Tag Archives: John Zopatti

Zopatti and Uwannabeme WH Win Two National Championship Titles at AHA Sport Horse Nationals

John Zopatti and National Champion partner, Uwannabeme WH (Photo courtesy of Bob Tarr).

Pinehurst, NC (September 29, 2015) – USDF Gold Medalist John Zopatti and KWPN-Half Arabian gelding Uwannabeme WH had lofty goals for the 2015 competition season. Their hard work and clever planning culminated in two national championship titles at the 2015 AHA Sport Horse National Arabian & Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show. Zopatti and Uwannabeme WH won both the Second and Third Level Championship for Arabians, Half-Arabians, and Anglo-Arabians at the Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. Horse Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Zopatti, a four-time Gold Coast Dressage Association Trainer of the Year, began working with the talented gelding in February 2015. Over the summer, Uwannabeme WH, or “Slim” as he is affectionately called, went into full training at Zopatti’s summer base – Gavilan Farm in Hoffman, North Carolina. Slim’s owner, Loxahatchee, Florida native Johnny Robb, thought the horse would benefit from training in the same area where the Sport Horse Nationals would be held.

Robb also competed with Slim at the 2015 Sport Horse National Arabian & Half-Arabian Championship Show. The pair spent some time bonding in the in-hand division, where Robb and Slim earned a top-ten finish in the Half-Arabian/Anglo-Arabian Sport Horse Geldings In-Hand Dressage Type Amateur to Handle Championship class.

Despite the hubbub of a national championship competition, Slim set about handling his business like the champion he is. Zopatti was proud with Slim’s performance over the course of the competition, particularly in the Third Level class where the horse gave an accurate and submissive performance, scoring an impressive 75.513% to best the class of 25 horses. “The same confidence that he shows at home, he is starting to bring to the horse show now,” said Zopatti.

“This was my first year at the Arabian Nationals. It was quite a different experience going to these Sport Horse Nationals,” said Zopatti. “The prizes that they give you – the statues and the ribbons – are really cool. They laid the roses across his withers and they have these ribbons that went from his head to the ground. I have to say, it was a really great experience.”

Earlier this year, Zopatti was named National Champion in the Open Dressage Show Hack division at the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association (IAHLA) National Championships, which was his first breed show championship. He bested the field of sixteen riders aboard Johnny Robb’s Zerbino Interagro, a twelve-year-old Lusitano gelding. Proving himself a talented rider for dressage horses of all breeds, Zopatti is becoming accustomed to winning the roses. “This was the year of breed shows for me,” Zopatti exclaims. “I had never done one before in my life. It is quite a different experience to have all different disciplines simultaneously competing at the show.”

At the 2015 Arabian Sport Horse Nationals, Slim caught the eye of spectators with his extravagant movement, causing many people to ask Robb and Zopatti about the horse’s breeding. Slim is out of a Dutch Warmblood mare and sired by the renowned Arabian stallion, Baske Afire. “We would say he was a Dutch-cross, but many people thought that meant he was a Dutch Harness horse. By the end of the horse show, I learned to say Dutch Warmblood cross,” said Zopatti.

Slim is now enjoying a well-deserved vacation in the paddock. After his rest, he will be getting back to training. “His real strength is in the FEI work,” commented Zopatti, who hopes to continue to develop the horse’s confidence and possibly begin showing the Prix St. Georges and small tour dressage in the 2016 show season in Wellington, Florida. “He is already scoring in the 70s at Fourth Level and showing real promise for all the FEI level movements,” Zopatti added.

To learn more about John Zopatti, visit www.johnzopatti.com or call 561-722-7555.

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Zerbino Interagro Proves Talent and Temperament at IALHA National Championships

Zerbino Interagro with rider John Zopatti (right) and handler Gary Yeager (left) (Photos courtesy of JRPR)

Lexington, VA (September 18, 2015) – Lusitano gelding Zerbino Interagro proved his breed’s athleticism, talent, and versatility in a variety of classes at the recent International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association (IALHA) National Championship Show in Lexington, Virginia. The 12-year-old gelding, owned by Johnny Robb and bred by top Brazilian breeder Interagro Lusitanos, excelled in dressage, dressage hack, show hack, halter, and leadline classes.

“It shows a lot about the disposition of the Interagro-bred horses,” Robb said. “They’re bred to be talented sport horses but, most excitedly, they’re bred with a disposition that is second to none. This horse proves it over and over and over again.”

