Rastede, Germany – Melissa Palmer of Wellington, Florida has a thing for Warmblood mares, specifically Oldenburg mares from Germany. She is the proud owner of five German bred or imported mares, including her Grand Prix mare, L’Amour (Liberty M/Waidglanz). So it was not surprising that a year ago she returned to Germany to select her next prospect (with the help of Jens Richter of Global Equine Sires), a three-year-old Oldenburg mare named Reagan by Bellissimo M – San Amour – Don Schufro, bred at “Gut Füchtel stud” near Vechta by Clemens von Merveldt. Palmer decided to keep Reagan at Gut Füchtel stud to mature and prepare for the mare performance test and some young horse shows, just to gain some show experience. But even Palmer is amazed at what Reagan has achieved in a year!
Indications of Reagan’s abilities as a dressage prospect emerged at her mare performance test this past June in Vechta, Germany, where Reagan received the highest rideability score of any mare − a 9.5, in addition to high scores for walk, trot, and canter. This led to her receiving the prestigious Oldenburg “Main Premium Award.” Reagan was bred and trained by Clemens von Merveldt of Gut Füchtel in Vechta, Germany and is ridden by him and the farm’s main rider Shereena Satzer. Palmer purchased Reagan from Clemens von Merveldt when the mare was just a few days under saddle. She was turned out all last summer to allow her to mature, and then brought in earlier this year to prepare her for competition and get her acclimated for the mare performance test. Palmer describes Reagan as a combination of willing and sweet natured with an outstanding work ethic. Satzer agrees, saying that Reagan is her favorite horse in the barn to ride.
On July 21 and July 22, Reagan proved again that she is something special, winning first place in both qualification tests for four-year-old dressage horses and the qualification for the four-year-old riding horses at the Oldenburg Championship show at Rastede, Germany with 83% and 84%. Rastede is the most prestigious and biggest show in the Oldenburg area in northern Germany, where the Oldenburg championships for three-to-six-year-old horses in jumping and dressage take place every year. It is also the qualification for the federal championship for young horses called the “Bundeschampionate at Warendorf” in the first week in September.
Reagan won the final of the 4-Year-Old Dressage Horse Championship with an 81%, and finished third in the riding horse final just two hours later. “Four starts in three days, three victories up to 84% is an unbelievable result,” Palmer said.
Not only did Reagan claim the Championship, but she was also nominated to compete in the Bundeschampionate in Warendorf, Germany, on August 31-September 4, 2016. Only a handful of U.S. owned horses have made it to the Bundeschampionate in the past decade, and Palmer is proud to be among that elite group of owners. She will return to Germany at the end of August to support her German team from “Gut Füchtel,” including breeder/trainer Clemens von Merveldt and rider Shereena Satzer. “It takes a village, and in this case it’s an international village rallying around one special young mare,” Palmer said.
Palmer herself is a Grand Prix rider and USDF Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medalist, and an active Oldenburg breeder with a focus on top dressage bloodlines. In addition to Reagan, Palmer owns four horses in the U.S. All her mares were purchased in Germany. Her Grand Prix horse, 22-year-old Oldenburg mare L’Amour, has been with her for 17 years. “She’s still sound and happy and loves working, so I still ride her every day,” Palmer said.
“I like mares because mares are all or nothing,” she continued. “A good mare is super fun to show and they’re a little bit tricky to train, but if you’re patient and careful you can end up with a really awesome show horse. Mares tend to have a little bit of that ‘Type A’ personality, so when they go to shows, they get more animated and they want to show off. From my perspective, I think mares and stallions are the most fun.” When not in the barn, Palmer puts her own ‘Type A’ personality to task in her career with Looking Glass, an emerging cybersecurity company where she supports the U.S. Department of Defense.
Palmer is thrilled with the outcome of the Oldenburg Finals and is excited to return to Germany for the Bundeschampionate. “I think it’s cool that Reagan is going to compete in the Bundeschampionate. I hope that she shows herself as well as she has in pretty much every show she’s been in so far.”