By Lynndee Kemmet for Dressagedaily.com
Hilltop Farm’s Cabana Boy, with Christopher Hickey aboard, and Grandioso, owned and ridden by Jason Canton, are this year’s Five-Year-Old and Six-Year-Old National Young Horse Dressage champions. Cabana Boy earned the Five-Year-Old championship title and Grandioso the Six-Year-Old title following Sunday’s finale class at the 2007 Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championships held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
Hickey came with high expectations for the young Hanoverian gelding under his tutelage that had just returned from the 2007 World Championships for Young Dressage Horses in Verden, Germany. Canton came with no expectations. “I came here expecting nothing and just hoping for the best. My plan was to ride the horse as best I could,” Canton said. “I’ve always had a feeling he’s a very special horse and he proved it today.”
Cabana Boy, owned by Hilltop Farm of Maryland and bred by Dough and Shannon Langer of Wisconsin, was a clear favorite coming into the Five-Year-Old competition. And he didn’t disappoint the judges. Speaking for the panel of judges that included Hilda Gurney, Natalie Lamping and Marianne Ludwig, Gurney said, “Our general impression, of course, is that he has super talent for collection and for the FEI.” Cabana Boy received an overall score of 8.480 after two days of competition.
Judges felt that Cabana Boy (Contucci – Britania by Bordeaux) could have shown a better walk, particularly one in which he “used his whole body.” And they felt the canter needed a more open frame and less changing of the frame throughout the canter. Nevertheless, the gelding received an 8.8 for his canter. For the walk, he earned a 7.8.
It was the trot that judges loved the most. “The volume of collection and extension you ask is very impressive. You ask a lot and you get a lot and we were impressed,” Gurney said. “The trot has wonderful impulsion and a really powerful behind. Not a toe touched the ground. We would like to see a little bit more consistency and rhythm in the medium trot and lengthening. There was a little bit of loss of balance there. The nice half-halt and lateral work in the trot was still very impressive, so we give you an 8.8.”