Wellington, FL – March 24, 2017 – The final “Friday Night Stars” FEI Grand Prix Freestyle of the 2017 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) concluded on Friday, March 24 at the Equestrian Village at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL with another Canadian win with Megan Lane and Caravella in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDIO 3*, presented by Stillpoint Farm.
The last class of the night, the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDIO 3*, presented by Stillpoint Farm, presented the gold medal to Megan Lane (CAN) and her own Caravella, a 2001 KWPN mare (Contango x P. Riviera x Riverman), scoring an impressive 74.550%.
Lane described her win. “I am thrilled. It’s still a little surreal, and I’m at a loss for words really. I’m so happy! I was happy with the whole test; you have to be on top of your game when you’re competing against riders like this. I’m just really happy with the whole thing.”
Lane and Caravella have been paired together for eight years and started in the junior division.
“We’re both getting better and better. It’s been an amazing journey,” she recalled. “I’m so lucky to have her. It was destiny meeting her, and I’m so privileged to be on this road with her. We are still growing all of the time so that’s the most exciting part for me.”
Regarding her freestyle test, Lane said, “She comes alive at night when she sees the lights and hears the music. You have to have your timing perfect, but I’m lucky because we know each other so well and that’s a huge asset.”
Shelly Francis (USA) and Doktor, a 2003 Oldenburg gelding (Diamond Hit x Gurena x Renoir I) owned by Patricia Stempel, were awarded the silver medal in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDIO 3*, with a score of 74.075%.
Francis commented, “Compared to the last week, I had him (Doktor) a hair more under control and maybe rode to my music a little quieter. He felt really honest and tried super hard, so I was very happy with him. He was a little calmer tonight and felt much easier to maneuver.”
Bronze went to Lisa Wilcox (USA) and Galant, a 2006 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Escuro x Bellisima) owned by Jacqueline Shear, with 73.175%.
“I felt like Galant and I didn’t have the best weekend,” said Wilcox. “The last time I came out and we did the freestyle, there was a bit more energy. This is new for him, to do these three tests three days in a row. I could definitely feel that tonight; he was not quite as brilliant as he was in the last freestyle. Having said that, he was still very rideable and just missed a tick of the sparkle we had the first time with that freestyle. Overall though, I’m very honored to be a member of this team for the Nations Cup.”
USA team member Tuny Page spoke for Nations Cup and week 11 sponsor, Stillpoint Farm. “It’s the first Nations Cup in the entire series, so it’s wonderful to be the lead off [event]. After last year with the USA winning the entire series, we were looking for a really great start, and we did have a great start. The Canadians just had a slightly greater start. It was a great competition, and I think that everyone can agree that without great competition, you don’t ride your best.”
FEI Judge Thomas Lang (AUT) commented, “It was a great evening for dressage, and we saw some amazing tests this evening. Something can always go wrong, so you can never be certain that everything goes the way that you want it to. That is life as a dressage rider, and that’s life as a dressage judge. Everybody tonight had a good energy, and it was a great show.”
Tina Irwin (CAN) and her own Laurencio, a 2007 Oldenburg gelding (Laurentio x Pasadena x Donerhall), rounded out their weekend with a third win, this time in the FEI Intermediaire I Freestyle CDIO 3*, presented by Stillpoint Farm. The pair won the class with an impressive score of 76.500%.
Said Tina Irwin of her freestyle music choice, “I actually had the freestyle designed for a different horse, so I used it two years ago at the last Nations Cup. It happens to suit this horse better I think, so it kind of worked out. It’s a lot of work to design freestyles, so I thought that if I could use it again, I was going to go for it. I made it pretty difficult; I have four canter pirouettes and a lot of tempi lines, (and) I enter and finish with tempis. I wanted to make it difficult and also capture those artistic marks, because choreography and degree of difficulty counts.”
Second place was awarded to Tina’s husband Jaimey Irwin (CAN) and Donegal V, a 2008 KWPN gelding (Johnston x Remy x Gribaldi) owned by Team Irwin Supporters Group, with 73.575%.
