'Accidental' Appaloosa Stands Out in the Small Tour at Dressage in the Rockies

Monday, August 4, 2014
Posted by Mary Adelaide Brakenridge Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

Shannon Dahmer and Lakota Lace
Shannon Dahmer and Lakota Lace

Parker, CO - A horse of a different color has been attracting notice at Dressage in the Rockies for more than just his spots. Lakota Lace, an 11-year-old Appaloosa/Percheron/Quarter Horse gelding, picked up back-to-back wins in the Intermediaire I at the Colorado Horse Park. In his first time out at that level, Lakota Lace scored 68.816 percent on Friday, winning the FEI High Percentage Championship, and 67.895 percent on Saturday. Trainer Shannon Dahmer competed him for his owner, Janet Wingate of Denver, CO. Everything about Lakota Lace is improbable: his breeding is unusual for a standout FEI level competitor, he has rocketed up the ranks at a surprisingly rapid pace, and his birth wasn't even intentional. His sire got loose and impregnated his dam, who then was sold to a new owner who didn't know the mare was carrying a foal. But the result of that mishap was better than anything that could have been planned by his connections, who are grateful to have stumbled upon this one-of-a-kind dressage horse.

Lakota Lace came along at the right time for Wingate, who saw an ad for him while searching for an Appaloosa to follow in the footsteps of one she'd owned and loved. He was 3 years old at the time.

"I am partial to Appaloosas because I had a really nice one," Wingate explained. "So I was trying to replace him, and I never thought I could, because he was really special. But I did! He was an accident, and look what happened."

Just under two years ago, Wingate put Lakota Lace in training with Dahmer, who is based out of Stellar Stables in Parker, CO. Since then, he has blossomed into a strong competitor at the small tour level, and Dahmer has her eyes on an eventual move up to Grand Prix.

Lakota Lace has proven to be a quick study. Only a year ago, he was competing at First Level with Wingate and hadn't started flying changes yet. Last September, while Wingate was out of town, Dahmer decided to play around with introducing changes.

"I went on vacation, and Shannon called me and said, 'We're doing four-tempis!'" Wingate recalled. "I said, 'I don't believe it!'"

Wingate returned to see that Lakota Lace had mastered his four-tempis, and now he has added the rest of the small tour movements to his rapidly expanding repertoire.

"He's a really quick learner - and he thinks very highly of himself," Dahmer laughed. "He is really good at collection, which comes easily for him. He loves to work and always comes out ready to go. And he's super comfortable and easy to ride."

Lakota Lace's intelligence and levelheadedness have helped him excel in the dressage arena, and they have also made him a suitable mount for his owner, who appreciates his great temperament.

"He has a good mind," Wingate said. "You can go a long way with a good mind. I'm really lucky to have found him, and Shannon has done a spectacular job with him."

Shannon Dahmer and Lakota Lace
Shannon Dahmer and Lakota Lace

After successful outings at Prix St. Georges earlier this year in California and at the Colorado Horse Park's High Prairie Dressage I and II, Dahmer chose to give Intermediaire I a try at Dressage in the Rockies, which is managed by Glenda McElroy of Cornerstone Event Management. The decision paid off, as the pair earned qualifying scores at that level for the Great American/USDF Region 5 Dressage Championships in September.

They will return to the Colorado Horse Park for the Championships, having qualified for both Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I. Dahmer said she always enjoys showing at the Horse Park.

"We really, really like the footing," she commented. "The stalls are nice, not like the small temporary stalls you get at some places, and they have turnouts. They just keep improving it. I think it's the best facility to show at, and it keeps getting better and better."

If their results at Dressage in the Rockies are any indication, Dahmer and her unconventional partner will be ready to contend for a regional title.

Rising Star Challenge

Simone Ahern and Calling Cadence
Simone Ahern and Calling Cadence

A highlight of Dressage in the Rockies II was the $250 Add Back Rising Star Challenge, which included classes for 4-, 5- and 6-year-old horses. Simone Ahern and Calling Cadence shone in the 6-year-old division, earning a score of 74.429 percent to easily win the class. The pair also impressed on Friday at Dressage in the Rockies I, winning the Lower Level High Percentage Championship with their score of 74.194 percent in First Level Test 3.

Calling Cadence, a Hanoverian gelding by Contendro I, was competing in just the second show of his lifetime. Owner Marianne Campano brought him over from Germany with her and is thrilled with the progress he has made with Ahern in the four months since the pair began working together. The horse has benefited from the extensive experience of Ahern, a native of Germany who has a well-established training operation, Sun Prairie Stables, in Falcon, CO.

