Christopher Hickey and Werbellin scored 70% in their Third Level Test 1 at the WEF Dressage Classic CDI*** in Wellington, Florida, March 14-17, earning first place and the high score at Third Level. The pair have only been together since December and it was Werbellin’s second dressage show.
"Our ride was smooth.The judges like him, especially his medium and extended trot. He has a fluid half pass and a wonderful walk. He’s beautiful to look at. He has a beautiful neck," said Hickey. "He’s a good mover. He’s good and active behind. He has good balance and gets stronger and more confirmed every day." Hickey plans to qualify Werbellin for the USDF Regionals and then make their Fourth Level debut right after the Finals.
Werbellin (Weltmeyer x St. Pr. Lady Laurin) is an eight-year-old , 16.2-hand, chestnut Hanoverian stallion owned by Rachel Ehrlich of New Braintree, Massachusetts. Ehrlich operates Greengate Hanoverian Sporthorses. She imported Werbellin from the Celle German State Stud Farm in 1999. Her friend Jan Williams initially rode the youngster, but Williams felt that Hickey would be a good match and initiated the stallion’s move to Hickey’s barn, a little over an hour from Ehrlich’s farm.
"He’s been a pleasure," said Hickey, who said that he had worked on a breeding farm with studs before, but never had a breeding stallion in his barn as a show horse. "He is an angel in the barn. You would never know he’s a stallion. He doesn’t talk to the other horses. He is turned out next to the other horses with no problem."
Hickey said Werbellin does flying changes and half pass and will stay with him to train to Grand Prix. He hasn’t started piaffe or passage. Hickey predicts that Werbellin will be ready for Prix St. Georges next winter. The pair will spend summers in Massachusetts and winters in Florida. "He’ll stay with me," said Hickey. "He’s a horse for me to train and show."
In training, Hickey describes Werbellin as a good worker. "He doesn’t spook and doesn’t do anything bad. I can hack him down Southfields Road [to the show grounds]. He’s quiet. He trailers and is a perfect gentleman." When Conrad Schumacher was in Wellington early this winter for a trainer’s conference at Walter and Mary Anne McPhail’s Horse Park at Equestrian Estates in Loxahatchee, he worked with Hickey and Werbellin every day. "I had only had him about a month, so we worked on half pass, but not ‘cranking’ because we were just getting to know each other."
Werbellin has already started his breeding career and has foals on the ground. On his way to Florida this year, he stopped at Hilltop Farm in Colora, Maryland, for a month where he was collected so that potential mare owners will have access to his frozen semen while he is competing. He will be leaving Florida ahead of Hickey to be collected for two weeks at Greengate Hanoverian Sporthorses.
At the shows Werbellin is an attention-getter and and a show-stopper – even U.S. Dressage Coach Klaus Balkenhol stopped to ask ‘who is that horse?’ Hickey agrees that Werbellin is a new star on the dressage scene. "He’ll be one to watch."