“We’re very good at competing against one another,” said Jaimey Irwin of his competitive relationship with his wife. “We’re always cheering each other on and helping each other.”
Tina Irwin added, “When Jaimey gets ahead of me, it pushes me more. I get like, ‘I’m going to beat him tomorrow now!’ So, it’s good. I’m very competitive and we push each other, so it’s good.”
Esther Mortimer (GUA) and Adajio, a 2004 Hanoverian gelding (Alabaster x Elsi x El Dorado) owned by Sue Schramayr, took the third-place spot with a 70.350%.
Mortimer kept her strong third place position behind the Irwins throughout the entire week of competition.
“I did do the Nations Cup two years ago, and I’m pretty sad that I don’t have a full team this year, but maybe next year we will have one. Regardless, this whole experience is wonderful, and it’s great to be here and be a part of it. I feel honored to be riding here, especially representing Guatemala.”
Victory in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle 16-25 U25 CDIO 3*, presented by Diamante Farms, was captured by Anna Buffini (USA) and her own Sundayboy, a 1999 KWPN gelding (Kennedy x Eezelma), with a score of 73.525%.
“This is surreal,” said Buffini. “A dream of mine has always been to compete a freestyle under the lights, and to do it on Sundayboy’s very last competition ever and to come out with the win – it’s just unbelievable. I owe him so much, and he tried his heart out for me. I’m so proud of him. He’s such a star.”
This was the final competition for the pair, who also won team gold at the North American Young Rider Championships in 2014. Sundayboy will be retiring as one of the most decorated Young Rider horses in the history of the United States.
Buffini continued, “He’s done all he needs to do for me, and I’m not going to ask anymore of him. He’s given me his whole heart, and that’s all I could have asked.”
Second place in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle 16-25 U25 CDIO 3*, went to Sean Sierra Keasler (USA) and Lux Stensvang, a 2002 KWPN gelding (Lobster x Verona Stensvang x Diamond) owned by Keasler, earning a score of 72.450%.
Commenting on her experiences, Keasler exclaimed, “All I wanted to do was ride that horse under the lights. I had witnessed it, I had groomed for previous employers, I had been behind the scenes, and all I wanted to do was ride under the lights myself. A long time ago I said, ‘The only way I will ride under these lights is if there is a U25 Nations Cup,’ and now here I am. It was a dream that became a goal, and now it’s a reality.”
Kaitlin Blythe (USA) and Don Principe, a 1999 Hanoverian stallion (Donnerhall x SPS Papagena x Prince Thatch xx) owned by Maryanna Haymon, came in third with 68.575%.
“It was a magical feeling to compete here under the lights,” said Blythe. “It was only my second time riding this freestyle with this horse, so it was really fun to do it here. To be able to earn a medal was just really exciting for me. My horse loves to dance, and he just gets so excited; it was fun to feel him enjoy it.”
Devon Kane spoke on behalf of sponsor Diamante Farms. “We’re very honored to be able to support this first U25 Nations Cup here at AGDF and in the U.S. The caliber of riding, athleticism, and competitiveness between nations has been incredible. Everyone did incredibly well, and the level of sportsmanship has really been something to take note of.”
Earlier in the day, Catherine Malone (USA) and Dilona, a 2008 KWPN mare (Lord Leatherdale x Vajda x Kennedy) owned by Iron Spring Farm, bested a class of 21 riders to take the winning spot in the FEI Intermediaire 1 CDI 3*, presented by Yellow Bird Farm, scoring 71.228%.
Maria Florencia Manfredi (ARG) and Bandurria Kacero, a 2005 SA gelding (Wonderboy Sdtal Ghyuan x Bandurria Farola) owned by Enrique Sztyrle, saw a victory in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3*, presented by Harmony Sporthorses, earning a 72.525%.
