The Gold Coast Opener Dressage CDI Revisited

There’s Just No Stopping Pop Art
Lynndee Kemmet for DressageDaily

Canadian Ashley Holzer and Pop Art did it again, winning the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI*** at the Gold Coast Opener Revisited CDI, sponsored by Raymond James Wellington Asset Management, with a score of 76.05 percent. It was their second Grand Prix win of the weekend, having already won Friday’s Grand Prix CDI*** with a score of 70.24 percent.

Holzer was extremely pleased with her 10-year-old Dutch gelding (by Amsterdam), especially considering that the day’s weather was wet and blustery. “I was very happy with him because it was an incredibly windy day,” she said.

It was only this past fall that Pop Art competed in his first Grand Prix Freestyle at the Washington International Horse Show – and he won with a score of 72.565 percent. His performance at the Gold Coast Opener was a bit like starting all over again, because this freestyle wasn’t much like the one seen in Washington. “It was totally new music and a new choreography. It was extremely different from what we did at the Washington International,” Holzer said.

Holzer and Pop Art will next perform their freestyle at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby and she said even that one won’t be quite the same as this latest version. Within hours after the freestyle competition she was on the phone with her freestyle creator, Karen Robinson of Applause Dressage. “I’m already tweaking it. I told Karen I’m one of her most annoying clients. Parts of the freestyle I absolutely love, but other parts I’m changing. It’s not enough that spectators would notice it, but in two weeks, it will be a little different.” One thing that won’t change is the music, because as Holzer said, “the judges really liked the music.”

“Special” is the word Holzer uses to describe Pop Art and she feels fortunate to have a horse of such talent come to her at this stage of her life. “I’m at a stage in my life where I really appreciate the good ones. He’s very appreciated and I think he knows it.”

Holzer is also taking on a new title in life – that of publisher. She’s the publisher of a new regional equestrian magazine called Today’s Equestrian. The magazine covers the Tri-State area around New York City – Holzer’s home base – and focuses on dressage, hunter/jumpers and polo in the region. This venture is part of Holzer’s effort to plan for her future. “I’m not crazy. I know I can’t do this forever. So I thought it might be worth getting my fingers into something else.”

Following close on Holzer’s heels in the Grand Prix Freestyle was Arlene Page with her ever-popular Wild One, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Wanderer. It’s been months since Page and Wild One performed their Grand Prix Freestyle, the last time was late summer in Saugerties, New York. After which, Wild One had some much deserved time off. “During our down time, I did a lot of homework and then regrouped,” Page said.

Part of that regrouping included making some changes in their freestyle. This latest freestyle has some slightly new choreography and is a bit more difficult. “I made it a little harder because the horse is ready to show that,” Page said. She also made the music flow a bit better because she learned that judges felt the previous freestyle had too many musical transitions. The Gold Coast Opener Revisited was the first time Page and Wild One competed with their revised freestyle. And while it went pretty much as planned, it wasn’t always so, Page said. “I was a tiny bit ahead of the music, but no one would have known that. I was just a little further down the ring a couple of times than I should have been.”

Page also gave some credit to Lars Petersen and Klaus Balkenhol for how well she and Wild One performed on Sunday. “We did better thanks to tips from Lars and Klaus this weekend. Their advice was to have the half-halts come more quickly and be released more quickly – letting the horse be freer in the movements.”

Horsesdaily "On the Scene" at the 2007 Gold Coast Opener