“Ferrelli is the first horse that I have ever owned that has international gaits and has what it takes to get me to that next level,” Chrissa says. “Sure, making the team or getting close to it would be a dream come true, but I am also very realistic in how hard that accomplishment is – having trained three horses to Grand Prix myself. I am also in a position that I do not have constant help because I live in Kentucky and have a family, but I am doing the best I can in my situation.
“Fortunately my husband is supportive of me going to Florida and taking our two-year-old son. In Florida, I can get help from top trainers. Last year I was extremely fortunate to meet Steffen Peters and got to ride with him! It was a great experience since Ferrelli is a half-brother to Steffen’s former Olympic horse Floriano! I also returned for some lessons with my former coach Robert Dover. At WEF, I was introduced to Michelle Gibson through friends Karen Lipp and Shawna Harding, who both work with her. Michelle and I hit if off and since then I have brought her to Kentucky where she will continue to conduct clinics.
“Being able to travel to Florida not only allows for top help, but it also opens your eyes to where you really are in your training. You find yourself amongst top riders and horses, which brings your standards up, and that is truly what I love! I also get to reconnect with many friends and, of course, it’s sunny and there’s a beach, so all around it’s wonderful!
Alex Gerding found Ferrelli, a 12-year-old Rheinlander gelding by Florestan I, at Juergen Hoefler’s barn in Germany. “Juergen had done two Grand Prix classes with Ferrelli, so he was fairly green to Grand Prix when I got him,” Chrissa notes. “In Florida when we won with a 65.5% it was only our second Grand Prix ever, so I was extremely happy!”
In 2009, Chrissa took Ferrelli and five additional horses to Florida to compete in the winter CDIs. Chrissa and Ferrelli kicked off their tour in January with a win at the Gold Coast Opener Festival CDI-W in West Palm Beach earning an impressive 65.5%. In March, Chrissa and Ferrelli competed at the WEF Dressage Classic CDI-W in Wellington. The duo contested the World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix and finished in sixth place with a score of 62.90%.
In addition to Ferrelli, Chrissa also campaigned Harry Callahan in Grand Prix competition. At the WEF Dressage Classic CDI-W, Chrissa and Harry scored 62.80% to capture sixth place in a field of 18 horses. “Harry is probably the only Saddlebred that’s ever been campaigned in Florida against top quality horses and been able to achieve good scores,” Chrissa noted. “It’s rare to find a Saddlebred competing in Grand Prix, let alone competing successfully against the Warmbloods.”
Harry is an 11-year-old gelding owned by Linda Cawthon of Louisville, Kentucky. Chrissa began training Harry when he was four and the duo made their Grand Prix debut in 2008, scoring a remarkable 65.20%. “He might be the highest-scoring, full-bred American Saddlebred in the world to ever earn that high of a score in Grand Prix,” Chrissa noted.
After an illustrious seven-year career with Chrissa, in April 2009 Harry was sold to Fran Marino who trains with Katherine Bateson-Chandler. “I had reached the Grand Prix with Harry on a successful level and his owner needed to sell him so it was time,” Chrissa explained. “Katherine is a good friend of mine so when she called and told me that she had a client for him I was elated because I knew I could not find a better home for him!”
But Chrissa still has a Saddlebred in her barn – Forty Something, a nine-year-old gelding owned by Jody Swimmer of Louisville. Forty Something came to Chrissa at age four, trained for saddle seat. “I had to retrain everything and re-introduce a whole new language,” Chrissa explained. Chrissa started showing Forty Something at Third Level with impressive results, earning scores in the mid-60s. “I think that proves that Saddlebreds can compete in dressage and not only win, but score very well,” Chrissa said. “Some have commented that Harry may just be a ‘freak of nature’. I disagree. As Forty Something shows, with good training, any willing, athletic breed can learn dressage.” In the Spring of 2009, owner Jody Swimmer competed Forty Something at Third Level and earned her USDF Bronze Medal. For the Fall 2009 season, Chrissa will take back the reins and the talented Saddlebred will make his Prix St. Georges debut.
Also among Chrissa’s stable of competitors is Davidson, a talented six-year-old gelding owned by Peggy Randolph of Louisville. Alex Gerding spotted the outstanding youngster at the Elite Westphalian Auction and sold him to Peggy. Davidson made the trip to Florida in 2009 and at the WEF Dressage Classic, Chrissa’s 17-year-old working student Geena Sturzebecher showed him successfully at First Level. The duo placed in the top six of a highly competitive field, earning 65.50%.
Chrissa will be adding Dante to her FEI-level mounts. Dante, a nine-year-old German-bred gelding owned by Janet Sweet, will be ready to compete Prix St. Georges during the 2010 Florida winter season.
In 2010, Chrissa will return to Florida to compete Ferrelli and seven additional client-owned horses in the CDIs.
[#25074 override="Preparing for 2010 – Gibson Clinics, Summer Shows, Dover Symposium" title="Preparing for 2010 – Gibson Clinics, Summer Shows, Dover Symposium"]