Belinda Trussell with Anton (left) and Megan Lane with Caravella (right) (Left photo – CLiXPhoto.com; Right photo – Rob Madronich)
Toronto, Canada (June 23, 2015) — All four members of Canada’s recently announced dressage team for the 2015 Pan American Games have something else in common that they can boast about: they are former recipients of the Canadian Dressage Athlete Assistance Program (C-DAAP). Team members Brittany Fraser, Megan Lane, Belinda Trussell and Chris Von Martels all benefited from the funding that C-DAAP provides for the support and advancement of Canada’s high-performance dressage athletes in their pursuit of excellence.
The non-profit organization offers 100 percent of its net proceeds from fund-raising events to the riders to offset the cost of training and competing for high performance to compete against the world’s best. In fact, more than $130,000 has been awarded to seven riders since 2012 to help them achieve their goals with another $80,000 slated for distribution this summer.
“I am thrilled to see all four C-DAAP recipients represent Canada at the Pan Am Games,” said C-DAAP’s founder, Deborah Miculinic. “It shows how important it is to provide our riders with the necessary programs and funding so they can compete at the very top of their sport. Congratulations to each of these riders on achieving such a remarkable accomplishment. You can bet they will make Canada proud and we will be certainly cheering them on!”
Miculinic added, “C-DAAP depends on the generous support of organizations like Omega Alpha Pharmaceuticals, Reser’s Fine Foods and many others for financial support and product donation for our fundraisers. Without these generous sponsors, we would not be able to support the riders to the extent that we do.”
The funding criteria for 2015/2016 have been established with guidelines available at www.cdaap.ca. The deadline for applications is July 31 and recipients will be announced on August 17.
Aachen, Germany – Megan Lane of Loretto, ON enjoyed an impressive debut at the CHIO Aachen, considered by many to be the world’s most prestigious annual equestrian event, held from July 15-20 in Aachen, Germany.
Riding Caravella, her own 13-year-old Canadian-bred Dutch Warmblood mare, Lane placed ninth in the CDI4* division after achieving a score of 70.460% in the Grand Prix. She went on to contest the Grand Prix Special, where a second strong performance earned her a score of 70.235% for sixth place.
Only 23 years of age, Lane is one of five Canadian dressage riders who each received a $20,000 grant from the Canadian Dressage Athlete Assistance Program (C-DAAP) in support of their 2014 international competition goals. Lane and Caravella have been named to the Canadian Dressage Team that will compete at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy, France, in August. It will mark Lane’s major games debut but it is not her first international appearance; previously, she and Caravella represented Canada on teams at the North American Junior and Young Riders’ Championships, earning medals several times over.
“The C-DAAP grant has been instrumental in covering the huge costs associated with training, travelling and competing throughout Europe,” said Lane, who is currently based in Rattingen, Germany, with her Canadian WEG teammates, Karen Pavicic and David Marcus. “I would probably not have been able to enter competitions before the WEG training camp, and certainly would not have had the opportunity to compete at the Aachen World Equestrian Festival if it were not for C-DAAP.”
Lane continued, “The timing of the C-DAAP grant was impeccable. I see the opportunity not only for myself gaining the experience, but also as an invaluable investment in Canadian dressage on the world stage.”
Lane will compete at CDI3* Verden, Germany from August 6-10 as a final preparation for WEG, which acts as the world championships for equestrian sport.
“The support from C-DAAP has been a monumental asset in my career because of the doors that it opens for me, allowing me to step into some of the biggest dressage shows in the world,” said Lane. “My goal at WEG is not simply to show up; I am there to be as competitive as possible and represent Canada to the best of my abilities and my horse’s abilities. Since neither my horse nor I have competed in Europe before, the opportunity to compete here beforehand is a key component to achieving this goal. I would sincerely like to thank Deborah Kinzinger and the supporters of C-DAAP who have worked tirelessly in many ways to positively affect our sport and build the future of dressage in Canada.”
