Catherine Haddad has expressed her intent of qualifying for the United States Equestrian Team to compete at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany. Permanently based in Vechta, Germany, Haddad has been in the Euro-picture this year aboard the 12-year old Danish Warmblood Maximus JSS. With top sixty percentage marks, Haddad is walking in the footsteps of Lisa Wilcox who had to go through specific procedures to qualify for the U.S. team, as she too was based in Germany.
"After consulting my trainer, my sponsor and the US Team Coach, I have decided to request a "bye" from the USEF for the Selection Trials in Gladstone," Haddad explained. "I would like to stay in Europe to try to qualify for the 2006 World Equestrian Games. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to show at Gladstone and my sponsors are willingly support the trip, but the consensus is that it does not make sense to change venue now when we are just gaining momentum on the European circuit," Haddad stated. "Also, in the time that it would take to fly to the US, compete at Gladstone, fly back to Germany and recover from the trip--we can compete at three of the largest CDIs in Europe against the world's best competitors, for half the price."
Haddad has been living in Germany since 1993 when she moved there to train with the late Willi Schultheis. After his death in 1995, she established her own training stable in Vechta near Oldenburg. "I have a twenty stall barn with training and show horses and a small breeding operation. I was given the Silver Pin Award for excellence in breeding by the Oldenburg Verband in 2004," Haddad said.
In 2002 she began training with Rudolf Zeilinger, with whom she currently keeps two horses at his stable in Emsbueren. "I drive there every morning at 5:30 am to ride my two top horses under his supervision before returning to work in my own stable for the rest of the day."
Haddad's top horse Maximus JSS is owned by her sponsor, the Janet Schneider Trust. Janet Schneider began her sponsorship in 2003 before her untimely death last year. Maximus JSS is a 12 year old Danish warmblood by May Sherif. "We were very successful in the small tour in Germany, winning the Golden Horseshoe Trophy in 2003, before we started in our first Grand Prix in 2004."
Haddad and Maximus Fly High
With a slow start in her first few WEG qualifiers last year, Hadded's points and the placings finally began to take off for us at the Frankfurt CDI-W last December with an 8th placing and over 70% in the Freestyle. "In 2006, Maximus and I consistently improved at each show. We have moved up to over 68% in the Grand Prix and over 71% in the Freestyle," Haddad said.
All of their placings have been at CDIs against top European competitors. Since the Frankfurt show, Haddad has placed ten times in the Grand Prix, the Special or the Freestyle alongside such names as Isabell Werth, Nadine Capellmann, Ann Katrin Linsenhoff, Hubertus Schmidt, Anky Van Grunsven and Ulla Salzgeber.
In mid May, Haddad placed third in the Grand Prix Special at the CDI Hansbeke in Belgium, which was won by Anky Van Grunsven. At their last competition at the CDI Munich, they placed 3rd in both the Grand Prix (68.75%) and the Grand Prix Freestyle (71.6%). It was double European Champion Ulla Salzgeber who won. Their next step on the road to Aachen is the CDI Wiesbaden, which takes place this weekend. The rest of the summer will include starts at the Rotterdam, Lingen and Verden CDIs.
Though Maximus and Haddad have only been doing the Grand Prix for two years, the pair has already taken flight this 2006 show season. "I think it is a bit early in our Grand Prix career for Maximus and I to be making a bid for the US Team. But Maximus seems to be telling me something different," Hadded explained. "He is getting better at every horse show and responding incredibly well to the stress of competition and travel. He stays absolutely cool in the head. So, hey, why not keep our options open? We have nothing to lose by trying."
Photos copyrighted: Altenhofer - Ruechel.