Riders and spectators alike look forward to Saturday night under the lights as the horses compete for the coveted title of the winner of the Grand Prix Freestyle.
Months are spent preparing the right mix of music and choreography, creating a three-way team – horse, rider and music.
The winner, Jessica Jo Tate on Faberge (FloristanI/Baroness), owned by Elizabeth Guarisco, earned an impressive score of 73.650, riding to what she called “a mixture of pop and classical.
“It was a really good time and the weather was great. It is such a famous ring – every rider understands the magic of the Dixon Oval,” she said. “It is so much like Europe. The crowd was wonderful, truly behind the rider. It is an honor to ride in the Dixon.” And Faberge? “He is a horse with a heart of gold. Actually, he is all gold!”
Coming in second was Nicole Harrington on Wizard of Oz (Weltmeyer/Vadella). Harrington bought him as a Prix St Georges horse – as a project with the intent to resell. But horses sometimes have a way of finding their way into the hearts of riders. This is the first time she has done the CDI saying “It was always on my bucket list.” The music? It was a mixed sound track from, where else, The Wizard of Oz. From Somewhere Over the Rainbow to the evil witch cackling in the background, it just fit. “It started out as a joke,” said Harrington. “But that’s what he wanted. He loved it!”
Soraya II (Sandro Hit/Dynamique) took home third, with a score 70.275, riding to a mix of Taylor Swift, Adele, and Nicki Minaj. “This was her first CDI Freestyle and I just decided to go for it,” said rider Kimberly Herslow of Stockton, NJ. “I felt I could ride with a little more expression. This is the most fun freestyle I’ve ever done!”
Jessica Jo Tate Only Knows the Color Blue at Dressage at Devon 2018
Earlier in the day, Jessia Jo Tate brought Faberge's stable mate Kynynmont Gunsmoke's Gideon, a Connemara Cross owned by Pam Liddell out to the Dixon Oval for a spin in the FEI "Medium Tour" and aced the The Intermediaire A and B CDI3* briging home the win for both classes.
Small but mighty Gideon handles the atmosphere like a star, showing his growing talent and the big boys he's up to the task.
Based at Blue Ridge Farm in Landrum, South Carolina and Yellowbird Farm in Wellington, Florida, Team Tate Dressage trains horses from green to FEI. In addition to long and short-term training for horse and rider, JJ is also a sought-after clinician known for her positive teaching style and emphasis on the foundations of classical riding. A long time student and mentored by Charles De Kunffy, JJ's training and teaching style is positive , fun and full of depth.