The four other Canadian athletes to receive C-DAAP High Performance European Training and Competition Grants are: Brittany Fraser of New Glasgow, NS and All In, her nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding; Karen Pavicic of Surrey, BC and Don Daiquiri, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Pavicic and Jayne Essig; Belinda Trussell of Stouffville, ON and Anton, a 14-year-old German-bred gelding owned by Robyn Eames; and Chris Von Martels of Ridgetown, ON and Zilverstar, his 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding.
About the Canadian Dressage Athlete Assistance Program (C-DAAP)
The Canadian Dressage Athlete Assistance Program (C-DAAP) is a donor-driven program dedicated to supporting and advancing Canada’s junior, young rider and high performance riders. The program solicits contributions and will award grants to eligible Canadian dressage riders.
C-DAAP’s goal is to provide supplemental funding to Canadian dressage athletes to off-set training, competitive and educational expenses incurred during their quest for excellence, thus creating a bridge to high level national and international competition.
Canada’s Megan Lane and Caravella Earn Top Call in FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3*; Adrienne Lyle and Wizard Ace FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 5*; Chris Hickey and Ronaldo Win FEI Prix St. Georges
Wellington, FL – March 28, 2014 – Competition for the AGDF 12 CDI 5* continued on Friday at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) with four major classes. Starting out the day, American Chris Hickey topped the FEI Prix St. Georges, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty, with Cecelia Stewart’s Ronaldo earlier in the day on Friday. Fellow American Adrienne Lyle finished first with Peggy Thomas’ Wizard in the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 5*, presented by Diamante Farms, which sponsored all of the large tour classes for the week. Megan Lane (CAN) and Caravella clinched the first place prize in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3* and Tina Konyot (USA) and Calecto V took top prize in Friday’s feature class, the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 5*.
The FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 5* was the finale event of the “Friday Night Stars” series at the 2014 AGDF, and ended it in great fashion with a packed house of spectators.
Devon Kane of Diamante Farms was thrilled with Friday evening’s class after watching the AGDF develop from its infancy to the world-class dressage competition it has turned into.
“We’re just thrilled to be a part of this whole adventure,” Kane beamed. “These guys were amazing tonight; it’s spectacular to watch. You can see the crowd was so excited, and everybody’s just thrilled to have not only these people here that are blowing us all away but [riders of all levels].”
Of sponsoring the season’s only five-star event, Kane commented, “We take great pride in that. It’s amazing to have a five star here in Wellington, and to be able to provide the upper echelon with that opportunity, we definitely take that seriously. We’re thrilled to be a part of the team and all the founding sponsors here.”
President of Equestrian Sport Productions Mark Bellissimo reflected on a hugely successful season for the AGDF: “We thought it would take four or five years for this to take hold, and I think we thought this is where we would be two years from now,” Bellissimo acknowledged. “We have a tremendous amount of interest, with people visiting and talking about coming next year, so it’s going to continue to grow. I want to thank Diamante Farms and all the other sponsors in this, because I think this is going to be one of the great places in the world for dressage. To be a part of it is an honor, and I think it will endure the test of time.”
Allyn Mann of Adequan shared his thoughts on the AGDF circuit as it reaches the halfway point of its final week of competition, reflecting on the 2014 circuit and the incredible growth the show has experienced since its inception three years ago.
“As I sit here and I reflect on this journey these last three months, the blessings have abounded big time. I think because of what we have, and what we have seen over these past few weeks, and where the future is going thanks to Mark and what your vision has been, [AGDF has turned into a world-class competition]. It’ll only get better, so we are honored to be in this wonderful position, to support a wonderful sport. It’s a blessing, and we’re very grateful to be a part of it,” Mann expressed.
Of the evening’s competition, judge Anne Gribbons added, “I’ve seen also now some horses that were struggling in the beginning of the season, and tonight came around and looked beautiful. Some of our up-and-coming horses had a fantastic effort tonight. It was a very tough class to judge. It’s been a fantastic venue and a really wonderful finale.”
