Aiken, SC - Each Janaury to March, Wellington's Adequan Global Dressage Festival presents an epic opportunity to watch horses and riders grow into their competitive identities and, in some cases, break through to new levels of performance and understanding. Such was the case Thursday night, March 13, when Custom Saddlery Most Valuable Rider Award winner Mikala Munter Gundersen, riding My Lady, shook free the mantle of third-place ribbons she had collected in exchange for the victory gallop in the FEI Grand Prix, presented by Today's Equestrian & GF Enterprise LLC, at AGDF10 CDIW and CPEDI3* presented by Today's Equestrian, GF Enterprises LLC, and Mike and Roz Collins.
“There's a lot of quality horses, good movers here,” a humbled Gundersen told Custom Saddlery's Cary Wallace, but none quite like My Lady. “It's what's between her ears. I've never had a horse like this before. If I do something wrong, she's trying to fix it. That's how good she's become.”
Gundersen and the 14 year-old Danish (Marion x Michellino) Warmblood mare topped a Grand Prix field of 32 riders from eight countries. The last pair of the evening to enter the stadium, Gundersen asked and My Lady delivered, with a 73.120% performance that edged them past fellow Dane, Lars Petersen's 72.700% and leaving Catherine Haddad-Staller and Mane Stream Hotmail rounding out the top three for the U.S. with a 71.560%.
“We couldn't have done better. I'm really really happy. There's always things that could get stronger and better but I think she gave me everything she had in her today,” Gundersen said.
“And we're just as happy to give you something, for giving it all you've got, too,” said Wallace, presenting Gundersen with her MVR award, embroidered Custom Saddlery saddle pad, and entry into the MVR Grand Prize drawing for a new Custom Saddle. “We know it's taken you a little time to get back in the saddle as much as you'd like, but between your second-place finish two weeks ago in the FEI World Cup Qualifier and Freestyle, and your arrival in the winner's circle now, you've got what it takes to be a Most Valuable Rider!”
This is the second year that the MVR Award, created by Cary Wallace, Master Saddlefitter for Aiken, SC-based Custom Saddlery, has been presented at AGDF to recognize riders who go the extra mile or add something special to a show through exceptional performance, horsemanship or teamwork.
"She has good changes, but it felt today like she was really jumping in them. Now, the piaffe is a double coefficient, so it's important that we have that and the transitions and everything come together,” Gundersen mulled aloud.
A Most Valuable Rider's work is never done. Custom Saddlery is a proud sponsor of Most Valuable Riders throughout the dressage community. For more information on Custom Saddlery visit their website at www.mysaddle.com.