Saugerties, New York – Cesar Parra and Olympia, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Lori Washton, followed up their Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I wins at the 2009 New England Dressage Association Fall Festival CDI-W/Y/J with a win in Sunday's Intermediaire Freestyle with a score of 74.5 giving them a hat trick for the show. "I am very, very happy. Hat tricks are not easy and they don't come often. It takes a bit of hard work and a really good team to be able to hold it together for the whole weekend," Parra said after Sunday's win. "Horses get tired and this horse especially needs to start slowly the first day. I started the Prix St. Georges a little conservative to make sure I had enough horse for the I-1 and freestyle," said Parra, who gave much credit to Olympia, a horse he called "a super fine one to ride."
The two have only been partnered for a few months and Parra recognizes that while he trusts the horse 100 percent, he's still working to earn Olympia's full trust. "But every day, he trusts me more. He's wonderful because he does his job and he likes to work." Parra said the next stop is Devon, but where after that he's not sure and isn't concerned. "Lori loves him and that's what is most important. We're taking it one day at a time."
For Parra, it wasn't just winning that was exciting, it was getting to hear the U.S. national anthem play while in the winner's circle. It was only this past spring that he began riding as a U.S. citizen. Prior to that, he rode for Colombia. "This is the second time I've done a CDI as a U.S. citizen. And, with this horse, I've done nine classes and we've won eight. He's a nice, nice guy. But I can say, it's not so much about the win. It's the joy of going through the whole process and watching the horse develop. Olympia has really come along well."
Dressage at Devon might also be where Parra comes out with his newest mount, Grandioso. The Westfalian gelding, bred by Germany's Willi Hillebrecht, was recently sold by Jason Canton to the Davis family and the ride given to Parra. Canton purchased the horse as a five-year-old and successfully trained him up the levels. The pair won the National Six-Year-Old Championships in 2007 and they were third in the 2009 U.S. Developing Horse Championships. Parra said Canton did a fabulous job training the gelding and as the new rider he feels that "I have a big responsibility to both Grandioso and Jason. I know that I have to go slowly and carefully with the horse." Parra said his plan for Devon is simply to make it an easy outing for his new partner.
Photo: Susan J Stickle
The partnership surrounding Grandioso is part of an effort that Parra and his supporters, such as the Davis family, term "Crossties," which seeks to build positive relationships within the dressage community for the betterment of the sport and the community. The Davis family and Parra have known each other for several years and Mike Davis said the aim of Crossties is to raise awareness to the fact that when people within the horse community come together for the greater good, positive things can result. "Our initial goal is to create a community within the community that works to help other people," he said. But it isn't just other people within the equestrian community that the Crossties concept hopes to support. Protecting talented horses like Grandioso is also part of the plan. "This is a beautiful creature that God created and our goal is to preserve it and take care of it," Davis said.
Also earning a hat trick at the Fall Festival in CDI competition was 21-year-old Caroline Roffman. With Bulgari, she cleaned up in CDI Young Rider competition winning Sunday's freestyle, Saturday's CDI Young Rider Individual and Friday's CDI Young Rider Team Test. She also took second in the Individual and third in the Team Test with Accent Aigu FRH. Bulgari had been out of competition for two years because of an injury and Roffman only began riding him again six months ago. "I'm very happy because we just picked up where we left off. We had mistakes but for the most part he was really on," she said. Roffman, who trains with Lars Petersen and also with Silke Rembacz, said she doesn't show Bulgari as often as she had in the past and "I'm very careful about the shows I pick. I make sure to pick shows with good footing."
This year's Fall Festival CDI played host to some of the largest CDI classes in the event's history and CDI judge Anne Gribbons said judges were quite pleased with what they saw. "The overall quality is better. Certainly, some of the horses are weaker than others and need more strength and development and there were some make mistakes. But I think that we can say that the horses here were able to come in and get the job done at this level." She did note that there was certainly "a large contingent of Canadians, which was great because now we can see what the competition is like. They have some very nice horses."
In other CDI Grand Prix competition, Todd Flettrich, who just returned from three months in Germany training with Hubertus Schmidt, took the blue in Sunday's CDI Grand Prix Special with the 13-year-old Otto, owned by Cherry Knoll Farm. The day before, the pair finished sixth in the CDI Grand Prix. Flettrich was quite pleased with the win on a horse that he describes as very powerful. "I'm very excited. This is the first CDI that I've done with him. And yesterday, we didn't have as good of a ride as we can. But today, I felt that the horse was on my side again and that we were on the same page." Flettrich said he had also injured his back earlier in the week and wasn't sure if he'd be able to ride in the CDI. "So, I'm ecstatic."
In the CDI Grand Prix Freestyle, Lauren Sammis and the Dutch Warmblood gelding Sagacious HF followed up their Saturday win in the CDI Grand Prix with another blue ribbon. The Fall Festival also played host to the USDF Region 8 Championships and the big winner in regional competition was Sue Jaccoma riding Wadamur. The pair was crowned Region 8 Grand Prix Champions and Region 8 Grand Prix Freestyle champions. They also won the FEI Intermediaire II.
For complete show results visit www.neda.org.