If you think the illusive '10' score is beyond your reach, think again. "We want to give more scores like this," explained Jeanne McDonald, FEI 'I' judge and USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold medalist, who was on the judging panel at June High Prairie Dressage. "This is what we want to see--the horse is on the aids and harmony between horse and rider. This is something that every horse can do because it's training." Missy Fladland riding Bijoux was awarded a 10 on her halt and reinback at Third Level by McDonald. The show held at the Colorado Horse Park attracted riders from around the region, including Fladland from Griswold, Iowa. Fladland and Bijoux earned the Upper Level Open High Point during all three days, which netted them gift baskets from Grand Meadows and Murdoch's Ranch and Home Supply, plus a saddle pad from Nutrena. Bijoux is a nine-year-old Hanoverian mare by Bugatti Hilltop out of a Wallstreet Kid mare. "She's headed to the FEI levels," Fladland said. "She has international potential. Janet Rolfs bought her for me to ride. She's mine for life and I feel very fortunate to have sponsors like Janet."
Fladland's program includes not only her dressage training, but also a well-rounded education for her young horses. Her husband, Kip Fladland, has trained extensively with Buck Brannaman, and he starts their youngsters. Among Fladland's other mentors: Janet Foy, Debbie McDonald, Ray Hunt and Bill Solyntjes, as well an eye on the ground this weekend from Kristi Wysocki. This comprehensive system produces results.
Winzig, a six-year-old Holsteiner mare, was attending June High Prairie Dressage as her very first horse show. She walked away with two High Points and one Reserve High Point for her efforts, along with three scores in the 70s, including a 77.292%. Winzig's laid-back personality allowed her to showcase her skills. "We do a lot of things with our young horses," Fladland said. Ranch work, roping and riding out are on agenda for the dressage horses.
Another star in Fladland's stable is Royal Gem. The gelding was the Open Lower Level High Point during show I. The six-year-old, by Rubin Royal out of a Renaissance mare, earned scores in the 70s, including a 76.613%. Royal Gem spent last year hacking and growing, and June High Prairie Dressage was only his third show. "Each show I can ask more of him," she said. "He has a lot of potential in there."
Grant Schneidman, Elizabeth, CO, rode Julie Hesse's Maude RF to two FEI High Points and one Reserve High Point over the course of the weekend. The pair earned scores in the high 60s in each of their Prix St. Georges tests. "Maude has a lot of natural expression in her movement," Schneidman explained. "We're still getting her stronger. Julie's done an amazing job--all the basics are there."
Hesse bought the Oldenburg mare as a yearling and successfully campaigned her as a young horse. Maude RF, by Manhattan out of Vosmaer mare, suffered a pasture accident several years ago. When she returned to work last fall, Julie brought the talented mare to Schneidman to help her regain her strength and training. "She has a lot of ability for the FEI movements," he said. "We're on the right track. Now she's getting used to being in the showring as an FEI horse, which requires a lot more concentration."
Suzie Halle, Cherry Hills Village, CO, also collected armfuls of prizes during the show, including two FEI Amateur/Junior High Points and one Reserve High Point. Riding Tennyson ISF, by Contango, a half-brother to Steffen Peter's Olympic mount Ravel, Halle has steadily moved up the levels from Training Level to Intermediaire I. She purchased the gelding from Iron Spring Farm in 2007 after learning about him from Scott Hassler and Belinda Nairn Wertman.
"I had a list of qualities I was looking for in a dressage horse and Tennyson had every single one. I saw his DVD... and bought him sight unseen," she recalled. Last year the duo won the RMDS Amateur Championships at both Prix St. Georges and Fourth Level.
Suzie rides five times per week, trains with Shannon Dahmer and clinics with Olympian Kathleen Raine whenever she comes to town. Suzie explained her program, "I think of dressage as going to the gym. Every day we work on exercises that supple and strengthen [Tennyson] interspersed with lots of trail rides. Visualizing is huge for me. When struggling with something in particular, and/or learning a new test, Youtube is my go to place. I watch a movement, or a well-done test at my level, and then try to recreate it the next day when we practice. I keep all my Dressage Today issues as well. Sometimes there are really great tips on something we are working on. Usually they are saying the same thing Shannon is saying, only different words. And a light bulb goes off."
For Layne Sandercott, June High Prairie Dressage was a redemption of sorts. The University of Denver student hadn't shown since 2008 and her horse, Rolex Tyme, is a new ride for her. The seven-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Rosario gave her a good lesson in persistence when his overly exuberant behavior earned them a 52% on Sunday morning. However, Sandercott was not dissuaded and returned to the show ring a couple of hours later to earn a 71.795% in Third Level Test Three, along with Upper Level Amateur High Point.
"When I finished my test, my entire family, my trainer [Maureen Sterling] and I were brought to tears," she said. "Rolex has given me a new, amazing outlook. We have come a long way in such a short time and I am just so excited."
Sandercott tried all disciplines, including western and eventing, before settling on dressage. "The second I tried dressage, I instantly fell in love. I love the connection and partnership that develops through dressage, and although it is difficult, my horse and I learn something new every day."
Complete results and information on the Parker Adventist Hospital Dressage in the Rockies, August 3-5, can be found at
The Colorado Horse Park would like to recognize their generous sponsors:
Parker Adventist Hospital, Parker Hospital Foundation, Littleton Equine Medical Center, Platinum Performance, Griffis Residential, Guaranty Bank, Murdoch's Ranch and Home Supply, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Suzy Sweitzer, Gesco Nursery, Bessemer Trust, Holiday Inn, Super 8, Hampton Inn, Norstar Industries, Nutrena, Pfizer, Grand Meadows, A Bit of Tack, Horse Connection, Equine Comfort Products, Days Inn, Sidelines, Comfort Suites, Chronicle of the Horse, Jump 4 Joy and Wild Ranch