Loxahatchee, Florida – They came. They won. They went home. After collecting a number of ribbons at the Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge II, held March 12-14 at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, the Barteau family loaded up their horses and headed out Sunday for the 23-hour drive home to the Chicago area. It was a quick trip for Yvonne Barteau. Her daughter, Kassie, 21, spent the winter in Florida as a working student with Cathy Morelli while her parents, Yvonne and Kim, were back home at their KYB Dressage in Maple Park, Illinois. "We have the business to run and it's been very busy this year," Yvonne said. She came down to compete in last weekend's Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI and this past weekend's Challenge II.
Mother and daughter competed against one another in the FEI Prix St. Georges and in the FEI Intermediaire I competition in which Yvonne took fourth place with GP Raymeister and Kassie took first with Toscano and second with GP Delano, an eight-year-old Rhinelander by Diamond Hit and owned by Ginna Frantz. Between them in third place was Tami Batts with Ranko. Kassie also took a win in Training Level Test 2 with Aramo, a five-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Leslie Valente, earning a high score of 73.214 percent.
It may seem like there is competition between mother and daughter, but not in the mind of Yvonne. She's a proud mother for sure and said she has no problem passing along good horses to her daughter, whom she calls "amazingly talented for her age. She works hard, she's a good kid and she treats her horses very well." Initially, she had planned to ride Toscano during her trip to Florida and have her daughter ride GP Raymeister, which had been Kassie's ride last year at the Young Rider World Cup in Germany. But while Kassie was in Florida training with Morelli this winter, Raymeister, a Holsteiner stallion by Rantares and owned by Ginna Frantz, was back in Illinois with Yvonne. Hence, it was decided that she'd keep the ride on him and Kassie would stay on Toscano, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Kristin Cooper.
"We do switch around. That's how it works with us," Yvonne said. "After spending the winter with Cathy and riding BeSe, Kassie made changes in her riding as she was learning. And Ray is a sensitive horse and change isn't as easy for him. Kassie had ridden Toscano last year and decided to take the ride on him and for me to ride Ray. It seemed like the right thing to do for the horses and that's what matters most."
Yvonne was extremely pleased with her short trip south, especially with the rides at the Challenge II. "This weekend the scores were a bit lower than at the Derby last weekend, but we placed higher. But more importantly, we felt the rides went better, even if the scores weren't as high," she said. "Now we can go home and work on what we need to in order to get ready for the upcoming CDIs in our area."
Kassie, who was also given the chance to gain more Grand Prix experience by riding Morelli's BeSe in the Grand Prix, was clearly pleased with her good showing at the Challenge II. The wind and rain posed a bit of a challenge for Aramo early in the show, but the young horse quickly settled in. Kassie has been riding him during her winter in Florida and said "it's been a fun journey seeing him grow up. He's big and athletic and a great mover." She was also pleased with Delano as he "is young and just showed at Third and Fourth levels last year so everything he does at this level now is great."
Kassie gave much credit to Morelli for improving her this past winter, not only as a rider, but also as a teacher and all around horseman. "Cathy is a wonderful person and is so generous in so many ways. I learned a lot not only in my riding but also about so many other things. Getting to work with BeSe was a huge advantage." When asked what she most learned, Kassie said it was to think more, to do more planning and to understand the reasons behind what she is doing. "Everything I did, Cathy would stop me and ask me why I did something and it made me think about why and how I used my aids. I also learned a lot about teaching because I watched her teach this winter and she's wonderful."