Winners of the Markel/Wellington Classic Dressage 2008 Winter Amateur Championships and Their Trainers Receive Awards this Weekend

Winners of the Markel/Wellington Classic Dressage 2008 Winter Amateur Championships were honored this weekend at the Gold Coast Dressage Association Grand Finale at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center. The Amateur Championship awards are being given to amateur competitors with the highest average in their level throughout the Wellington Classic Dressage series of 2008 winter shows. DressageDaily's Mary Phelps/Hathaway a long time equine insurance agent celebrated her fifth year with Markel through personally sponsoring this championships in cooperation with The Wellington Classic Dressage management and with the support of Markel. "All weekend I have been getting so many compliments on DressageDaily and appreciation for what our websites have added to American Dressage." said Phelps/Hathaway. "Markel's support, as well as the support of all those who insure their horses through us is the reason we are able to bring this service to the industry, and we are happy to give back."

Co-Sponsoring the awards and honoring the trainers was makers of the popular Thin Line saddle pads and other products designed for comfort and performance for both horse and rider. Diane Sasscer of Saddle Fit By Diane, is a year round Wellington resident was on hand to present the awards to trainers John Zopatti, Jan Brons, Robert Dover and Christopher Hickey. Sasscer carries a full line of ThinLineInc products, and gave each trainer a Thin Line saddle pad. ThinLineInc a member of DressageDaily's Virtual Vendor has shown their support through sponsoring several top High Performance riders.

This year’s winners are Janne Rumbough with Junior who train with Jan Brons, Dr. Kristy Truenbach Lund with both Reel Adventure and Fabio who train with John Zopatti, Jennifer Huber with Al Pacino, Chris Hickey, trainer, and Jane Springer and Talent who train with Robert Dover (shown her with Diane Sasscer and Mary Phelps.)

Dr. Kristi Truenbach Lund Two Time Winner

"I am very excited to be one of the winners and am glad that the amateur awards have returned,” said Lund, a samll animal veterinarian who runs Lund Animal Hospital with her husband Scott. “I have always felt the amateurs are the back bone of dressage, but when it comes to clinics, sponsors or prizes, we as a group seem to be overlooked a lot. Once you turn 21 no one seems interested in sponsoring a clinic for you. To compete against the pros, especially here in Florida where you rub shoulders with all the famous names, is tough. Therefore, these awards are very important to amateurs. It allows them to be recognized as an important part of the horse shows and rewards them for all their hard work.” Lund has all three of her horses insured with Mary Phelps through Markel, as does her trainer John Zopatti.

Truenbach Lund has certainly put in a lot of hard work for her competitive success. Both of the horses that helped her win her two amateur awards, have been real challenges for her as a rider. Fabio came to Truenbach Lund already competing at First Level but full of nervous energy. It took time for a bond to form between the two and Truenbach Lund admits that there were times “when I would have liked to give up, but something told me this horse would shine someday and he certainly has for me through the past few years. This is one of those horses that I now really feel a partnership with. We understand each other and the judges have actually made comments on our connection.”

Truenbach Lund is hoping that Fabio will move up to Intermediaire II next year and the Grand Prix soon after. Here other future star is Reel Adventure, a horse that Truenbach Lund said is probably the most talented that she has ever owned.

The horse is named after a fishing show that her husband Scott hosts on television and Truenbach Lund said she chose that name because she bought the horse without telling her husband. “I figured if I named the horse after his fishing show, he couldn’t be mad at me. His barn name is "rigger" which stands for outrigger.”

Reel Adventure is, Truenbach Lund said, a real adventure. “This horse has lived up to his name! From many lows with training difficulties to the many high point wins, you never know what he will throw your way. I got him as a three year old, but he quickly moved up the ladder competing in the Five- and Six-Year-Old classes.

Although he gets more solid with age, he still likes to test you daily just to keep you on your toes. When he is on, he is probably is one of the most talented and fun horses I have ever had.”

Winners of the Markel/Wellington Classic Dressage 2008 Winter Amateur Championships and Their Trainers Receive Awards this Weekend
By Lynndee Kemmet for

Jennifer Huber Wins Amateur Award with Horse She Couldn’t Sell

Jennifer Huber earned her award at the Grand Prix level with Al Pacino and their average score of 63.40 percent. Huber, who trained for many years with Sue Jaccoma and now trains with Christopher Hickey, found it a bit amusing that of all the horses that would earn her such an award it was her Hanoverian Al Pacino with whom, over the years, she has taken USDF Region 8 championships from Fourth Level up to Intermediaire II. She’s had the horse for five years and admits that he’s “very average.”

"His sire is Azur, a horse no one has ever heard of and his dam doesn’t even have a name, just a number,” Huber said. “When I got him, I really didn’t like him. I’m a groom at heart and when I got him, he didn’t want to be groomed and he had a lot of other issues. So, I didn’t like him and I didn’t really like to ride him. He’s not the most comfortable horse.”

Huber, who lives in Maine and winters in Florida, brought the horse down to Florida when she had him going at Fourth Level with the intention of selling him. “But I couldn’t get anybody to buy him. There were like all these weird things that kept happening. He was perfect for everyone who rode him, but there would be conflicts with trainers or weird vet things. So, I thought, fine, I’m not going to sell him and as time went on, we formed a partnership.”

To listen to Huber speak of Al Pacino it’s clear that there is genuine affection, although she’s not blind to his short-comings. “He’s not been easy. He’s not really gifted as a mover and sometimes his brain’s not really there either, but it’s worked out. I’m very proud of him. What makes me really happy is that he’s bonded with me. He really is very special to me, even though sometimes he’s so annoying.”

The ThinLine Inc Trainer's award goes to her trainer Chistopher Hickey. She gives much credit to Christopher Hickey for helping her achieve such success with her average horse. “Chris is wonderful. He’s really helped bring us along.”

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