Californian Heather Bender, 39, now of Loxahatchee, Florida, won the Prix St. Georges and the 2nd Annual Zada Enterprises, LLC Dressage at the National, in Wellington, Florida, aboard Winwood, with a score of 69.00%. Winwood is a flashy chestnut eight-year-old, 16.1-hand Hanoverian gelding. “He’s very, very hot – people don’t see that in him but he’s very explosive,” said Bender, citing that last year their scores in the Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I were erratic due to the explosiveness.
“The exciting win today was when I went down the side he showed me that hot side and I thought, ‘Uh-oh’ but he’s so much better on the aids I can now put the hotness into the work and get the great extensions. He stayed so soft and honest on the aids.” Bender noted that Winwood was consistent throughout the test and easily performs the movements at this level. “It’s a matter of having him emotionally in the right place so that he doesn’t get cheeky on me. He’s so sensitive that if I change how much air I have in my lungs it affects how he goes,” said Bender.
The judges were in agreement on the test – Gary Rockwell at C gave Bender 279 points and Lorraine Stubbs at B awarded the ride 273.