Since 1995 the Heidelberg Cup in Orlando, FL has been a tradition on the dressage circuit. Scores are considered out of the Young Riders, Open Prix St. George/Intermediaire I, USET PSG/I-1, Grand Prix Special and USET Grand Prix Special. The rider with the average of two best scores wins the Heidelberg Cup.
The trophy started with show manager Klaus Fraessdorf and wife Maria, originally from the city of Heidelberg, Germany. Klaus has managed 163 shows in the United States in the past 27 years. In cooperation with the Heidelberg Tourist Board, the trophy was begun to promote the historical University city and create an awareness and opportunity for winning dressage riders. Originally the trophy came with a ten-day paid vacation to Germany including hotel, car, airfare, meals and sightseeing, but Klaus Fraessdorf said that several winners created so many problems by trying to change the agenda, hotel, and so on once they were there that the tourist board withdrew from the deal. Now winners receive a large trophy, beautiful blankets donated by the Dutta Corporation, and prize money donated by an anonymous sponsor known as “A Friend of Dressage”.
Carol Lavell and Much Ado Take Home the Heidelberg Cup
Carol Lavell of Loxahatchee, FL rode Much Ado, her KWPN gelding by Quatro, to a high score of 71.75 %, winning both the Prix St. Georges and the Intermediaire I. The massive gelding is nine years old this year and has had a stellar competitive season after returning from an injury in the trailer that laid him up for nine months last year.
“This was his second I-1 and he doesn’t feel strong enough yet,” said Lavell. “You learn a hard lesson when they have that much time off: it takes a long time for them to come back. After five months off it takes a year to get back their strength. He gets very tired now.”
Lavell said that Much Ado, who is over 18 hands, takes very little strength for her to ride. “I’m only 5’4” but he’s very quick to the leg and very sensitive,” she said. “A slight shift of weight and he responds. I have to be very careful what I do.”
Lavell’s focus now is on the Grand Prix, though she plans to take her time to get there. “I suspect it’ll take another year before we can start, barring problems along the way,” she said.
Regarding this year’s Pan American Games, Lavell said, “He’s my pet and he knows it. I like him a lot and I try to train him as he likes. Since he likes to work, I don’t want to run him all over the country competing him,” which is what she would have to do to qualify at this point. Lavell already has a Pan-Am team silver medal to her name along with an individual fourth place, which she earned riding In the Black. “It was easy because he was such a solid team horse,” she said. “We have a lot of solid second-year horses now.
Still, Lavell likes to show in the qualifying classes because of the opportunity to show in front of top judges, giving Much Ado a solid competitive foundation. As a member of the USET dressage committee and the USA Equestrian dressage committee, Lavell also likes to keep herself in front of those judges “Trying with a first year horse to see how they measure up is a good deal,” she said. “I know what it’s like to be on an unconfirmed horse and it’s not fun. The Grand Prix is where you know if you have a top horse,” she went on, describing the development of the dressage horse. “A lot of questions aren’t answered until you get in the ring and you’ve got to keep putting pieces into the puzzle and hope that at the end nothing’s missing.”
Reserve Goes to Pierre St. Jacques and Lucky Tiger
Pierre St. Jacques took the reserve in the Heidelberg Cup on Lucky Tiger, an eight-year-old that he found in Denmark as a five-year-old with Lars Peterson. Last year they competed at fourth level and this year started the Prix St. Georges, winning at Wellington recently with a 71.5%. The Heidelberg Cup was their first Intermediaire-1 competition.
St. Jacques, who is married to Grand Prix rider Pam Goodrich, has himself competed at the Grand Prix level previously on the horse Semper Bene, but said that usually he rides the more difficult horses at home because of his long legs and lack of fear. “He’s always honest in the ring,” St. Jacques said of Lucky Tiger. “There’s a lot to be said about that; it’s fun when you’re on a horse you can trust.”
He said that “Team Tiger” came to the show to support him this weekend. Goodrich helps him from the ground, and groom Nancy Hinz keeps everyone in order. “Tiger likes her and he likes for her to take him for walk and take care of him,” he said.
Having never ridden through the test, St. Jacques said that we wasn’t sure about the spacing between some of the movements, but that it worked out okay for the most part. “After the first pirouette on the flying change at B my timing wasn’t so good, but he did it,” he said. “His trot work was very good.”
