Wellington, FL - “It’s awesome to be back in Europe and I’m excited to represent the United States in the World Cup in Paris. This will be my first World Cup and I have never been to Paris!” says former USDF Grand Prix Champion Horse of the Year rider, FEI World Equestrian Games veteran and Horse of Course sponsored rider, Shelly Francis. The FEI World Cup™ Finals Paris are April 11-15 at the AccorHotels Arena and mark the first time in more than 25 years that Paris has hosted the World Cup™ Dressage Final.
“(Representing your country) is special,” she said, “because it can be such a long journey and you can’t ever take it for granted. Things can change so quickly with this sport.” One thing that hasn’t changed is Horse of Course’s steadfast support of this exceptional equestrian and her Grand Prix Freestyle to Music partner, Danilo.
“It takes a team,” says the Loxahatchee, Florida rider, “to keep my horse at this level: owners, veterinarians, farriers, grooms, massage therapists and tack shops like the Horse of Course, which has supplied me with saddles, riding apparel and my necessary equipment.”
For the last decade, Francis has ridden, trained and competed in German-made Sommer saddles, custom fitted by Horse of Course expert saddler, Marty Haist. “I love my saddles! They are the most comfortable saddles for the horses and myself. Sommer is a saddle that gives a lot of freedom through the shoulders,” explains Francis.
The kind of freedom that has given Francis and Danilo the chance to choreograph the brilliant Freestyle that qualified them as one of the world’s top 18 dressage duos: “I enjoy riding to music and doing the Freestyle, so this will be fun. Having the opportunity to ride alongside so many top riders and be in such a fine city as Paris is exciting. Danilo and I are striving to be legendary!”
Danilo is a 14-year-old Hanoverian (De Niro x Annabelle x Andiamo) gelding owned by Patricia Stempel. “He’s been progressing every season. My goal this summer is to do our best and try to make the team for the World Equestrian Games in Tryon.” The two started their 2018 season with a reserve finish in the opening week of the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida and personal best (77.72%) for Danilo in the CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle. “I started him when he was a little bit older to bring him along to Grand Prix, because he was my owner’s horse to ride first. He’s coming into himself this year. He’s turning 14 and just feels like he’s getting better and better.”
“As far as the World Cup goes, I’d like to see us achieve ‘personal best’ scores. We’re always striving to be better, but I make a point of not drilling a horse too much. We do a lot of light days, and hack days, to keep the mind fresh. You have to be prepared to overcome defeat and persevere if this is what you really want to do, because nothing comes easy.”
This Horse of Course rider understands that competing at the top of her sport may not come easy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t come with a little flair. In addition to sponsoring her equipment, Horse of Course is proud to outfit her show apparel, including a new KEP USA helmet she will debut in Paris at the World Cup.
“It is a beautiful helmet and super comfortable to wear! Just enough sparkle!”
The Horse of Course, based in Claremore, Oklahoma, is proud to help horses and riders like Shelley Francis and Danilo shine, thanks to top fashion and brands for men and women including KEP Italia, Ronner, IAGO, Dobert, LotusRomeo, EG07, Micklem, Style Stock, Passier, Pikeur, Neue Schule, König, and Grand Prix, as well as customized saddle and bit fitting. Learn more about its quality tack and apparel, and mobile boutique on Facebook, Instagram, and www.thehorseofcourse.com, or call toll-free (888) 494-6773.