Jim Koford, who placed second on Shirley McQuillan’s horse Rhett in the World Dressage Masters Grand Prix Special in January is preparing to debut a new freestyle at the Florida Dressage Classic CDI-W, a world cup qualifier at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington to be held Feb 14 -17. Jim, known for his previous Grand Prix freestyles to music from the Batman and Zorro movies, and his long-time freestyle collaborator, Tigger Montague, are keeping the details of the new freestyle under wraps. All Tigger will say is: "It’s very different from anything Jim and I have done before." The decision to create a new freestyle for Rhett, came after Rhett’s owner, Shirley and Tigger were watching Jim warm up for the Masters Grand Prix, and both agreed the Bat Ride needed to be retired. Jim and Rhett’s last competition to the Batman music was at Dressage at Devon, in September. Jim’s return to competition at Devon was nothing short of miraculous, given that he had broken his hip coming off a horse in July.
He had to have surgery to stabilize the hip, and was told to spend 6 weeks on bed rest because if the hip didn’t heal, he would need a total hip replacement.
“It was a very difficult time for me, because I didn’t know if my career was over. I was angry and scared and in pain, and then I got very focused on my recovery, and became very proactive about it. I had super green food smoothies, took Biostar’s colostrum, got acupuncture, got hyperbaric chamber treatments, went to the best sports rehab for physical therapy. I had to learn to walk again. Absolutely some of the best therapy was Rhett. Although I have been his teacher since I started riding him when he was six, he took on the job of being my teacher as I was recovering. He stood stock still at the mounting block as I hobbled over to it with my crutches, and he took small little walking steps around the arena because he knew I was physically unstable. He really took care of me.
I have a new understanding and appreciation about fear, and physical limitations. I think its made me a better teacher, because I know the fear, I know the physical component of pain, of not being able to make your body do what it used to do.”
Jim is looking forward to showing a young grand prix horse, Galant, in national shows and debuting a freestyle for him. “Can’t tell you about that one, either”, Jim laughs, “because Galant needs more ring mileage right now. I want him to have fun with the Grand Prix before we add the freestyle.”
The World Cup Qualifier for the Freestyle starts at 7:00pm, Friday night at the Global Dressage Showgrounds in Wellington, Florida.
"With such a strong lineup this week, it is exciting to see more and more people coming to AGDF. They are getting to experience an amazing facility in addition to having greater competition opportunities," expressed Michael Stone, President of Equestrian Sport Productions.
On Wednesday, February 13, at 6:30pm, the PRE-Show Party will take place at the Global Pavilion. The special event will welcome Spanish dressage riders Juan Manuel Munoz and Daniel Martin Dockx. The PRE-Show Party is an annual Paella dinner and Spanish festival hosted by the United States PRE Association. All participants and exhibitors of the Florida Dressage Classic CDI-W are invited, and in keeping with prior years, the dinner and festival are free of charge.
Competition begins on Thursday, February 14, and concludes on Sunday, February 17. Highlights of the FEI Large Tour, sponsored by AGDF First Founding Sponsor the US P.R.E. Assocation, include the FEI Grand Prix, the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle, and FEI Grand Prix Special. Founding Sponsor Havensafe Farm is sponsoring the FEI Small Tour consisting of the FEI Prix St. Georges, FEI Intermediaire, and FEI Intermediaire Freestyle.