Parker, CO - High Prairie Dressage I, II and III, held at the picturesque Colorado Horse Park May 31-June 2, featured a variety of classes for all levels from Grand Prix to Training Level to Young Horse. It was Nicole Glusenkamp and Eeltsje F, a Friesian stallion owned by Paula Marsh of Wyning Edge Friesians in Boerne, Texas, who claimed the win in the Grand Prix Open on Friday, May 31, with a 65.904% in the first day of competition. Nicole Glusenkamp, a hometown trainer based in Parker, has had the ride on the Friesian for eight years. She said Eelstsje F was a bit tired from breeding, but the horse was steady, even in the blustery wind at the Horse Park. "It's not a problem for me, because my horse doesn't care," she explained. "Nothing bothers him. I haven't met anything that bothers him yet."
She added that she enjoys coming to the Colorado Horse Park where the facilities are top-notch. "You know they always do a great job," she said. She was particularly impressed with the new GGT-Footing the Horse Park installed. "It's really nice," she said. "The horses like it!" Glusenkamp and Eeltsje F performed a solid test with smooth tempi changes and transitions. Taking second place in the Grand Prix Open behind Glusenkamp was Shannon Dahmer on Rock On with a 65.479%.
Dressage newcomer Andrea Caudill from Amarillo, Texas, had reason to celebrate on her own Haidaseeker Playboy, who scored a 57.632% to take third in the Prix St. Georges - Amateur/Junior/Young Rider class. "It was our first try at Prix St. Georges," she said. "He is an American Quarter Horse and this is my first dressage horse!"
The horse is a money-earner and winner in reined cow horse. They show in the Panhandle Reined Cow Horse Association in the Texas Panhandle and they entered the Reined Cow Horse World Show in January. Although she and Haidaseeker Playboy, whom she calls "Matt," currently compete in boxing, a cutting discipline within reined cow horse, as well as reining and endurance racing, she decided she wanted to tackle a new challenge - dressage. "Some friends of mine were doing it and we decided to try it and we've been climbing the levels," she said. "It's been a lot of fun! I'd never even ridden a dressage horse before. And we just keep moving up. He just started doing piaffe and passage last fall."
Although she trains Matt herself, her dressage instructor, Michelle Just-Williams of Ocala, FL, gives her pointers via Skype. Caudill live-streams her lessons over the computer and Just-Williams coaches her student on a screen. Caudill started at first level when Just-Williams began instructing her and they are now at Prix St. Georges. "She has taught us how to do this over the phone," Caudill said. "So, where there's a will there's a way."
"That's why I got a Quarter Horse!" she added. "If you want to do it all. . ." She is a walking advertisement for the breed and said the Quarter Horse is the perfect partner for any discipline - including dressage.
The dressage action continued at the Colorado Horse Park with High Prairie II on Saturday, June 1, when Shannon Dahmer rocked it with Rock On in the FEI Freestyle Test of Choice to score a 68.000%. The pair could have had a turn on "Dancing With the Stars" with their Grand Prix Freestyle featuring double pirouettes and spot-on one-tempis to "Eye of the Tiger" and other music from the iconic movie, "Rocky."
Dahmer said the freestyle score was chosen because Rock On's barn name is Rocky, but more germane to the Rocky theme woven throughout the day's winning freestyle was the 16-year-old Oldenburg's history as a fighter who beat the odds to triumph in the dressage arena.
In 2009, Rocky nearly died from founder. Dahmer and Rocky's owner, Mary Allyn, were the ones who brought the gelding back to health to help him claim his heavyweight crown. "Isn't that amazing that he's doing the Grand Prix?" Allyn asked. "It was a labor of love and he's such a special horse. It's amazing to get a horse to Grand Prix anyway and especially one who foundered. He's special."
Dahmer agreed. "This is his second year doing Grand Prix and this is kind of a big deal." The pair placed fifth with a 65.875% in the Grand Prix Freestyle in the CDI3* in San Juan Capistrano, CA, in March and, just last week, they competed in the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special in Del Mar, CA.
