Margaret Heroy's Grand Prix Dressage Debut at the Centerline Events CDI***

by Lynndee Kemmet for DressageDaily

Saugerties, New York - DressageDaily's Margaret Heroy competed in the East Coast Rider’s Cup Grand Prix competition at the Centerline Events show and while she may not have won the class, Dover made it clear to her that she had accomplished something worth celebrating. “He told me, ‘Margaret, you just rode your first Grand Prix. Go crack open a bottle of champagne.’”

Margaret and Espereaux scored a 60.73 percent in their very first Grand Prix competition on the opening day of the show, held August 18-20 at the HITS-on-the-Hudson show grounds.

“With Robert’s help this summer he’s come from a Prix St. Georges horse to a Grand Prix horse.”

She also credits her job with for making her Grand Prix debut possible because the online job let’s her ride during the day, if need be, and work odd hours. And with a laptop, she can work on the road, even from shows.

“Working with Mary [’s Mary Phelps] is great. She understands the importance of my riding and competing and it’s a job I can work around my riding and showing,” Margaret said. Working for an online news organization also allows Margaret to live where she chooses, which means, she said, that she can live close enough to train regularly with Dover.

by Lynndee Kemmet for DressageDaily

Making Progress with Robert Dover

“It definitely rode a lot quicker than I thought it would,” said Margaret, 22, of her first ride in the Grand Prix ring. “Our arena at home is a lot bigger.” She also joked that it was one of the few times she had ridden the Grand Prix test all the way through from beginning to end. “I train with Robert Dover and usually he stops me. If I mess up something, Robert will say, ‘Stop, you need to do this and this.’ So I’ll correct it and then go on with the test. I think the best record I have is him stopping me only once. I guess this means when I get stopped no times, I’ll be doing well.”

Although it was her first Grand Prix, Margaret isn’t new to the FEI levels. She got the nine-year-old Espereaux from Holland three years ago and has been riding him at the Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire levels, but she’s decided she likes Grand Prix better. “I like the pattern better than the I-2. I think it’s a more simple pattern.” Surprisingly, she said she wasn’t the least bit nervous coming down centerline in her first Grand Prix because she really felt ready for the challenge.

“This summer has really changed me. I feel more secure in my seat and I feel that I’m doing the right thing with my horse now more than ever.” Margaret said credit for much of the change in her and Espereaux goes to Dover, with whom she’s been training consistently for the past two years. It’s Dover, she said, who has helped her down her long, and sometimes arduous, road to Grand Prix.

“It’s been kind of a long trip. When I got Espereaux, he was very green. I put him on the longe line and he fell down like ten times. I mean the poor horse had never been longed. He didn’t know any basics. He had been crammed into high-level movements too early and never really ridden that well. We kind of had to go back to the beginning and start all over. He was supposed to be my young rider horse but he just wasn’t ready at all,” Margaret said.

by Lynndee Kemmet for DressageDaily

The Training and Life Continues

Margaret and Espereaux competed in two Grand Prix classes over the course of the Centerline Events CDI*** and while the second wasn’t as good as the first, she was proud of herself and Espereaux nonetheless. “He’s still really green in all of this and he was a bit tired and tough the second day, but he made it through. I was really proud of how he finished with a great passage and piaffe up the centerline. So I’m really happy with that.”

Margaret doesn’t know when she’ll be showing again saying she follows the advice of Dover, but she’s returning home to New Jersey very pleased with her boy and knowing that others were equally impressed with him. “He’s an amazing horse. I love the way he moves and I love his personality. He’s got attitude, but that’s what makes him flashy,” she said. “My mom was watching my I-2 ride and she said, ‘You should have heard some of the people when you went off on your extensions, they just gasped.’ It means a lot to me that people recognize him and see him as a good horse.”

Margaret will be heading back to college in the fall to finish her degree in marketing, but you can bet she’ll still be spending a lot of time in the saddle. One thing she learned in her Grand Prix debut is what to work on for the next one. “I had a good ride in the first Grand Prix test because he was relaxed. And that’s what we need to get all the time. He’s been a difficult horse in that we’ve had a lot of problems at shows where he gets really tense and tight, especially in his neck. And one of the big things judges don’t like is a tight neck. But his first ride he was relaxed and that’s more of what I’m looking for. I want him to go in and feel comfortable and always have a good time.”