It was 10 years ago, practically to the day that Michelle Gibson and Guenter Seidel shared a victory round at the USET Foundation Dressage Festival of Champions earning their spot on the 1996 United States Olympic Team where they won the team bronze medal. "I was having a deja vu." Said second placed rider Guenter Seidel. "As we were cantering around the arena together I was remembering being here with Graf George (in 1996) and wanting to be on the team with her again!"
Michelle Gibson stole the show again after winning the Prix St Georges test yesterday with a 71.550%, along with Elite European Sport Horse's flashy partner, Lex Barker ( Hanoverian by Longchamp x Wilhelmine), topping the Intermediaire I class with another win. The group of 12 riders vying for the 2006 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF National Intermediaire I Dressage Championship rode their Intermediaire I test today after yesterday’s Prix St. Georges. Today’s top three finishers agreed that even though the classes are weighted, they don’t strategize around that. They just try to give 100% each day and try to improve upon something they may not have done well the previous day.
Gibson, of Wellington, FL, and her leggy mount, Lex Barker, a nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding ended the day with a score of 72.55%, enough to keep her on top of the leader board. “He’s the same every day,” Gibson said of Lex. “He makes it easy for me. In a lot of ways he was even better today than yesterday.”
Following Gibson today with a score of 70.90% was Guenter Seidel, of Cardiff, CA, and Richard and Jane Brown's Princeton, an 8-year-old Westphalian gelding (Popcorn x Weinberg). Seidel’s second place finish today took him from seventh overall to second at the conclusion of today’s competition. “I think a young or inexperienced horse made the difference. I rode him a little less today. I left him a little more alone, and he liked it better.” Princeton is keeping up with the competition well even though Seidel says he is very green in the show ring.
"I honestly was not expecting to be here." added the USET Team veteran. "I just entered the qualifying classes this season to give him more experience, and here we are."
In third place today with a score of 69.380% was Jan Ebeling of Moorpark, CA, riding Rafalca, a nine-year-old Oldenburg mare (Argentinus x Ratine) owned by Ann Romney and Amy Ebeling. Ebeling fell into some misfortune when he lost one of his right reins. When asked what happened, he responded, “That is a good question. I asked myself the same question. By that time I am half way to X, I am thinking, I wonder what they (the judges) are giving me for this."
All three of today’s Intermediaire I top placed riders said they prefer this test to the Prix St. Georges because it shows off the lines of the horse better. They agreed that it flows much better, especially for larger horses. The riders will not ride again until Sunday at which point they will ride their freestyle.