Caanan Ranch's stallion Donates and Elizabeth Poulin are Reserve Six-Year-Old Champions

By Lynndee Kemmet for

A Texan and an Oklahoman rode horses to the reserve championship titles in the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championships. Elizabeth Poulin, based in Texas, rode Donatus (Diamond Hit – Grazienna by Rubinstein I), to a reserve championship in the Six-Year-Old competition. Verona Stock, of Claremore, Oklahoma, rode Roccoca WF (Rienzi – Turtletaubchen by Tin Rocco) to the reserve championship win in the Five-Year-Old competition.

Poulin was thrilled with her placing considering that as of the morning of the final day of competition it was not certain that Donatus, bred in Germany by Gerd Berges, would compete. “Donatus didn’t feel very good yesterday so he didn’t even school,” said owner Melanie Pai of Caanan Ranch. “It was kind of on and off today about what we were going to do. We didn’t know if we were going to go for it or not. I’m glad we did. We rode him conservative, but I think it was the right way to ride him today.”

Poulin said she knew in the warm-up that Donatus, an Oldenburg stallion, was ready to go. “We took him out and gave him an extra ten minutes in the warm-up to see where he was and he said, ‘I’m with you.’ So, we went for it.” When Donatus jumped and squealed as he circled the ring before entering, Poulin was certain she had him back. Still, she rode a tad conservative and the panel of judges – Hilda Gurney, Marianne Ludwig and Natalie Lamping – picked up on it.

“What a good guy,” Lamping said. “But I think there’s a lot more in there. He could use a little more energy with more connection and power in his mediums and extensions. I think you were being a little cautious.” Still, the judges were very pleased with what they saw and awarded Donatus with an overall score of 7.809 after two days of competition.

Although pleased with her score, Poulin didn’t need judges to tell her how wonderful is Donatus. “He’s super talented and we all believe in him. He’s heart came through and he has an excellent work ethic. I have no doubt in my mind that this horse is Grand Prix potential. His has an excellent brain and he loves me and trusts me. He’d walk off a cliff with me if I said so.”

Finishing third in the six-year-old division was Teresa Butt on her own Unitas, the five-year-old veteran who travelled to Verden Germany last year for the FEI World Young Horse Championships. Unitas is a dutch warmblood gelding by Niagra out of Nellyzora by Harald and was bred in the Netherlands by Heiner Hormann.