Cathy Morelli and BeSe may not always be perfect, but one thing is certain, they are both pretty much always happy about doing their job. And it was the harmonious and happy picture with moments of BeSe’s brilliance which earned the long time team first place and the highest score at a 67.447 in a large division of 30 horses in the Grand Prix dressage sponsored by Succeed, at the first show of the Wellington Classic Dressage series. Morelli is all about having happy horses who like their work, and has applied that philosophy throughout her training system.
"Even when I don’t have a perfect test, I am approached by so many people who tell me how much they enjoyed watching us and the joy we express as a team. Morelli who is now unbelievably 65 years old and a breast cancer survivor, appreciates her life with a natural sense of joy and appreciation for all she has. “At Devon this year, in the pouring rain I walked through the tunnel from the stable area, and thought, ‘why am I still doing this?’ Then my heart started to pound, we entered the arena and the crowd let out a huge applause of welcome. BeSe got all puffed up, and I just had chills, and I realized this is why, it still gives me a thrill.” Nicknamed “Laughing Eyes” by Major General Jonathan R. Burton, Cathy is almost always smiling when she is riding, whether she is training or in a class.
Morelli, who owns an eight stall barn in nearby Little Ranches, also has a farm in Bedminster, near Gladstone. She has competed for the USA at 1990 Dressage World Cup (in the Netherlands with RH McKinney), and has also competed in almost every National Grand Prix Championships since its inception in 1991. With BeSe, the KWPN gelding by Flemmingh out of Wabatsje and owned by Diane Rosenberg, Morelli has yet another veteran who is now becoming more confirmed and confident as he begins the 2009 season in Florida. A longtime popular trainer, who has a loyal following of students and friends, credits those closest to her for much of her success. “My husband Frank is always there, video taping and watching me ride.” said Morelli. “Lynn Leath a long time student, friend and trainer from North Carolina makes frequent trips to Florida to train with Morelli and is there as her eyes on the ground. “Lynn is great and tough on me too.” Cathy laughed. “She has a great eye and experience and knows exactly what to looks for when I am warming up.” Morelli also has help from her current working student Jen Griger and former student a trainer Laurie Jolliffe who is now on her own spreding the system she learned from Morelli.
The Morellis are a part of the phenomena that is Wellington life. It is the only place in all of the USA, and most likely the world where there is such a connected community of Dressage riders, trainers, and horses in one intimate area. With the wonderful hospitality and organization of John and Noreen Flanagan, the Wellington Classic Dressage I show this weekend was a chance for residents and winter guests to come together and start a new year off with hugs, greetings and camaraderie.