Michelle Folden and Grande Crimson Win USEF/Markel Young Dressage Horse Selection Trials for Central USA

In a small but impressive field of 6-year-olds, the judges at the 2006 USEF/Markel Young Horse Central Selection Trial at the Paxton Farm CDI in Ohio were pleased with all entries presented before them, noting qualities in each horse which could make them “a horse for the future.”

But it was Andrea Driscoll’s Grande Crimson, a registered Canadian Warmblood mare by the Hanoverian stallion Rio Grande which “enchanted” them the most, winning the blue cooler and top honors in the first leg of three Young Horse Selection Trials for the FEI World Championships for Young Horses, and the USEF/Markel National Young Horse Championships. Rider/Trainer Michelle Folden was joined by her family for the Mother’s Day weekend show in Batavia, Ohio, but she admits her owner didn’t know about the venture.

“I knew she was a special horse, and wanted to prove it not just for myself, but to the judges as well.” said the attractive young mother of two boys.

“I was putting enough pressure on myself coming here, and didn’t want to disappoint her if it did not go well, but surprise her if it did. She is a wonderful owner and client, and now we can all go to Kentucky in September and have a great time!”

Michelle Folden and Grande Crimson Do Their Homework

Folden who has been a long time dressage trainer in the North Carolina region picked the lovely chestnut mare with white socks from a collection of sale horses at farm where she was teaching a clinic. “I was particularly impressed with her hock action, and movement, and encouraged Andrea to take a chance.” Folden did her homework, taking the mare to Florida this winter to train with John Zopatti. “He gave me the confidence I needed, and the training to prepare for this test.” commended Folden.

Zopatti saw the same talent in Grande Crimson Folden did, and when Scott Hassler, the new USEF National Young Horse coach came to Florida, it was Zopatti who pushed Folden into the limelight. “I loved working with John, Folden added, “and was particularly impressed when he pushed me to continue to work with Scott.”

Hassler was present in Ohio to coach all entries before the class, while USEF coordinator for the Young Horse program Jennifer Keeler video taped each ride, so that Hassler didn’t miss a step while he was busy warming up each entry. “Scott also instilled the confidence I needed to go out there and do this.” said Folden who admitted to a case of the nerves before each class. “I just love this mare so much, and it meant so much that others see in her what I did from day one.”

On the Saturday for the Preliminary test, Grand Crimson was awarded 8+ points for her walk and trot work. While all entries were not as sharp on the second day, including the winner, Folden clearly held the lead when the averages came in. “The beauty of this program,” said Folden, “is that now we have the rest of the season to confirm what is already there.”

Angela-Hecker Jackson and Twilight Win For Best Attitiude

The judges’ panel of Anne Gribbons, Janet Foy, and Gary Rockwell were clearly impressed with each entry, all scoring over 7.2%, well within the qualifying limits for the Final in September. “The horse with the best attitude, which scored the highest for submission, was clearly Twilight.” said Gribbons. The 6-year-old Dutch mare by Olympic Ferro is owned by Barbara Jo Rubin, and ridden by Angela Hecker-Jackson. “The rider brings out the best in this lovely mare.” added Anne.

Hecker-Jackson and Twilight are Young Horse veterans, having competed in the 5-Year-old Division in the 2005 USEF/Markel National Young Horse Championships finishing 10th in a field of the top qualified Young Horses in the country. Her owner Barbara Jo Rubin an accomplished horsewoman in many disciplines was the 1st female jockey to win at a major US track in 1969. While Rubin rides and drives herself, she leaves the training and showing of Twig light up to Hecker-Jackson who owns a breeding farm with her father in western Kentucky.

Katie Riley and Kamleot Strut Their Stuff

Katie Riley, Cesar Parra’s assistant trainer presented her own Russian gelding Kamelot, and clearly impressed the panel as well. “Katie’s horse has good confirmation for a horse we would expect to go up the levels.” said Anne. With her boss Cesar Parra, and Volker Moritz looking on, Riley put the young gelding through his paces, placing third in the final with a 72.600.

With nothing but time on their side now for improving the picture Riley’s young horse shows great promise and training. Parra’s group chose the Paxton Farm CDI before heading to their summer location in Whitehouse, NJ, where Riley helps to manage a busy full time training operation.

Shelley Francis and Wig Wam Win Reserve Champion

“We were also very impressed with Shelley’s horse.” added Gribbons. Wig Wam the Oldenburg gelding by Wolkentanz II, owned by Patricia Stempel was expertly piloted to a 73% in the Final by the USET Team veteran Shelley Francis to second place winning the USEF/Markel Reserve Champion cooler. “This horse has a lofty trot suspension with good cadence and tempo which always stays the same and excellent confirmation for a horse of the future.” Francis who also competed Stempel’s Hanoverian Dominion in the FEI PSG/Int1 division is relocating to Tami Crawford’s facility in Tennessee for the summer. Stempel is excited about the string of horses she has in training with Shelley and her assistant Sarah Davis, and has recently purchased a condo nearby.

The next leg of the USEF/Markel Young Horse Championships will be in California for the Western Division to be held at Flintridge, La Canada May 26-28. The eastern selections will be at the CDI 3/Y Raleigh & Capital Dressage Classic June 2-4, with the largest number of entries. Stay tuned as DressageDaily continues to focus on Young Horse coverage, leading up to the FEI World Young Horse Championships August 3-6, and the USEF/Markel National Young Horse Championships September 8-10.