Raleigh, N.C. – There were no shortage of competitors at this year’s Raleigh CDI***W/Y/J Capital Dressage Classic. Many classes were filled to the brim, even in the FEI levels, which made being a winner something particularly special.
In FEI competition, two of largest classes of all were Friday’s CDI FEI Prix St. Georges and Saturday’s CDI FEI Intermediaire I, and Sunday's Intermemdiaire Freestyle. All classes were packed with 34 competitors. To accommodate them all, competition kicked off first thing in the morning and ran well into the mid-afternoon. If anyone had a right to be exhausted, it was the judges, and the judges' panel selected three different winners for each class.
The class winners, however, had a right to be proud. They went up against some of the best riders and horses the Eastern U.S. has to offer and emerged at the head of the pack. The winner of the loaded Prix St. Georges class was Shawna Harding riding the eight-year-old Dutch gelding Come On III (Come Back II out of Canna) with a score of 69.333 percent. The winner of the large Intermediaire I class was Melissa Taylor riding the 13-year-old Danish gelding Schumacker Solyst (Schwadroneur out of Patricia Solyst) with a score of 68.583. Polishing off a long weekend of tip High Perfomance rides was Susan Dutta and Horses Unlimited's stallion Pik L.
Raleigh CDI Prix St Georges/Intermediaire I Determines Those Qualified for the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions
By Lynndee Kemmet for DressageDaily
Shawna Harding and Come On III
Harding, who has had Come On III since he was five, said 17.2-hand horse was still learning to deal with the show environment. The big horse is used to having much more space than the small stalls allow. “He doesn’t like small spaces and the stabling here isn’t ideal for him,” she said. At home in Aiken, South Carolina, Come On III is used to having access to his big field. “He has a five-acre paddock and he just loves to run and eat grass and hang out under his tree. So, turnout for him is very, very important,” said Harding, who had two Fourth Level wins in Raleigh with her new ride, Mozart (Haarlem out of Glare), a 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding owned by Beth Daniels.
Despite his elegance in the show ring, Harding said Come On III can be a bit clumsy. “He’s a bull in a China shop,” she said. “He lives in bell boots because he steps on himself constantly. He has a very distinct personality. He trailers okay but he’s a very nervous horse. So he doesn’t get tied in the trailer because he pulls back. He just has little quirks.”
Still, Harding loves everything about the horse calling him “fabulous” and her “handsome man.” But like many males – and females too – he likes lots of attention. And he certainly gets it from Harding. “He tries so hard for me. We have a very special bond. This is the first horse I’ve owned personally since I was in high school. So, it’s been a long time since I’ve had my own horse to ride. We have a very special connection. He knows the sound of my truck. He knows the sound of my footsteps when I come up to the stall.”
Despite their super showing in the Prix St. Georges, Harding notes that Come On III is still very young and doesn’t have much experience in the show ring, as seen in Saturday’s Intermediaire I. In that competition, the eight-year-old gelding finished at the end of the group. Harding said he warmed up super and cantered into the ring relaxed but then he seemed to spot something in the stands that spooked him. He spun away and remained tense throughout the ride. “His trot work and extended canter were great but he couldn't get settled at anytime on the short side. It was very bad luck, but he is young and although very upset still tried to do what I asked in the more forward work “
No doubt as he gains more experience in the show ring, Come On III will be a solid competitor. Harding will be busy schooling him at home in preparation for the Developing Horse Championships for 7- to 9-Year-Old horses in Lexington.
For Melissa Taylor and Schumacker Victory in The Intermediaire I is a Sweet Surprise
Both Taylor and Schumacker were quite excited about their Intermediaire I victory. She could hardly contain him in the victory gallop and was herself bursting with excitement after the awards ceremony. “I’m super excited,” Taylor said of her win. “I didn’t expect to come out so well. I had a nice, early ride time but I didn’t expect this. I just wanted to do my best with him. I went into a little slump for a while and then I brought him back up and he was great today.”
