Canada's Megan Lane and Caravella Earn Top Call in FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3*; Adrienne Lyle and Wizard Ace FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 5*; Chris Hickey and Ronaldo Win FEI Prix St. Georges

Saturday, March 29, 2014
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Megan Lane and Caravella  Photo:SusanJstickle
Megan Lane and Caravella Photo:SusanJstickle
Young professionals ruled in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle 3*, with Canada's Megan Lane (22) winning the class with Caravella. The pair score a 71.600% for the blue ribbon, while 26-year-old Laura Graves (USA) and Verdades took second with a 70.250%. Third place went to Gary Vander Ploeg (CAN) and Degas for their score of 68.350%. Of her Spanish-themed music, Lane continued, "It's so much fun to ride to. The Spanish theme I acquired because I had ridden it in the Young Riders, and I think it suits her personality. I really enjoy riding to that style of music. I love riding my freestyle because of the amazing atmosphere that it creates for my horse," Lane beamed. "She goes exceptionally well, so it's always exciting to ride it. This is actually a new freestyle for me; it's only my second time riding it. It's done by Jos Peters, compliments of Deeridge Equestrian, who I ride for."

Lane listed several elements of her choreography as points that raise her degree of difficulty, including piaffe and double pirouettes, one and two tempis on a circle, and an extended trot on a loop. "There was a little mistake in the one tempis, but because of the degree of difficulty in that, something always happens! Our piaffe-passage was definitely a highlight this time, too. I'm really happy with that," Lane explained.

Megan Lane and Caravella  Photo:SusanJstickle
Megan Lane and Caravella Photo:SusanJstickle
Lane has her eyes on making the team for Canada in the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) later this fall, and appreciated all of the experience she has gained over the last three months at the AGDF. "The experience is priceless. The more experience we get, the more comfortable both of us are. I'm so lucky to be able to come down here and have the chance to ride multiple grand prix," Lane said.

Second place finisher Graves agreed, noting that she and Verdades have developed immensely as a team. "I really feel like our partnership has grown. We're having a much more adult conversation these days. He plays in the field and we play in the stall and he's a very goofy horse to be around, but getting in the arena and right away getting to work [has noticeably improved]," Graves explained. Graves admitted that Verdades has always been a challenge, but her hard work and patience have paid off. When she realized their recent scores could qualify her for the WEG selection trials in Gladstone, NJ, she quickly threw together a freestyle for Verdades. "When I realized I might have the scores to get to Gladstone, obviously one of the requirements is to do a freestyle. So I threw this together, and it obviously needs a lot of tweaking, a lot of rewriting of the choreography," Graves acknowledged. Of her test on Friday evening, she added, "He went right into the canter pirouettes. He's riding a lot more like a trained horse, which is nice. I can ride him right up to it and then half-halt and turn him, and he was pretty honest. Also, because I don't really know where I'm going in there, he has to stay with me and just kind of trust that we're going to end up where we need to be."

