Donavan and Cabana Boy are Big Winners in Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Eastern Selection Trials

Raleigh, North Carolina – Donavan, ridden by Cesar Parra, and Cabana Boy, ridden by Chris Hickey, came out on top after two days of competition in the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Eastern Selection Trials. The trials were held during the Raleigh CDI-W/Y/J Capital Dressage Classic.


Donavan (Diamond Hit x Consul), an Oldenburg stallion owned by Dr. Jackson Morgan and Katie Riley, took an early lead in Saturday’s preliminary competition with a score of 8.34. During Sunday’s finale, he and Parra earned a score of 8.22 for a total score of 8.268. In the Young Horse competition, the preliminary counts for 40 percent of the total score and the finale for 60 percent. Coming in second in the Markel Six-Year-Old competition was Jessica Jo Tate and Donnermuth. They finished the first day of competition with a score of 7.66, but bounced back on Sunday to earn a score in the finale test of 8.24 to finish with a total score of 8.008. Tate and Parra were the only two in the class of 13 riders and horses to break the 8.00 mark in their final score.

In the Markel Five-Year-Old horse competition, Chris Hickey and the Hanoverian gelding Cabana Boy (Contucci out of Britania), owned by Hilltop Farm, and American bred by Doug & Shannon Langer of Maple Wood Farm in Wisconsin, finished up with a consistent score of 8.24. They scored 8.24 in both the preliminary and finale tests. Right on their heels was Rebecca Knollman and her Solaris Hit, a Hanoverian mare by Sandro Hit out of Great Rubina. Their preliminary score was 8.01 and their finale score was 8.08 for a total of 8.088.

The selection trials are used to determine which horses will earn an invitation to the FEI World Breeding Championships in Verden, Germany in early August. The Eastern selection trials were the last of three held in the U.S. The Central states trials were held in May at Dressage at Lamplight near Chicago and the Western trials at Dressage at Flintridge over Memorial Day weekend. Riders, owners and breeders must now anxiously await decisions. In order to have a shot at being on the invitation list, horses must score at least a 7.8 in the selections. With all three trials now completed, the U.S. Equestrian Federation will be tallying the rankings.


Perhaps No Verden for Donavan and Parra


One rider who already knows he could go to Verden is Parra. A native of Colombia, his home country has already issued him an invitation to attend, but Parra said he has already decided he would not go as a representative for Columbia. He’s in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen and has decided to stick with his plan of representing the U.S. in future international competition.

“I’ve been working toward my U.S. citizenship and I decided I must stick with my plan. In September I will be able to begin the paperwork. So it is still my goal to represent the U.S. and I am sure it will be with this horse. This is for sure, the right horse for me,” Parra said.

Donavan has a U.S. passport and hence, there is a chance that Parra could take him to Verden as a U.S. horse, which he might do if an invitation comes from the U.S. “But I think the chances for a U.S. invitation are unlikely,” he said. But no matter, there is little doubt in his mind that Donavan and he will be on a U.S. team in the future.

Donavan, was already a star before leaving Europe and coming to the U.S. to Parra. Bred by Dr. Ursula Mittermayer, the stallion was a reserve champion at the prestigious Bundeschampionate (German Federal Young Horse Championships). This past winter on the Florida circuit, he gathered quite a collection of blue ribbons.

There is no doubt the horse has tremendous potential. At the Markel Young Horse Selection Trials there was little the panel of judges – Jane Ayers, Janet Foy and Axel Steiner – could say about him, other than offer praise. “We like the horse very much,” Steiner told Parra. His only critical comment was a warning to Parra to be careful in developing the horse’s walk. The judges’ scores for the horse were perhaps no surprise considering that at the Bundeschampionate Donavan received high marks for his gaits (8.70 for trot, 9.00 for canter and 9.30 for his walk). Photos of Cesar Parra and Donavan and with Markel's Lisa, Brandon, and John Seger.

Parra does not seem terribly disappointed about the prospect of missing Verden. He has no doubt that he and Donavan have a bright future ahead. His immediate plan is to give the horse a bit of a vacation. “My main goal is to let him rest a bit and just be a horse for awhile. We’ll work a bit on relaxation and suppleness and then we’ll start picking up again depending on when the next show is. Most likely that will be the Young Horse competition in Kentucky so we’ll pick it up again in August. And then maybe do Devon and then next year perhaps try Prix St. Georges.”