Taylor said the slump was mostly because she had put too much pressure on herself and on Schumacker. But once she backed off, the horse surged, which taught her that Schumacker shines best when not put under too much pressure. Once she relaxed herself, he relaxed. Her hope is that they’ll be competing in Gladstone later this month, but she’s reminding herself that she mustn’t over push to get there. “I’d love to be able to go there again. That would be super,” she said of Gladstone. But her real focus these next months is to school Schumacker at home in the Grand Prix moves. She’s not yet sure if Schumacker will show Grand Prix this year because she expects to spend another six months working on preparing him.
Taylor has had Schumacker for more than three years after buying him from Lars Petersen who imported him from Denmark. She said his strongest feature is his amazing extended trot. But when pressed, she can find little about him that isn’t perfect in her mind. “He’s walk might be the weak point because he gets tense but everything else is great.”
The Intermediaire I win wasn’t the only good score for Taylor and Schumacker. They also took a red in Friday’s Prix St. Georges with a score of 69.250, coming in behind first-place finishers Harding and Come On III. Taylor and Schumacker Solyst also took second in Sunday’s FEI Intermediaire I Musical Freestyle with a score of 69.000. First-place freestyle finishers Susan Dutta and Pik L earned a score of 71.833. That pair had placed second behind Taylor and Schumacker Solyst in the huge FEI Intermediaire I class with a score of 68.250.
Horses Unlimited's Pik L and Susan Dutta Win the Intermediaire Freestyle
Albuquerque, NM—Horses Unlimited’s Hanoverian stallion Pik L claimed the victory among an impressive roster of horses in the Intermediaire Freestyle at the Raleigh CDI-W. Ridden by Susan Dutta, the stallion is now qualified for the Collecting Gaits/USEF National Intermediaire Championships in Gladstone, NJ later this month.
“It was a wonderful feeling to hear the American national anthem played for one of our horses,” said Anne Sparks Whitten, of Horses Unlimited. “It has been a long time.”
Pik L has been very successful in the small tour over the years, including five victories at Dressage at Devon, an impressive string of more than 20 consecutive CDI wins in one year and a top-four placing at CHIO Aachen. Although both Pik L and Dutta are international veterans, they are new to each other.
Dutta commented, “We are really starting to get to know each other and feel like partners.” The pair has been together only a few months. She continued, “He’s the most gentleman-like horse I’ve ever dealt with. He’s one of the most well-behaved stallions we’ve ever been around.” Dutta had ringside coaching from six-time Olympian Robert Dover. “He added helpful insights that helped me show off the horse even more,” she said. Pik L and Dutta danced to a freestyle created by Marlene Whitaker. The musical selections included Flashdance for the trot, “Woman in Love” by Barbra Streisand for the canter, and Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” for the walk. “He has one of the nicest walks in the world,” Dutta explained of Pik L.
Pik L’s great weekend continued as two of his sons racked up impressive scores of their own. Pikko del Cerro HU, a four-year-old stallion, earned an 81.5 and the victory in the Materiale class. This win confirms the potential he displayed when he won the Born in the USA award at Dressage at Devon in 2005 with a score of 9.0. Rider Mikala Gundersen believes he has three excellent gaits and will mature into a spectacular horse.
Gundersen also rode his half-brother Pikk Primero HU in the FEI Young Horse Class for Five Year Olds. This was also his first horse show and he received a qualifying a score for the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championships. “I’m really pleased with him,” Gundersen stated. “I’ve only been riding him for a few months. He developed really well throughout the show.”
It has been a good year for Pik L offspring, with son Pikturesk winning the overall High Point Award at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby in March. For more information on Pik L and Horses Unlimited, please visit www.horsesunlimited.us.
Horses Unlimited is one of the premier sport horse breeding establishments in the United States. Utilizing the best bloodlines from Europe, Horses Unlimited is producing jumpers, dressage and eventing horses for both amateur and professional riders who compete from the local level to the international ring. Their horses have competed at the highest level of the sport, from CHIO Aachen to the Olympic Games.