed between seven to 10 pounds. Created by her hairdresser, Michael Soliz of Houston, the hat was a repurposed Barbie Dream Car creation stripped of its car and doll and bedecked with produce. Soliz designs hats for some of Houston’s elite partygoers and he lent his long-time client the topper for the competitor’s party.

HDS volunteer and special events chairperson Patty Sutton came up with the ideas for the annual spring show.

“I wasn’t so sure how it was going to turn out after the severe flooding in the area but the show seemed to put everyone back in the feeling of ‘normalcy’ and we could all share our stories and commiserate,” Sutton said. “The theme ‘Rode to Rio’ was an easy one to come up with, considering the Olympics are right around the corner. In addition, I knew the theme would be a lot of fun to work with, with the beautiful and colorful visuals of Carnival and Brazil! I am pretty sure that some of the young riders had to Google Carmen Miranda, but that makes it all the better!

They served Brazilian food along with the national cocktail of Brazil, the Caipirinha, which was purported to be a big hit, and they played Brazilian music, including some songs by Miranda herself. But beyond the fun and frivolity, there is a serious side to the show and the Houston Dressage Society strives to offer a quality show experience to competitors, their horses and the spectators.

“The show is run really well,” Rowsey said. “I think HDS puts on a fantastic CDI. It gives more attention to this region and that we are serious about this business of dressage. We have quality horses and riders here.”

And although Rowsey said she wasn’t concerned about doing well, she and her 19-year-old Royal Dutch Warmblood gelding Poulidon earned the top score in the FEI Intermediaire I Open class and claimed the blue ribbon with a 65.965 percent in their first ever CDI.

Carlos Maldonado Lara and Bronce Lam
Carlos Maldonado Lara and Bronce Lam

Another first for the Houston area was the addition of the first FEI Children’s division classes offered in the United States, the CDICH classes. One rider, Emma Claire Stephens, had the honor of being the first CDICH rider in the U.S. The full complement of young CDI riders included one CDIP (Pony) rider, Esme Grimshaw, seven CDIJ (Junior) riders, Jessica Fan, Abigail Fleischli, Madison Lacy, Carlos Maldonado Lara (on two horses), Fiona Patterson and Madeleine Ramon, and two CDIY (Young Riders), Kalie Beckers and Allison Cyprus. The depth of classes offered to these young competitors is unparalleled in CDIs in this country and the classes help provide a pipeline and support for Region 9’s youngest competitors to help them defend their 2015 NAJYRC Junior Team Bronze Medal at the 2016 competition in Colorado this summer.

Another successful competitor, Anartz Chanca, named the show’s CDI Amateur Leading Athlete and a resident of Tomball, Texas, agreed that HDS shows are a boon to the area. “It’s so exciting to have an international level show here in Texas,” he said.

Chanca is a Spanish national married to dressage professional Marta Renilla, based out of nearby The Woodlands. After going off course the first day of competition aboard his own 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding Campione in the FEI Prix St. Georges and enduring lots of good-natured teasing, Chanca got to work.

“I rode the course in my head about 150 times,” he said. “Everybody was joking asking me if I knew the course and it was kind of funny. But I didn’t go off course the second day and when I heard the Spanish anthem being played, it was very exciting.”

After the second place finish the first day of the show, Chanca and Campione came back to notch a blue-ribbon win in the FEI Intermediaire I with a 65.833 percent and then claimed first in the I-I Freestyle with a 67.208 percent.

“It’s hard work,” he said, adding that after an eight-hour day at work, he comes home and spends time with his two children and then rides − often not finishing until 10 p.m. “It’s not so easy but we love it. We are crazy about it.”

His plans for the future involve possibly moving up to the Grand Prix level as his horse has his tempis in place. Chanca knows that he can count on HDS to help him in his efforts to make it to the top. “We are so lucky to have the Houston Dressage Society,” he said. “They put tremendous effort into area dressage by having really great clinicians like Conrad Schumacher for us and the shows they organize.”

Rowsey agreed.

“This brought people together and it’s just not about competition and winning,” she said. “It was great to see everybody and to be around people who understand what you are going through and how hard it is. It was stress free and a good time. My goal was just to go and enjoy it and to have fun. It made me smile all weekend and cry happy tears. I’m so very thankful and I appreciate all of them.

To learn more about the Houston Dressage Society, click here.

For more information, contact:

Leslie Rohrer
President, Houston Dressage Society
(713) 523-0448

Region 9 Dressage Championships and Southwest Dressage Championships a Spicy Texas Sensation

Christy Raisbeck and Herslev Mark’s Mister B captured the GAIG Reserve Championship in the Intermediaire II. Photos by Susan J. Stickle.