Konyot (USA) received a crystal horse from the Esperanza Collection of Swarovski for her winning ride with Calecto V, her 16-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion out of Bahera by Come Back II. The pair earned an impressive 79.250% to pick up the top prize for the class, while second place finisher Mikala Gundersen scored a 76.775% with My Lady. Third place went to fellow Dane Lars Petersen and Mariett. The pair scored a 76.625% for their performance. Petersen was also awarded the Mary Ann McPhail Award for maintaining the highest international ranking of any rider throughout the twelve weeks of the AGDF.
“Calecto is like a fine wine,” Konyot grinned. “He just keeps getting better. I had a wonderful ride, just a great way to end the season. I had a wonderful experience: a great ride, a great feeling, great energy.”
Konyot was happy that Calecto seems to be peaking as he heads into the FEI World Cup Dressage Finals in April and was also especially pleased to earn their highest score yet in the grand prix freestyle.
“I’ve always been up in the 70s, but this has been my highest score so far. It’s a very good feeling, especially going into the World Cup, where [the freestyle] is an important score for me, so I’m very happy about that,” Konyot shared.
For the weeks leading up to the World Cup, Konyot will continue the same routine with Calecto, always striving to put her partner’s needs first to ensure his happiness and health. “He’s 16 years old; he’s done a WEG, an Olympics. This is not new for him; it’s not new for me either, so we just want to have a great frame of mind, keep ourselves fresh, happy and healthy,” Konyot remarked.
Second place finisher Gundersen also enjoyed a personal best on Friday evening after a season of working on the mare’s fitness. “I have the vet check her after each show just to make sure everything is great, and he says, ‘It’s just amazing: this horse gets better and better every time I see her,'” Gundersen smiled.
She continued, “I’m very happy with tonight. I had more collection in the canter today. I had been missing that a little bit in my prior tests, and that’s getting much better. I had some really good things in there today. For sure it’s our best test so far.”
Gundersen sang the praises of the AGDF for giving her the opportunity to develop her horse over the course of six CDI competitions. “I think she’s also gotten better in the season,” Gundersen commented. “She’s not a young horse, but she’s still quite young in the grand prix, so having all these shows one after another has been very good for her. She’s matured enormously this season. She was so calm and so wonderful to ride tonight.”
Petersen also felt that Mariett was at the top of her game tonight. Of his ride, he commented, “I think tonight she was the best to ride that she has been, actually. I have a little thing at the moment with my piaffes: I have to keep them a little forward. And that’s a little bit expensive, but I’m very happy with her tonight.”
Petersen has used his trademark circus-themed music for his freestyle for the past two years, but tweaked the choreography at the end of the season. He edited the one and two tempi changes, originally performed on a 20 meter circle in the middle of the arena before another line of two tempis.
“I’m getting too old to be riding that many tempis on a 20 meter circle!” Petersen joked. “That’s very difficult to do, and it’s such a big risk. You get one mistake in 31 tempis [and it can be costly], so that’s why I took it out. It’s too risky.”
Megan Lane and Caravella Earn Top Call in FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3*
Young professionals ruled in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle 3*, with Canada’s Megan Lane (22) winning the class with Caravella. The pair scored a 71.600% for the blue ribbon, while 26-year-old Laura Graves (USA) and Verdades took second with a 70.250%. Third place went to Gary Vander Ploeg (CAN) and Degas for their score of 68.350%.
“I love riding my freestyle because of the amazing atmosphere that it creates for my horse,” Lane beamed. “She goes exceptionally well, so it’s always exciting to ride it. This is actually a new freestyle for me; it’s only my second time riding it. It’s done by Jos Peters, compliments of Deeridge Equestrian, who I ride for.”
Of her Spanish-themed music, Lane continued, “It’s so much fun to ride to. The Spanish theme I acquired because I had ridden it in the Young Riders, and I think it suits her personality. I really enjoy riding to that style of music.”
Lane listed several elements of her choreography as points that raise her degree of difficulty, including piaffe and double pirouettes, one and two tempis on a circle, and an extended trot on a loop.
