Raleigh, NC (June 1, 2011) – After a four year hiatus from the show arena, dressage rider Suzanne Dansby-Bollman and Cooper, an 18.3 hand Holsteiner gelding, are getting back in the groove as they make their way along the big tour circuit. The pair put in very competitive Grand Prix tests during the 2011 CDI3*Y/J Capital Dressage Classic in Raleigh, where they placed second in the Grand Prix with a score of 66.298%, only .021% behind leader Susan Dutta. “It was a compliment to place so closely with such a wonderful and elegant pair as Susie Dutta and Currency DC,” said Dansby-Bollman.
“Cooper and I are back on the international circuit again, and we returned with a mixture of brilliancy and inconsistency,” Dansby-Bollman said. “We competed at both the Allentown CDI and the Raleigh CDI. In the Grand Prix at Raleigh, our scores from all five judges were within one percentage point of each other, which indicated to me that they were really being fair and that the movements performed looked the same from all of the different angles. I loved that,” Dansby-Bollman said. “It was only our fifth Grand Prix ride this year, and I immediately felt as we were finishing the test that it was one of our best rides ever.”
Dansby-Bollman added that she is thrilled to be back in the ring with her Grand Prix partner. “We were competing and winning in the international dressage arena four years ago, before Cooper was sidelined with an injury. He has made a miraculous comeback and we returned to showing in February,” she said.
Dansby-Bollman said she owes some of Cooper’s brilliance in Raleigh to international trainer Oded Shimoni. “On Friday morning Oded fit us into his busy schedule for a schooling session. He was there to coach Susan Dutta and Tuny Page, and I was grateful for the help he gave me at the show. He schooled us in tuning up our piaffe, passage, and half-pass work.”
Like all high performance competitors and their horses, Dansby-Bollman said she is working through some inconsistency issues. “I made several mistakes, especially during the Freestyle in Allentown, and just didn’t ride the test accurately enough. It was totally my fault. In the Grand Prix, however, Cooper got excited when the lights came on as it was an evening class. He was a little exuberant, to say the least! He bucked as we cantered around the outside of the arena before the test, and then bolted into a canter in the middle of our second trot extension which was really out of character for him. He was pumped up about showing again, and just couldn’t contain himself! The rest of the test was brilliant and mistake-free, but the score was lower than expected. However, we placed 6th, which placed us in the middle of a very competitive class, and we received a 62.426%.”
Despite a few bumps in the road, Dansby-Bollman said she believes Cooper and she have the ability to return to the top together. “We had a very late start this year, and there is only one more show left on the East coast to redeem ourselves in order to qualify for Gladstone in the fall,” she said. “We have always qualified for Gladstone in the past, and it would be a shame not to this year because of a couple of inaccurately ridden tests. But either way I am thrilled to be back on Cooper and back in the competitive ring. Cooper really is my once-in-a-lifetime horse and I appreciate and love every ride I have on him.”
When actively competing in the past, Dansby-Bollman was long or short listed every year for the USET Dressage Team on either Cooper or her other former Grand Prix horse, Goubergh’s Kasper, and was also an alternate for the World Equestrian Games in Germany. She owns and operates Dancing Horse Farm in Atlanta, where she utilizes the principles of classical dressage in her training. For more information, visit the website at www.dhfdressage.com.