Yvonne Losos de Muñiz and Aquamarijn.
Wellington, FL — March 31, 2018 — The Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muñiz left her best performance with her own Aquamarijn to their last test, pulling off a 71.596% victory in the Grand Prix Special CDI3*, presented by Grand Prix Services. It was the final class on the last day of the 12-week 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) held at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.
Their score was a personal best for the pair in any CDI grand prix — including freestyle — and was also the 13-year-old Dutch mare’s first ever international win.
“It’s a lovely, sweet ending to the season that the last anthem is the Dominican one; I thought that was kind of cool,” beamed the 50-year-old. “My other grand prix horse Foco Loco is doing amazingly and he’s the powerhouse — he’s everything I always thought he was — but Aquamarijn is turning out to be 10 times what I thought she was ever going to be.”
Losos de Muñiz found the mare, who is by United out of a Gribaldi mare, through Kathy Priest in Denmark two years ago while on a shopping trip for a client.
“I thought she’d just be a really nice, compact grand prix horse, though I did feel that there was a little extra in there,” she said. “But she’s turning out to be absolutely spectacular. I’m only riding her at 50% or 60% in the ring; I can get more at home, yet I’m not doing it in there yet because she’s such a big character that she has to really trust me and stay with me — and today she did.”
This was the fifth win of a whirlwind 2018 AGDF season for the Dominican rider, who gave up dressage completely after a controversial decision by the FEI in 2012 which meant she could not participate in the London Olympics. This year she is back on the championship path, and flies to Europe next week with both of her grand prix horses. Foco Loco W is headed for the FEI World Cup Final in Paris in April, while she has been invited to compete at Aachen CHIO in Germany with Aquamarijn.
Losos de Muñiz attributes her upward trajectory with the mare to going back to basics.
“During the Wellington season we’re showing so much that there’s really no training time to go home and do the basics,” she explained. “I started trick-riding in there and that caught up with me. When we do a big prize-giving, it takes me three days to calm Aquamarijn down — she doesn’t want to walk after that. So I wasn’t getting the ‘throughness’ — I was having to be a bit rougher, a bit quicker, and that’s not the smooth, nice image that we want.
“Since the last show, I went home and, with Ton de Ridder, went back to basics, teaching Aquamarijn to wait and listen,” she continued. “Today we didn’t aim for spectacular. We just went for correctness, but once she gives me that correctness, I’m able to ask for spectacular, which I could do at times today.”
Both her top horses are qualified for the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina in September. After Aachen they will head to Asturias, northern Spain, where both horses’ training and preparation will include trips to the beach.
It was American rider Katherine Bateson Chandler — another who divides her time between Florida and Europe — who came closest to Losos de Muñiz. Bateson Chandler’s score was trending higher, but a costly mistake at the end of the two-time changes meant the final score was a smidge lower, at 71.234%. Aside from in the freestyle, this was Jane Forbes Clark’s Contango gelding’s first plus-70% score at the 2018 AGDF, and he looked full of energy. The winner of the grand prix, Canada’s Megan Lane, filled the third podium spot, with 68.021% on Deer Ridge Equestrian’s Zodiac MW, by Rousseau.
Melissa Taylor capped an impressive final flourish to her and Ansgar’s busy AGDF 2018 season by proving unbeatable at small tour. They won the Intermediate I Freestyle CDI3*, presented by Yellow Bird Farm, to land their third win of this CDI.
“I’m so excited; I don’t even know what words I can say. I’m thrilled with the horse; he was extremely tired today, but he really tried for me,” said Taylor of Nicole Polaski’s gelding by Special D, who scored 71.833%. “I was not expecting to win; I had mistakes in there and was a little late in some of the changes, so I didn’t think I’d make it three in a row. When I did win I was really excited, and my owner is elated.”
What has been the key to the pair’s ever-improving performances in 2018?
“Ansgar became more relaxed in that show ring,” explained Taylor, who found the concentration of CDI shows at the AGDF hugely helpful for the horse’s training. “It’s a very intense ring, but he’s finally starting to trust me. I also read the judges’ comments from the earlier tests — and I take those very seriously — so I knew I had to work on getting a more relaxed look, which for him is hard because he is so hot. It also helped that some good competitors didn’t show up this weekend — in fact I even called Jennifer [Baumert] and thanked her for not showing with Handsome!”
Taylor, who is married to Olympian Lars Petersen, is based in Florida year-round and plans to work on the grand prix movements with the 13-year-old over the summer.
“I’m sad the shows at Global are over, but Ansgar showed me some nice passage this past week, so I’d love to see if I can get the piaffe in him,” she said. “He’s already got the one-tempis so that’s not an issue, but getting him to wait for 15 piaffe steps; I’m not sure yet that I can keep that consistent. Hopefully we’ll qualify for the national championships in Lamplight in August of this year, while focusing on grand prix at home and, if I feel I have the grand prix stuff, then we’ll campaign him at that level next year.”
This concludes action in week 12 of the AGDF — the final week of the 2018 circuit. The circuit returns in January 2019. For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.