Dana Fiore and Redford Earn Highest Score at Ocala Dressage By Shaneen Kohler
One of the riders who was hoping to make a splash, practically started a tidal wave, even though no body of water exists anywhere near the Florida Horse Park. Dana Fiore of Boynton Beach, Fla. made the trip up to North Central Florida to compete in Ocala Dressage after talking to Eleanor Rawle. Rawle, who is based in Pennsylvania, was planning on bringing her stallion Waldaire to Ocala Dressage to compete. Fiore sold Waldaire to Rawle after owning him for 10 years. “We kind of made a plan to meet here and show together,” said Fiore. “I could watch her do the Grand Prix on Waldaire and I could show my new horse, Redford.” Redford is a Hanoverian gelding by Riccione and out of a W-Line Hanoverian mare.
But neither of them were ready for what judge Barbara Ebner had in store for Redford.
In what was only Redford’s third show, he scored a 77.692%, the highest score at the show and one of only a few scores in the 70s. When Fiore showed Redford at the January dressage show at the Florida Horse Park, she scored a 64.23% in both of the classes they competed in. “The 77% is the highest score I have ever gotten on Redford,” said Fiore proudly, though, in the back of her mind remembering an 81% she got on Waldaire once at the Tropical Park show in Miami judged by Hilda Gurney. “I have to try to top that. It is going to be tough,” she laughed.
Fiore trains with German trainer, Holger Bechtloff of Wellington, Fla., and is full of praise for his training style. “Sometimes he doesn’t even have to speak and I am doing it. It is like he transmits his brain waves,” said Fiore, who is a trainer at Johnson’s Folly Equestrian Center in Delray Beach and owns D&G Tree Farm and grows palm trees.
Fiore’s next steps for Redford, whom she intends on bringing up to Grand Prix Level, is to show him in the 5-year-old Young Horse class in two weeks at Dressage at the Equestrian Estates. Then, watch for them on the leader board at Regionals in both Training and First levels, if all goes as planned.
“Redford is brilliant. He is beautiful to watch and expressive and obedient,” said Fiore, who doesn’t question his potential to go all the way.
Cheryl Holekamp Earns Grand Prix Win
It took four years, but for Cheryl Holekamp the wait was worth it. Holekamp rode her home-bred mare Hera to a 63.75% in an FEI Grand Prix Level class and earned the blue ribbon, placing above James Koford on Donatelli II, Erin Brinkman on Hailo and Eleanor Rawle on Waldaire.
“I felt that Hera and I had a pretty good test and was hoping for a 60%,” said Holekamp. “I was amazingly surprised when I went to the scoreboard and saw that we had not only earned a 63.7%, but that we had won the class. Hera is a small mare that has three correct gaits but is not a big mover, so 8s are very hard to come by. We must ride a very correct and accurate test to get good scores. Hera gave me her very best that day as usual and I managed to be a worthy partner and rode her well.”
Since deciding to compete in dressage rather than eventing, Holekamps’s goal has not been only to breed a Grand Prix Level horse, but also be its rider and trainer, which she did with assistance from coaches Gunnar Ostergaard and Jayne Ayers. “Gunnar was the one to recognize the abilities of my ‘plain brown wrapper’ of a mare and fondly refers to her as a female Seabiscut,” said Holekamp. “She is a once-in-a-lifetime horse, cheerfully trying her best each and every day.”
Hera, a Trakehner by Garabaldi and out of Havel by Matador, is just one of the top Trakehners owned by Tim and Cheryl Holekamp of New Spring Farm in Columbia, Mo. and Ocala, Fla. Windfall II, who was Darren Chiacchia’s eventing mount at the 2004 Athens Olympics, is perhaps their most well-known horse. But, Hera may be on her way to joining Windfall II at the top. With Holekamp riding, the mare has earned her USDF Silver Medal and is one 60% score away from earning her Gold. Also with Holekamp riding, Hera was the third-placed winner in the 1998 ATA Dressage Futurity and two years later won the U.S. Combined Training Association Area IV Training Level Eventing Championship.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to compete at the Florida Horse Park,” said Holekamp. “The rapid development of this park into a first-class competition facility has truly been amazing. The footing is the best on which I have ever competed. I look forward to the continued development of the Florida Horse Park.”