Cesar Parra Takes Another Win at 2009 Dressage at Devon

Sunday, September 27, 2009
Posted by Lynndee

Cesar Parra and Olympia, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Dr. Lori Washton, took another win, this time winning the Intermediaire I at the 2009 Dressage at Devon CDI-W/Y/J. The pair scored 72.193. Coming in second was George Williams riding Don Bailey to a score of 68.772. Third were Chris Hickey and Cabana Boy with a score of 67.105. Parra and Olympia are clearly on a roll and will try to make it a hat trick today in the Intermediaire Freestyle. Despite his tremendous success with Olympia, when asked of his future, Parra said the gelding had great talent and would be a perfect young rider mount, but isn’t likely to become a top Grand Prix horse. “I’d like to see him with a nice young rider. He’s a great horse, but not a grand prix horse.” Photo: Hoof Prints Images

He can do some of the movements, but Parra said he isn’t likely to have the strength to campaign at that level and said he had no problem admitting it. Trainers and riders, he said, need to be more accountable to the horses and their owners and hence, they should be honest about a horse’s potential, “otherwise, the horses get pushed beyond their ability and that’s not fair to the horse.”

Parra said he’s got nearly 100 friends and clients who have descended on Devon to cheer on the Performance Farm team and he credits team work for his success, much of that credit to his groom Jennifer Mandrecia. “I think there are very few grooms like her in the world.” Such grooms are invaluable because they know the horse so well that they can tell riders whether the horse is fresh and needs more warm-up or tired and needs less. “It’s really amazing and you should listen to them when they’re that good.”
Parra said he was thinking his way through his ride, which, he said, is characteristic. “People who know me, know that I’m an awful thinker. I never stop,” he said.”I’m always in the ring thinking. I know what the horses can do and can’t do so I negotiate with them. I say, ‘I know you can’t get more than a six, but let’s get a six. Give me the best you can.’ And where I can go for an eight, I go for an eight or whatever.’ I play a game in my head like that.” He said he frequently glanced at the big screen during his ride to see how his scores were comparing to that of the leader score. When he saw his score dropping in comparison, he pushed it. “In the canter, I was a little more risky. It was really forward, I was really riding.”

George Williams was just as happy with Don Bailey, an eight-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Elizabeth Juliano. Don Bailey was the reserve champion in this year’s USEF Developing Horse competition behind champions Chris Hickey and Cabana Boy. Williams said that Don Bailey “was more energetic today than yesterday and with that, I could increase the degree of collection. And, overall, it was much more fluid ride, especially as it went along I was happier with it.”

Williams said there were moments of hesitation early in the ride, such as from the shoulder-in to the volte and these interrupted the flow, but that soon disappeared. He is confident that Don Bailey has much more to give, but has no plan to push for it. “He’s a very supple horse, very loose in his way of going and I think with that suppleness we can move on,” Williams said. Although he and Don Bailey are working on some of the Grand Prix movements, they are unlikely to show at that level during this upcoming Florida season. “In Florida, we will continue with the Prix St. Georges and I-1 and work to get him more confirmed as we continue to work the Grand Prix.” Asked what in particular he was working on, Williams said mostly “at getting the changes stronger and straighter and improving the strength for the collection.”