"Shannon has obviously done an amazing job," Allyn said of Rocky's rider. "She's the one who brought him to Grand Prix. Dahmer is one proud trainer whose fondness for the knock-out horse is obvious. "He's rideable now," she beamed.
Another horse and rider pair who rocked the freestyle were Jane Ann Lake and Tecolate who scored a 63.333% in the USDF Freestyle Test of Choice at Second Level. "I was happy with him but he was a little tense," Lake said. "This was his first class of the show season and it's kind of cold and it's kind of windy, so he just got a little amped-up." She continued, "You do your best and that's all you can ask for. So, hopefully, by this afternoon for his second class, he'll be much calmer." The pair earned a 63.05% in the Second Level Test 3 - Masters' class later in the day.
Another exciting series of classes at High Prairie Dressage included the $750-plus add back Rising Star Challenge offered for 4-, 5-, and 6-year-old horses. Frederick Magazzeni rode two horses in the Rising Star Training Level Test 2 class, Rheiny Day Woman and Razz Ma Tazz. Shannon Dahmer and The King of Rock N'Roll took the blue with a 69.643% while Magazzeni scored a 68.036% with Rheiney Day Woman to secure second place and a 65.179% with Razz Ma Tazz to take the third slot in the class.
Magazzeni said Rheiney Day Woman, a 4-year-old mare, competed in only the second test of her career in the class. "She's been wonderful and very quiet," he said. "She seems to have just been born with an understanding that she's here to be a show horse."
Young show horses showed their stuff on the final day of dressage in High Prairie III on Sunday, June 2, in a series of Markel/USEF Young Horse Qualifying classes, part of a program using special dressage tests for 4-, 5-, and 6-year-old horses to help scout out potential outstanding talent for future careers at the FEI level or participation in U.S. High Performance Teams.
A key component of the classes is personalized feedback from the judges. Immediately after the test, the judges discuss the test with the rider to help with training goals.
Ann Buchanan rode Sky Hit to win the Markel/USEF 4-Year-Old Qualifier. "He was really good," she said."There's a lot going on in there and he really kept it together." She said the judges liked his walk and thought he was very submissive, especially with all the activity at the show. She added that she specifically purchased the horse in order to participate in the Young Horse Qualifier and appreciated the feedback from the judges to help her continue her horse's training. "I'm learning a lot," she said.
Petra Warlimont rode Laurenzo for a first place finish and Diva MCF for the second place spot in the Markel/USEF Young Horse 5-Year-Old Qualifier. She said Laurenzo was tired after two days of showing. "In the walk we wandered all over the place, but he's super and this was his first horse show."
Warlimont said the judges scored the horse favorably. "The general impression was an 8.2, so he's in the Top 15," she said. "With this stuff going on, I could feel him getting pretty tense in there, but he kept it together."
Laurenzo's breeder, Cindy Feirn, said she breeds Holsteiners on Colorado's Western Slope and added she has another 4-year-old that will soon be trying to qualify in the Markel/USEF program. Warlimont laughed, "I told her to make 10 more of those. He's super!"
Warlimont also enjoyed her ride on Diva MCF and said the mare just keeps surprising her by getting better and better but is not quite ready for the big time. "She can't really hold the collection in the trot but otherwise I'm really happy with where she is," Warlimont explained.
She added that, although the judges really liked the mare's canter, they thought her rhythm in the collected trot was inconsistent. "I'm happy with the score," she said. "I didn't even think she would be able to handle the test and she did really well."
Allen Swafford and Fiderstep HW also participated in the Young Horse 5-Year-Old Qualifier and came away with third place. He said he received good feedback from the judges on the horse. "He's super," he said. "It's his first test and his first horse show and we weren't as expressive as we can be. We were trying to be conservative and just do a nice test and then next time we can go for expression."
Swafford agreed with the other competitors that the feedback from the judges helps him plan a roadmap for his horse's future training. "I love all the encouraging words," he said. "They tell you all the things you need to work on and go forward with that. It's very good."
For more information about High Prairie Dressage I, II and III as well as information about more exciting shows at Colorado Horse Park this summer, log onto www.coloradohorsepark.com.
To see the complete listing of results for High Prairie I, II and III, Click Here.