Loxahatchee, Florida – Jane Hannigan is off to the 2008 Dressage World Cup joining Courtney King and Idocus following her win Sunday in the CDI Grand Prix Freestyle at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI-W/Y. Hannigan and Maksymilian scored a 72.85 percent putting them on the U.S. World Cup team. That score also earned them a second place in the Grand Prix Freestyle behind Canadian Ashley Holzer with Pop Art and their score of 77.45 percent.
Hannigan was beaming. "I'm so happy. The horse felt great today." Hannigan was rather astounded by her high freestyle score considering that she admitted to being out of sync with her music at some points in her ride. She's working on a new freestyle that is more technically difficult but opted not to change for the qualifying class.
"I decided that I would ride in what I refer to as my old shoes for the qualifiers because I'm really comfortable with it. I know the old freestyle so well that if I get lost, like I did today, I can catch myself," Hannigan said. She is working with Terry Ciotti Gallo on the new freestyle and is now aiming to have it ready for the World Cup.
Her winning score was also the highest she's ever earned in a CDI Grand Prix Freestyle with Maksymilian, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Elcaro. The Mushroom Matrix company shared sponsorship with DressageDaily.com in Thursday's Inspection Reception, as it did last year, and "Mak" is a Mushroom Matrix horse. Hannigan put him on the nutritional supplement after meeting members of the Mushroom Matrix team at last year's Palm Beach Dressage Derby and this year, Matrix Vice President Keith Manfred was on hand to congratulate her. One potential benefit of the product is that it can help reduce stress and anxiety without reducing a horse's energy level. And Hannigan said she's convinced that the Matrix, combined with the fact that Mak is maturing and gets good training with Robert Dover, is making a difference.
"He's still on the Matrix. Did you see him spook in the ring? Not at all. Chairs were blowing over, tents blowing and he was right on the money. He is focused and trained and strong. And everybody said he looks really fresh and really strong, but really focused. Doesn't his coat look amazing? He's got black dapples," Hannigan said.
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She actually backed off on Mak's training prior to the Derby in hopes of preventing problems of the past. It was a strategy that paid off. "I typically over train him because I get nervous coming up to this show. So, my tactic was the opposite – to back off and just ride him to make sure he does the movements and then walk him."
Mak has not been an easy horse and Hannigan takes great pride in the fact that she's owned him since he was six and brought him along herself. Right now, her focus is the World Cup, scheduled for late March in the Netherlands, but when asked if the World Equestrian Games might be in her two-year plan, Hannigan said, "you never know. It's week to week, month to month with horses.
Every horse person knows that. The sun and moon and stars have to line up to get you to the right spot and you have to have a good support system around you, which I do."