Katy, Texas – Oct. 15, 2015 – The Houston Dressage Society (HDS) developed the perfect recipe for a successful show. They started with a generous helping of professional riders, well-seasoned. Then, they stirred in a heaping helping of enthusiastic adult amateurs to spice up the energy. They added Junior and Young Riders to freshen the mix and blended in talented horses at all levels. They allowed this mixture to marinate for four days from Oct. 8-11, taking extra care to not spill the mixture onto white breeches. They served it up at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, Texas with some Texas-style hospitality and just a little bit of heat to create the 2015 Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 9 Dressage Championships and Southwest Dressage Championships (SWDC) and HDS Autumn Classic, a blending of flavors suitable for any palate.

Take Lyndon Rife, a well-seasoned professional dressage rider based out of Pilot Point, Texas. Rife and his Team LTR brought 15 horses south from the Dallas area to compete in classes from Training Level to Grand Prix.

“A picture may be worth a thousand words, but I feel sure that a thousand words are nowhere near enough to describe the efforts and events of Team LTR at the Region 9 Championships,” he said.

As a top chef, Rife claimed a rainbow of ribbons at the show. He and Jago, a 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding owned by Tamara McGowen, captured the GAIG Intermediaire II Championship with a 63.816 percent and the SWDC Intermediaire II Reserve Championship with a 63.684 percent. Rife took over the ride on the gelding four years ago when he was at Fourth Level. The horse was for sale at the show and Rife purchased him from his owner immediately after.

He and Dannah, a 13-year-old Danish Warmblood mare owned by Mary Beth Henderson, claimed the GAIG Fourth Level Test Three Open Championship with a 70.889 percent. All in all, Rife and the students and trainers of Team LTR will be taking five horses to the U.S. Dressage Finals Nov. 5-8 in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Everyone works together and it seems like the more they work together, they like to work together,” he said.

In order to prepare for the finals, Team LTR gets back to their roots.

“After the show, we start working all over again,” he added. “We start with the basics. Horses going in a double bridle, we work in a snaffle. We ride them in the field and then start working them back up for the horse show.”

Another salty pro, Christy Raisbeck of her own Freestyle Farm in Fulshear, Texas, qualified four horses for the U.S. Dressage Finals, but she will not be making the 20-hour trip to Kentucky.

She and Donnertanz, a 16-year-old Oldenberg gelding owned by Linda Middleton, took the SWDC FEI Freestyle Championship with a 69.182 percent, placed third in the SWDC Intermediaire 1 with a 66.250 percent, and placed in the GAIG I-1 Freestyle with a 68.5 percent.

“Tanzi has a very high opinion of himself and thinks there’s nothing he can’t do,” she said. “I wanted to see how many two-tempis he could do a couple of weeks ago, and had to stop when we got to 50!”

Raisbeck was pleased with Herslev Mark’s Mister B, a 12-year-old Danish gelding owned by Gon Stevens. He pulled off four tests at the highest levels in four days and was the SWDC Champion at Intermediaire II and the GAIG Reserve Champion at Intermediaire II.

Roberto, a 10-year-old PRE stallion owned by Alicia Boutan, qualified for the Third Level and Third Freestyle championships, both GAIG and SWDC. The music for the freestyle comes from the Game of Thrones.

She’s had Fernando, her own 10-year-old Zweibrucker gelding, for five years. He spent the first half of 2015 in R&R, focusing on re-growing his hoof after a complete resection.

“He was in work and fit enough to try showing him last month,” she said. “This weekend, he was the SWDC Fourth level Champion, the SWDC Fourth Level Freestyle Reserve Champion, and he placed in the GAIG Fourth Level Freestyle championship with a 70.417 percent.”

Ashlee Watts and Hampton are heading to the U.S. Dressage Finals after clinching the GAIG Training Level Test 3 title
Ashlee Watts and Hampton are heading to the U.S. Dressage Finals after clinching the GAIG Training Level Test 3 title

Ashlee Watts, an equine orthopedic surgeon at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, added a touch of green to the recipe. She started riding dressage in early 2011 after growing up riding Western pleasure, equitation and junior jumper disciplines. Her hectic work schedule makes it hard for her to squeeze in lessons, but trainers Sarah Denham of Denali Sporthorses and Nancy Hinz of Yellow Rose Dressage work with her to accommodate her busy life. She said that Denham sometimes comes to her house at 9 p.m. to give a lesson.

Watts and Hampton, her 7-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, claimed the Championship in GAIG Training Level Test 3 in a field of 26 with a 74.886 percent and placed first in the SWDC First Level Test 3 with a 76.705 percent in a field of 23. They will be heading to Lexington in November.

“Dressage appeals to me for so many reasons but I think the main thing is that dressage is good for the horse,” she said. “It is all about education and improving the horse’s life, which is my professional goal. There is obviously a clear parallel. My mission in life is to make the horse happier and better and healthier, and dressage does that perfectly.”

Texan Cecelia Cox added depth to the recipe, as she may be an Adult Amateur but she’s no Dressage Finals newbie. She and Donabella, a 9-year-old Trakehner/Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Shelly Schoenfeld, competed at finals in 2013 and then in 2014, she and her own Winnie Too, a 12-year-old American Warmblood mare, competed in Kentucky. This year, she qualified both horses for finals. Cox won the GAIG Fourth Level Test 3 Adult Amateur Championship with a 67.500 percent on Winnie and the GAIG Third Freestyle Open Championship with a 68.337 percent on Donabella.

