First Florida Pan Am Qualifiers at Wellington Dressage

First Florida Pan Am Qualifiers at Wellington Dressage

Jan Brons and Josien dominated the Pan Am Selection Trial held at the Wellington Dressage show in Florida, January 30 through February 2. The pair scored 69.083% to win the USET Prix St. Georges on Thursday over a field of 19 horses, and they earned 70% for victory in the USET Intermediaire I on Friday, topping 17 entries. “She was softer and prettier, more power, more horse today,” said Brons after the I-I. “She did a lot of good things in the Prix St. Georges — her pirouettes were prettier yesterday than they were today. The whole ride I had a wonderful time with her — it had a really great feel about it. Today too — it was a little steadier, a little more elegant.”

George Williams aboard Marnix and Tara Stegan riding New Tango were hot on Josien’s heels in both qualifiers. In the Prix St. Georges, Williams scored 68.33% for second place just edging out Stegan who scored 68%. In the I-I, they traded places — Stegan was second with 68.33% and Williams received 67.417%.

All three judges presiding — Janet Brown, Natalie Lamping, and Jessica Ransehousen — placed Brons and Josien in the top slot both days. “Jan Brons did a very good job with that mare, Josien,” said Ransehousen. “Very forward and light. The I-I was better.”

Brown concurred, “Very elastic and forward — sometimes she gets a little short in the neck. She was more relaxed the second day. It’s a lovely horse and very harmonious. He’s a lovely rider and the horse is a super athlete.”

Lamping observed, “In the first test he was trying to fix the problem and some other issues and then he got back on the same page on the I-I.”

Josien, Quality Team Horse for the Pan Ams

Originally from Holland, Brons, 38, has been a rider in the US since the mid-1980s and currently works with Robert Dover. He is based in New York, but resides in Florida for the winter show season. He became a US citizen two years ago and 2003 is the first time he is eligible to compete for the US. Brons has planned his 2003 show schedule with the goal of qualifying to compete on the US team at the Pan Am Games.

Josien, owned by Elizabeth Schaffner of Long Island, is a 12 year-old, 16-hand, bay Dutch warmblood mare by Casanova. Brons started riding her at PSG/I-I last year and she competed at the 2002 Winter Equestrian Festival. During the 2002 summer Josien took a seven-week break from training and showing when she was bred to Kennedy and participated in an embryo transplant. Brons brought her back in the fall, and at Devon she won the Open Prix St. Georges and the Open Intermediaire I to top off her season.

Though Brons said he does not foresee Josien moving up to Grand Prix, he believes she will make a good team horse for the Pan Am Games. “She comes out every day, whenever I ride her, and she wants to play the game. She wants to do it, she wants to be the best she can possibly be on that particular day,” he said, “so it makes for a real nice feel when you get on the horse. You know that you’re going to have a good ride with her. Things might go awry here or there or you want to still work on things to make it prettier, but you pretty much know what’s going to happen.”

Tara Stegen and New Tango Make an Impression

The judges were also enthusiastic about Stegan’s horse, New Tango. “That horse is extremely talented,” said Ransehousen. “Very, very nice moving horse, wonderful extensions.”

New Tango was America's first entry in 2000, at the World Champonships for Young Horses, where he made the top 12, ridden by Stegen's long time trainer, Robert Dover.

Brown was impressed with New Tango’s collection: “The collection and the connection out to the bit. That’s what we want to see.” Lamping also complimented the contact: “The horse was good in the mouth. Happy.”

George Williams and the flashy bay Marnix owned by Chuck and JoAnn Smith also made an impression on the judges as a new pair showing promise in the upper levels. “It’s a work in progress,” said Ransehousen. “The canter can be very, very nice as long as the horse doesn’t get curled up and drop the poll too low.”

Brown observed, “We saw him in the warm-up and we were going, ‘Ooh, ah, ooh, ah!’ and then he looked tired in the ring. Then the next day I think George felt, ‘Oh he was a little tired so I won’t warm up as much’, and then he was a little more tense.”

Overall, for this first Selection Trial in Florida, the judges unanimously agreed on one perspective: as far as horses, the playing field is a lot more level. “Now the quality of the horses is getting more equal,” said Lamping. It’s who rides the better test and presents the horse. The days of ‘Oh, one horse is so much better and the other one isn’t’ — that isn’t there. They have to ride.”

Brown added, “They’re all good horses. They all can get eights on gaits. It’s a lot more up to the rider.” Brown also offered a bit of advice, “Preparation. All the riders need a little more preparation and better use of the corners.”

Though the USET I-I Freestyle is also a qualifier and was offered on Sunday, the riders elected to forego that class and it was not held. The final Selection Trials will take place at the Festival of Champions, June 19-23, in Gladstone, New Jersey. The Pan Am Games take place August 1-17 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

George Williams And Rocher Reign In Grand Prix Qualifiers

In the USET Grand Prix qualifiers at the Wellington Dressage show in Florida, January 30-February 2, George Williams and Rocher put in two spectacular tests, winning the Grand Prix on Thursday with 73.889% and the Grand Prix Special on Saturday, scoring 73.400% from judges Janet Brown, Natalie Lamping, and Jessica Ransehousen.

