When Missy Fladland walked into the arena with Janet Rolfs' American bred Hanoverian mare, Bijoux (by Bugatti Hilltop) to accept her reserve champion cooler for the Six-Year-Old Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Selection Trials for Central USA, it did not really matter that she shared the honors and the class with the only other entry the six-year-old winner, Kassie Barteau on Robert Ouray’s Hanoverian gelding AliKo (Londonderry x Diana by Donnerhall, bred in the United States by Karen Pliszka). While handshakes and congratulations were offered by [#26523 override="Mary Phelps from Markel" title="Mary Phelps from Markel"], Missy commented, “We went through a lot to get here.” For the dressage rider and trainer from Griswold, Iowa, that was a huge understatement.
Fladland, formerly Missy Ellison, is a veteran of the Markel/USEF Young Horse Program, having competed in 2004 while on her honeymoon with her then new husband Kip Fladland, a cowboy and specialist in natural horsemanship.
For Fladland and Janet Rolfs’, Bijoux (Bugatti Hilltop x Whimsical L by Wallstreet Kid, bred in the United States by Margaret Drury) the journey and challenges to make it to the Central Selection Trials was nearly impossible, but they did it. The Central Selection Trials for the Markel/USEF Young Horse Program is always the first of three on the calendar, and in all fairness should probably be the last. Unless horses and riders from this region get a jump start in Florida, as Kassie Barteau was fortunate to do, the season in northern central USA where many excellent breeding and training facilities tough it out over the winter months, has just begun.
“The extreme cold made it hard to ride consistently through the winter,” said Fladland. “Along with that there was the economy and the limited number of shows that were available in the mid-west prior to the closing date, the Monday before the Selection Trials. It was nearly impossible, but we really wanted to do this program.”
Another challenge is the USEF rule change in 2008 which requires the horse and rider to be qualified by the Monday preceding the competition. Prior to this rule change, many Young Horse hopefuls could have the opportunity to qualify at the actual show prior to the Selection classes.
“Upon the arrival of spring, I made a plan to hit three shows that were qualifiers for the trials. The first show I entered was cancelled due to lack of entries; the second show was in Colorado right after the second largest spring blizzard-I decided that it might not be worth the risk.” That left Fladland with just one show to qualify, “it was going to be Bijoux first show of the year and only the second show of her career. She was very good but a little nervous, and I did not want her to have a bad experience in the show ring; so, no matter how much I wanted to show her, it was better to scratch and save her. At that point, I thought I was out of options. However, I got lucky; I contacted the show manager of the Silverwood show in Wisconsin, she was extremely accommodating and was able to get me in so we went and received our qualifying score, a 7.5, for the trials. I immediately emailed Lloyd Landkamer, who was running Lamplight, to let him know he could process the entry, I had received my score. Silverwood was also the show that Kassie Barteau received her qualifying score. There would not have been a six-year-old class at Lamplight if both of us had not been determined enough to go to Silverwood to get our scores.”
The American-Bred Bijoux
Bijoux was born and bred in the US by Margaret Drury. Her sire, Bugatti Hilltop, has his pedigree in Bolero, Pik Koenig, Rubinstein, and Donnerhall. Her dam, Whimsical L, goes back to World Cup I on the top side and Bolero on the bottom side.
“In September of 2008, my sponsor, Bandelaro Inc., purchased Bijoux for me,” said Fladland. “I already had the mare for about a year, she had been sent to me by her current owner and breeder, Margaret Drury, to get started under saddle. She was so easy to start and bring along. Seven months after backing, she attended her first show and won all but one of her classes in which she was second. From there, we took her to Leatherdale Farms for the Hanoverian Inspection for her Elite Mare Candidate test. She passed with flying colors, and it was quite a treat as the President of the German Hanoverian Verband was part of the grand jury. Her high marks for the under saddle test left her placing seventh in the US among all the tested mares.
“Although she was extremely behind, being started coming into her five-year-old year, she was so trainable and had such super gaits. I thought the six-year-old program would be a stretch, but a good test of her abilities. Although I did not get her as far along as she needed to be by showing time, she held her own!”
Missy Fladland and Her Horses Grow with the Markel/USEF Young Horse Program
Bijoux is the second horse Missy Fladland has taken through the Young Horse Program. In 2004, she won the five-year-old selection trials with C Ventura (Kabaret x Miss Mac Favor by Gallat L.B.). “He is a gelding I started myself, brought along, and qualified for the trials. Although the program is not for all young horses, for the ones that can handle it, it is great exposure for both horse and rider. I still have that horse and he is now schooling Prix St. George.
“I’ve been fortunate to have travelled to both Germany and Holland to test riding stallions to purchase. In most cases, every stallion (most of which were three- to six-year olds) sat down behind to power forward. This was regardless of how many rides or how much training the stallions had. They have the blood stock to produce balanced and athletic animals overseas. In the US, we are in the process of beginning to produce some of these animals, but they are not as prevalent here yet. So, in her training, Bijoux was progressing with leaps and bounds, but was not as uphill as I would have liked. However, it was not worth over-pushing her for just one class. This is a mare that will go all the way and it’s very important for me to keep that in mind when working toward these types of classes on her. I really think the Young Horse Programs are great programs to help us stay on track with training in relation to the age of the horse as well as pushing us to continue to develop our breeding programs.
“It was great to have the final at Lamplight. It is a beautiful, safe, and horse-friendly environment to show in. The weather is what it is. Last year, at the 2008 WBFSH finals in Europe, they had to deal with violent winds, and at the Olympics, extreme heat; so, if you want to play in the sandbox with the big boys, you have to be ready for anything! I try to expose my youngsters to as much as possible so that these things don’t cause problems when showing, but they are horses and you just to your best to reassure them and build confidence so that you hope you can handle any situation that may come to pass.”
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