In their first trip down the center line Susanne Hassler and Harmony's Boitano scored an easy 70% in the Markel/USEF Developing PSG winning the class at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival January 31. "I feel there is lots of room for improvement, given we are just getting to know each other and many parts of the test can be better executed than we performed that day,” said Susanne. "He has a lot of highlights and the test is a good one for letting them shine!” With her husband Scott Hassler, long time USEF Young Dressage Horse Trainer working in the warm up, his wife introduced the newest member of Harmony Sporthorses to the program, a coming-9 year old KWPN gelding by Santano out of the mare Roma Jackson (Whinny Jackson-Ferro). Resin Dressage in the Netherlands bred Harmony’s Boitano. The Hassler’s purchased him from his most recent trainer, Anne Lena Holmen and her husband Hubertus Hufendik of Germany and their partner Jochen Arl. When things are meant to be, they can fall easily into place, and that was what happened. The Hasslers were able to arrange the vetting and everything to take place quickly enough for him to travel to FL on December 27 with their friend Michael Klimke's horses, headed for Wellington. "It was pretty sketchy timing with blood tests and the Christmas holidays but we got it done! Boitano arrived at our stable here in Wellington on December 31...a perfect way to end 2014, and a perfect way to begin 2015!"
“Anne Lena was the trainer for the amateur woman who previously owned Santano," credited Susanne. "She had helped her develop him to Prix St. Georges and his owner fulfilled her goal in riding him in his first PSG. Then she sold her to Anne Lena and Hubertus, who put 3 months of training into him, confirming that he could learn the 2's and 1's and piaffe/passage. We loved him right away!"
Boitano is owned by the Hasslers' partner Leslie Malone of Harmony Sporthorses in Kiowa, CO. Leslie and John Malone own Riveredge where Hassler Dressage is based in Maryland. "They are enormously supportive of our activities," added Susanne.
The Malone’s have co-sponsored the Young Dressage Horse Trainer Symposium since its inception and this year, at our YDHTS 10-year anniversary, they gave out $35,000 in training grants to deserving YDHTS participants. Seven participants each were awarded a $5000 training grant to train with one of our YDHTS conductors: Scott Hassler, Ingo Pape, Dr. Ulf Moeller, Michael Klimke, Anne Gribbons, Steffen Peters, and Oliver Oelrich. "The Malone’s are so tremendously generous and yet they want to see their contributions make a real difference. They have given Scott and me the opportunity to focus the next ten years on our competitive careers, which is a real privilege and an opportunity of a lifetime!"
"Boitano and I have quickly become partners. The chemistry between us worked very well right away, from my first ride on him in December, but over the last 5 weeks, we have experienced tremendous growth in the clarity of our communication and ability to perform. He gives me great confidence as a rider. Going for the Developing Horse PSG felt like a super choice for him, even though he has only done one PSG to date."
Susanne’s husband, longtime USEF Young Horse coach has recently announced he is stepping down to pursue the Hasslers’ own riding and competitive careers, but not before finding a replacement, with the effort currently underway. "I feel so lucky to have such a special husband, best friend, supporter, and coach in Scott. He so wants to help make his riders shine and he has such incredible insight and feeling as a rider and coach. I have watched him give so much of himself to the Markel Young Horse program over these years and I know the growth of the program has made him tremendously proud. We were attending the World Championships for Young Horses in Europe long before we had a program here and so participating in the program here was natural. I personally haven't had the opportunity to participate in the Young Horse program again since 2004 and 2005 when I rode Hilltop's Royal Prince so it feels especially wonderful to begin my career with Boitano by jumping back into the Markel Young Horse program!
Markel has been a longtime supporter of the Young Horse Program since 2005, and has increased their support adding The Developing Horse division to the Four, Five and Six year olds. Through this program many of the top horses competing in the United States at the upper levels have been brought up through the program, training and learning the proper development and qualities judges and trainers look for in Dressage horses for the future. "Markel has truly made a meaningful and lasting difference in the development of dressage in the USA through their support of the USEF Young Horse Program. Markel's generous sponsorship of the program brought Young Horse sport to the forefront of people's thoughts about dressage and the pipeline in building up great talent," added Susanne. "I am so grateful, both as a rider and participant, but also very much as Scott's wife.
The Seger family has been a tremendously genuine and invested representative of Markel and Scott has so enjoyed his time with them. The many coaching weekends Scott spent at competitions for USEF were made far more meaningful by his connection with John, Brandon, and Lisa."
"DressageDaily's Mary Phelps, (a longtime Markel Insurance Specialist) was there when we were at the early YH World Championships and recognized the value of developing the program in the USA. With her input, Markel came into the program close to its inception, and the rest is history," added Susanne's husband Scott.
Hassler Dressage is based at Four Winds Farm in Wellington Florida after a long absence from the Florida Winter Circuit, and my how things have changed. “It's very exciting to return to Wellington after our long hiatus (16 years--essentially while our girls grew up and finished high school) and it's quite amazing how the whole scene has developed. It's fun and exciting to be back to spending our winters in FL and to have the opportunity to connect with friends from all over the world that migrate here. This year, our partner Leslie invited our dear friend Michael Klimke, who also rides for Harmony Sporthorses, to spend his winter with us. Michael and his groom Sabrine Curtze brought 4 horses, including Harmony's Depardieu, and they are having a very successful season so far! Loma Fowler, Harmony's trainer in Colorado, is also here with two competition horses and Leslie's personal riding horse as well. It's so much fun to share the daily training and to support and encourage each other along the way!”