Zerbino and North Carolina-based dressage rider John Zopatti won the National Championship title in the Andalusian/Lusitano Dressage Hack Open. The horse also won the Best Movement medal and placed in the Top Five in the Andalusian/Lusitano Senior Geldings 4 Years and Over class with Gary Yeager handling. In the USDF Dressage Sport Horse Prospects in-hand class, Yeager and Zerbino earned a 70.6000 percent.

As a tribute to the horse’s winning disposition, Zerbino and Yeager’s six-year-old son Ethan won in the Exhibition Leadline Class Riders 8 Years Old and Under class. It was the young Yeager’s first time competing, and Robb said the youngster was ecstatic with his win.

Ethan Yeager aboard Zerbino
Ethan Yeager aboard Zerbino

When Robb took the reins, she ran the horse in a halter class and placed in the Top Five in the National Championship Andalusian/Lusitano Geldings All Ages – Amateur to Handle class. The pair also placed in the Top Five in the Andalusian/Lusitano Show Hack Amateur class, and won the Reserve National Dressage Championship in both the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Freestyle.

“Interagro specifically breeds for performance and disposition, and he shows that,” Robb proudly said of Zerbino. “He is a different horse in the Grand Prix with me than he is with a leadline class with six-year-old Ethan. He really does the full gamut, from being a very up horse and doing his job at the highest levels, and then becoming a kind schoolmaster for the very youngest rider.”

As a former die-hard Warmblood fan, Robb said she never expected to fall in love with her gray Lusitano – but he quickly won her over. “If anybody told me five years ago I would be riding Lusitanos, owning several Lusitanos, and going to the IALHA Nationals, I would have said, ‘You need to get a new crystal ball!’ But, indeed, they would have been right, and it’s such a joy,” she stated.

Robb not only thanks Peter van Borst of Interagro Lusitanos for introducing her to Zerbino, she also lists a team of trainers, vets and other professionals for helping her along the way. “It really takes a village,” she said. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with three excellent trainers in Kerensa Muller, John Zopatti, and Jaime Amian. I also have to give credit to Zerbino Interagro’s farrier Jim Crew. I’m also thankful to Laura King, the eminent hypnotherapist, who really helped me overcome some of the issues that were in my subconscious. In addition, the Knopp family invited me to train for the summer at IDA Farm in Wellington. Having the covered riding arenas and all the world class amenities including a TheraPlate and Horse Gym treadmill –really helped our fitness and socially it was so much fun there”.

Robb said that her bond with Zerbino, whom she calls ‘Zill’ (short for ‘Zillionaire’), is strong. “Having a horse like this, with a heart like this, and with the ability and training he has, makes me feel like I’m a zillionaire, too,” she said.

Robb has a word of caution for anyone interested in Lusitano horses, and especially those bred by Interagro. “My advice to anyone who starts with these horses is to beware,” she said. “They’re kind of like potato chips. You can’t just have one.”

Interagro is the largest breeder of Lusitano horses in the world, with 40 years of experience breeding Lusitanos. Interagro Lusitanos is committed to preserving the pure bloodlines of the Lusitano breed, and producing star horses like Zerbino Interagro. Interagros own bloodlines include some of the most respected of the breed: Faraó (JHC), Nirvana Interagro, Ofensor (MV), Xique-Xique (CI), and Yacht (SA). Lusitanos from the Brazilian farm have excelled in top world show rings and have graced the covers of international magazines over twenty times. Interagro is one of the most accessible and respected breeders in the world. To learn more, visit www.interagro.com.br.

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John Zopatti and Zerbino Interagro Win Dressage Hack National Championship

John Zopatti on Zerbino Interagro, with owner Johnny Robb (Photo courtesy of Rob Hess Photography)

Lexington, Virginia (September 4, 2015) – Grand Prix dressage rider John Zopatti and Zerbino Interagro, owned by Johnny Robb of Wellington, Florida, claimed an unexpected victory at the 2015 International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association (IALHA) National Championships on August 25-30 at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Virginia. The pair entered the Dressage Open Hack class, where sixteen riders vied for the judges’ attention and the championship title. It was Zopatti and Zerbino, a twelve-year-old Lusitano gelding, who claimed the 2015 IALHA National Champion Show Hack crown – in their first time ever entering a Hack class.

“It was quite different,” Zopatti explained. “It was a coliseum with bleacher seating all the way around and a giant judges’ booth set up in the middle with computers, tabulators, and announcers. The judges watched you go around and around as a group on the rail.”

With no prior show preparation as a team (Zerbino was training the Grand Prix with his owner in Wellington, Florida, while Zopatti of Pinehurst, North Carolina was summering at Will Faudree’s Gavilan Farm in Hoffman, NC), they took a chance in entering the class. Zopatti said it was the first time he had ever competed in a catch ride type of situation, and so he was pleased add the National Championship title to his already impressive resume.

