It’s technically a competitive sport, but dressage certainly has its share of deep friendships found among competitors. At Ocala Winter Dressage, Melissa Vanacore and Stacy Parvey-Larsson are two friends who couldn’t say enough good things about one another. Vanacore is manager of Longfield Stables at Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina. She trains with Parvey-Larsson, of Hidden Acres Dressage, located in the Ocala area.
With six students and eight horses to manage at Ocala Winter Dressage, Parvey-Larsson was kept on the run. “It was a little stressful this morning because everybody was stacked on top of each other with ride times so I didn’t get to school all the ones that went this morning,” she said after a hectic Saturday morning at the show. And the reason she had so many students at the show, said her friend and student, Vanacore, is because Parvey-Larsson is such a great instructor and coach.
Stacey is wonderful. She makes sure that when you come to a show, you’re 100 percent prepared. You do your very best and she gives you the tools to execute that. She’s fabulous. And, I’ll add, she’s a wonderful neighbor,” Vanacore said. “Stacey inspires me.
She’s just an awesome rider and trainer and she inspires you to do your best. She doesn’t hold back when you need to know you’re doing something incorrectly, but she then tells you how to improve it.”
From her perspective, Parvey-Larsson said being a good teacher is easy with great students like Vanacore. “Melissa is very much a ‘diligent’ worker,” she said with a laugh. “She’s been a really good student. She always asks good questions. She’s always prepared and she does her homework.” Parvey-Larsson carefully chose the word ‘diligent’ to describe her friend as Vanacore had just finished competing with the four-year-old gelding Dillinger, sired by the Thoroughbred racehorse Diligence, who ran in the Kentucky Derby. And when asked how Parvey-Larsson has helped her with Dillinger, Vanacore joked, “we practice diligently with Dillinger.”
I had raised his sire so there is a sentimental attachment here,” Vanacore said of Dillinger. “His dad has a wonderful temperament so I’m thrilled to have found an offspring that hasn’t raced. He’s just a four-year-old with a very good mind.” Vanacore got Dillinger in May and quickly put him to work. Ocala Winter Dressage was only his second show. “He’s a very good boy and, hopefully, as he gains fitness he’ll become more and more competitive and his gaits will improve a bit.”
Among the horses Parvey-Larsson brought to Ocala Winter Dressage were High and Mighty and Rebus HAD. High and Mighty is a 15-year-old Trakehener gelding that had been owned by Christina Thompson, who passed away last year. Rebus is a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding imported from Germany that is showing Fourth Level. “He’s schooling Prix St. Georges at home and High and Mighty is schooling Grand Prix. Both are for sale,” Parvey-Larsson said.
This organization is partially funded by the Ocala/Marion County Visitor and Convention Bureau.