Sandy Osborn, an R Dressage judge for over 20 years, as well as an active competitor achieved her long time goal and dream of training and competing a horse to Grand Prix. She traveled from her home in Deerfield Massachusetts,to the esteemed Dressage at Devon this past September to compete her Dutch Warmblood Milestone, hoping to make the cut for the Grand Prix Freestyle, held under the stadium lights of the Dixon Oval. Read in her own words about her journey. MPH
I was first introduced to dressage during my college years at the University of Massachusetts. I can remember the first time I saw Linda Jaskiel Brown, the director of riding at the time, take an "upside down" lop-eared T.B. mare and in one ride, transfer her into the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen simply by achieving that miraculous state of being on the bit! I was hooked on Dressage for life from that moment on!
Milestone, my current, very special horse is a 12 year old Dutch Warmblood by the Danish stallion, May Sheriff out of a Dutch mare by the stallion, Belisar. He is special for so many reasons. Not only does he have an exceptionally beautiful head with so much intelligence and expression in his face, and not only is he a true "talker" in the barn, but also he is my first horse to get to the Grand Prix level (after all these years!).
I have owned him for 5 and 1/2 years now (or should I say, he has owned me?) and with the help and support of my friend and trainer of the last 10 years, Roel Theunissen, I have realized a goal which has been in front of me for the better part of the last 25 years (what took me so long???). That goal has been to train and to compete a horse at Grand Prix. Two years ago, Miles and I competed at Devon with a decent Prix St George ride but a less than memorable Intermediaire I test. That was my first and until now, only trip to Devon.
For the last year, I have had a snapshot which was taken in the warm-up area at Devon in '04 taped to the dashboard of my car! Our initial Grand Prix tests early this year had their share of mistakes but as the season went on, our confidence grew. We began to go through the tests without mistakes and showing Miles' talent for the piaffe/passage; we earned scores ranging from 63% to 67%!
To qualify for Devon in our first year at this level was an accomplishment, but also being able to complete a mistake free test in the Grand Prix without resistance in that environment was such a thrill! I had qualified to ride Saturday night in the Grand Prix Freestyle, another dream come true!
The announcer, Brian O'Connor, and the crowd welcomed us so warmly that they made the occasion even more memorable. I can't thank Brian enough for helping put me at ease in the Dixon Oval!
Thanks to a generous scholarship from NEDA, I was able to put together freestyle with Terry Ciotti Gallo. Devon was only my second time doing the freestyle in competition. The Celtic music which Terry found for us is done by an Irish rock band so it has a unique sound to it.
Miles and I were the first to go on freestyle night at Devon, under the lights. Brian O’Connor and the Medieval Times performance during the opening ceremonies had the crowd alive and buzzing with electricity and anticipation. Horses are so much more sensitive to electricity than we are that I'm sure Miles could feel the voltage running through the stands! He normally stands 16 hands, but that night, I'm sure he was 18 hands tall as he trotted from the dark warm-up area into that packed, standing room only arena, lit up like a baseball stadium! He gave his all, despite his nerves and I couldn't be happier with what the ride felt like!
As we left the arena, Brian once again let the crowd know this was our first Grand Prix Performance at Dressage at Devon. The crowds gave us a huge applause, and it was a big thrill to be waving to them on our way out.
HorsesDaily "On the Scene" at Dressage at Devon - The coverage continues to grow even after the show!