At the suggestion of some friends, St. Jacques has decided to try for the Pan-Am Games team heading to the Dominican Republic this summer. He’ll have to go to Port Jervis, NJ to try to get the qualifying score, then to the selection trials at Gladstone, NJ in June. It would be his first big International competition.
“I had planned to go to Europe to train for the first time this year, but I figure this would be a good experience to get the jitters of International competition out and get used to competing under pressure,” he said. “Tiger is honest, so it doesn’t matter to him if it’s a big show. I get pumped up when I get in the arena, but not nervous. I handle pressure well.”
Alison Faso and Benno’s Dream Have Pony Power
The highest overall score of the entire show went to Benno’s Dream, ridden by Alison Faso and owned by Nancy Ferebee of Alpharetta, Georgia. The 148 centimeter tall chestnut German Riding Pony stallion by Blue Star, out of Dina, is known as “The Prince” around the barn. His 72.5% from judge Lilo Fore in the third level test four qualifying class adds a little credence to his nobility.
Alison’s mother Liz Faso, who with her husband Don organizes numerous dressage shows in Georgia, was thrilled with her daughter’s success. “That’s a twenty thousand dollar ribbon,” she grinned. “If you count everything spent on Alison’s riding since she was a little girl. This is the most wonderful thing she’s ever won. And it was worth it.”
Alison said that that the pony’s temperament makes him easy to work with, and she enjoys riding him because he is small but moves like a warmblood. “The German Riding Ponies are very willing and have an excellent work ethic,” she said. The great thing about them is that they don’t have a quick little pony trot and no back; you can get throughness on them and kids can feel what that’s like. They’re miniature warmbloods ad they ride like it. They’re bred for rideability for sure.”
Ferebee started her business, Through Connection Ltd. and imported Benno’s Dream after she became interested in the German Riding Pony breed in 2000, having read about them on Eurodressage.com, HorsesDaily.com’s European partner. So taken was Ferebee that she traveled to Europe and spent three weeks traveling around Germany and Denmark visiting breeders and learning about German Riding Ponies. She now owns three stallions and plans to breed them here in the United States, hoping to promote the breed for children and small adults. “My big thing is that kids need something suitable for the transition between riding small ponies and big horses,” she said.
Before Ferebee imported Benno’s Dream, she said, he was awarded the highest score ever at his 30-day stallion testing with 8.95. He is approved with the pony section of the Oldenburg Verband and is also approved in Mecklenburg. The stallion has both jumping and dressage bloodlines, but with his excellent movement she plans to campaign him mostly in the dressage ring.
The Edgar Hotz Perpetual Trophy
A new addition at the show this year is the addition of a perpetual trophy in memory of esteemed dressage judge Edgar Hotz, who died in 2002. A great friend of show manager Klaus Fraessdorf, Hotz was highly respected, and Fraessdorf wants to keep his memory alive. After collecting contributions, Fraessdorf had the enormous perpetual trophy made, with room for sixteen years’ worth of names to be permanently engraved on it. “I have to raise the ceiling in my house a bit for the tall trophy,” he joked. The prize is given to four highest-scoring riders in the Adult Amateur, Open, Junior/Young Rider, and Freestyle sections. Each winner will receive a smaller replica of the original trophy that is theirs to keep, created from balsam wood and bronze and topped with a 24-karat-gold top hat.
“I wanted to make something nice that people will keep in a nice place in their house so that he will be remembered,” said Fraessdorf. “His name will be remembered at my shows, and riders come here from all over the country. When those riders win the trophy and take it home, and they talk about the Edgar Hotz trophy, his name will be spread around the country.”
Fraessdorf continued, “To me he could have lived a lot longer, but he had a real health problem and couldn’t cope with it. I’m in constant contact with his wife Irma; she was the largest contributor when I told her what I was doing.”
Describing dressage as an intense and artistic sport, Fraessdorf said, “I want to make an example because I’m upset at how many of our mentors and contributors to the sport of dressage are forgotten in their passing. We should be more considerate of these things.”
While he is still looking for donations in order to add prize money to the award, Fraessdorf said that he has already covered the cost of the take-home trophies for next year, thus it is assured that the award will continue and the memory of his friend will live on.
