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Christopher Hickey Has Winning Ride as Markel Developing Horse PSG Championship Kicks Off

Friday, August 21, 2020
Posted by Leslie Potter and Kathleen Landwehr
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US DRESSAGE FESTIVAL OF CHAMPIONS   |   MARKEL/USEF NATIONAL YOUNG AND DEVELOPING HORSE CHAMPIONSHIPS

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Fifteen horse-and-rider pairs took their first turns in the arena to complete their FEI Prix St. Georges Test in the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Dressage National Championship. Christopher Hickey (Wellington, Fla.) had the winning ride with Cecelia Stewart’s eight-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, Stenagers Wyatt Earp.

Photo - Christopher Hickey and Stenagers Wyatt Earp (SusanJStickle.com)

“I’m really happy with my test today,” said Hickey. “My goal today was to have a quiet beginning to our week. I’ve shown this horse in national horse shows at Tryon and Global, but he hasn’t done any CDIs before. It’s important to me that he goes in this kind of venue with this many judges’ boxes and the VIP—not that there are spectators—but it is busy surroundings and a busy venue and my horse can be a little hot. Which, I’m happy about, because I want that hotness later on as a grand prix horse. But my goal today was to have a quiet, ho-hum sort of test. And I feel like I accomplished that. He got a little hot a couple of times, but he really had no major mistakes and I’m super happy with that.”

Jennifer Wetterau (Mission Viejo, Calif.) took home second place with her own eight-year-old KWPN gelding, Hartog, scoring a 71.814%. Jennifer Schrader-Williams (Olympia, Wash.) rounded out the top three with her own Sandeman, an eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding, with a score of 70.147%.

From the Mixed Zone:

Tell us about your test.

What are your goals with this horse?

Hickey: “On Saturday, I hope to have another test like this that is quiet and easy going. The horse has plenty of quality, but sometimes those hot horses make mistakes and it’s really important for me to have this horse trust me in this kind of venue. My sponsor, Cece Stewart, purchased this horse as he was already trained, whereas a lot of my other horses we’ve bought as young horses and I’ve brought them along. This horse went through the young horse world championships in Europe. To do those shows, they have to have their legs coming out of their eyeballs and it’s very important that this horse allows me to turn the volume up and turn the volume down and that he settles and he can be quiet as well as electric and hot.

“I’ve worked with Anne Gribbons a lot with this horse. Anne unfortunately couldn’t be here this weekend due to the virus and just family safety, which I totally respect. I’m very happy that my friend Christine Traurig has been my eyes on the ground this week, which has been tremendously helpful.”

How has this year been? Have you been worried about not being able to get him out as much as you would have liked?

Hickey: “I haven’t worried about it because we’re close to Tryon. We’re an hour and a half from the Tryon shows, which can be a busy venue, and so he shows there, although he’s shown once since Florida. I have been very careful at home when we’re all in this, not travelling and not horse showing. I’ve been trying to get my horse out in the woods and trotting over cavaletti and trotting poles in the field and having a long-lining day. I’ve been very cautious and careful because when riders and trainers aren’t travelling and they’re stuck at home, it’s easy to over work your horses. So I’ve been trying to stay conscientious of that and not make them crazy.

“This horse can be hot. Somebody was a little bit excited going in for the awards and it made my horse sort of bronc a little bit, but I trust him enough now that I can give him a long rein and pat him and tell him he’s okay and bring him back down to earth. And that’s very important, because that’s what he’ll need later on as a grand prix horse.”

How long have you had the ride on him?

Hickey: “We bought him in October of 2018. He did two Florida’s. This last November we’ve had him for a year, so it’s been a year and a half.”

Final thoughts?

Hickey: “I want to thank USEF and the office and all the people that have been able to make the show happen. I think that it’s good for the sport and it is, it keeps us all looking forward and I think that’s really important. I know Hallye and many others have worked very hard to make this the safe place for us all to come and compete and in my position, I’m very, very thankful for that.”

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