Loxahatchee, Florida – Courtney King-Dye riding Bogner B and Chris Hickey with his partner Cabana Boy have been battling it out in Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I competition at this year's Dressage at Equestrian Estates. On Friday, King-Dye edged out Hickey to take the win in the Prix St. Georges competition with a score of 70.439 percent with Hickey close behind in second with a score of 70.263. The two riders reversed roles in Saturday's Intermediaire I competition with Hickey first and King-Dye second.
"It's been close," King-Dye said. "On Friday, Bogner and I had the highest score overall but two judges had put Chris and Cabana Boy first. Today, two judges put us first, but Chris had the highest score overall for the win." King-Dye said Bogner B, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Jeff Fuqua of Collecting Gaits Farm, just keeps getting better and better. "I'm really able to put more power into the work now and he's become more supple."
King-Dye has been collecting quite a number of ribbons in FEI competition during this winter's Florida circuit, not only with Bogner B, but also with Hampton Green Farm's Grandioso, a 10-year-old P.R.E. stallion. At the rate she's going, King-Dye just might qualify both horses for this year's National Intermediaire Dressage Championships scheduled to be held in Gladstone, New Jersey in June.
Grandioso finished sixth in Friday's Prix St. Georges competition and despite a few baubles in Saturday's Intermediaire I, King-Dye said the stallion has nabbed some high scores from the judges. "And that has been really good feedback to know how much they like him," she said.
Kim Boyer, owner of Hampton Green Farm, said she's not only thrilled with Grandioso's success, but also with King-Dye. "Courtney's abilities to train and to ride are demonstrated every time she takes a horse into the ring." Boyer said. "Her years with Lendon Gray, and the accumulation of her own experiences, have given her a foundation and method that is highly successful and uniquely hers. On a personal note, however, I have to say that she is one of the bravest professionals I have seen in this business. Her professional standards are the highest, and she is unbent by the gossip and discrimination that are the less attractive elements of our sport. I am confident that she will continue to represent the very best that dressage in the United States has to offer."
King-Dye's goal with Bogner B is eventually to return him to his owner, Jeff Fuqua, but Fuqua is for the moment more than happy to have King-Dye in the saddle. "Courtney is a masterful trainer and a very insightful horse person. Her style of riding not only relaxes the horses but makes them very confident. She allows Bogner to function at his highest potential without the pressure and tension you see a lot of times in this sport," Fuqua said. "We are so confident in her abilities we sent two other horses to Courtney to be assessed and tuned up for a short period of time. Courtney returned our horses in a much better state and condition. We couldn't be happier with Bogner's progress at this point and are proud to have the association with one of our top Olympians."
For her part, King-Dye is just as thrilled with her clients as they are with her, saying of Boyer that since they are both from Michigan they share similar views. "What's really nice is that we have a good partnership. I've had many great sponsors – people who have wanted to help me and who have been very important and wonderful – but with Kim, it's more like teammates working to promote the horse and the breed. We have an equal stake in this. And I really respect Kim. She's very classy."
King-Dye said Jeff Fuqua, and his wife Shereen, are wonderful clients and great horse owners because of their real love for horses. "They are both riders and they both really love their horses. In every situation, they put their horses first. And they are so supportive of this sport. They are real givers."
Like King-Dye, Hickey is also aiming for this year's National Intermediaire Dressage Championships and with Cabana Boy already sitting near the top of the list, he's rather confident the pair will make it. His win in Saturday's Intermediaire I was with a score of 69.912 percent and Hickey said it was only Cabana Boy's third Intermediaire I. "We're just so thrilled with his progress. He came into this show ranked about fifth nationally and now with this win I'm sure we'll make Gladstone."
Owned by Hilltop Farm and bred in the U.S. by Doug and Shannon Langer, Cabana Boy has been winning nearly all his life. He won on the line at Devon as a youngster and was both the Five and Six-Year-Old U.S. champion. Now seven, the Hanoverian gelding could become this year's Developing Horse champion as well, at least that's what Hickey is hoping for. "I really think that Cabana Boy could be the poster child for American breeders," he said. For now, however, the young horse will be heading north later this week for some much needed rest. "He's really tired and wants to go home and do some hacking. It's been a busy show season."
One other very happy rider at this year's Dressage at Equestrian Estates is Sue Jaccoma, who, with her 10-year-old mare Donatella, took the win in Friday's Intermediaire II competition and finished third in Saturday's Grand Prix. A few weeks earlier, at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby, Jaccoma and Donatella did not have the best of shows. Jaccoma said their first and third-place showings this weekend helped put the Derby behind them. "I felt we both needed to get back into the same ring we rode in at the Derby. This weekend, we had two good, solid rides in the same ring with all the same things around and that was important. I was very happy with her. She was back on my aids and we had it back together."
Finishing ahead of Jaccoma in Saturday's Grand Prix competition was Melissa Jackson and Wellington 248 in second. Taking the win was Lauren Sammis and Sagacious HF, owned by Hyperion Farms. The 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding just started the Grand Prix this season in Florida and already has been nabbing wins, not only on the small tour, but also in CDI competition. The pair is well on the way toward their goal of one day representing the U.S. in international competition.
Winning Saturday's Grand Prix AA was Jennifer Huber riding Al Pacino to a score of 67.872.