"It took crossing the Atlantic to find a German who could bring all this out in him!" Campano joked. "He looks better than he ever did. She's been an immediate confidence builder for him. Buying a young horse as an amateur is always a challenge. It's great to have Simone here with her expertise and skill to bring out the best in him."

Ahern said she appreciated the opportunity to show the talented youngster in the Rising Star class at Dressage in the Rockies II.

"I'm glad they offered that class, and I'm very fortunate to have such a wonderful 6-year-old in training," she said. "The Colorado Horse Park is a phenomenal facility to compete at. The stabling is very accurate. They always try hard to keep the rings spectacular for the competitors."

According to Ahern, Calling Cadence is a character around the barn and a joy to train.

"Every day I ride him, I start with a smile, and I end with a smile," she said. "The feel he gives you on him is just phenomenal. He tries for you every single time, and he's a quick learner. He's a very special horse."

Ahern's work with Calling Cadence has helped him become an even more suitable mount for Campano as well. Both owner and trainer ride him at home, and Campano is looking forward to eventually competing him herself.

"Hopefully next year I'll be coming down centerline on him!" she said.

Grand Prix Open

Allen Swafford and Romantic
Allen Swafford and Romantic

Allen Swafford and Romantic stepped up to take the win in today's Grand Prix Open after finishing second in Friday's edition of the class. They earned 68.2 percent to improve on their previous score of 65.9 percent and turn the tables on Nicole Glusenkamp and Eeltsje F, Friday's winners.

Swafford was pleased with the feeling he had from Romantic in the ring today.

"He was really good today," he said. "He had a little more energy than yesterday. The weather was fabulous, and the arena was wonderful. He just bounced off it like a trampoline. It was really fun."

Owner Lisa Darling, who partnered with Swafford to purchase Romantic in Sept. 2013, said she is thrilled to have the horse and is enjoying watching his journey with Swafford in the saddle.

"We just got him last year from Warren-McMullin Dressage and Team Romantic LLC, and we are so grateful that they picked us as his owners," she commented. "We're having a great time. I'm grateful to have a beautiful trainer who rides him so well."

She said the horse's happiness is her priority, and she appreciates the close connection that Swafford has already developed with Romantic. "When we come in in the morning, the horse nickers for Allen," she said. "For me they're fundamentally pets, and that he's so happy makes me happy."

"When they get in the ring and they have that harmony and elegance and make it look easy, like dancing - that's what dressage is supposed to be," she added. "I'm really proud of them both. They look like they're having fun and there's no force, no cranking, and no swishing tail. The horse's ears are up, and he is out there to show what he knows how to do!"

Dressage competition at the Colorado Horse Park concludes Sunday with Dressage in the Rockies III, offering classes at all levels.


Dressage in the Rockies II August 2, 2014 Judge for Ring 1: Sarah Geikie

Grand Prix - Open

  1. Allen Swafford/Romantic/68.200% 
  2. Nicole Glusenkamp/Eeltsje F/65.500% 
  3. KC Parkins-Kyle/Olaf/61.500% 
  4. Julie Burt/Genuine Gem/60.800%
  5. Jenny Baldwin/Discovery/60.200% 

Intermediaire I - Open

  1. Shannon Dahmer/Lakota Lace/67.895% 
  2. Julie Burt/SV Percy Sledge/67.632% 
  3. Gloria Knight/Dancon/63.553% 

Prix St. Georges - Open

  1. Dee Packard/Get Ready/64.211% 
  2. Colleen Diamond/Jilles V.R./63.947%
  3. Stephanie Leahey/Alaric/60.658%
  4. Gloria Knight/Misha/60.395% 

Intermediaire II - Open

  1. Grant Schneidman/Maude- RF/66.184% 
  2. Jessica Greer/Matinee SF/62.237% 

Grand Prix - Amateur/Junior/Young Rider

  1. Ann Edelman/Boucheron/54.100% 

Intermediaire I - Amateur/Junior/Young Rider

  1. Christine DeHerrera/Festivo/61.053% 

Prix St. Georges - Amateur/Junior/Young Rider

  1. Kate Ernst-Todd/Bente fan Meren State/55.526% 

Rising Star 6-Year-Old - Second Level Test 1

  1. Simone Ahern/Calling Cadence/74.429% 
  2. Allen Swafford/Fiderstep HW/72.000% 
  3. Celia Schneider/Valentino/60.571% 

Rising Star 5-Year-Old - First Level Test 2

  1. Shannon Dahmer/The King of Rock N' Roll/72.297% 

Rising Star 4-Year-Old - Training Level Test 2

  1. Nadine Horning/Tuesday Girl/70.714%