Blue is Clearly Kelly Hayner's Color at Waterloo Dressage Summer Finale

Grass  Lakes, Michigan – Kelly Hayner has never doubted she has two stellar  horses in her barn and multiple wins at the Waterloo Dressage Summer  Finale proved her right. Hayner went home with nearly two dozen blue  ribbons after racking up victories in First and Second levels with  Sonata Grace and wins in Intermediaire with Rantaro.

"They  are both great horses, but they could not be any more different,"  Hayner said. "Rantaro is 16 hands and Sonata is 17 hands. He's a power  horse and she's as long-legged and graceful and laid back a horse as  I've ever seen. Rantaro, on the other hand, has limitless energy."

"Wow"  was about all Hayner, of Hamburg, Michigan, could say of her weekend of  competition. If Hayner adds her blue ribbons to those won by her  student, Suzanne Capps, the two of them can nearly paint the barn blue.  Capps won half a dozen blue ribbons. Hayner scored multiple wins in  Intermediaire competition with Rantaro, a 12-year-old Holsteiner  gelding sired by Rantares that she co-owns with Amy Dahlgren. And she  scored multiple wins – with several scores over 70 percent – with  Sonata Grace, a six-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Hayner that is a  niece to Rantaro.

The  sire of Sonata Grace is Lacoste and the dam is a mare owned by Hayner  named Alcor. "Sonata is home bred with my own mare. She's my pride and  joy," Hayner said. This year is only Sonata's second season of showing  and she's currently ranked among the top five in the U.S. at First  Level. "I haven't checked the latest rankings to see where she is at  Second Level," Hayner said.

Rantaro  has been in training with Hayner, who works with Carole Grant, for the  past two years. He had belonged to a cousin who lives in Wisconsin and  who had sent the gelding to Hayner to train up to Grand Prix. "We  really began to see last year that he was very, very special," Hayner  said. She and Rantaro have already qualified for regionals at  Intermediaire I and II and Hayner is now considering a trip to Florida  to campaign him this winter.

"I'd  like to do his first Grand Prix in Florida. But, I have three children  (ages 4, 6 and 9) and a husband so it requires organizing a sort of  mini-tour. I don't want to be away from my kids that long and I don't  want to take them out of school. So, I'm trying to plan one short trip  and hit a few shows."

The  logistics and costs of a Florida trip are a bit difficult, but Hayner,  a mother of three children, said Rantaro has such potential that she  doesn't want to hold him back. He's a high-energy horse that needs some  mileage to help him settle into a Grand Prix career. "He's a bit over  energetic and tense so he needs show experience to gain his confidence  that my riding won't change at competitions. I'm very happy because at  the last two shows, we had some great rides in which he was as settled  as if we were at home."

If  Hayner and Rantaro make the trip, Sonata Grace will likely be left  behind in Michigan. Unlike her relative, she's in no need of show  experience to settle her in to a competitive career. "This is a horse  that as a weanling cut her face in the pasture and we had to shave it.  We put on her halter and let the lead hang and shaved her. She never  moved. Nothing fazes her. She'll go anywhere, any time and do anything  we want. All she needs this winter is to stay home and train up. She's  a blank slate and never says 'no' so I have to walk a line of how hard  to push her yet keep her happy."