When hurricane force winds roared into the Kentucky Horse Park on the final day on the 2008 Markel/USEF National Young Horse Championships, there was one stallion who not only kept his cool, he performed his final test in the Developing Horse class with such focus, Markel's John Sger commented "Now that's a horse I would go into battle with!"
For the third year in a row, Nicole GlusenKamp of Westmanton Stables in Castle Rock, Colorado & Eeltsje F., a 7 year old Friesian Stallion have made both the cut and the trek from Colorado to Kentucky. This time for the 2008 “USEF National Developing Horse Championships” held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
The competition had an auspicious beginning for the pair with Eeltsje F., being awarded the 2008 “Best Turned Out Horse” for the Qualifying Jog, which included all of the horses from both the Young Horse and the Developing Horse Championships. “Nicole has such a genuine love for “Bob” (Eeltsje’s much easier to pronounce nickname!) and she takes such pride in his training and care that I was not at all surprised that she had him groomed and braided to the highest standard,” says Paula Marsh of Wyning Edge Friesians, LLC based in Boerne, Texas and owner of Eeltsje F. “All of the horses were absolutely beautiful, but our Friesian is without a doubt the proverbial “horse of a different color” here, so we were very honored to have been chosen and are very excited for the rest of the competition.”
Eeltsje F. is an FPS Ster Friesian Stallion by Fabe 348 out of Iduna, Star-Preferent. Imported by Paula Marsh in 2005 and undefeated in dressage in Holland, Eeltsje is the first and only Friesian ever to compete in both the USDF Young Horse Championships and the USEF National Developing Horse Championships. He and Nicole are opening doors for the Friesian breed and proving that the Friesians can and do win in the upper levels of open dressage competition. “We at Wyning Edge Friesians have been so fortunate with this horse,” Paula states. “He moves like a dream and that translates into the successes we are seeing with him at the Championship levels. It will be very exciting to add him to our Pure and Crossbreeding program this coming spring.”
As the competition progressed, Nicole and Eeltsje continued to move up in the rankings. Despite soaring temperatures and high humidity during Saturday’s afternoon ride, they placed 11th. “You know, it’s hard for a big black horse of this size and age to compete in temperatures and humidity like this, especially at the higher levels with this degree of difficulty. In Colorado, we don’t get days like this so he’s not used to it at all. Me either for that matter!” stated Nicole. “He is so willing though, that no matter the conditions, he gives me all he has. I just love this horse!”
Nicole had no idea how much her statement would be put to the test the following day for the Championship finals when the remains of Hurricane Ike blew into the area. The morning began with a nice cooling breeze that by lunchtime had turned into a roaring windstorm. Soon winds were gusting in excess of 50 mph, branches were breaking, tents and tablecloths flapping without mercy and the Kentucky Horse Park lost all power…yet the show went on.
“I couldn’t believe how well these young horses and their riders performed with howling winds, chairs blowing over, debris flying into the rings and then the rings themselves blowing in at their feet! It was very impressive and they should all be very proud of making it through that! I couldn’t imagine riding, much less competing with all of that going on! Very scary!” says Paula.
Nicole and Eeltsje were the second to last to compete and by that time, the storm was at its zenith. During the warm-up, one spectator yelled to Nicole not to get blown over, at which she replied with a laugh “Us, you’ve got to be kidding, we’re too heavy!” At one point during their ride, the stand holding the letter E blew over into the ring just as they came to it, but with just a little jog over and around, Eeltsje kept his head into the wind and forged on. Their composure and resolve under very difficult circumstances yielded a well-earned 10th place finish in the Championship final and Paula states fondly, “To see Nicole and Bob work so hard to reach this goal and to then have them place 10th in the Nation at the FEI Prix St. Georges level is deeply rewarding for us all.”
When asked about what they would take away from this year’s competition, Paula remarked, “Each year we are here, we see how much the quality of the program has improved, from the horses and riders to the event itself. The generous sponsors, Martel, Dutta and PSI offer us an opportunity to come together in an environment of positive support and allows us not only to compete against one another, but to compare, learn and re-evaluate. To have our horse compete alongside Olympians and World Equestrian Games Champions is truly exciting for us and quite an achievement. Plus, it’s really fun seeing everyone again and we have a great time! I hope we are lucky enough to make it again next year!
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You can contact Eeltsje’s owner, Paula Marsh at email@example.com