Jason Canton and Grandioso, the Six-Year-Old champion in last year’s Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championships, are aiming for this year’s Developing Horse Dressage Championships. After their successful showing at the 2008 Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge II, their chances of making it are looking bright.
The pair have been competing on the Florida circuit at Fourth Level and never falling below 70 percent. At this weekend’s competition, Grandioso scored a 77.50 percent in his very first time out at Fourth Level Test 2. “We had a fantastic show,” Canton said. “This is the first time we’ve done this test, so it was the first time he had to show four-tempi changes and do pirouette work, but he was right there. He was focused and stayed right on my aids. I felt like he was really with me through the whole test.”
Judge Lilo Fore commented on how well-schooled, forward and through Grandioso was in his test giving him a "9" for rider. Canton, who is the trainer for Collecting Gaits Farm, owns the seven-year-old Westfalen gelding (Grosso Z – Popocatepetel by Palisandergrund) that was bred in Germany by Willi Hillebrecht. Canton first spotted the horse in Europe after a friend insisted that he see him.
"At the time, I was in Germany looking for clients and wasn’t looking for a horse but a friend told me I had to go look at this big five-year-old horse. I told him I wasn’t looking and he said, “You’ve got to come and see this horse.” So, I did.
The first time the horse trotted around the arena it was jaw-dropping and I knew I had to sit on him. When I rode him I knew that was my horse,” Canton said.
Grandioso is now about 17.3 hands and “he’s got so much energy and so much volume. But with his size, he’s still learning how to deal with his own balance.” Canton, who works with Oded Shimoni in the U.S. and Henk van Bergen in Holland, is hoping to repeat last year’s success by winning the National Developing Horse Dressage Championships. He and Grandioso are well on their way and will compete in their first Developing Horse class later this month.