Devon, Penn. – Caroline Roffman called her Young Rider Freestyle win at the 2009 Dressage at Devon CDI-W/Y/J "bittersweet." She won the freestyle with a score of 71.80, which was enough to win the class but not high enough to earn her the right to represent the U.S. at the FEI Young Rider World Cup in Frankfurt, Germany in December. That right remained with Kassie Barteau, who finished second in Sunday's Young Rider Freestyle at Devon with a score of 69.35. Barteau had already earned qualifying scores for the Young Rider World Cup and at Devon it was just a question of whether or not Roffman could earn qualifying scores that would top those of Barteau.
Roffman, 21, rode her freestyle, created by Terri Gallo, to a mix of music she termed "Italian Holiday," which was fitting in that her partner is the 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding Bulgari V. "Terri will tell you that the horse picked the music. I had great ideas of what to use and none of it worked." Roffman knew going into the ring just how important was her freestyle ride, but she didn't let that get to her. "I've had high scores in the freestyle before and I just wanted a clean test and to have the ride I knew I could have," she said. Roffman recently began working with sports psychologist Jenny Susser, an Olympic swimmer, because her coach, Lars Petersen, encouraged her not to neglect the mental aspect of dressage. "Lars believes this is an important part of the sport that is often overlooked," Roffman said.
What Susser taught her, is that she can't lie to herself. "I knew the importance of this test, but I can’t tell myself that it isn’t important. So, I needed to embrace that and ride like it was important," Roffman said. "This is the biggest thing I've ever had to fight for and I'm proud of myself because I kept it together. I didn’t cave under the pressure. So that is a personal victory."
For her part, Barteau was thrilled to be going to Germany. She has only been to Europe once before in her life and that was for a horse-buying trip to Denmark and Sweden. "I'm quite excited about this opportunity," she said. "And I really have to thank Ginna Frantz for giving it to me. She is a wonderful, wonderful person." Barteau earned her trip to Germany with Frantz's 10-year-old Holsteiner stallion GP Raymeister. Her freestyle was to the music of 'The Man from Snowy River.' Although she knew that Roffman could take away her European trip, she didn't let that thought enter her mind during her freestyle ride. "Today, I was really calm and collected and I went in and focused on my ride. I thought, 'Whatever happens, happens. I can’t control that.' Ray is a sensitive guy and in the warm-up, I just worked on his mind."
Next show for Barteau is the USDF Region 2 championships and she'll be taking five horses to compete, which is rather normal for her. That's one reason why she loves competing at Devon. "I love Devon and what is nice is that I get to focus just on Ray." In November, Barteau will head to Florida to train with Cathy Morelli before heading off to Germany.