“Obviously I was thrilled with her,” said Williams after the Grand Prix. Rocher earned her highest scores, 9s, for her piaffe and her extended walk. Williams showed the mare at last year’s Winter Equestrian Festival and noted how much she had changed in 12 months “She’s much stronger, more muscled, and with that comes a great deal more energy. The biggest improvement has been in the passage. Now the passage is a lot more energetic and a lot more engaged. She stays a lot more elevated as she gets more and more comfortable and secure in the test.”

Only two other riders contested the Grand Prix qualifiers, and each took a turn at second and third place — in the Grand Prix, Lynda Alicki on her Impressario earned 65.625% and Jan Brons on his Fernando scored 64.236%. In the Special, Brons took second with 68.933% and Alicki scored 64.733% for third. In the USET Grand Prix Freestyle on Sunday, the sole competitor was Kamilla Du Pont on Reveille who took the blue ribbon with 59.583%.

Pan American Fever

The Pan Am Selection Trials, the upcoming US Freestyle Championship, the World Cup and the Athens Olympics are factors in the light turnout for the Grand Prix Championship qualifying classes this year. The USET Grand Prix Championship will be held at the Festival of Champions in Gladstone, New Jersey, June 19-23 — the same weekend as the prestigious Aachen show in Germany. Ransehousen noted, “Most of the top Grand Prix horses will be making their way to Europe because we are having grants for them. We have up to six grants to give, so those horses will be already gone. Several of the horses will be leaving to do two shows in advance of Aachen.”

Lamping noted that the reduced numbers of top Grand Prix horses at the Festival is an opportunity for newer pairs to compete in the Championship. “It’ will give the younger up-and-coming horses a chance.”

Brown pointed out that Williams’ performance at the Wellington show was a good warm-up for the US Freestyle Championship he is participating in, which takes place February 21-23 in Miami. “He did do a good job in the Grand Prix and I know his freestyle is very good. We can send three this year to the World Cup. Debbie [McDonald] is already wild carded in. We’ll have two going from the World Championships.”

George is not only aiming Rocher at the US Freestyle Championship, but also the World Cup in Goteburg, Sweden, March 27-30, 2003, as well as the 2004 Olympics. He pointed out her attributes as a team horse: “She is a very steady horse, a very consistent horse. She has outstanding gaits. When everything really comes together she can do an exceptional test.” Rocher, owned by Chuck and JoAnn Smith of Gypsy Wood Farm in Richwood, Ohio, is an 11-year-old Westphalian mare by Rolls Royce.

Karen Lipp Lights Up Lower Levels And Lands Show High Score

Karen Lipp, 35, of Alpharetta, Georgia, won three of the four Training Level Tests with Cheval V at the Wellington Dressage Show, January 30-February 2, in Florida, and in their last trip down centerline, the pair earned 75.385% in Training Level Test 4 to take the High Score of the show. Lipp owns the five-year-old, bay, 17-hand Danish gelding. “He’s a bit green but hopefully next year when I come back here he’ll be doing Third/Fourth Level. He can do a little more than Training Level, but everything is still overwhelming for him so I just wanted to go in there and make it an easy experience for him, get him in front of the judges and see what he’s like in the ring.”

In addition to the High Score class, Cheval earned 73.636% in T-1; 71.154% in T-2; and 72.222% in T-3, which was his only second place finish. “Yesterday is the first time he actually ever lost a class, so he’s won everything to that point,” said Lipp, adding with a smile, “He deserved to lose yesterday because he bucked in the ring. He still got a 72 but he was real naughty, which is OK because they hear the jump poles hitting the ground and it’s still a lot for them.”

Lipp also scored well with another young horse, a six-year-old, bay 16.1-hand Danish gelding named Control V, who won First Level Test 1 with 70%, and placed second and seventh in First Level Tests 3 and 4, earning 69.286% and 61.30% respectively. Cheval V and Control V are brothers. Lipp imported the two young Danish warmbloods by Comeback II from Viegaard in Denmark.

Erin Magbee, 16, a young rider who trains with Lipp, owns Control and plans to show him in the Juniors and FEI Young Riders — she recently won the USDF Region 3 Training Level Championship on him with a 73%. “He’s a very talented young horse,” said Lipp. “The judges really like him, so when he’s good, he’s really good. He’s actually very good in the mind; both horses are. They’re really easy to ride and easy to train; light in the bridle and they go forward easily; they’re just temperamentally nice horses.”

Lipp Having Fun with Young Horses

Lipp’s longtime partner in the FEI ring, the Grand Prix horse Douwe was sold recently, and though she is competing a seven-year-old Prix St. Georges horse named Ruskin owned by Susan Day, he is also for sale, and she does not plan to try out for this year’s Pan Am Games. “I thought I’d miss showing in the FEI ring, but I’m having fun over here with the young horses. I’m enjoying it,” said Lipp. “It brings you back to the basics, focusing on throughness and straightness, and all those things that are important. I like teaching horses new things too.”

Lipp is looking forward to a successful future for Cheval. “Cheval I hope turns out to be something special for me. And if he doesn’t, then I’ll make a really nice FEI horse for somebody else. I try not to attach myself too hard at this point, but so far I really like him, so we’ll see. Training Level is one thing but doing it when it starts moving and getting harder is another.” For right now, she’s enjoying two very nice young horses. “I’ve gotten more 9s in the last two horse shows than I’ve probably ever gotten in my life.”

Mary Hilton for