In only her second outing at the CDI level, Tiva Nana enjoyed a victory with Ashley Holzer earlier in the day during the FEI Grand Prix 3*. Holzer finished at the top of the class with a score of 70.000%, while American Laura Graves took second with Verdades on a score of 69.140%. Third place went to Megan Lane (CAN) and Caravella, who earned a score of 69.120%. Tiva Nana, a 14-year-old KWPN mare, has been owned by Marissa Mastranardi for the past five and a half years. When Mastranardi asked trainer Holzer to ride the mare in September, she handed the reins over to her full-time. "Ashley started riding her in September, just her riding her, and it was going so well that I was like, 'Take her! See what happens,'" Mastranardi recounted. "Obviously, having Ashley on her is the best thing for the horse and for her education. I'm more than thrilled with how it's been going."
Tiva Nana, known as "Nina" in the barn, has continued to step up to the plate as she has progressed up the levels. Thursday was only the horse's second CDI and fourth time completing a grand prix test. "She's getting better and better every time. It's really cool to watch," Mastranardi smiled. "It wouldn't happen without a rider like Ashley. If I was in there, I'd be like, 'Oh, I know it's scary!' Ashley knows how to make adjustments and give her confidence in the ring."
For Holzer, Thursday's test, and subsequent win, was a pleasant surprise. "I thought that it was far more in control than the last week! I think that the harmony was much better. I thought her accuracy and her harmony were just really top-notch today. Her focus was better. As a horse, I felt like I had a partner that was really tuned into me."
Holzer admitted she would have to rethink her plan after what the mare showed her in the ring. "I have to sit down and really rethink that after today. She really showed me something in this main ring. We thought she would take a much longer time to settle in this big ring," Holzer acknowledged.
She continued, "She really has very little experience so this is quite a shocker. When they said to me in the barn today, 'Ok so try to give a 70?' and I was like 'Pfft! Yeah right! Give me a break, I was pretty amazed with 68 last week.' But she went in and was just a joy to ride. She's so much fun. She's a very nice horse to ride."
Second place finisher Graves was thrilled with Verdades' rideability throughout the test, noting that the pair have enjoyed great improvement over the last three months at the AGDF. She's worked with Olympian Debbie MacDonald since the beginning of the circuit on various aspects of Verdades' training. "It's gotten so much better since our first CDI. It's a little sad that the season is over for us, because we're kind of hungry for more and hitting our stride," Graves explained. Graves has her sights set on the Festival of Champions in Gladstone, NJ, which also serve as the selection trials for the American team to go to the WEG. "We'll spend the next two months really training hard, and hopefully, depending on how everything shakes out on the West Coast and who decides to go to Gladstone [New Jersey, for the Festival of Champions], we're crossing our fingers that this might give us a ticket."
Of her test today, Graves pointed out the biggest turning point for the test was the piaffe, which she admitted she had been going down centerline and "praying" to go well in each previous test. "There's nothing more terrifying than having to do something on a centerline and just having to go in there and praying. That's pretty much all we've been doing, because he wouldn't let me touch him," Graves explained.
She continued, "He's so worked up and he tries so hard, and you touch him with your legs or your hand, and he would just get all out of sorts. To be able to put my leg on a little, or actually ride a half-halt in the piaffe is kind of cool. Hopefully one day it will actually be a highlight for everyone to watch, so that's where we're going."
Lane has also focused on progress at each competition with Caravella. The pair won the FEI Grand Prix Special during AGDF 1, and both rider and horse have benefitted from the experience of six CDIs over the course of the season.
"I think both her and I are relatively inexperienced, so the more we get out there, the better. Coming to Wellington, you can only get it here," Lane pointed out.
She continued, "Progress is always in my mind, so with every show I look for progress in some area. Today, the piaffe-passage tour was definitely the highlight. Normally, that's a little bit tricky."
With Caravella, it's just a matter of channeling her nervous energy into precise focus in the show ring. "Although she's extremely talented, she gets a little nervous in the piaffe, which affects our transition to passage. Today, that was excellent. I was really happy with her," Lane smiled.
Junior and Young Rider competition kicked off the first day of the AGDF 12 CDI 3*/5*. Paula Matute (ESP) earned top call in the FEI Junior Team aboard Firmamento Ymas with a score of 70.946%. In the Young Rider Team Prix St. Georges test, it was Laurence Tetreault (CAN) and Lowelas who emerged victorious. The pair earned a score of 68.860% for the first place prize.
Full Results for the FEI Grand Prix 3*, presented by Diamante Farms
Rider, Country, Horse, Breeding, Age: Judge E%, Judge H%, Judge C%, Judge M%, Judge B%, Total %
1 Ashley Holzer, CAN, Tiva Nana, 14-year-old KWPN mare owned by Marissa Mastranardi, Nana Linda x De Kennedy Stoeterij: 71.000%, 69.200%, 69.200%, 70.500%, 70.100%, 70.000%
2 Laura Graves, USA, Verdades, 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by rider, Liwilarda x Florrett As: 69.900%, 70.600%, 64.300%, 71.300%, 69.600%, 69.140%
3 Megan Lane, CAN, Caravella, 13-year-old KWPN Mare owned by rider, P. Riviera x Contango: 68.800%, 69.400%, 66.700%, 71.100%, 69.600%, 69.120%
4 Christilot Boylen, CAN, Hudson 18, 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Jean & Gary van der Ploeg, Pretty Lady x Donnerhall: 68.300%, 67.000%, 67.400%, 69.000%, 69.000%, 68.140%
5 Kasey Perry, USA, Trøstplund's Scarlet, 15-year-old Danish Warmblood mare owned by Diane Perry, Ramona x Blue Hors Don Shufro: 68.500%, 68.900%, 66.500%, 70.200%, 66.600%, 68.140%
6 Devon Kane, USA, Destiny, 11-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding owned by Diamante Farms, Rubenstein I x Diamond Hit: 67.000%, 67.800%, 67.400%, 69.500%, 68.800%, 68.100%
7 Lars Petersen, DEN, Willano, 12-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding owned by rider, Aleksina x Willemoes: 67.300%, 67.300%, 65.100%, 66.600%, 68.900%, 67.040%
8 Jill Irving, CAN, Degas 12, 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by rider, Rosana M x De Niro: 66.600%, 66.400%, 64.500%, 65.600%, 65.700%, 65.760%