Catherine Haddad Joins US Shortlisted Riders in Elmlohe

The sixth member of the USET Shortlist for the 2006 WEG is also sending us some email. Catherine Haddad will join up with the other Team riders in Elmlohe on Wednesday, the 26th of July. Haddad plans to ride the Grand Prix at the national show and the Special if qualified.

Photo: Ruechel. Lingen CDI*** July 6-9.

In the meantime she is working closely with her trainer of four years, Rudolf Zeilinger. "We have been putting some finishing touches on my musical freestyle this week and generally tuning up a few things with the throughness," says the 42 year old rider who is permanently based in Vechta, Germany. "I've had very intense schedule over the last few weeks with Rotterdam CDI and Lingen CDI and the national show with younger horses at Rastede last weekend. But Maximus is in great form. He has had a lot of down time between shows and really good fitness training when he is working. The heat does not slow him down. So we are ready. I'm really looking forward to finally hooking up with the other American riders."

Haddad had hoped to arrive for training at Stall Balkenhol earlier in the month. But with some confusion over the availability of stabling at Balkenhol's and then the added distraction of starting in Rastede, she decided to keep working with Zeilinger until this week.

"I had planned to drive to Klaus' on Monday with both horses but he suggested that I meet up with the team in Elmlohe on Wednesday. That's a lot less travel for my horses in this extreme heat wave, so I agreed. Klaus is about 3 hours south of my stable and Elmlohe is one hour north. So it makes sense just to head up there."

Haddad is bringing her younger Grand Prix horse, Cadillac, with her for training but Maximus JSS is the only horse she will compete with at Elmlohe and the Verden CDI. "I've shown in both places before," says the native Michigander. "Elmlohe is a lovely show in a rustic setting with a fairly relaxed atmosphere compared to the bigger international shows. It will be a nice change for Maximus. But Verden is my all time favorite place to show. The stadium is gigantic and the show is run by a very professional team. I'm really hoping that I qualify for the Freestyle there as it will take place in the stadium on Saturday night--probably with a full crowd. Maximus can really put on a show in that kind of atmosphere."

Haddad's freestyle is choreographed to the music from the film, The Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe. Maximus was named after the general in the film. His owner, the late Janet S. Schneider, was a student of Latin and Roman history and she found the name fitting for the horse. "I've tried to choreograph a bit of the film story into my freestyle," says Haddad. "The music by Hans Zimmer is very dramatic and suspenseful. I hope it pulls the whole crowd to the edge of their seats."

Haddad believes the freestyle should be written more for the spectators than for the judges. "Designing a freestyle is the time to really break free and get creative. I think it should be a reward for the eye, not only for the educated dresage enthusiast, but also for people who just enjoy horses and music."

Haddad was 4th in Rotterdam with the Gladiator Freestyle against heavy competition at the Dutch Selection Trials. The spectators definitely showed their enthusiasm for the pair.