Michelle Gibson and Don Angelo Become 2007 USEF National Developing Horse Champions

Michelle Gibson and Don Angelo finished Saturday’s USEF National Developing Horse Dressage competition, in first place and never gave up that position. They finished up the second and final day of competition with another first place win to become the 2007 USEF National Developing Horse champions. Gibson echoed the familiar sentiment on winning when she said that “winning is always good.”

She gave much credit to Don Angelo (Don Larino – Elektina by Rubinstein I) and expressed tremendous pride in the young stallion’s performance. “He’s only seven years old and he’s not experienced in the ring. He’s a beautiful horse. He’s fun to ride. What more can you ask for,” she said. He also improved from the previous day when the action of a nearby hunter/jumper show distracted the gelding. “He was much better today,” she said.

Knowing that he might be distracted again, however, didn’t cause her to change her strategy for Sunday’s final leg of competition. “I have the same game plan every time I go in and that’s to ride the best test I can ride, the cleanest, trying to make things better than they were the day before,” Gibson said.

Don Angelo is a seven-year-old Oldenburg stallion bred in Germany by Hartmut Janssen and owned by Diamante Farms of Wellington, Florida (shown here with Terry Kane). Gibson said she and Don Angelo may try the Intermediaire level this winter season, but ultimately, she’ll be handing over the reins to young rider Devon Kane.

“With every horse, you train them as far as they can go. You do with them as much as they can do. When his training gets to a certain point, then Devon Kane will start riding him. He’s really for her. My riding him is part of him getting experience and getting the training. I’m enjoying it and having a great time in the meantime.”

The USEF National Developing Horse Dressage Championship was created to provide a step for 7- to 9-year-old horses between the Young Horse ranks and High Performance at the Prix St. Georges/Intermediaire I level. This inaugural championship attracted 14 entries from around the country, some traveling to Kentucky from as far away as California and Washington in order to compete for the title of National Developing Horse Dressage Champion.

Dr. Ulf Möller of Performance Sales International and Tim Dutta of the Dutta Corporation were both in attendance and were pleased to see the high quality of the horse and rider combinations in the championship, some of whom had competed previously in the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Program and who were the first to make this important step towards a future in the High Performance arena.

“This new program is revolutionary in our country in order to identify and develop our future U.S. Team horses,” notes Tim Dutta of the Dutta Corporation. “We are proud to support this program and look forward to its continued growth.”