Awards for the four trophies are as follows:
Open: Katie Poulin-Neff, riding Brilliant Too, 71.296%
Freestyle: Trae LaPorte, riding Fleetwood, 71.875%
Adult Amateur: Janne Rumbough, riding Wallony, 66.905%
Junior/Young Rider: Kassandra Barteau, riding Redson, 67.692
Young Rider Jodie Kelly On Track for NAYRC
When trainer Scott Peterson of Blythewood, SC had ridden Weltkaar to a certain point, he decided that the big, sensitive gelding would be better suited to his former student Jodie Kelly of Destin, FL. “I sold him to her for a good deal but it was worth it to me because they are so good together,” he said.
Kelly agreed, “As big as he is, Weltkaar is not really a man’s horse. He’s massive but sensitive.”
She competed the 18.2hh gelding at fourth level last fall and he was super. He has won all three NAYRC qualifiers that she has entered this year, so is now qualified to go to Bromont, Canada this summer.
Kelly has been training recently with Betsy Steiner in Wellington, FL. A petite rider who has been successfully campaigning Robert Dover’s former mount Rainier, Steiner has a quiet but effective teaching style that appeals to Kelly, who said that she was on a good track with her riding before but that Steiner has helped her put all the pieces together. “She’s demanding but in a kind way,” Kelly said. “I always try as hard as I can. She expects a lot but is also kind and encouraging and supportive of me and of the horses. She uses more of a reward than a punishment system.”
Steiner is the author of a book on riding that is due to be released in May. In the book she includes Pilates exercises for riders, and Kelly said that while spending the month of January in Wellington training with Steiner she also went to Pilates classes twice a week. “I loved it and could really tell a difference in my fitness,” she said.
Kelly and Weltkaar won both the team and individual Young Rider tests, and placed second in the freestyle. Heavy rains on Friday left the footing heavy in Clarcona, and Kelly said that she could feel its effects on her gelding. “It really sucked the life out of him,” she said. “We went right after the storm and it was very deep. He was there as much as he could be.” Saturday’s sunshine dried the footing out a bit and made Weltkaar happy. “At this point he’s really good and tries really hard,” said Kelly. “We’re working on making him more extravagant; he’s good, but we want to make him great.”
Kelly also rode Manhattan, a nine-year-old Dutch horse by Unicorn; Leiden, a 10-year-old that she raised from a foal and trained herself; and On Broadway, by Juventus, who was at his first show. Leiden, 18.1hh, is still developing the strength needed for the upper levels, but she hopes that he will be her Young Riders horse next year.
Anne Gribbons and Aureate Win Grand Prix Special
Riding two horses, Anne Gribbons had a successful trip to Orlando. Aureate is in his very first Grand Prix year, always a hit and miss operation, says Gribbons. He’s been out three times at three shows; the first one I competed Hors Concours and he got a 65. At his second show last weekend in Wellington at the CDI he was just shy of 65%, having been difficult in the schooling ring and then relaxing at his first halt at “X”. “He was lovely,” said Gribbons. They placed fourth in the Grand Prix and third in the Special. This weekend Aureate decided to relax in the warm-up save his antics for the arena. “He schooled better than ever yesterday and then in the arena and was a turkey,” she said. “With a green horse you never know, and this is a lot of test. The large tour is a big step up from the small tour.”
So on Saturday, before the Grand Prix Special, Gribbons made sure that Aureate knew she meant business. She carried a whip in the warm-up, which she doesn’t usually do, and gave him a few strong half-halts to make sure that he was paying attention.
“Today he was very intelligent,” she said after their winning ride. “He’s a very talented, intelligent horse. There’s nothing he can’t do. He’s a little on the crazy side, so I console myself that most top horses are a little insane. The border between insanity and genius is a little thin,” she smiled. On Sunday the pair scored 69.208 for the second-highest scoring freestyle ride.
Gribbons is also riding Leoliet, who is a 10-year-old Dutch horse by Zeoliet, owned by Judy Bernier and ridden until now by Canadian Shannon Dueck. While Dueck has taken her Grand Prix horse to Europe to train, Leoliet is being ridden by Gribbons. Mrs. Bernier also owns Metallic, Robert Dover’s 1998 Olympic mount that Gribbons now rides, and sent Leoliet to Gribbons originally to find another rider for him.
