Text and Photos (unless otherwise marked) by Eliza Sydnor
Saturday was the first day of the 2009 USEF/Markel Young Horse Dressage Eastern Selection Trials. Yesterday served as a qualifying class for the National Championships which will be held this year at the Lamplight Equestrian Center, in Wayne, Illinois, August 21-23. The classes today and tomorrow serve as a qualifier for the FEI World Breeding Dressage Championships for Young Horses in Verden, Germany August 5-9. If any of the horses here receive an overall score of 8.2 or higher, they are eligible for the World Championships.
Saturday began with the Preliminary Test for 5 year olds, judged by Axel Steiner, Jane Ayers, and Anne Gribbons. The Preliminary Test counts for 40% of the overall score for these horses. The 5 year olds was won by Elly Schobel on Lord Sisley (Lord Sinclair/Landgraf) with a 7.7. This lovely bay gelding is owned by Margaret Miller of Franklin, TN. He has been with Elly since last summer, and she can’t say enough good things about him. “He’s like a giant Labrador retriever,” she said. “He’s very bright, full of joy, and just an all around good horse.”
His owner bought him at the elite auction in Oldenburg. His full brother (Lord of Locksley) was fourth at the German Young Horse Championships. Elly says that every judge she has shown Lord Sisley under has told her he is an international quality horse. Today the judges rewarded her with a 7.8 in the walk, a 7.7 in the trot, and a 7.4 in the canter. They commented on his excellent work ethic and bright future as an FEI horse, and gave him 7.8 for both submission and general impression. Since he is for sale, Elly knows that she will not be able to keep riding him forever. She is optimistic that someone will buy him who will appreciate all his natural talent and bring it out through the years.
Second in the 5 year olds was Laura Wharton on Zandor. This KWPN gelding (Florencio/Amulet) was much more settled today and had moments of real beauty to receive the score of 7.68. The walk was of a really good quality with lots of ground cover and a clear rhythm, but he tended to be crooked, and they gave it a 7.7. In the trot they felt that he was somewhat hurried, but showed good activity and ability, and ended on a 7.5. They loved his canter and gave it a 7.8 with the comments of good self carriage and a lovely volume to the canter stride. His submission score was a 7.6 because of moments where he got tight in the neck and strong in the contact. Overall the judges had very nice things to say about this horse’s elegant type and bright future and gave him a 7.7.
6 - Year - Old Division
Next came the Preliminary class for 6 year old horses. This was judged by the same panel, who all sat together on the side of the arena by B. Tomorrow they will move back to the C end, but they felt they could see certain things better from the side angle.
Winning the 6 year old test again today was Mikala Gunderson on Horses Unlimited Hanoverian stallion, Pikko Del Cerro HU. He was bred by Anne Whitten of Horses Unlimited and is by Pik L out of a Rohdiamant mare. Mikala has ridden this stallion since January of his 4th year. She competed him in the 4 year old tests and then again last year in the FEI 5 year old tests. She also used to ride his sire, Pik L, and says that he is just like his father. “Maybe a little bit more naughty, but pretty much just like him!” she laughed. Last year she says she made the mistake of not letting him see the arena here at Raleigh enough beforehand, and he was a bit wild. This year she took him in the coliseum three times the first day, and then brought him in again early this morning. It paid off, as he was very focused and workman-like throughout his ride. The judges loved his walk, giving it an 8.2, and said that it was clear in the rhythm, active and relaxed. The trot was his weakest score, with a 7.7. He is very rhythmical but needs more freedom in his shoulder and a more uphill tendency in the mediums. The canter was also an 8.2 and they complimented his balance and rhythm. Submission was an 8.0, as they all agreed that he tried very hard for Mikala today. The word most frequently used by the judges was “impressive,” and they reiterated that by giving her an 8.2 for general impression.
Mikala trains with Lisa Wilcox in Florida, and Lisa used to ride Rohdiamant, this stallion’s damsire. So she says that Lisa tells her what Rohdiamant was like, and Mikala knows very well what Pik L was like, and together they figure out Pikko Del Cerro! Mikala is getting ready to leave for Europe with her Grand Prix horse, Leonberg. She will be competing him in Europe, and Lisa Wilcox will take over the training of Pikko Del Cerro while she’s gone.
Coming in second in the 6 year olds was Heather Mason and her KWPN gelding Warsteiner (Riverman/Roemer.) Heather found this gelding in Holland through the same man who connected her with her current Grand Prix horse, Respekt. Heather also found Respekt as a young horse and has trained him up the levels. Warsteiner was being considered for a stallion prospect, but in the fall of his 2nd year he was still only about 15.2, and so they felt he was too small. Heather imported him in December of 2006 as a re-sale project. He has since grown to a very respectable 16.1, and she no longer plans to sell him! She said she bought Respekt with the same plan of re-selling him. “I guess I don’t seem to be too good at selling them!” she said with a laugh.
She was very pleased with Warsteiner today. “He also showed last weekend, and so he’s feeling a little tired today,” she said. The judges loved his trot enough for a 7.9 and praised his active hind leg and uphill balance. Their only criticism was that he tended to get a little hurried in the mediums. The walk was the weakest link, scoring 7.0, with the comment that he was a bit restricted in his shoulder freedom but very pure in the rhythm. The canter had nice self carriage and showed clear transitions, scoring 7.6. His highest score of 8.5 came in submission, and the judges praised Heather for clearly following the training scale and keeping an uphill balance throughout the test. General impression of 8.0 gave them an overall score of 7.8.
JJ Tate took both third and fourth places with Faberge and Rosall respectively. Tomorrow the Final test will be ridden for the 5 and 6 year olds. It will count as 60% of the overall score, and we will see if anyone has a shot at going to Verden for the World Championships!