The USDF Gold Medalist and four-time Gold Coast Dressage Association Trainer of the Year was also successful a few days before, when he showed Robb’s gelding Uwannabeme WH, a KWPN/Arabian cross, at the August 25 IALHA Virginia Open Dressage Show, also held at the Virginia Horse Center.

Zopatti used the IALHA Virginia Open Dressage Show as an opportunity to prepare Uwannabeme WH – lovingly known as “Slim” – for the Arabian Sport Horse National Championships to be held on September 15-20. Uwannabeme and Zopatti are qualified in dressage for Second, Third, and Fourth Levels at the championships, so the pair competed at Second and Third Levels at the IALHA show.

“The Virginia Horse Center is a very similar venue to the Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. Horse Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina, which is where the Sport Horse Nationals will be held,” Zopatti said. “It was great to take Slim to a venue and simulate what’s going to be happening in a month. At the show there were screaming babies, screaming stallions, beautiful mares, carriages and all kinds of mayhem going on. He got an eyeful and an earful! By the last day, he was pretty well relaxed.”

With Uwannabeme WH and Zerbino Interagro, Zopatti showed that he can ride a variety of horses across disciplines and emerge on top. Zopatti rode Uwannabeme to a 65.854 percent for the win in Second Level Test Three, and tied with the winner to place second place in Third Level Test Three with score of 67.949 percent. The pair seems to be well on the way to success at the Arabian Sport Horse Nationals.

“I’m not just a one trick pony,” Zopatti laughed.

To learn more about John Zopatti’s news, events, and sale horses, go to www.johnzopatti.com.

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John Zopatti Claims Third Level High Score at Raleigh Summer Dressage I & II

John Zopatti and Uwannabeme WH (Photo courtesy of John Zopatti)

Raleigh, NC (August 4, 2015) – USDF Gold Medalist John Zopatti rounded off yet another successful dressage show with KWPN-Half Arabian gelding Uwannabeme WH at the Raleigh Summer Dressage I & II competitions at the end of July, held at the Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. Horse Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina. The pair captured two wins, placing first in the Third Level Test 3 with a score of 66.154 percent and again the following day in the Third Level Test 2 with a score of 66.282 percent.

Zopatti said he is especially proud of how Uwannabeme WH, known affectionately as “Slim,” has matured emotionally over the past few months. During the pair’s performance in Raleigh, the horse displayed increasing trust and confidence in his rider. Zopatti and Uwannabeme are currently preparing for the Arabian Horse Association’s 2015 Sport Horse Nationals, which will be held this September at the same location as the Raleigh Summer Dressage I & II shows.

“We went to the show in Raleigh because I wanted to get him familiar with the show grounds, thinking he might be more relaxed if he got a chance to look around before the actual championships,” said Zopatti, who began working with Slim, owned by Johnny Robb of Loxahatchee, Florida, in February 2015.

The four-time Gold Coast Dressage Association Trainer of the Year said that he is very happy with how Slim’s training has been progressing. “We are getting a lot more relaxed with some really good training in the warm-ups. Now I’m just trying to go to enough shows that we can transfer the training from the warm-up ring to the show ring,” he explained.

Slim had never competed at this venue before, and was startled by the surrounding stadium seating that quickly filled with buzzing spectators. “When Slim got in there and saw the people circling around his head, he got really afraid – so much so that I had a hard time even getting him down the centerline. But by the end of the test he had relaxed and realized that the people were not there to hurt him.” Despite this setback, Zopatti and Slim recovered quickly and delivered a winning performance when they re-entered the ring.

“The Third Level Test 2 was exactly an hour after that first test. I gave Slim a ten minute warm-up and marched him back into that arena that he was so afraid of an hour before, and he was so relaxed,” said Zopatti. In that test, he and Uwannabeme WH won high score in Third Level. “It just showed me that he actually does think and he does trust me enough that when I say, ‘It’s okay; we can go back in and give it another shot,’ he does it.”

Zopatti and Uwannabeme will show once more before the Sport Horse National, at Cool Down Dressage 2015 near their summer facility in Pinehurst, North Carolina (Zopatti operates out of Blue Marlin Farms in Wellington, Florida in the winters). “There is a weekend show in town at the Pinehurst Harness Track the weekend before Nationals, so I’m going to hit that as a warm up and make adjustments there and use it as a preparation for Nationals,” he said.

