Hasty Purchase Pays Off for Chrissa Hoffmann at Gold Coast Dressage Association Opener Festival CDI
West Palm Beach – A short trip to Germany last spring that resulted in a quick decision to buy a new horse paid off for Chrissa Hoffmann at the Gold Coast Dressage Association Opener Festival CDI. Hoffmann and F. Ferrelli, the 12-year-old Rheinlander gelding by Florestan I that she bought last spring, took the win in FEI Open Grand Prix competition among a large field of top competitors and horses.
"Wow. I never expected to go into a class that large and come out on top. I don't usually pay much attention to the competition because I just go in there and try to do my best. But there was some tough competition, among them Lauren Sammis with Sagacious and Shawna Harding with Come On, and to come out on top is fabulous," Hoffmann said. The Open Grand Prix class had 28 entries and was actually divided into two divisions. Hoffmann won her division and had the highest score of both with a 65.50 percent.
It was less than a year ago that Hoffmann, of Prospect, Kentucky, got a call from her trainer and friend, Alex Gerding, telling her to come to Germany and see a horse. She had been on the hunt for a horse with international potential, but it was a hard search as she had limited funds to spend. "I flew over and was only there 48 hours and bought the horse. Good horses are hard to come by. He had done two Grand Prix classes in local shows in Germany and scored a 64 and 65. So, he was pretty green," Hoffmann said.
Ferrilli is a [#26523 override="Markel Insurance horse" title="Markel Insurance horse"] and Hoffmann said she has to thank the company for taking some of the fear out of her quick purchase decision. "I was a bit of a scared purchaser investing so much and shipping him back. And I had only two days to organize it all. I've known Mary (Phelps) for years. She's been like part of the family, so I wouldn't insure with anyone else. But wow, they were a pleasure to work with. It was stressful being in Germany for just two days and getting everything done. I called them to get the insurance set and have him covered in a hurry and they made it all so easy," Hoffmann said.
Once he got home, Hoffmann set to work earning Ferrilli's trust and boosting his confidence. Their Grand Prix at the GCDA Opener was only their third Grand Prix. Hoffmann is also successfully competing the American Saddlebred Harry Callahan and she said he's a bit of hot horse and that has helped her with Ferrilli. "Ferrili was easy for me to understand, but other riders might feel insecure because he's large and powerful and he can unseat you," Hoffmann said. "He can be tight in the back and insecure by nature so it can be difficult to get him to trust you."
"He's very emotional. I've never owned a horse like this. It's more about dealing with psychological issues than riding." While she's in Florida, Hoffmann's husband, John, is back home in Kentucky, where he's a resident in radiology at the University of Louisville's School of Medicine. She said John is as thrilled with Ferrilli's win as is she and doesn't seem to mind being left behind while she campaigns the horses. "I did try to make it easy on him. I closed the barn at home and brought all the horses here so at least he doesn't have to take care of the farm," Hoffmann said.
Hoffmann and Ferrilli did a Grand Prix at last summer's Paxton Farms CDI and then one a couple weeks ago in Florida, which didn't go very well. Hoffmann said she's still learning about Ferrilli and felt she had warmed him up too much, so at the GCDA Opener, she did only a 20-minute warm-up. It seemed to work. Since Ferrilli still seems to shut down under too much pressure, Hoffmann said at this stage of their partnership, she tends to ride him conservatively. Hence, she feels to have won the Open Grand Prix class at the Opener, despite a few mistakes and the fact that she didn't push the horse, says much about his talent. She's planning to test him out in his first Grand Prix CDI at the upcoming Wellington Classic Dressage Spring Challenge CDI.
"I do think he's a really top international horse that can one day be a great asset to the team. This year is about getting to know him and see what we get. Perhaps next year, we'll aim for the World Equestrian Games. I know he's capable of it," Hoffmann said. "This weekend, he earned 8s on his passage and piaffe, but it wasn't a perfect test. I tried to ride mistake free and I didn't push for brilliance and he still scored well."
Hoffmann is a featured trainer with www.dressagetrainingonline.com and invites fans to keep tabs on Ferrilli's progress by visiting the site. One of her other big sponsors is Saddlery Solutions/JRD Saddlery, which provided her with a custom-made saddle for Ferrilli. They were at the show to cheer on Ferrilli and Hoffmann and she said they were just as excited with the win as she.
[#25937 override="Complete Results for the Gold Coast Opener 2009" title="Complete Results for the Gold Coast Opener 2009"]