Bella’s freestyle music is a Simon and Garfunkel compilation. Cox said she always wanted to go down centerline to “Cecilia,” and freestyle designer Cynthia Collins made her wish come true.

Cox, who lives in Leon Springs, Texas, will take both horses to Kentucky, which is, as celebrity chef Martha Stewart would say, a good thing since the two horses are inseparable.

“They talk to each other,” Cox said. “They nicker to each other. When they are turned out in paddocks next to each other, they graze side-by-side. They enjoy each other’s company. If one is one the trailer, the other just runs up onto the trailer. I’m really happy that they have travel companions.”

Although Young Rider Allison Cyprus is also a veteran Dressage Finals competitor, she added a youthful bouquet to the mix. The 17-year-old senior at Magnolia High School in Magnolia, Texas bested pros with outstanding scores on her own Madoc Gareth, an 11-year-old Welsh Cob. They captured a Championship title in the GAIG Prix St. Georges Open in a field of 18 with a 70.724 percent. They also won the Reserve Championship in the GAIG Fourth Level Test 3 Open with a 70.056 percent in a field of 12 and the GAIG Fourth Level Freestyle Open Championship with a 77.333 percent.

“I ride a Welsh Cob and they normally don’t have a lot of elasticity,” she said. “During the warm-up, he came into such a good spot. I felt his back break loose and I’ve never felt it like that before. It was a really exciting ride. The whole test was just brilliant. I never felt like I had to fix or tweak anything and we were totally as one. It was one of those rides where I could just relax and enjoy it.”

The last day was their freestyle, which she said is her favorite class.

“I love the music,” she said. “It’s super dramatic. It’s very bold yet upbeat. It’s pop but one of my friends said it’s like an action movie. It has a big build-up to all of the movements and extensions. He gets pumped up with the music.”

Cyprus, who trains with Nancy Hinz, will be taking Madoc Gareth to Kentucky.

As a sweet finish to the show, the Houston Dressage Society named Ed Lavalee and Inez Campbell co-winners of the Horse Person of the Year award for their efforts at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships. Becky Brown received the Teaching Excellence Award.

For the icing on the cake, the competitors sang the praises of the HDS volunteers and the facility. Rife said the volunteers were well trained and helpful. Watts said the show was well organized and she also praised the volunteers.

“They make you feel welcome and like a winner,” she said. “During the banquet there was an awards ceremony and I got to ride in it, which was super fun because it was my first awards ceremony ever in dressage.”

Raisbeck was impressed with the work of the Houston Dressage Society since it was sugar and spice and everything nice.

“President Leslie Rohrer and her board and show volunteers work extremely hard to keep the show running smoothly,” she said. “And the Great Southwest Equestrian Center is a perfect venue.”

Cyprus enjoyed how the show blended together.

“The warm-up stewards were awesome,” she said. “Everything flowed nicely. One thing that was super big for me was the awards ceremony. They did such an amazing job of getting everyone to their spot on time. And the ground crew was amazing. We couldn’t do it without the volunteers and the ground crew at the show. We have to thank them for everything they do.”

To see the results from 2015 Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 9 Dressage Championships and Southwest Dressage Championships (SWDC) and HDS Autumn Classic, click here. Like Houston Dressage Society’s Facebook page here. To learn more about the Houston Dressage Society, click here.

For more information, contact:
Name: Leslie Rohrer
Title: President, Houston Dressage Society
Phone: (713) 523-0448
Email address: president@houstondressagesociety.org

Announcing 2012 London Paralympic Qualifier: Houston Dressage Society 2012 Spring Classic CPEDI3*

Houston, TX – January 24, 2012 – As the 2012 London Paralympics approach, the opportunity to qualify individually as a para-equestrian dressage rider is down to just six months. Before time runs out para-equestrians should consider adding to their schedule the Houston Dressage Society 2012 Spring Classic CPEDI3* scheduled for April 26-29 in Katy, TX. The Houston Dressage Society (HDS) has masterfully planned to produce an impressive CPEDI3* event at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center. From the remarkable facilities to the carefully executed show schedule, the HDS is looking forward to hosting many international level para-equestrian dressage riders.

As President of HDS and the Recognized Show Chair, Kathy Jones is thrilled to showcase Texas hospitality.  She noted, “I am delighted to offer the para-equestrian dressage riders one last chance to qualify for the 2012 London Paralympics.  In early 2011, para-equestrian dressage rider Jonathan Wentz of North Texas Equestrian Center approached our team to produce a CPEDI3*. Within an instant I knew that a competition that has this caliber of horses and F.E.I. athletes would fit right in with our goals as a dressage society. With the help of North Texas Equestrian Center and Kai Handt this show has been made possible.”

Continue reading Announcing 2012 London Paralympic Qualifier: Houston Dressage Society 2012 Spring Classic CPEDI3*