2002 Wellington Dressage Show

Susan Dutta Dominates FEI Freestyles at Wellington Dressage

As the misty morning light began to open the final day of the Wellington Dressage Show, Susan Dutta brought West Side Lady to the warm up arena "to empty the gas tank a bit." It was a strategy that worked when they came back later that morning to perform the first of her two Freestyles.

Susan Dutta of Bedford Hills, New York, and Wellington, dominated the FEI freestyle classes. On Sunday, February 3, Dutta won the Intermediare 1 Freestyle with her West Side Lady, scoring 70.458%. Dutta also won the Grand Prix Freestyle riding her Gumshoes-DC, earning a 68.833%. "I like the freestyle," said Dutta. "It's a lot of fun and I look forward to it, but it's also nerve-wracking because you have to stay with the music."

The I-1 class with West Side Lady was Dutta's first show with the mare and the first time the duo had performed their kur. Choreographer Marlene Whitaker created the freestyle for West Side Lady a year ago, but it was performed by Tina Konyot who rode the mare during Dutta's pregnancy. "It's West Side Story for West Side Lady," said Dutta. "It's very beautiful music. It suits her. It's supposed to be soothing and yet still fun." Dutta said she ran through the kur for the first time the night before the competition. "Everything went really well. I'd heard the music many times and I’d seen Tina do it, so I knew it was going to work."


Susan Dutta Dominates Wellington Dressage Freestyles


Having watched Konyot and West Side Lady, Dutta felt pressure to live up to their success. "I was a little nervous because Tina did so well with the horse that I wanted to do well with her too. I just had my baby four months ago so I'm just getting fit again. This mare has a big trot to ride so there's a lot of fitness necessary to ride her well."

Dutta credits her personal trainer, Richard Egan of Wellington, Florida, for getting her into shape. She started working with him a week after giving birth to baby Timmy (named after his father Tim Dutta) and she continues to work out with Egan three times a week.

West Side Lady is a nine-year old Hanoverian mare known as ‘Fergie'; because she is "a red-haired Duchess," according to Dutta. The mare is by Westbury out of a Landberg line mare. "She's well bred," said Dutta, who purchased her from the Weiss family in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a year and four months ago. "She'll be a Grand Prix horse. She does everything. I need a chance to get to know her, so I’m going to hold her back, get her basics, and build a partnership this year. Then I'll move her to the Grand Prix in the summer after Gladstone."


Susan Dutta Dominates Wellington Dressage Freestyles


Though Dutta had a head start on her kur with 'Fergie', the Grand Prix freestyle on Gumshoes was brand new. "I ran through it at 8 o'clock this morning for the first time," said Dutta, whose ride time was 2:40 in the afternoon. "That kur come off the press at 2:30 yesterday afternoon. We listened to it all night. Marlene drove all night to get me the final copy. She met me here at the ring at 7:45 this morning and we ran through it."

"There had been quite a bit of preparation in advance," said Whitaker, who has designed Dutta's kurs for four years. "Susie and I have worked together so long that she knew what she wanted for the choreography and that was established in advance."

"I had practiced the moves, I just didn't know the music," added Dutta, then admitted that in the ring, it did not go as planned. "That was not my total choreography. The third line of one-tempis and the second line of twos were not there. I put those in because I kept missing the ones. I just kept missing them and kept missing them and finally I said, 'okay, I give up, no ones today."

But now Dutta has a back-up plan, Whitaker pointed out. "Every good ride needs a back up plan if something goes wrong. She established hers right off the bat."


Susan Dutta and Gumshoes off to Freestlye Championships


At the Gold Coast Opener two weeks ago at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club, Dutta won the Grand Prix with Gumshoes, scoring 69.94%. "I didn't show in the Grand Prix at this show because I had done that one. I’m going to go all the way out to California for the Freestyle Championships; I leave February 14, and I don't want to put unnecessary mileage on my horse. I love that horse and I want him to last as long as possible." Dutta has owned the 11-year old gelding for five years. "I made the horse myself. He was a jumper. We bought him from Sam Edelman, a dear friend of ours. We took him as a sales horse and then I ended up really loving him, so I kept him."

Noting that the Grand Prix classes at this show had featured several rides in the 70 percentile, Dutta said of her Grand Prix freestyle, "I’m well aware that 68% in the freestyle is not high enough. That's why we're going to meet in a half an hour to figure out how I can get more points." After the Freestyle Championship in California, Dutta plans to return to the Florida circuit to qualify both horses for the Festival of Champions at Gladstone in June.

Freestyle Championships Feb 23-24
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