“There was a little mistake in the one tempis, but because of the degree of difficulty in that, something always happens! Our piaffe-passage was definitely a highlight this time, too. I’m really happy with that,” Lane explained.
Lane has her eyes on making the team for Canada in the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) later this fall, and appreciated all of the experience she has gained over the last three months at the AGDF. “The experience is priceless. The more experience we get, the more comfortable both of us are. I’m so lucky to be able to come down here and have the chance to ride multiple grand prix,” Lane said.
Second place finisher Graves agreed, noting that she and Verdades have developed immensely as a team. “I really feel like our partnership has grown. We’re having a much more adult conversation these days. He plays in the field and we play in the stall and he’s a very goofy horse to be around, but getting in the arena and right away getting to work [has noticeably improved],” Graves explained.
Graves admitted that Verdades has always been a challenge, but her hard work and patience have paid off. When she realized their recent scores could qualify her for the WEG selection trials in Gladstone, NJ, she quickly threw together a freestyle for Verdades.
“When I realized I might have the scores to get to Gladstone, obviously one of the requirements is to do a freestyle. So I threw this together, and it obviously needs a lot of tweaking, a lot of rewriting of the choreography,” Graves acknowledged.
Of her test on Friday evening, she added, “He went right into the canter pirouettes. He’s riding a lot more like a trained horse, which is nice. I can ride him right up to it and then half-halt and turn him, and he was pretty honest. Also, because I don’t really know where I’m going in there, he has to stay with me and just kind of trust that we’re going to end up where we need to be.”
Adrienne Lyle and Wizard Ace FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 5*
Adrienne Lyle (USA) and Wizard capped off an incredible AGDF season with another victory lap after winning the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 5*. The pair earned a top score of 75.588% to earn the class by a substantial margin. Second place went to fellow American Michael Barisone, who rode Ellegria to a 69.392%. Cesar Parra completed an All-American top three with Van the Man. The pair earned a score of 69.078% for third place.
Friday afternoon’s score was another personal best for the pair; Lyle described their performance as the perfect ending to a stellar season.
“It’s been a big changing season for him because he’s been up and down and kind of all over the place [in previous years],” Lyle said. “To have the chance to come to a facility like this and show on a regular basis, and not have it be a huge ordeal [is fantastic]. You’re not putting them through a ton of transport. The footing is great, the stabling is great, so I felt comfortable showing more than I maybe have in the past. I think that’s starting to make it more workman-like and more routine.”
Lyle admitted she would have loved to ride the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 5*, but was committed to making her long-term goals a priority. The pair needed to put in some practice in the Special leading up to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) selection trials in Gladstone, NJ.
“I felt less rusty than last time. I chose to do the Special because it is so important for Gladstone and for the WEG qualification. As much as I would have really loved the freestyle tonight, I had to keep our long-term goals in mind, and I’m really glad I did. To have a Special that solid under our belt is really helpful for both of our confidences,” Lyle shared.
Barisone was equally thrilled with Ellegria’s performance, remarking that he never have imagined he would have the success he’s experienced with her. “She’s a wonderful horse. She’s honest as the day is long. She’s very simple to ride all the time. I just never thought we would be around 70%,” Barisone expressed.
He continued, “I watch my tape [of their rides] and I say there’s at least five more percent there, at least. This is a dead green, eight grand prix under her belt horse, and I’m getting second to [Adrienne], who’s been to the Olympics with her horse. I’m happy and proud to be in there, and I think she’s got a really long way to go.”
After his two top grand prix mounts were sidelined with injuries right before the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Barisone admitted to getting a bit disheartened, but Ellegria has pulled him out of his funk.
“She’s saving me,” Barisone smiled. “It is so easy, the disappointment when they get injured. All your hope is gone and you’re like ‘Why am I doing this?’ I had the two best I’ve ever had in my life, and the two best got hurt the same week. It was awful. This thing pops up in my life, and she’s putting the faith back in me.”
