Coming off of their Prix St. Georges win at the Wellington Dressage Classic I, Shawna Harding and Come On III, a nine-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, continued their winning streak at the Gold Coast Opener CDI-W by taking the win in the Prix St. Georges CDI-W competition and she was certainly pleased. “The ride went well. We just had a problem in the beginning halt. He didn’t want to stand. But we had good marks in the canter work and the trot work felt very smooth and fluid. He was listening to me much more and I could give him more pressure in the warm-up than last year.”
As with many horses, Come On III was a bit tense in the covered ring as he wasn’t used to the atmosphere, especially so many people around the ring. He spooked a bit around M and Harding attributed that to the fact that M was the area of the ring where so many people were coming and going. “He got more distracted there, but he held it together. He was a good boy.”
One thing Harding and Come On III will be unveiling at the Gold Coast Opener is their freestyle. Although they performed it at last year’s USDF Region 3 championships, the Gold Coast Opener will be their first attempt at the CDI-level freestyle, when they compete Sunday in the Intermediaire I freestyle competition. Not competing in a freestyle last year was a problem Harding said. “That was a crutch for us last year.”
Harding had meant to compete in the freestyle in Raleigh, North Carolina last year, but opted out when she decided that Come On III wasn’t up for it. “We had a little bit of a meltdown in the I-1. The freestyle has been a work in progress. It’s a lot of work putting it together. I did the freestyle and got help from John Davis up in Aiken, South Carolina who’s a musician. I also had some help from Marlene Whitaker who put some finishing touches on it and gave me some good input.”
Harding’s ground person and coach at shows is her good friend, Olympian Michelle Gibson. Together, they keep each other going at shows and serves as one another’s “eyes on the ground”. “Michelle’s a friend of mine and we help each other. I respect her and think she’s a good trainer and we see eye to eye. She’ll be honest in criticism. I don’t want anything sugar coated. She’s a good coach,” Harding said.
Close on Harding’s heels was Susan Jaccoma with Wadamur. They finished second in the Prix St. Georges CDI-W competition with a score of 67.05. Coming in third was Jan Brons and Teutobod with a score of 66.70 percent. In the FEI Grand Prix, the winners were Anne Gribbons and Alazan with a score of 65.729.