Gribbons said that she hadn’t wanted to deal with a stallion, but Leoliet has been clocking around consistently for the past seven weeks that she has been riding him and for the moment she’s having fun. “We may stick together and go up the levels,” she said. “So far he’s well trained and Shannon should get all the credit for that. It’s delightful. It’s the first time I’ve ever got a horse that was ready to ride at that level.”
Gribbons’ student Lesley Eden, who was the NAYRC individual gold medal winner on Picasso in 2001, rode a young horse called Ferdonia 2 to win Training Level test 3 with 70.833%. Having recently recovered from a broken leg, Eden is now riding for Highlife Farm in Orlando. Picasso has also recovered from a small injury and Eden is hoping to move him up to Grand Prix.
Michael Poulin and Chelan
They have been practicing the Grand Prix movements at home including 1-tempi changes, which confused Chelan in the 2-tempi changes required in the PSG/I-1 at the Heidelberg Cup. Poulin also went off course and lost a few points, but the rides were still good enough to take home two blues anyway. “He’s going to be a Grand Prix horse,” said Poulin assuredly. “He’s one hundred per cent sound.”
Chelan, called ‘Casper’ in the barn, is a 9-year-old Canadian Thoroughbred belonging to Maureen Fitzpatrick of Spruce Creek, FL. Eventually she will take over the ride from Poulin, who has been riding him for the past two years.
Though he didn’t have him at this show, Poulin has also been campaigning Bora 75, a Lipizzan owned by Gary Levinski of Florida, at third and fourth levels. “He’s a super talented horse and can walk for 9 and do his 3- and 2-tempis already,” he said. Next year Poulin plans to move Bora up to Prix St. George and I-1. “The judges complain a little about him, but once they see the quality they can’t complain,” he said. “His character is so much better than a lot of horses I’ve had. He scores 68% most of the time. I don’t want to push him because he’s not strong enough yet but he’ll be a fabulous Grand Prix horse someday.”
Poulin’s daughter Katherine married Matt Neff six months ago and Poulin is a proud father who said that his new son-in-law is “a great guy”. He is also proud of both of his daughters’ riding achievements, and rightly so: Katherine and her sister Gwen are three-time NAYRC Champions on three different horses.
Katherine won the Edgar Hotz Trophy for the Open divisions on Brilliant Too, half-brother to a Dutch stallion called Brilliant that Michael bought as a three-year-old many years ago. His wife trained Brilliant to Grand Prix and they sold him to put the kids through college, but he still holds a special place in the Poulins’ hearts. They bred five mares to him and have several of his offspring, all stallions, which the two girls have broken and trained themselves.
Susan Jaccoma Is Getting The Hang of Grand Prix
One day Susan Jaccoma was in her barn when Leslie Malone, on vacation in Maine from her home in Colorado, drove up the driveway looking for horses for sale. Jaccoma showed her several horses, but Malone was convinced that she wanted to buy Harmony’s Coolio, a now nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding. Jaccoma told her repeatedly that she didn’t think the horse was suitable for Malone, who countered with, ‘How about if I buy the horse and you ride it?” Malone’s Harmony Holsteiners has sponsored Jaccoma ever since, as well as sponsoring rider Leslie Webb on the West Coast. Malone also owns Harmony’s Ninotchka, by Alcatraz out of Hollywood.
“Without her sponsorship I couldn’t be doing this,” said Jaccoma. “I’m very indebted to her. She makes me feel like he’s my horse, and I can call her and tell her when things are going right and when they aren’t. She wants what’s best for the horses, so if we have to scratch for some reason that’s okay with her.”
All of Jaccoma’s horses except for Coolio won blue ribbons this weekend; he scored two 65 percents in his first Pan-Am Games Qualifier. Having done the Pan-Am selection trials in 1999 with her own Jellowa, she would like to try again for the team going to the Dominican Republic this summer.
Jennifer Huber’s horse Al Pacino won his fourth level class and Jaccoma’s own Jellowa, a 12-year-old Dutch gelding by Obrecht, won the USET Grand Prix qualifier. This is her first qualifier with him on the road to the USET Festival of Champions in Gladstone, NJ this June.
