Olympian Guenter Seidel and Rising Star Anna Buffini Win Grand Prix Freestyle & Special at Mid-Winter Dressage CDI-W

Guenter Seidel and Zero Gravity won the CDI Grand Prix Freestyle at the Mid-Winter Dressage CDI-W.

Guenter Seidel and Zero Gravity won the CDI Grand Prix Freestyle at the Mid-Winter Dressage CDI-W (Photo: Terri Miller)

Burbank, CA – Guenter Seidel’s weekend didn’t start off as he had hoped at California Dreaming Productions’ Mid-Winter Dressage CDI-W/Y/J/U-25, held February 25-28 in Burbank, when a Grand Prix test marred by costly mistakes left him and his mount Zero Gravity in third place.

But the veteran U.S. Team member and Olympian took it all in stride, rebounding for victory in the CDI Grand Prix Freestyle with 73.400%. The pair’s much more relaxed performance, featuring distinctive instrumental music which was composed specifically for James and Charlotte Mashburn’s elegant KWPN gelding (Royal Hit x Naica by Contango) by pianist and composer Marie Medosi and Josh Powell, was a delight for the afternoon crowd in attendance at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center as well as watching online via CDP Live.

“Marie did a wonderful job with it, and it just fits him really well,” said Seidel of the freestyle music. “Zero Gravity is just a great, great horse. I love his temperament - he can get hot, but in general he’s a sweet horse who wouldn’t hurt a fly. He learns fast and he just wants to do the right thing.” Seidel reported he will now take Zero Gravity to both upcoming California Dreaming Productions events in Del Mar and San Juan Capistrano in pursuit of hopefully being named to the U.S. squad which will travel to Europe to compete for consideration for the U.S. Olympic Dressage Team.

While Seidel’s veteran experience won the day in the Freestyle, it was the up-and-coming star Anna Buffini who shone brightest in the CDI Grand Prix Special. Aboard her USEF Young Rider National Championship and NAYRC Gold Medal-winning mount Sundayboy (KWPN gelding Kennedy x Eezelma by Zevenaar), Buffini made the jump to open Grand Prix competition look easy with the unanimous win in the Special under all five judges for 69.882%, including three scores over 70%.

Rising star Anna Buffini and Sundayboy claimed their first CDI large tour victory in the Grand Prix Special.

Rising star Anna Buffini and Sundayboy claimed their first CDI large tour victory in the Grand Prix Special. (Photo: Terri Miller)

Buffini had originally planned to only compete with Sundayboy in the CDI Under-25 division, but when she recently made the move to train with Seidel he encouraged her to “go for it” in the open large tour. “All of a sudden I had to learn the Grand Prix and the Special tests in just the last two weeks,” laughed Buffini. “But it was a big confidence boost for me today in the Special to have done so well and finish second in Friday’s Grand Prix. And Sundayboy seemed to be saying, ‘I know what I’m doing.’”

Buffini also found the winner’s circle with a new international mount, Dutch Warmblood gelding Wilton 11, as they swept the CDI Under-25 Intermediaire II and Grand Prix tests with 66.500% and 67.209%, respectively. “Wilton is very talented and has a lot of potential,” Buffini said. “He is one of the most difficult horses I have ever ridden, but they say, ‘difficult horses make good riders’, and working with him has been really educational. Our tests weren’t perfect, but I’m thrilled to be out here with him and competing with the best.”

After earning multiple medals and titles in the FEI Junior and Young Rider ranks, Catherine Chamberlain is also now finding tremendous success in the open ranks. Aboard Kimberly Pribble’s Dutch Warmblood gelding Avesto Van Weltevreden (Gribaldi x Tevesta by Krack C), Chamberlain improved upon her second-place Prix St. Georges performance to claim Saturday’s competitive Intermediaire I class with 69.421% as the only combination to break the 70% barrier from two judges on the five-member panel.

Catherine Chamberlain celebrates her Intermediaire I & Freestyle wins with Avesto Van Weltevreden.

Catherine Chamberlain celebrates her Intermediaire I & Freestyle wins with Avesto Van Weltevreden. (Photo: Terri Miller)

The pair also won the Intermediaire Freestyle with 67.000%. “After campaigning ‘Vito’ in Young Riders last year, to have him step up the plate now and produce the same results in the open division is really special,” said Chamberlain, who works with David Wightman and Kathleen Raine at Adventure Farms. “I really feel like I’m starting to develop a solid relationship with him now, and I love that feeling. He was so consistent, so solid, and really there for me this weekend even when I was a little bit nervous, and I couldn’t have asked anything more from him.”

Canadian Young Rider Ehren Volk of Vancouver, British Columbia made her first CDI experience a winning one with Jen and Bruce Hlavacek’s Westfalen gelding Weltino’s Magic (Weltino x Diva by Diamond Boy). After winning Friday’s Team Test, the pair improved their scores even further as they claimed the Young Rider Individual Test with 69.395%. “Magic was really good today, and I feel like each class is better than the last,” said Volk, who hopes to qualify for this summer’s FEI North American Young Rider Championships (NAYRC) in Colorado.

“I’d like to thank the Hlavaceks for giving me the chance to ride Magic this year – he is an amazing horse and this is such an incredible opportunity.” Junior rider Francesca Sheld and the former reining horse Reagan (Quarter Horse gelding [Dual Rey x Whim Gin by Gin Smokee], owned by Charlotte Bredahl) are also on a winning streak and possibly headed for an invitation to become members of the Region 7 NAJC Team as they topped the CDI Junior Rider Individual Test with 64.763%.

Complete results for the Mid-Winter Dressage CDI and national show are now available at www.californiadreamingproductions.com.

The next California Dreaming Productions international dressage showcase will be the Dressage Affaire 3*/Y/J/U-25, to be held March 10-13, 2016 at the Del Mar Horse Park, followed by the Festival of the Horse CDI 3*/Y/J/U-25, March 30-April 2 at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano. Both shows will feature live-streaming of CDI classes with expert commentary by FEI 5* judge Axel Steiner via subscription to CDP Live.

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