George Williams and Marnix Win Grand Prix Freestyle at the Zada Florida Dressage Classic

The final day of the Zada Florida Dressage Classic concluded with a rousing display of dressage freestyles set to exuberant music. George Williams and Marnix danced their way to the blue ribbon in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle. Earning a 71.750 percent, Williams said that the test was one of the best rides he and Marnix have had in competition. Williams has been partnered for about seven years with Marnix, who is a 13-year-old 17.2 hand Dutch bay gelding by Hinault out of Ecolien.

“It was a little bit tricky in the beginning,” Williams described. “I actually thought he got his tongue over the bit because he got a little stuck, and then I was able to bring him up into a better carriage as I went. I got happier and happier with it, but in the beginning, I was thinking, ‘Oh no, this might be a problem.’”

He continued, “I keep changing little things in it, but it’s a straightforward freestyle. I wanted that for Marnix because he’s a horse that needs to build confidence in the arena, so I didn’t want to have something too complicated. I wanted to make sure he can do it fairly successfully and end up feeling good about himself.”

Williams noted that his goals for this season and Marnix aren’t set in stone and are focused on what is best for the horse. “I’ve just been trying to do better and better with him. In the back of my mind, of course I’d like to see him qualify and do something in a major sense, but he’s taught me that I have to be patient and I have to wait until he’s really ready physically and mentally. This year, I think he’s really come into himself.”

However, he said say that he would like to go to Gladstone for the League Finals with Marnix, where he won two years ago. In addition, the pair has worked with Klaus Balkenhol for the past week in the USEF High Performance clinics, which he said have helped dramatically.

Second place in the Grand Prix Freestyle went to Tina Irwin and Amicelli with a 68.583 percent, while Dorothy Morkis and Mister Big rounded out the top three with a 66.917 percent.

In the FEI Intermediaire Freestyle, it was Canada’s Simone Williams who brought home the blue ribbon with a 68.08 percent on her own Wunder Ein, a 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding. Williams noted that although the pair had some tension issues in their test, she was happy with how the gelding went and said she thought the canter pirouettes were the high point of the ride. She also said she would like to make a bid for a position on the Canadian team for the Pan American Games in July. Marissa Mastronardi and Ustinov earned second place with a 63.667.

In the First Level Test 4, Linda Fellows was victorious with Nantucket Justin Thyme, earning a 64.342 percent. Dorothy Iorio followed in second place on Finnikapan and a 63.553, and Michael E. Schultz was third on Roosevelt with a 58.684 percent.