Wayne, IL - Mike Suchanek and Leatherdale Farms are clearly a winning combination. Suchanek, who made his competitive dressage debut just last year and rode two Leatherdale horses to standout performances at the US Dressage Finals in November, proved his 2014 success was no fluke as he began the 2015 season on a high note. He and six horses from Leatherdale Farms' Minnesota base made the trip to Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Illinois, for Dressage at Lamplight I and II, held May 16-17.
Five of the six horses are sired by Leatherdale Farms stallions, with First Dance, Herzensdieb, Damsey and His Highness all represented. They made their presence known, racking up four wins and scoring above 70 percent in every outing.
This was only Suchanek's sixth dressage show, and he earned his USDF Bronze Medal. He believes that his success can be attributed to the quality of horses Leatherdale Farms produces.
"They are really big movers, and I have fallen in love with their fancy, flowing gaits," Suchanek said of the Leatherdale horses. "Their breeding is just phenomenal. They are really smart horses and really pick up what you show them. It's great that they are able to combine both the brains and the movement."
At the competition, he partnered with two 4-year-old Hanoverian geldings: Dublin L (Damsey-EM Wibranda, Wolkenstein II) and Hannigan (Herzensdieb-EM Pia Colada, Pik L). Highlights included scores of 77.200 percent for Dublin L and 78.200 percent for Hannigan in the 4-year-old classes. Hannigan also earned 77.273 percent for Training Level Test 3.
"It was their first trip anywhere and they both did really well," Suchanek said. "Hannigan has a fun personality. He really likes to go out there and be a little less serious, but can still focus and work hard. Dublin wants to put his trust in me and let me direct him. He is very talented, and he was a really good boy for it being his first time off the farm."
Two 6-year-olds, the Hanoverian gelding Fighting Chance L (First Dance-EM Helia, Hohenstein) and the Hanoverian mare Fleur de Lis L (First Dance-EM De La Rosa, De Niro), continued to build on their past success with strong performances to start the season. In 2014, Fleur de Lis L made the trip to the US Dressage Finals with Suchanek and earned the reserve championship in the highly competitive Training Level Open division.
Based on their performances at Lamplight, Fighting Chance L moved into fourth place on the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Ranking List in the 6-year-old division with a score of 80.000 percent, while Fleur de Lis L moved into 12th. Fleur de Lis L also notched an impressive 74.634 percent for Second Level Test 3.
"Chance and Fleur had their first show season last year," Suchanek said. "They are both by First Dance, so they have similar personalities. They like to get out there and show off and really are talented that way. They get into the ring and know all of their stuff pretty well."
Suchanek made his Third Level debut at Lamplight with Hero L, an 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding (His Highness-Waterlily L, Wolkenstein II) who also competed at the 2014 US Dressage Finals, and Corenzo, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Conteur-Ramira, Rotspon). Suchanek's very first Third Level test on Hero L earned him a blue ribbon and a score of 74.487 percent.
"Hero is very smart and very willing to do anything I ask him to do," Suchanek said. "He loves his work. He was one of the first horses I trained for the Leatherdales. Hero is one of my favorite horses to ride, and I have a special place in my heart for him. Corenzo is also a really super performance horse and he did great as well."
Suchanek is thankful for the opportunity to train and compete the talented Leatherdale horses, and he knows that he would not be where he is today without the steadfast support of the Leatherdale team.
"I really want to thank the Leatherdales for giving me the opportunity to take their horses out, and I would like to thank Alison Sader Larson for being my coach," Suchanek said. "She has given such great perspective and help along the way. I would also like to thank my whole team, especially our [Minnesota] performance horse manager Jessi Lash, for all of their help and support."
To learn about Leatherdale Farms stallions in Europe, go to www.jens-meyer.com.
For more information, log onto www.leatherdalefarms.com