Showing at the FEI level might be new this year for Faralay II (Chris and Betsy Ketcham and Angela Ridgway, owners), but he showed he was more than ready for it at Woodside Summer Dressage (July 12-14). It was only his fifth show at Prix St. Georges, but he pulled out a 69.737% and won the FEI High Percentage Champion with Angela Ridgway in the irons. “That was our first time this season we’ve gotten through a test mistake free. Faralay II is a very brilliant horse, but he does make mistakes,” Angela shared of the nine-year-old PRE stallion. “He’s very talented, and those horses are never the easy ones. When it all comes together like it did that day, it’s the most fun you could ever have. We really went for it everywhere; there were no spots where we kept it conservative. In the test where we got the high score, it just got better and better as the test went on. It was one of those tests where you can’t wait to get to the end and give the final salute so you can drop the reins and give your horse a big hug. He’s a really good boy. I had a great time.”
Faralay II’s brilliance earned him 8s on his tempi changes and pirouettes, which made Angela very happy. “He’s really good at those, as long as he can keep his enthusiasm under wraps!”
Angela has been working with Faralay II since he was four years old, so she has done all of his training. “He definitely has a confident personality,” Angela explained. “After we finished our test, I took him for a walk around the cross country course. I love having that big open space to take the horses out. We talked to a lot of people who had to stop and talk to the beautiful horse—he’s super pretty. He wasn’t afraid of anything. He’s all that a PRE is supposed to be. In the 20 years I have been riding professionally, he’s the first horse I’ve had in training that I’ve chosen to put my own money into. I was given the opportunity to become a partner, and I jumped on it.”
In the Junior/Amateur division, the FEI High Percentage went to Akiko Yamazaki and Matrix for their score of 69.079% in Prix St. Georges. Tanya Vik was thrilled when she was Open Upper Level High Percentage Champion with Holy Wonder (Susan Jane Sutton and Tanya Vik, owners) after they earned 74.125% in Fourth Level Test 3. “He’s only been showing at fourth level for two months now,” Tanya explained. “He just went in there and did it like he knew what he was doing. It was really cool. He was very focused and relaxed and really with me. I thought the highlights of that test were in the canter work. He was very soft and fluid. We got 8s on both pirouettes, so that was nice because we’ve worked really hard on improving those. I also got 9s on Rider and Harmony, so that was pretty exciting. It was a really solid test with a lot of 7s ad 8s.”
Tanya and Holy Wonder, an eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding, have been a team for about two and a half years, ever since she imported him from Germany. “Susan gave me green light to go shop for a horse, so off I went,” she recalled. “I found him in Berlin in February. I was actually there to look at another horse, but I saw Holy Wonder out of the corner of my eye and decided I liked him. I rode him for about 15 minutes and bought him. He has a super work ethic and is about the nicest horse on the ground. He wants to say hello to everyone. In the show ring, he was less settled when I first got him but now the show miles are paying off. He’s more settled and acting more mature, and that has reflected in better scores. He was showing at second level when we got him, and last year he was third in the USDF rankings at third level. I’m hoping to move up to Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I next year.” In the Upper Level Amateur, it was Julie Buckley and Sandor who were champion for their score of 71.538% in the Third Level Test 3 Masters.
Gretta Williams had a gratifying and emotional weekend when she and her Dantares earned 78.125% in Training Level Test 1 to become Lower Level Amateur High Percentage Champion, plus she won the Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC) Training Level Test 3 with 72.2%. “When I came back from my test, people asked how it went and I told them it felt like I was riding a bomb,” Gretta recounted. “He’s a young horse, just turning five this month, and he hasn’t been many places so he gets fired up at shows. There’s a lot going on by ring 4 with people practicing cross country over there and other things he hadn’t seen before. He was very excited but kept it together, so he was pretty brilliant. We got a 9 on harmony, which was really amazing.”
Perhaps what makes their score all the more impressive is that Gretta has done all of the training on Dantares herself. “I bought him as a six-week-old, so he grew up with me. I’m the only one who’s ever been on him. I worked with Sandy Howard every couple of months or so before she passed away, but other than that I’ve done all the work. At home, he’s very easy going and anyone can handle him. He’s been very easy to work with, and he was easy to start. He’s the kind of horse you can show him something once and he just wants to please. He’s a very good amateur horse that way. He trusts me and listens. I hadn’t taken him to a big show like that before so it was a little overwhelming. It was only my second time at Woodside, but it was a very well organized show, well run, the people in the office were attentive and quick with results, and the arenas and footing were great. I like going there.” Kristen Kurzer and Denara were Lower Level Junior/Young Rider High Percentage Champion with a score of 70.625% in Training Level Test 1.
The RAAC provides an opportunity for amateurs to qualify and compete in a regional competition just for them. For Pauline Muntzer (Kristen Aggers, trainer), it was the perfect goal for this year, especially since she and her Floriana won both the RAAC Training Level Test 3 Novice (with 74.2%) and the RAAC First Level Test 3 Novice (with 67.903%). “I had a very exciting show,” Pauline shared. “I was really pleased with the rides. This is my first year showing in 35 years and only our third show together, so my trainer has been trying to get me to stop from panicking and shutting down. I was thrilled, because I felt like I really listened to what she told me to do and rode through the tests instead of being frozen and shutting down. My horse is really wonderful when I do this instead of leaving her on her own. I did the RAAC because I wanted a goal to work toward. Getting a score of 60%, the RAAC qualifying score, seemed like something I could handle. It’s a little more feasible than CDS Championships, and you don’t have to go to so many shows so it doesn’t cost a fortune. As an amateur, it gave me something to shoot for, and I very much enjoyed the experience. The footing was fantastic, the weather was great since it was in Woodside, and the folks in the office were delightful. It was a super week.”
Pauline and Floriana have only been together for a year, but the two have hit it off, much to Pauline’s delight. “I got the wrong horse a few years ago that hospitalized me, so it took me a few years to get back to showing. I never thought having a go at showing again would be so wonderful. I really can’t believe it. My horse has turned out to be a gem.”
Other riders who had great weeks in the RAAC included Sheryl Ross, who won the Intermediaire I Elite with 73.553% on Lancaster, and Bridget Walker, who won the Third Level Test 3 Elite with a score of 70.385% on Araripe dos Pinhais.
While the Woodside Dressage Shows have concluded for the season, Cornerstone Event Management still has a few more to go, including Dressage in the Rockies I, II, and II (Aug 2-4) in Colorado and Cool August Nights (Aug 22-25) at Los Angeles Equestrian Center.
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