East Beats West – Courtney King and Mythilus Win the High Performance Prix St Georges
Dressage competitors on the east coast are glad to have a chance at a few blue ribbons now the Courtney King has gone to California, and Californians are getting a chance to see some of the east coast riders’ in top form. Topping a large and competitive field in the High Performance Prix St Georges, was Courtney King and Mythilus, the only horse and rider combination to score in the 70’s with a 71.917.
King, who worked with both Steffen Peters and Klaus Balkenol to tune up her horses, learned a few “gems” from the masters. “Although I think neither of them wanted to do much different with the horses right before a show, they both gave me a couple of little gems.” Courtney told DressageDaily. “With Myth, Steffen told me that he is actually looking collected like a Grand Prix frame, and for the show I should try to let him be a little bit more forward and ground covering. He also had me use half-steps even from the canter if Myth got too strong which worked extremely well.”
The Art of the "Schwung"
“With Rendezvous, Klaus had me use more half-steps and voltes to get her softer in the bridle BEFORE getting the hind legs. She has always been a horse who I have to push really really forward to get her back loosened up and her hind legs coming through, but she has developed so much power in the last few weeks as we've been working more on the GP stuff, that I now need to balance her back and just let the hind legs work instead of pushing her.”
This is the Balkenhol way to help develop true "schwung". That the horses stay loose behind and be able to coil the 'springs' in the rear end and then uncoil and move forward with power and balance, truely working through the back.
“All of the horses traveled well and stayed healthy and happy... Idocus was just a little too happy. The barn we were initially staying in was home to many ponies, pintos, and mares... Idocus's three favorite things! So he had an extremely hard time settling in, although he is usually very easy to settle in. The show management were wonderful, and they allowed us to move into the show barn a couple of days early.
Ready to compete in the Grand Prix today in the League Finals with Idocus, King commented on her first impressions of Dressage in California. “I was very much impressed by the number of good riders and horses. There is also a great feeling of comradery amongst the top competitors, at least from my outside perspective. It has been incredibly inspiring for me, and I feel like a kid in a candy store being a part of it all!”
Mythilus Wins in Burbank
Among the 28 competitors in the CDI Prix St. Georges, he traveled the furthest. Mythilus made the trip worthwhile with a decisive win at the Festival of the Horse—the only horse in the huge class to earn over 70 percent (71.917).
“I'm so happy he came along, when I found out I would come to the League Finals,” said rider Courtney King. She traveled west to compete at the U.S. League Finals with Idocus. “It was his owner's [Richard Malloch] idea to take Myth with me here.”
That suggestion solved her problem of keeping the bay in work during her absence. “I was concerned about Myth. I can't give him downtime, and for someone else to ride him while I was gone, he's very complex.” King called the Ferro son a “really fun ride,”noting that Burbank was the fourth time she's showed him. About her test, she said, “The half passes were very smooth for him. The trot half-pass was very lovely, and the changes were good.”
On the scoreboard, she started marking 8s on her voltes and medium trot, with judge Gustav Svalling from Sweden awarding her several 8s during the test. Her changes—threes and fours—were very expressive and boosted her score. Her pirouette right earned her three 8s, as did her rider score.
“Myth was the most with me in this ride,” said King. “He was the most on my seat and the most connected, so I was really, really happy.”
Qualifying for the Pan-American Team
The Burbank CDI is a qualifier for the USEF High Performance Intermediare I Championship. “Definitely the Pan-Americans are a goal,” said King. “Myth is number one in the rankings now, but it all comes down to Gladstone.”
In California, she's been training with Steffen Peters. Shannon Peters on Luxor finished behind King in the class, tying for second place with Adrienne Lyle on Wizard (69.25). Saturday is the Intermediare I, and King explained how she wants to improve her test. “He tends to go with a short neck, and I'm afraid to let him out too much. I will try to make his neck longer and take more risks in the extensions.”
She'll be competing again with top West Coast trainers, including Marie Meyers on Fandango (placed 4th), Jan Ebeling on Sandrina, and Karen Pavicic on Lionheart (tied for 5th). Riders from 8 states and Canada are in the class. Saturday is also the Grand Prix test for the U.S. Freestyle Championship, the U.S. League Finals.