Olympian Michelle Gibson has competed throughout Europe and the eastern part of the United States, based at Diamante Farms owned by Terri and Dick Kane of Wellington, Florida. But in all the years she has competed in dressage, she has never been to California. That will soon change as Gibson and Don Angelo, Diamante Farm's eight-year-old Oldenburg stallion and USEF 2007 Developing Horse Champion, get ready to head for Califonia and the 2008 USEF National Intermediaire I Championship during the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions.
"I am excited about the upcoming trip to California. I've been watching the weather and it's 70 degrees and beautiful!" Gibson told DressageDaily. "There is going to be some tough competition, lots of new horses for the Californians to see from the East Coast. It is going to be very exciting!"
The event will be held in San Juan Capistrano, CA, on June 21-22 and June 27-29, with the Intermediaire I Championship scheduled for the second weekend, during the excitement of the Olympic Dressage Selection Trials.
Gibson, a 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games Team Bronze Medalist, is head trainer at Diamante Farms owned by Terri and Dick Kane of Wellington, FL, and San Antonio, TX.
Gibson has had the ride on Don Angelo for two-and-a-half years. Don Angelo is a 16.2-hand, dark bay stallion by Don Larino out of Elektina, a Rubinstein mare. In 2007, Gibson and Don Angelo won the USEF National Developing Horse Dressage Championship in Lexington, KY.
In 2008, Gibson and Don Angelo made their small tour debut during the winter show season in Florida. Currently, the duo is ranked #6 on the USEF National Intermediaire Ranking List for the 2008 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions.
During the Florida season, Gibson declared scores from three CDIs as qualifiers for the Intermediaire I national championship. The USEF allows one drop score, which is calculated at the end of the qualifying period on June 1.
After the drop score, Gibson's overall average with Don Angelo is 69.279%, which is currently the #2 position nationally.
In their last outing, Gibson and Don Angelo swept the small tour classes at Dressage at Equestrian Estates, March 28-30, in Loxahatchee, FL, claiming victories with 71.833% in the Prix St. Georges, 72.083% in the Intermediaire I, and 76.917% in the Intermediaire I Freestyle.
The duo's percentage in the freestyle is currently the highest freestyle score earned by any duo on the 2008 USEF National Intermediaire I ranking list.
"I am so proud of Michelle and Don Angelo for qualifying for the Championship in his first year doing the small tour," said owner Terri Kane.
"Michelle has done such a great job with him. He is young and inexperienced in this atmosphere, so we will have to wait and see, but if he finishes the Championship in the top six, I will be ecstatic!"
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