Adrienne Lyle and Wizard Ace FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 5*
Adrienne Lyle and Wizard  Photo:SusanJStickle
Adrienne Lyle and Wizard Photo:SusanJStickle
Adrienne Lyle (USA) and Wizard capped off an incredible AGDF season with another victory lap after winning the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 5*. The pair earned a top score of 75.588% to earn the class by a substantial margin. Second place went to fellow American Michael Barisone, who rode Ellegria to a 69.392%. Cesar Parra completed an All-American top three with Van the Man. The pair earned a score of 69.078% for third place.
Friday afternoon's score was another personal best for the pair; Lyle described their performance as the perfect ending to a stellar season. "It's been a big changing season for him because he's been up and down and kind of all over the place [in previous years]," Lyle said. "To have the chance to come to a facility like this and show on a regular basis, and not have it be a huge ordeal [is fanastic]. You're not putting them through a ton of transport. The footing is great, the stabling is great, so I felt comfortable showing more than I maybe have in the past. I think that's starting to make it more workman-like and more routine."  Lyle admitted she would have loved to ride the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 5*, but was committed to making her long-term goals a priority. The pair needed to put in some practice in the Special leading up to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) selection trials in Gladstone, NJ.
Adrienne Lyle and Wizard  Photo:SusanJStickle
Adrienne Lyle and Wizard Photo:SusanJStickle
"I felt less rusty than last time. I chose to do the Special because it is so important for Gladstone and for the WEG qualification. As much as I would have really loved the freestyle tonight, I had to keep our long-term goals in mind, and I'm really glad I did. To have a Special that solid under our belt is really helpful for both of our confidences," Lyle shared.  
Barisone was equally thrilled with Ellegria's performance, remarking that he never have imagined he would have the success he's experienced with her. "She's a wonderful horse. She's honest as the day is long. She's very simple to ride all the time. I just never thought we would be around 70%," Barisone expressed. He continued, "I watch my tape [of their rides] and I say there's at least five more percent there, at least. This is a dead green, eight grand prix under her belt horse, and I'm getting second to [Adrienne], who's been to the Olympics with her horse. I'm happy and proud to be in there, and I think she's got a really long way to go." After his two top grand prix mounts were sidelined with injuries right before the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Barisone admitted to getting a bit disheartened, but Ellegria has pulled him out of his funk. "She's saving me," Barisone smiled. "It is so easy, the disappointment when they get injured. All your hope is gone and you're like 'Why am I doing this?' I had the two best I've ever had in my life, and the two best got hurt the same week. It was awful. This thing pops up in my life, and she's putting the faith back in me." Barisone added that the AGDF has brought the first truly international dressage competition to North America, which he believes will put Americans on the fast-track to catching up with the Europeans. "It takes a village to get this done. The Europeans just have a really big, organized village. I think that it takes the owners, and the riders, and everybody. It takes this kind of effort and this facility. It's an incredible circuit. This [show] is going to be one of the things that propels us to being competitive with the Europeans. This is the village, right here," Barisone concluded.
American Chris Hickey and Ronaldo Enjoy Top Finish in FEI Prix St. Georges
Chris Hickey and Ronaldo  Photo: SusanJStickle
Chris Hickey and Ronaldo Photo: SusanJStickle
Chris Hickey (USA) and Ronaldo finished first in the FEI Prix St. Georges presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty on a score of 71.842%, followed by second place finishers Denielle Gallageher-Legrif (CAN) and Argo Conti Tyme with a score of 69.781%. Third place went to Shannon Dueck (CAN), who scored 69.561% aboard Cantaris. Besides a few bobbles in the canter zig-zag and trot, Hickey was thrilled to see the eight-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding continue to flourish as the AGDF circuit comes to a close. "Ronaldo felt great. His tests are getting more and more solid," Hickey said. "He's a very big-moving, elastic horse, so it's hard to keep everything together sometimes. He's very immature for an eight-year-old, but I was very pleased with the test."
Hickey was especially happy that Ronaldo's owner, Cecelia Stewart, was able to attend the show, and even happier that she was able to see Ronaldo do so well. On top of that, the pair bested a field of 36 riders, making the win especially meaningful for Hickey.
Chris Hickey and Ronaldo  Photo: SusanJStickle
Chris Hickey and Ronaldo Photo: SusanJStickle