To learn more about John Zopatti, visit www.johnzopatti.com or call 561-722-7555.

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For John Zopatti and Uwannabeme WH, Summertime Blues Is Just a Ribbon Color

John Zopatti praises Uwannabeme WH (“Slim”) after winning Fourth Level test one at the Pinehurst Harness Track in Pinehurst, North Carolina (Photo courtesy of Michael Pritchett Photography)

Pinehurst, NC (June 26, 2015) – USDF Gold Medalist John Zopatti and KWPN-Half Arabian gelding Uwannabeme WH delivered another winning performance this week at the Summertime Blues Dressage Show, held at the Pinehurst Harness Track in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Although this was only the pair’s fourth show together and their first time competing as a duo in the fourth level, they took home the title of champion with a 70 percent. Zopatti and Uwannabeme also placed high in all three third-level classes, ranging between 70.758 and 67.949 percent for additional first, second, and third place wins.

Zopatti, who has been named Gold Coast Dressage Association Trainer of the Year four times, began working with Uwannabeme – or “Slim,” as he is lovingly known around the barn – in February 2015. The gelding is continually proving his talent and willingness to perform, and is quickly gaining confidence in Zopatti. Six weeks ago, the Grand Prix trainer brought Slim – who is owned by Johnny Robb of Loxahatchee, Florida – to Gavilan Farm in Hoffman, North Carolina for summer training.

“For a horse that was originally nervous and tense, Slim is starting to relax and taking the good rides that we have at home and reproducing them at the shows,” said Zopatti, who is based in Wellington, Florida over the winter season and Pinehurst, North Carolina during the summer.

“Slim has his own acre paddock with a run-in shed and a beautiful facility, basically like a horse playland,” added Zopatti, who believes that a truly successful training program is centered on keeping his horses comfortable and happy.

Zopatti, too, is happy about spending the summer with Uwannabeme WH. “He is such a smart animal, and so sensitive, that I really have to think about every single thing I do with him,” he explained. “That’s actually what I most enjoy about riding Slim – I think it makes me a much better rider to have to slow down, take time, and really figure out what works – not just for the riding, but even the handling, and every other aspect of his life.”

Currently, Zopatti is focused on developing a freestyle test for his next show with Slim, where he also hopes to continue advancing in more fourth level tests. “Our next show is in about a month, and it will be at the Pinehurst Harness Track (the same facility that hosted Summertime Blues), which is just a mile away from my summer home. It’s a great facility, and it’s nice to have it right in my back yard,” he added.

To learn more about John Zopatti, visit www.johnzopatti.com or call 561-722-7555.

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John Zopatti and Fabio Qualify for the USDF Region 3 Dressage Championships

John Zopatti aboard his Oldenburg gelding Fabio. (Photo Courtesy Of Michael Pritchett Photography)

Pinehurst, NC (August 15, 2014) – And the summer wins continue in Pinehurst, NC, with John Zopatti and Fabio at the Early Morning Blues dressage show, August 9-10. Dressage judge Debbie Rodriguez placed the pair first in the FEI Open Grand Prix Freestyle division with a score of 69.125% over Lynn Leath and her Hanoverian d’Artagnan with a score of 68.000%. Fabio is an 18-year-old Oldenburg gelding, by West Coast out of a Thoroughbred mare, owned by Kristy Truebenbach Lund. Fabio has been ridden and trained by Zopatti his entire life.

Zopatti, a USDF Gold medalist, was again thrilled with Fabio’s performance. “We tried to make it a little bit more difficult than we had done in previous shows,” he said. “We tried to add in a few more changes, then some changes on bending lines, and but I think overall he was pretty steady. And for an 18-year-old horse, he just went out and did his job. At this age it’s basically just trying to keep him fit and happy in his job. So far he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.”

Zopatti’s goal for the show was to receive a qualifying score for the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 3 Dressage Championships, which are set to be held during the Classic Autumn Challenge at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, October 16-19, 2014. Thanks to his win at the Early Morning Blues show, Zopatti qualified with Fabio well before the end of the qualifying season, which ends on September 22.

So far, eight other riders have qualified for the regional championships for the Grand Prix Freestyle division along with Zopatti. At this point, if they all attend the regional championships, Zopatti could find himself competing against Elizabeth Campbell and Royal Diamant, Janne Rumbough and Junior, Matthew McLaughlin and Cooper V, Shelley Van Den Neste and Rodeo, Lynnettte Wadsworth and Wietze G, Susan Dutta and Currency DC, Mikala Gundersen and My Lady, and Franziska Seidl and Sigalia. Other riders may yet still qualify for Grand Prix Freestyle.

