Loxahatchee, FL – Success feels twice as nice for Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer Heidi Degele, who proudly announces that two horses under her tutelage have qualified for the Four Year Old division at the 2016 United States Equestrian Federation (USEF)/Markel Young and Developing Horse National Championships. With the spotlight on her rising star young horses, Degele and her team’s anticipation continues to grow for the August 25-28 National Championship at the Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Illinois.
USDF Gold Medalist Degele has been training the two qualified four-year-old horses, who are both owned by Kathy Elliott, with rider Michele Sizemore since October 2015. Hercules is a 16.3-hand bay KWPN gelding bred by Chris Van Breugel out of Stal de Bekelaar in the Netherlands. Accompanying Hercules is Hylton Van De Kerkhoeve, or “Hylton,” a 17-hand bay KWPN gelding bred by Toby Horsting out of Dressagestable de Kerkhoeve in Belgium.
When the young horses arrived at her barn, Degele, Elliott, and Sizemore immediately formed a plan based on their shared understanding of the horses’ potential. Degele keenly used her classical and systematic training routine, which she developed during her three years training with Olympic Gold Medalist Hubertus Schmidt. Degele also trains and consults with Danish Olympians Lars Petersen and Bent Jensen, and incorporates this tremendous wealth of knowledge into the training of all horses within her business HeidiDressage LLC in Loxahatchee, Florida.
Sizemore is skilled with the art of navigating a young horse and retaining a patient and positive mindset while training. Sizemore also qualified two other mounts for previous years’ National Championships. Coupled with Degele’s classical training regimen, Hercules and Hylton have the tools they need for success, which has been proven throughout the winter competition season.
Both horses took high and consistent marks in all shows they were entered into this winter, repeatedly scoring 80 percent at shows in the Wellington, Florida area. At the Welcome Back to White Fences I show at the White Fences Equestrian Center, Degele directed Sizemore and Hercules to an exceptional 81 percent in the USDF Four and Five Year Old Materiale Gelding/Stallion class. At the Wellington Classic Dressage Series Finale at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival show grounds, Sizemore and Hylton took home an 81.20 percent in the FEI Four Year Old test.
Degele is proud of the strong hand she brings to play in the four-year-old division this year at the USEF/Markel Young Horse National Championships. Degele says, “I have no doubt that Hercules and Hylton can and will go into the CDI ring with the proper training. Both horses have super qualities of being honest, having good work ethic, and truly loving to work. They are forward-moving on their own, and have good hind leg action with the ability to sit and carry themselves, easily holding their poles high.”
Not only do the horses have the talented and athletic movement needed for reaching high ranks, but they are also true joys to have at the barn. “They are big horses, but big babies!” Degele smiles. “They love playing in their paddocks and stalls with toy balls, constantly trying to make them squeak. We give them both a lot of attention and they know they are very special in and outside the arena.”
As Degele’s team gears up for the Young Horse National Championships, they are keen to continue using her successful training program. Degele owns and operates her training and sales business HeidiDressage LLC year-round in Loxahatchee, Florida. Degele bases her training on a positive approach with German and American dressage foundations that have helped her develop and campaign a number of horses through Grand Prix. She is known for having an eye for the ideal dressage mount and expertly matching riders with top quality horses. Degele offers a diverse selection of horses for sale of all levels and enjoys individualized training to maximize her client’s potential. Degele consistently works towards her goal of internationally representing the United States and helping her clients achieve their dreams in dressage. For more information on Heidi Degele, visit www.HeidiDressage.com or call 561-294-4118.