The fact that Parra knows he has a good horse and expected to do well in the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Eastern Selection Trials didn’t seem to dampen his enthusiasm after his win. “I’m so excited. He was really, really good. He had no mistakes. I’m very, very happy with how he’s doing.”

Markel/USEF Dressage Test for 6 Year Old Horses - Final

  • 1 - Dr. Cesar Parra - Donavan - 8.268
  • 2 - Jessica Jo Tate - Donnermuth - 8.008
  • 3 - Teresa Butta - Unitas - 7.908
  • 4 - Alex Robertson - UB40 - 7.828
  • 5 - Boyd Martin - Jeff the Chef W - 7.616
  • 6 - Susan Jaccoma - Harmony's FX - 7.612
  • 7 - Lara Silver & Karen Lipp - Highlander - 7.268
  • 8 - Meredith Morray - Donaweiss GGF - 6.948
  • 9 - Jules Anderson - Leopold - Q - 6.924
  • 10 - Christy Scott - Kontessa - 6.784
  • 11 - Dana Fiore - Redford - 6.76
  • 10 - Kristi Truenbach Lund - Reel Adventure - 6.68
  • 11 - Nancy Hinz - Collector's Item - 6.476


A Good Ride for Hickey and Cabana Boy Despite Little Warm-Up

One thing Hickey learned about the American bred Cabana Boy on the second day of competition is that this horse will do the job even without a proper warm-up. The two have been a pair for only a little more than a month so they’re still getting to know one another. And during Sunday’s finale test, the rain came pouring down just as Hickey was about to start his warm-up. Rain throughout the night had already made a mess of the warm-up rings.

“The footing was a bit slippery and I didn’t want him to go out there and have a bad experience, especially since he doesn’t know me and I don’t really know him,” Hickey said. “You have to start off a relationship feeling confident. The only way to make a good show horse is to build up confidence.”

Hence, Hickey didn’t get to prepare the horse as he had hoped because he feared Cabana Boy might get hurt in the slippery warm-up footing. The show ring, fortunately, was under cover. “But I had to warm up in the pouring rain and in the muck and I’ve never ridden him in the muck before. The footing was so bad in the warm-up ring that I went back to the barn and stood under an overhang until the person who went before me went into the ring. Then I went out to the warm-up ring and did a few things and then went into the ring and just rode.”

Considering that, Hickey was quite happy with how well Cabana Boy performed on the finale test day of the Markel Young Horse competition. “I’m really pleased with the horse. I couldn’t be more happy. He went out and did what I asked him to do without questioning it or anything.”

The judges seemed pleased as well. While they commented that Cabana Boy seemed a bit tired in his trot, they felt the canter work was better than during the preliminary test the previous day. Cabana Boy (Contucci out of Britania) owned by Hilltop Farm and bred by Doug & Shannon Langer of Maple Wood Farm in Wisconsin, is an American bred and trained Young Horse with a shot at the FEI World Championships for Young Dressage Horses in Verden, Germany this August. Their final score puts them a step closer to an invitation to Verden, which, if offered, Hickey said he’ll accept. Photos of Chris Hickey and Cabana Boy, and with USEF's Gil Merrick, John Seger, Judges Janet Foy and Jayne Ayers, and Brandon and Lisa Seger.

Markel/USEF Dressage Test for 5 Year Old Horses - Final

  • 1 - Christopher Hickey - Cabana Boy - 8.24
  • 2 - Rebecca Knollman - Solaris Hit - 8.088
  • 3 - Teresa Butta - Froelich - 7.576
  • 4 - Vasilios Haseotes - Woodoo - 7.336
  • 5 - Jules Anderson - Vivaldi-V - 7.324
  • 6 - Susanne Hamilton - Donauwalzer CSF - 7.208
  • 7 - Stephany Fish - Cruiser - 7.084
  • 8 - Mikala M Gundersen - Pik Primero - 6.944
  • 9 - James Koford - Soltice - 6.904
  • 10 - Hokan Thorn - Agastrofos - 6.884
  • 11 - Tosha Zubrinsky - Furst Hans - 6.608