Until then, Zopatti’s summer of working with clients in Pinehurst and teaching dressage clinics in various states will continue. “The weather, besides the rain, has been a bit cooler than normal, and it has given me a nice opportunity to continue the training with a few of the horses I brought up from Florida, and I am enjoying my new clients in North Carolina,” he said.

For over a decade, Zopatti has taught clinics year-round in Southern Pines, NC filled with both Dressage and eventing Clients. However, his clinic schedule recently took him to Rehoboth, MA at the end of July. He will soon hit Austin, TX to teach a three-day clinic organized by Grace Harris of Waterloo Dressage, starting on August 20. He will also give another clinic in Massachusetts before he heads home to Wellington on October 1 in preparation for the USDF Region 3 championship show.

To learn more about John Zopatti, visit www.johnzopatti.com or call 561-722-7555.

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John Zopatti and Fabio Take Top Honors at Rise n’ Shine Dressage

John Zopatti and Fabio. (Photo courtesy of Michael Pritchett)

Pinehurst, NC (July 25, 2014) – It couldn’t have been any better of a weekend for longtime pair John Zopatti and Fabio, who were named the high scorers in the FEI Open Grand Prix Freestyle division at the Rise n’ Shine dressage show in Pinehurst, NC. The event was held July 19-20. Zopatti, a USDF Gold Medalist who trains horses and riders from beginning to grand prix, and Fabio, an 18-year-old Oldenburg, by West Coast out of a Thoroughbred mare, are no stranger to championship ribbons and to each other. They have been together as a pair since Zopatti began training Kristy Truebenbach Lund’s gelding.

Zopatti and Fabio scored 75.000% and 74.750% in their Grand Prix Freestyle tests designed by Applause Dressage’s Karen Robinson. “The freestyle was actually made for another horse that never got to show Grand Prix Freestyle because of an injury,” explained Zopatti. “It actually fits Fabio great. It’s a mixture of some nursery rhymes and some fun, fun music.

“It has a lot of difficult parts,” he described. “It has two tempis on a half circle straight into one-time changes and double pirouettes in both directions. And some passage to an extended trot. And that is pretty hard for any horse, let alone an 18-year-old guy.”

Zopatti, a four-time winner of the Gold Coast Dressage Association Trainer of the Year Award, has spent the past 14 summers teaching clinics and training amateurs, young riders, and upper-level riders in Pinehurst. While Zopatti is currently relocated to his partner Michael Edwards’ home, Fabio is spending his days at Gavalan Farms, a full-service training facility owned by Will Faudree in nearby Hoffman, NC. Faudree is a four-star internationally known eventer who is currently on the U.S. training squad.

There, Fabio has been doing cross-training on Faudree’s 1¼-mile all-weather Attwood footing galloping track. Cross training is paying off for Fabio and Zopatti. “This 18-year-old horse is as fit as he’s ever been in his entire life,” Zopatti said. “So it was fun to get in a test and have him have plenty of power and a little bit to spare.”

This older gelding doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon since he recently won the FEI Intermediate B Open GAIG/USDF qualifying division of the Gold Coast Dressage Grand Finale 2 with a score of 66.786% on April 13. He also finished 2013 placing sixth in the nation at the inaugural United States Dressage Finals.

Due to the large audience, this past weekend’s event at the Pinehurst Harness Track was a lot of fun, according to Zopatti. “My friends and family that are in the area around here also came out,” said Zopatti. “We had a big tent and we served breakfast and drinks in the morning for my performance. It was great to have all of my friends here and for my non-horsey friends to actually be able to see what I do.

“It was a little déjà vu coming back to that show facility,” said Zopatti. “I had shown there in a selection trials for the 1999 Pan American Games on my first FEI horse. And so when I pulled into the facility with the horse in the trailer and they gave me my stall assignment, I was actually stabled two stalls down in the same barn that I was in 15 years ago.”

Zopatti makes his home during the winters in Wellington, FL, where he runs his training and showing business out of Blue Marlin Farms. Not only is he busy training dressage riders year-round, he also assists top eventing riders with the dressage phase of eventing. His students excel at all levels right on up to national championships. When he isn’t accepting ribbons for himself or watching his students bring in their own ribbons, Zopatti assists with the Challenge of the Americas, a Grand Prix-level quadrille freestyle competition to benefit breast cancer research. He also a graduate of the USDF Judges “L” Program with Distinction.

To learn more about John Zopatti, visit www.johnzopatti.com or call 561-722-7555.

Contact: John Zopatti