In the popular CDI Grand Prix Freestyle , sponsored by Renee Isler, during the Centerline Events CDI***/Y/J/P at Hits on the Hudson in Saugerties, New York, the winner was a team that made its CDI Grand Prix debut just this past winter in Florida. Lauren Sammis and the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood Sagacious HF, owned by Hyperion Farm, scored a 72.350 percent to take the win. Second place went to Mikala Munter Gunderson and the 15-year-old Leonberg with a score of 71.40. Third place went to Canada's Cheryl Meisner riding the 12-year-old Paganini to a score of 69.50. Sammis and Sagacious also won Friday's CDI Grand Prix.
Sammis, who is based in New Jersey in the summer and Florida in the winter, said she and Sagacious will be back at HITS for the NEDA CDI in September and from there will head to Devon. After that, Sagacious will take a much needed rest before gearing up for the big winter season. "It's going to be a tough winter season, so he’ll need a break." Since coming out at Grand Prix this past winter, Sagacious has steadily climbed upward in his scores and Sammis said he's "getting much stronger every day. He’s not getting those moments where his muscles would hurt because he wasn't strong and then he'd panic. Right now, I'm letting him develop. I’m able to ask a bit more, but if he doesn’t feel confident, I let it go and just ride through," she said.
Sammis trains with Canada's Ashley Holzer, who drove up from her base in New York City to provide coaching on the Friday of the show. "She drove through three hours of traffic one way," Sammis said. "She's a very devoted coach." Sammis has a simple strategy heading into a WEG year – "keep riding and listening to my coach who has helped me come so far with this horse. WEG is a year away, so we need not to blow his confidence and just let him have a good time and show off the things he’s really good at doing." Sammis clearly sees Sagacious as a dream horse and gives thanks to Hyperion Farm owner Al Guden, and his late wife Judy, for handing over the ride to her.
"I think I’m really lucky that I have a horse that has the talent and potential to go on. He’s so collectible and he can bend and he’s got such an amazing brain. He’s really perfect. All I have to do is cultivate that. In Florida this winter, he tried too hard and would try to do a big passage, which was too much for him. He needed to learn it was okay right now to do a little passage." One thing Sammis will be changing this winter is her freestlye. "I’ve been given the advice by some of the judges that it’s maybe not as sophisticated as it needs to be so I’ve taken that in mind and am redoing the music and the choreography." Her current freestyle is ridden to the music of Billy Joel. Judy Guden was a Billy Joel fan. Sammis said the new music will also be contemporary and up beat. "I think anyone who knows me knows I’m not really a classical person."