Barisone added that the AGDF has brought the first truly international dressage competition to North America, which he believes will put Americans on the fast track to catching up with the Europeans.
“It takes a village to get this done. The Europeans just have a really big, organized village. I think that it takes the owners, and the riders, and everybody. It takes this kind of effort and this facility. It’s an incredible circuit. This [show] is going to be one of the things that propels us to being competitive with the Europeans. This is the village, right here,” Barisone concluded.
American Chris Hickey and Ronaldo Enjoy Top Finish in FEI Prix St. Georges
Chris Hickey (USA) and Ronaldo finished first in the FEI Prix St. Georges presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty on a score of 71.842%, followed by second place finishers Denielle Gallageher-Legrif (CAN) and Argo Conti Tyme with a score of 69.781%. Third place went to Shannon Dueck (CAN), who scored 69.561% aboard Cantaris.
Besides a few bobbles in the canter zig-zag and trot, Hickey was thrilled to see the eight-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding continue to flourish as the AGDF circuit comes to a close.
“Ronaldo felt great. His tests are getting more and more solid,” Hickey said. “He’s a very big-moving, elastic horse, so it’s hard to keep everything together sometimes. He’s very immature for an eight-year-old, but I was very pleased with the test.”
Hickey was especially happy that Ronaldo’s owner, Cecelia Stewart, was able to attend the show, and even happier that she was able to see Ronaldo do so well. On top of that, the pair bested a field of 36 riders, making the win especially meaningful for Hickey.
“I think it’s great for the sport. At the end of the season, for the last CDI to be the biggest, is just wonderful,” Hickey commented. “I was really super happy with the results and how my horse went today.”
Ronaldo has been schooling all of the grand prix movements, but Hickey described him as far from ready to be competing at that level. He’ll continue at the small tour with Ronaldo to gain strength and confidence to develop the young horse’s talent. Hickey pointed out that Ronaldo shares a Don Schufro connection on his mother’s side with Paragon, Heather Blitz’s grand prix mount, and Hickey has noticed similarities between the two.
“He’s a big, gangly, young horse still in his body. He’s not a short, smaller, really well-muscled horse. He is also [related to] Don Schufro, which is what Paragon is. If you look at him as a young horse, he was always skinny looking. Ronaldo has a long way to get strong and develop at the grand prix before he can get out and do it,” Hickey explained.
Pedigree is important to Hickey, but he believes choosing a favorable bloodline is not based on talent alone. Ronaldo has also inherited his sire, Blu Hors Romanov, and dam sire Don Schufro’s remarkable temperament.
“For an FEI horse, being a fancy mover as a young horse is not what I want. I want a horse that is going to take the work and develop and get stronger and have the gaits become more expressive and flamboyant as the horse is trained. This horse has a super temperament and a super character and a willingness to work. He goes to work and does his job every day. To me, that’s also a huge piece of what the breeding is,” Hickey explained.
Hickey is excited to see what the future holds for Ronaldo, whom he believes possesses all the features of a great FEI competitor. The pair will contest the FEI Intemediaire-1 and the FEI Intermediaire Freestyle of the AGDF 12 CDI 3*.
“Even though he’s expressive and flamboyant, his hind legs still do the right thing. He piaffes and passages at home unbelievably. You can fire him up and he’s amazing, and then you can fire him up and give him a long rein and he walks on the buckle, totally relaxed again,” Hickey concluded.
The Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) is one of the world’s largest international and national dressage circuits featuring 8 FEI Dressage events, including a 5* and the only FEI Nations’ Cup Series CDIO in the Western Hemisphere. The AGDF offers more than $400,000 in prize money for the six international competitions, making it one of the richest circuits in the world. The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center facility includes the Van Kampen covered arena (made possible by Kimberly and Frederic Boyer and family) and four outdoor arenas with world-class footing, 200 permanent stalls, and a VIP seating area for the International Arena fully catered for relaxing and having an enjoyable experience.