Saugerties, New York – Liz Austin with Olivier were the big winners in CDI Grand Prix competition at this year's Centerline Events CDI***/Y/J/P. Their wins came amidst the first sweltering weekend to hit the New York area this summer with temperatures at the HITS-on-the Hudson show grounds hitting well into the 90s. Austin and Olivier, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion by Idocus, owned by her mother Madeline, took the blue ribbon in Sunday's CDI Grand Prix Special and the heat was such that Austin even avoided canter work in her warm-up. "It was really, really hot today so we revamped our warm-up and as Michael Barisone keeps telling me, the horse is trained so we just need to go in there and have a good, clean test.
Today we decided not to do any of the canter tour in the warm-up. It was just so hot that I wanted to save him," she said. Despite a mistake in their one-tempis, the pair earned a 66.917 percent. Coming in second was Sharon McCusker with the 13-year-old Danish Warmblood Juli Sherif and a score of 63.583. Third place went to Tina Konyot riding the 11-year-old Danish Warmblood Calecto V to a score of 63.375.
Austin, who has been training with Michael Barisone since January, was thrilled. She and Olivier had a rough start to their 2008 show season, which caused them "to go home and do some revamping," Austin said. The 2009 show season has obviously been going much better and Austin couldn't be happier. "I’m super, super happy. We had the mistake in the one-tempis, but I was very happy with the pirouettes. The piaffe-passage tour was okay. I wish we’d had a little more expression but it was 92 degrees and the biggest thing is that he went in there and he tried for me. I’m just thrilled to be here again because last year we didn’t do any CDIs."
Austin and Olivier will make a return trip to Saugerties from their home in Vermont when the New England Dressage Association CDI takes place in September, but they'll be skipping Devon this year because Austin is finishing college. "I'll graduate in December with a business degree." She said her long-term plan is to keep Olivier on track and see where it takes them. "There are probably 200 people who say they are going to the WEG, so I won't say that but maybe we'll make the selection trials. He’s an amazing, amazing horse. As long as I keep myself together, he’ll do great."
In addition to her Grand Prix win, Austin was also presented with the Jaime Rudolph Memorial Award during the Saturday evening dinner. The award is given to the highest-scoring percentage at Fourth Level and above for riders age 18-28. Austin said the award had special meaning for her. "Jaime was a client of Jen and Beth Baumerts. When Olivier was seven I really didn’t like him and I took him to Florida to sell him. I was at Jen Baumert’s barn and she was super influential at that point. She gave me the confidence that I could ride him and I could do this. So winning this award was special because Jaime was influential in Jen’s career and she was so influential in mine. Everything comes full circle. “