The Derby Series Kickoff Launches the 2005 Dressage in Florida Season

In the first of a series of three dressage competitions hosted by The Horse Park at Equestrian Estates, the Derby Series Kickoff gave a glimpse at what dressage enthusiasts have to look forward to at the location in Loxahatchee Florida devoted purely to Dressage. The competitor and vendor friendly organization welcomed both riders ready to begin the season, and vendors, with a fresh supply of clothing, equipment, saddles and gift items.

Show manager Evelyn O'Sullivan and Executive Director Mary Anne McPhail oversee the longtime staff, headed up by VADA's President Bettina Longaker, and assisted by Sandra Trussell, and in spite of several scratches due to the inclement weather, every effort was made to keep up with the changes, and keeps the show moving.

The weather turned grey and rainy, and the cold front which had paralyzed the north blew in, translating into chilly damp temperatures. But the weather did not dampen the spirits of everyone involved, excited to see friends and horses, some on their first outing in 2005. Besides a chilly damp 60 degree day in Florida beats sub zero temperatures, snow and ice, any day.

Jan Brons Sets the Standard

Jan Brons was busy riding 5 horses, and winning most of the classes he entered. On Joli Burrell's Fino, an elegant 1990 Rheinlander gelding by Fidermark out of St Pr St Wachtel, he excelled at second level nailing a 72.105 under "S" Judge Sarah Geike. At the right level for the National Young Horse classes being offered later this season, Fino will be one of many talented young horses with an eye on the Young Horse program for 2005.

Riding two 4-year-olds, Elizabeth Schaffner's KWPN Tornado, Keena Pettijohn's Hanoverian Mesetano, Brons competed against himself in first level classes, keeping his clients horse in the ribbons by either winning or placing second. Brons delivered 2 red ribbons to owner Peter Ruig, whose three-year-old Up to Date (KWPN by Flemming H) had excelled in the 2004 Dressage at Devon Materiale classes. Brons on Karen McKean's Jourdan outscored a large field in the Intermediaire II class on Sunday, with a 69.268, increasing the phone calls coming in on this elegant gelding which has been offered for sale through HorseMarket.

Shannon Dueck and Korona Ace the Grand Prix

While many of the Grand Prix horses are waiting for the first CDI of the season, at the Gold Coast Opener, January 21-13, Canadian Team veteran Shannon Dueck and her long time equine partner Korona (KWPN by El Corona) took advantage of the opportunity to fine tune her horse at the Derby Series Kickoff, before facing the panel of judges the following week. Dueck and Korona aced the Grand Prix with a 68.541% slightly edging Susanne Dansby Phelps and Cooper who scored a 67.083%.

"Korona and I made a breakthrough this summer while training and competing in Europe," explained Dueck. "He had always been so explosive and full of himself, usually expressing that in the test, but he has done several shows now without that happening." Dueck went on to observe that learning Grand Prix is much like going through school. "I used to think that when I got to Grand Prix, I would achieve the highest goal in dressage." Dueck smiled. "But, it starts with pre-school Grand Prix, then Kindergarten Grand Prix, then Grade School, on up to Graduate school. It feels as if we have reached High School now."

The Palm Beach Derby Leadline Series

Sunday's premier event was the newly introduced the Lead Line Class sponsored by Seven entries in the class brought out the youngest of equestrians, riding a variety of miniature horses, ponies, and event Dr. Kristy Lund's FEI mount, Nice Catch. The Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center sent two of the students, and dressage Moms Michelle Deel and Kate Jackson had their daughters dressed for success, as the crowd on the sidelines cheered with delight.

USET Team veteran Betsy Steiner was on hand for the judging and presentations. It was too tough of a decision, for any judge to place, so all participants received a blue ribbon. Be sure to come to the Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI***/Y, USET, Mar 5-7 - in Loxahatchee, Florida for the Sunday Lead Line Class, as well as other exciting exhibitions including Medieval Times.

Next 2005 Derby Dates
Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI***/Y, USET, Mar 4-6
Dressage at Equestrian Estates - April 2-4

Related Links
Amateur Dressage Riders Honored at the Markel Amateur Awards Ceremony