First Time’s a Charm for Rigo and Shawna Harding at Gold Coast Opener CDI-W

Shawna Harding and Rigo (Photo Sharon Packer)
Shawna Harding and Rigo (Photo Sharon Packer)

Loxahatchee, Florida – Tony Rowe’s Rigo took the blue ribbon in his first ever CDI Intermediaire freestyle during this weekend’s Gold Coast Opener CDI-W. Ridden by Shawna Harding, the nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Rotspon took the win with a score of 69.542. Coming in second was David Marcus riding Don Kontes to a score of 68.625 and third was Lisa Bukowski with Sinatra DVB scoring 65.708. Held at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, this weekend’s Opener brought out many of the country’s top riders aiming to qualify for this year’s National Dressage Championships and for a spot on America’s team for the 2011 Pan American Games. Rigo and Harding started off their weekend with a second-place finish in Friday’s CDI Prix St. Georges competition behind Paragon and Heather Blitz. But the inaugural freestyle success really pleased Harding.

“I am thrilled with Rigo's progress and with his win in the I-I freestyle,” Harding said. “Two weeks ago was Rigo's first time competing at the Intermediare I level. This weekend was his first time doing the whole small tour at a CDI and the very first time in his whole career doing a freestyle! I think considering how new he is to this level of competition he did very well. I am so happy with the little man!”

Harding and Rigo have been partnered since the fall of 2006. The gelding was started in Germany and was purchased by Rowe at the Hanoverian auction in Germany when he was five. “I have been training Rigo up through the levels and with Tonya's support we won the Regional Championships at First Level in 2007, Second Level in 2008 and Fourth Level, as well as Fourth Level Horse of the Year, in 2009. In 2010 we won the USEF National Developing Horse Championship and Region 2 Prix St Georges Championships.”

The pair’s freestyle was developed with the help of Terry Gallo and Harding’s coach Roel Theunnisen and Harding said the finishing touches weren’t made until just before this weekend’s Opener. “I wanted to be able to ride it right away at the first CDI and in two sessions we had it done. I love the music and think it suits my music taste but mostly Rigo's personality and his movement. His extended trot is a definite highlight and his trot half passes are smooth and steep and his canter pirouettes are beautiful. He is really developing nicely as he gets stronger. I think he liked competing with the music and only had a couple of small mistakes and those we can fix,” Harding said.

Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Dea II (Photo Sharon Packer)
Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Dea II (Photo Sharon Packer)

In non-CDI competition at the Opener, Katherine Bateson Chandler and Dea II took the win in one of the FEI Prix St. Georges Open classes with a score of 70.263. Behind them in second was Ashley Holzer riding Grand Marnier to a score of 68.684. Caroline Roffman and Pie took the win in the other FEI Prix St. Georges Open class with a score of 73.158.

In FEI Adult Amateur competition, Janne Rumbough and her JR won Intermediaire I competition with a score of 67.105. And winner of the FEI Intermediaire II Open competition was Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven with Don Auriello and a score of 70.526.

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