When Three-time USEF National Champion and NAJYRC Gold Medalist Kassandra Barteau and Ginna Frantz’s stallion, GP Raymeister, qualified for the 2009 FEI World Cup for Young Riders, to be held in Frankfurt, Germany December 17-20, there was something the experienced duo had not yet done much of; riding under the lights in an indoor setting. In America, most of our High Performance competitors do not get the opportunity to compete in the electric indoor atmosphere that is the norm for European shows. So the Barteaus, who shipped Kassie and “Ray” to their trainer Cathy Morelli in Wellington, made the short trip to Orlando, to the Arabian Nights Dinner Theater, and performed as the opening act.
Kassie’s stepdad Kim Barteau, was involved with Arabian Nights since it's conception in 1985 and until it's opening in Feb 1988. When the show opened Kim was the assistant to famous movie trainer Glen Randall and then for the last ten years at the show Kim had the title of Head Trainer. Kassie’s mother Yvonne worked for the company for about five years and was the Principle Trainer and Director of Entertainment by the end of her stay. So when the Barteau’s asked owner and longtime friend Mark Miller for the opportunity to familiarize the pair with the sort of environment they will be facing in Frankfort in December, he was more than happy to oblige.
The audience who came to see the theatrical performance at the Arabian Nights dinner Theater had a special treat as Kassie and Raymeister entered into the arena to perform their Freestyle. Barteau was thrilled with Ray’s reaction to the lighting, crowds, and strong sound system; “He handled it like a pro, I was so proud of him!” They performed their Freestyle created by Yvonne, and then after Kassie put away her stallion in the air-conditioned stabling which is home for the performance horses of Arabian Nights, and joined her family and friends to watch the show. Louise Levesque a dressage rider and trainer was a guest of the Barteau’s for the evening. “It was a very fun and entertaining show to watch. The horses all looked so good...happy in their lives there.” Owner of Arabian Nights, Mark Miller joined the Barteau party at their table was delighted that the crowd enjoyed perhaps their first exposure ever to High Performance Dressage.
Asked to keep their applause until the end, and not use the flash, the audience was respectful but had a hard time holding back their enthusiasm. “You could hear them aching to applause after each movement.” said Miller. As a demo, and not an actually judged test, Kassie had the opportunity to praise her boy for being so brave, and wing it a little. Kassie could tell Ray was happy to be the star of the show.
Kim Barteau trained and performed with two of Walter Farley's black stallions and a variation of that act is still used in the show every night. An expert at training and performing “Free Work”, Kim spent the afternoon working the performers. Sitting in the front row table, with owner Mark Miller, the Barteaus reminisced, and explained the acts and how they were developed. The Reining horse routine was started by Kim and Mark with Arabian Nights original reining horse Cochise and that act is also still largely similar. The Western Flag Drill is still done to the choreography designed by Yvonne. There have been many additions since the Barteau's moved on.
The show has many more exciting routines and the special effects, costuming and performances by the actors and entertainers has risen with each passing year. The one thing that Yvonne is proud to see remaining and what her biggest influence may have been is that the horses are the kings of the show and are still treated accordingly and cared for like the super stars they are.
The show is run now by Mark's daughter and Kim's god-daughter Hanna Miller who has great creative flair. Kim and Yvonne enjoyed a preview of their up-coming Christmas show which is sure to delight all of the Arabian Nights fans during the holiday season. Kim and Mark remain close friends and share ownership of Kim's current show partner Volontaire a two time horse of the year who will be seen in the Developing Horse classes next season.
As the only American representative at the 2009 FEI World Cup for Young Riders, Barteau will be a part of an exclusive opportunity granted to young riders in all countries who qualify. The invitation only competition which began in 2005 at the vision of the program’s creator German Olympian Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff, a German national with an interest in improving the talents of young dressage riders worldwide.
Sponsored by Schenker Logistics, a global logistics company headquartered in Germany, 12 lucky and aspiring international dressage riders from around the world to be invited to take part in the championship. All of their expenses, shipping and lodging are sponsored. The riders enjoy the once in a lifetime opportunity to experience performing their Freestyles at an international show, and being Ann-Kathrin’s guest for lavish dinners and awards presentations.
"I am very honored and excited to have this opportunity to represent the United States in the Young Rider World Cup," said Barteau. "I plan on putting my best efforts into preparing myself and 'Ray' for our first international experience, and for Mr. Miller to give me the opportunity to ride at Arabian Nights has just bolstered our confidence. Thank you so much to everyone who has helped make this long-time dream come true."
Raymeister, a 10-year-old Holsteiner stallion by Rantares is owned by Ginna Franz and Grand Prix Equestrian, home of KYB Dressage, where the Barteaus live and work managing Frantz’s world class facility in Maple Park, Illinois. Owner Ginna Frantz and trainer Cathy Morelli and husband Frank will be travelling to Germany with Kassie and Ray.
Morelli who rode in the World Cup Final years ago with RF McKinney is excited for her star pupil who will be wintering with her in Wellington, Florida. “I am getting so much joy out of the successes of my students. Kassie is a very talented and hard working young rider and a pleasure to work with.”
Video by Frank Morelli