"I think it's great for the sport. At the end of the season, for the last CDI to be the biggest, is just wonderful," Hickey commented. "I was really super happy with the results and how my horse went today." Ronaldo has been schooling all of the grand prix movements, but Hickey described him as far from ready to be competing at that level. He'll continue at the small tour with Ronaldo to gain strength and confidence to develop the young horse's talent. Hickey pointed out that Ronaldo shares a Don Schufro connection on his mother's side with Paragon, Heather Blitz's grand prix mount, and Hickey has noticed similarities between the two. "He's a big, gangly, young horse still in his body. He's not a short, smaller, really well-muscled horse. He is also [related to] Don Schufro, which is what Paragon is. If you look at him as a young horse, he was always skinny looking. Ronaldo has a long way to get strong and develop at the grand prix before he can get out and do it," Hickey explained. Pedigree is important to Hickey, but he believes choosing a favorable bloodline is not based on talent alone. Ronaldo has also inherited his sire, Blu Hors Romanov, and dam sire Don Schufro's remarkable temperament.
"For an FEI horse, being a fancy mover as a young horse is not what I want. I want a horse that is going to take the work and develop and get stronger and have the gaits become more expressive and flamboyant as the horse is trained. This horse has a super temperament and a super character and a willingness to work. He goes to work and does his job every day. To me, that's also a huge piece of what the breeding is," Hickey explained. Hickey is excited to see what the future holds for Ronaldo, who he believes possesses all the features of a great FEI competitor. The pair will contest the FEI Intemediaire-1 and the FEI Intermediaire Freestyle of the AGDF 12 CDI 3*.  
"Even though he's expressive and flamboyant, his hind legs still do the right thing. He piaffes and passages at home unbelievably. You can fire him up and he's amazing, and then you can fire him up and give him a long rein and he walks on the buckle, totally relaxed again," Hickey concluded.
Full Results for FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI 3*, presented by Diamante Farms
Rider, Country, Horse, Breeding, Age: Judge E%, Hudge H%, Judge C%, Judge M%, Judge B%, Total %
1 Megan Lane, CAN, Caravella, 13-year-old KWPN Mare owned by rider, P. Riviera x Contango: 71.750%, 71.500%, 69.875%, 73.250%, 71.625%, 71.600%
2 Laura Graves, USA, Verdades, 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by rider, Liwilarda x Florrett As: 67.125%, 70.750%, 71.500%, 70.250%, 71.625%, 70.250%
3 Gary Vaner Ploeg, CAN, Degas, 15-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Jean & Gary Vander Ploeg, Pretty Lady x Donnerhall: 68.750%, 68.750%, 66.375%, 69.000%, 68.875%, 68.350%
4 David Marcus, CAN, Don Kontes, 14-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding own by Deborah Kinzinger-Miculinic, Knotessa x Don Schufro: 64.520%, 68.375%, 67.625%, 68.500%, 69.375%, 67.625%
5 Silvia Rizzo, ITA, Sal, 15-year-old Lusitano stallion owned by Silvia Rizo & Hof Marabunta, Maia x Mississipe: 62.250%, 67.250%, 66.250%, 64.875%, 65.000% 65.125%
6 Joanne Vaughan, GEO, Prego, 17-year-old KWPN stallion owned by rider, Evelien x Zazou: 62.250%, 66.250%, 62.625%, 58.625%, 65.750%, 63.100%
7 Jose Luis Padilla Moreno, MEX, Donnersberg, 17-year-old Rheinlander gelding owned by rider, Cinderella x Don Primero: 64.375% 62.750%, 59.000%, 57.625%, 60.750%, 60.900%
Full Results for FEI Grand Prix Special CDI 5*, presented by Diamante Farms
Rider, Country, Horse, Breeding, Age: Judge E%, Hudge H%, Judge C%, Judge M%, Judge B%, Total %
1 Adrienne Lyle, USA, Wizard, 15-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Peggy Thomas, Pica x Weltmeyer: 74.510%, 78.333%, 73.922%, 74.510%, 76.667%, 75.588%
2 Michael Barisone, USA, Ellegria, 13-year-old Westphalian mare owned by Lauren Sprieser, Patrizia x Ehrentanz I: 67.451%, 70.784%, 68.529%, 69.706%, 70.490%, 69.392%
3 Cesar Parra, USA, Van the Man, 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Michael Davis, Lady x Obelisk: 68.333%, 67.745%, 69.902%, 70.196%, 69.216%, 69.078%
4 Susan Dutta, USA, Currency DC, 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by rider, Cinderella x Clintino: 67.941%, 69.902%, 68.725%, 67.647%, 67.745%, 68.392%
5 Tom Dvorak, CAN, Viva's Salieri W, 13-year-old Hanoverian stallion owned by Augustin Walse, Salinja x Viva Voltaire: 63.922% 65.490%, 68.333%, 66.863%, 66.863%, 66.294% 
Full Results for the FEI Prix St. Georges, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty
Rider, Country, Horse, Breeding, Age: Judge E%, Judge C%, Judge M%, Total%
1 Christopher Hickey, USA, Ronaldo, 8-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding owned by Cecelia Stewart, Trøstplund's Scarlet x Blue Hors Romanov: 74.737%, 71.316%, 69.474%, 71.842%
2 Denielle Gallageher-Legrif, CAN, Argo Conti Tyme, 12-year-old Oldenburg Springfrede gelding owned by rider, Alina x Argentius: 69.605%, 68.158%, 71.579%, 69.781%
3 Shannon Dueck, CAN, Cantaris, 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Elizabeth Ferber, Egida x Complement: 68.684%, 70.132%, 69.868%, 69.561%
4 Christilot Boylen, CAN, Drentano, 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by rider, Brenda Lee x De Niro: 69.737%, 67.895%, 69.211%, 68.947%
5 Kasey Perry, USA, Goerklintgaards Dublet, 11-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding owned by Diane Perry, La Costa x Diamond Hit: 68.289%, 67.763%, 70.263%, 68.772%
6 Chris Von Martels CAN, Zilverstar, 10-year-old KWPN gelding owned by rider, Hutricia x Rosseau: 68.684%, 68.947%, 67.895%, 68.509%
7 Christlot Boylen, CAN, Florencia 22, eight-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Jill Irving, Walencia x Florencio I: 69.079%, 68.684%, 66.316%, 68.026%
8 Sara Spofford, USA, Lagrima, 12-year-old Wurttemberger mare by Lantnano owned by Doris Newcomb: 68.158%, 68.816%, 66.974%, 67.982%