Betsy Steiner says she spent the whole winter teasing Robert Dover about what he was going to do with his horses now that he's retired from competing. But it still came as a big surprise to her when Dover told her that he would like her to ride Rainier, his 2001 Olympic mount, owned by Jane Clark.
"I am overwhelmed with gratitude," said Steiner at the Raleigh, NC CDI-W, her first show with the nine year old gray Oldenburg gelding. She looks like a little girl who still believes in Santa Claus, because she just got the pony she asked for on Christmas.
At Raleigh she proved that she is worthy of the gift by winning the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special. As she left the arena after the Special, German dressage judge Christoph Hess gave her thumbs up, and the crowd showed its appreciation with a second round of applause.
As fellow competitor Pati Pierucci said, "You could tell how into it the crowd was, because there was a moment in the pirouette when Ranier started to lose the impulsion, and the crowd made a collective gasp." That one mistake was only obvious because the rest of the test was so breathtaking.
Steiner, Dover and Clark will talk about their future plans, which will likely include a European tour following the Paxton Farm show. Betsy plans to move to Flemington, New Jersey so that she can work with Rainier and Robert more often.
Dover is currently helping her from the ground; they spent two weeks before Raleigh working together in New Jersey. "Robert knows every single breath of that horse," she said. "With his help we're never too far off track. He has been unusually generous in the depth of help that he's giving me."
Steiner says that she and Dover have a similar system, having trained together in Germany at the Rehbein's. "It's like working with a friend -- we're having a lot of fun. There's no pressure right now." She also says that Ranier is not all that different from her Dutch stallion, Hilltop's Giotto. "They're different through the neck, but otherwise they are a similar ride."
Steiner describes Rainier as "Hot, electric and sensitive, but a very centered horse. He has a good attitude about himself. He knows his job, and he's an overachiever. The challenge is knowing and understanding him and keeping the connection."
By Amber Heintzberger for DressageDaily.com
Qualified for the 2001 USET Intermediare Championships, Betsy Steiner and Hilltop's Giotto
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