Big Tyme Lives Large at Flintridge at the the USEF/Markel Insurance Young Horse Western Dressage Selection Trial

Photos and Text by Charlene Strickland

La Canada-Flintridge, California, May 28: He won every class, three days straight—and the overall USEF/Markel Insurance Young Horse Western Dressage Selection Trial for 5 year olds. Big Tyme took the warmup test on Friday (77.8), the Preliminary test Saturday (8.46), and on Sunday capped his weekend with the Final test (8.84).

“He feels super, like no other horse I've ever ridden before,”said owner and rider, Marisa Festerling, Newbury Park, California. About the trot work in Saturday's test, she said, “He makes it look so easy and elegant.”

Judges praised the Belgian gelding for his uphill canter and rhythm at all gaits. Festerling's trainer, Marie Meyers, noted, “The judges said, 'This is a dressage horse.' I thought that was a real compliment to him.”

Big Tyme proved his natural talent, as a son of Saros van het Gestelhof, who was Belgium's champion young horse as a five and six year old. His damsire is Wendekreis, the Hannoverian jumper and dressage sire. In 1990, Wendekreis was one of the top 10 jumper sires in Hannover; also successful as a dressage sire.

Meyers, her husband Frank, and Festerling found Big Tyme at the barn of Belgian trainer, Stefan van Ingelgem. “We were there looking for horses. Stefan said, 'I have a super young horse.' We saw him at night in his stall, and he looked huge,” recalled Festerling.

Big Tyme wasn't quite four years old, and ridden only a dozen times when Meyers bought him. “In the video, it was unbelievable the way he moved, said Festerling. She added that even at 17 hands, “He's a ladies' horse. He is very refined, and not a heavy horse to ride.” She rides young horses for Meyers, and trained Big Tyme for his first year in California.

Photos and Text by Charlene Strickland

About Big Tyme, Marisa Festerling said, “His gaits are super, and his natural ability is super.” For the final test on Sunday, she planned, “We'll do our absolute best for a clean ride, and to keep the expressiveness.”

“Frankie” (named for Marie Meyers' husband, Frank, who also gave him his name as “a big time horse”) earned the judges' comment, “This horse's presence in the show ring increases with experience.” They awarded him three scores over 9 (trot 9.5, canter 9, and general impression 9) and praised his cadence, rhythm, and elasticity.

The judges commented on both Frankie's self-carriage and natural ability to collect. Festerling said, “He's very light in the mouth, and comfortable to ride.”

She added that he likes showing at Flintridge, especially for the abundant grass on the club's grounds. “The arena here is nice for a young horse to show in. And he tries his hardest. He's very honest in the ring.”

At home, Festerling described Frankie as loving treats and attention. “He will kick the door if you don't give him his treats right away. He likes his people to be around him.”

Photos and Text by Charlene Strickland

Breanna Scores Straight Nines at the USEF/Markel Insurance Young Horse Western Dressage Selection Trial

Kathleen Raine rode Breanna to the win in the 6-year-old Final Test, and also the USEF/Markel Insurance Young Horse Western Dressage Selection Trial. Judges Jayne Ayres, Jessica Ransenhousen, and Natalie Lamping agreed that she earned scores of 9 in all five criteria.

“Today I had a little more energy, and could push for more trot,” said Raine. “She felt relaxed and energetic.”

Photo: Kathlene Raine, Jayne Ayers, Natalie Lamping,Lisa and John Seger of Markel, and Jessica Ransehousen.

Jennifer Mason, who is partners in Breanna with Raine and David Wightman, defined riding Breanna as “You feel like you're on a cloud, and you're floating. She is a dream. The bigger her trot gets, the more it's like you're floating.” She praised Raine's riding, saying “It warms my heart. The relationship they have is so special.”

She admitted that she cries “every time” watching Raine show the mare. About Sunday, she said, “I was crying at the beginning, the trot work—sobbing by the walk, and I felt I had to lie down by the time of the canter work!” Wightman placed second to his wife in both tests, on Brigadier. Raine said, “He picked the horse, so he has a big part of it.”

Wightman said, “We have been focusing on this show all year for Breanna, Brigadier, and Wellcome S [finished second to Big Tyme in the 5-Year-Old Selection Trial].”

Of those three young horses, he picked Breanna and Wellcome S at the Verden Elite Auction. “I like the October auction. It's a good time of year.”

With their successes in Flintridge, the three young horses may compete in the finals. Wightman said, “Kentucky is a possibility. And we are looking at Verden [World Championships] for Breanna.”

HorsesDaily "On the Scene" at Dressage at Flintridge