“Jellowa was a really good PSG/I-1 horse,” said Jaccoma. “He could do no wrong. We graduated to Grand Prix and everything comes so quick. They have to be so on your aids it’s like a new sport. He’s only my second Grand Prix horse; with what I’ve learned, Coolio will be a better Grand Prix horse because I’ve learned from the other two. Poor ‘Joe’ is my guinea pig!”
The Famous Heidelberg Cup Competitors Party
Katherine Groves and her Quiet Oaks Farm sponsors a competitors party every year at the Heidelberg Cup that has become one of the highlights of the Florida horse show season. This year’s party included a fantastic spread of catered food, amply stocked bar, and lively music from the band “Derek and the Slammers”.
The low key atmosphere at the Clarcona Horse Park encourages competitors and spectators to relax and enjoy the four-day show, and the party serves to bring everyone together so they can enjoy the weekend to the fullest. Everyone who has been to the show before fondly reminisces about previous great parties, and those who come for the first time are fantastically surprised.
“The first year we did the party we’d been to a show in Ohio and all of the meals were buffet-style with really fantastic food,” said Groves. “We decided to see if we could do that too, and called Klaus about sponsoring a party. He asked if we meant pizza and beer and we said, not exactly! The first year we just had food, then the next year we got a DJ. Last year we played Twister too – this year it was just the food and the band, and I think that was perfect. Friday really loosens everybody up.” Groves also sponsors the South Eastern Dressage Championships in December, though without the party.
Kathy Groves on the Road to Belgium
Kathy Groves is riding for the first time in classes for riders with disabilities, and she plans to go as far as she can with it, hopefully to Belgium for the world championships this summer and eventually to the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.
When she was severely burned in an auto accident in 1995, Groves had to undergo numerous surgeries and months of rehabilitation. Doctors gave her a mere 6% chance of survival, never suspecting that she would ever sit on horse again.
Refusing to let their prediction demoralize her, Groves finished therapy in October of 1997 and started riding dressage for the first time in that same year. She had ridden before, but this was her first time in the dressage saddle.
Through trial and error she has worked out a prosthetic arm that allows her to hold the reins through a test. She started out with a myoelectric arm, then later tried a custom affair with a wooden hand that kept breaking. Over the years she has had a few mishaps, such as her arm coming off in the ring and once, while waiting in the start box at a horse trials, noticing that a silicone finger had become torn – she pulled it off and put it in her pocket, much to the shock of the man counting down her ride!
There are four different grades of disability, each with its own test of relative difficulty. Grade I is a walk-trot test for riders who are paraplegic; the Grade IV test is for riders who are less severely disabled, and requires more difficult movements. The test that Groves will have to ride is similar to a third/fourth level test, with trot-work out of Prix St. George.
“The new arm is great,” she said of her latest development, which has a latex covering over the hand to cushion it against the reins, and was constructed at such an angle that she can have a better connection with the horse, and can even flex by contracting her shoulder muscles. “I thought I’d never get past first level. You have to have patience to do this; to survive what I did, you’ve got to have something.”
Groves’ positive outlook is contagious. At the competitor’s party that she sponsors, everyone has a fantastic time. Though her face is scarred from burns and her arm ends at the elbow, it is not her disfigurement that you notice, but her energy and enthusiasm, her strength and determination. Her sense of purpose is tangible, and evident in the numerous clinics and seminars she has hosted for riders and judges alike. Most recently she hosted a weekend seminar for judges at her Quiet Oaks Farm to educated them on how to judge riders with disabilities.
A member of the USDF Adult Amateur Committee, she noted, “I think the disabled riders’ community is where my energies are better served. I’m always asking organizers to add the IPEC (International Paralympic Equestrian Committee) classes to their shows. Some hesitate because they don’t know what it is, but there’s no liability; we’re all USDF members.”
The path to Belgium is not easy: Groves will have to spend several weeks on the road going to qualifying competitions, now that she is on the short list. She will go to several shows from Florida to North Carolina. Last year she drove to Long Island for a show though, and said that she has fun traveling around with her horses and family. “My friends and family are great; my husband is very supportive,” she said. “I’m very excited and nervous at the same time.”
Groves owns several horses and had two two of them, Frëëk and Faleen, at the Heidelberg Cup. Faleen is a Trakehner (Rhombus x Fabian), that she has scored 72% with in the past; Freek is a KWPN (The Natural x Ornasolly). If she qualifies, she will take her own horse to Belgium.