2003 Dressage at Stone Tavern

Armstrong and Gustaaf Win FEI Grand Prix in Dressage at Stone Tavern

By Nancy Degutis for DressageDaily

ALLENTOWN, NJ - When owner Patsy Ward bought Gustaaf to be her amateur Second and Third Level horse, she found the dark chestnut too strong. So she had trainer James Armstrong take him eight years ago and slowly he dark chestnut's strengths emerged. They propelled him into the grand prix ranks six years ago and qualifying him for the national championships.

Those very strengths earned the dark chestnut in the FEI Grand Prix (64.41 percent) and the FEI Grand Prix Kur (69.500) in the Dressage at Stone Tavern, which gave Armstrong presents for his 40th birthday that Labor Day weekend.

"Every day I come out and have a great time with him. I have never had a day when I say it is impossible because he is so exciting to ride," Armstrong said of the gelded son of Flamingo - Citrona he affectionately calls "Gussy." Armstrong's only disappointment of the Labor Day weekend show came the first afternoon when he made his Grand Prix victory gallop without any music as an accompaniment. "It wasn't the same as with it, but I was definitely happy to be there," the Glyndon, Md., man said with a grin.

Gussy's passage and his piaffe plus his willingness and consistency carried him to the blue ribbons through the show. His pirouettes have improved over the summer months and the 15-year-old horse's tests in the Olympic qualifying classes at Stone Tavern were high energy, said Armstrong, who hopes to yet again qualify for the national championships next year.

Although Gussy may not make a US Olympic squad before he retires in the near future to be Ward's mount, "he has the heart to do it against the bigger horses," Armstrong said of the Dutch warmblood who successfully competed against horses that towered over Gussy's 16-hand stature.

Beemer and Fabrice S Take Young Horse National Championships

Beemer hardly looked like the skinny horse owner/rider/trainer Edward Borresen of New Hope, Pa. bought the bay Oldenburg at an auction in Holland 2 ½ years ago.

The gelded son of Laudatio (by Landadel) and All Day Long (Aldatis) has Ladykiller in his pedigree, so he was bred more along the lines of a jumper.

Since then, the 17-hand horse filled out and used his long legs for an eye-popping extended trot. His presence and movement not only gave him the blue ribbon in the qualifier, but also the five-year-old national young horse title with a 8.62.

A judge's comment on the "exceptional uphill balance" of Holly Hains' Fabrice-S (Fabriano - Woerina, Woermann) translated into a 8.32 in the six-year-old championship for the gelding's age.

"He is showing very good air time and very good expression and cadence in his gaits for his age," said Australian-born trainer Jules Anderson, a former two-time national junior eventing champion in her homeland.

"He is going all the way up to FEI," said Anderson, who like Hains, is from Alpharetta, Ga.

Michael Shondel Balances Young Riders and Military Obligations

Michael Shondel's deepest desire is to someday ride in military uniform for his country at international level. "I want to show in the Marines Corps uniform but I need to get them to sponsor me (as the Corps does for members who wrestle, box and drive race cars) before I do it," said the Kinnelon, NJ college junior who returns for more military training this summer.

An Officers' Candidate School trainee in the service, he can be commissioned as a second lieutenant when the business administration major graduates from college.

For now, the 21-year-old added some finishing touches to his junior career. He and his Wallaby (Werther - Gordola) swept the FEI Young Riders' individual test (69.744), the FEI team test (68.370), and the FEI Kur (71.375) at Stone Tavern.

He and his Hanoverian gelding had just come from the North American Young Riders Championships. As the fourth highest placed individual rider at the under-21 finals, Shondel helped his squad get the team Gold Medal.

Related Links
Scores: National Young Horse Championships (.pdf file)
Beemer and Fabrice-S, 2003 American Young Horse Champions
Region Three Wins Team Gold with Michael Shondel In the Lead After Team Test
James Armstrong and Gustaaf are good for the Blue