Jennifer Conour's Student's Dreams Come True

Monday, November 14, 2022
Posted by Alice Collins



Back With a Bang — After a 27-Year Break

Laurie Saldana-Rich was shocked to win the AA Third Level Freestyle title after a dressage showing break of 27 years during which she raised Thoroughbred/Quarter Horses. Riding her horse of 18 months, the eight-year-old Straight Horse De Milla, the 55-year-old scored 70.244%.

Photo - Laurie Saldana-Rich returns to the dressage ring and scores 70.244% on Straight Horse De Milla to stand AA Third Level Freestyle champion. (SusanJStickle.com)

“I never even thought I’d come to Finals,” said Indiana-based Saldana-Rich, who trains with Jennifer Conour — herself a winner here too. “I just hoped that I would show and do okay and not make a fool out of myself. To get a first place — I never dreamed it. Cynthia Collins did my freestyle, but I can’t tell you what the music is because the mare picked it out. I rode outside yesterday so this [the Alltech Arena] was way better. I just had to get over my nerves of going in there.”

De Milla came from Helgstrand Dressage and is by De Niro out of the Blue Hors Zack mare Zackonik, who herself is at Grand Prix level under Chris Hickey. 

“Stella [De Milla] is a Ferrari,” added Saldana-Rich, who winters in Florida where she trains with George Williams. “She’s the perfect little red-headed amateur mare. She’s the exception to the rule. I know when I’m doing it right with her because I don’t have to do much, and she just takes me. It’s so exciting to be back showing again.”

Happy Tears

Linda Kimbell and Louis Vuitton MTA
Linda Kimbell and Louis Vuitton MTA will soon head to Florida — as the AA First Level Freestyle champions. (Photo - SusanJStickle.com)

Another of Jennifer Conour’s students was victorious in the AA First Level Freestyle. Linda Kimbell was so happy with Louis Vuitton MTA’s 72.211% win that she shed happy tears.

“I’m shocked,” she said. “You dream about this. This is my fifth trip to Finals. Louis came last year at Training Level and was 11th, so we hadn’t done the lap of honor - and then he won. And then I cried.”

Kimbell bought the Canadian-bred six-year-old gelding by Totilas two years ago, and she keeps him at home in Indiana, where he lives out all day. Both best friends Saldana-Rich and Kimbell will head to Florida for the winter season, where they stay together and ride with George Williams.

“My goal is to get Louis to Grand Prix - I’ve never done it before, so I don’t know how lofty or realistic that is, but we’re both learning together,” added Kimbell, who is a retired veterinarian but works remotely doing bookkeeping and property management.

Sunday’s classes conclude competition in the 2022 USDF Finals. Catch up with all the action via the USDF Facebook page, the US Dressage Finals website, and on the USEF Network. To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, view results and day sheets, and read daily news releases, visit the official US Dressage Finals event website. Next year’s USDF Finals take place November 9-12, 2023. Mark your calendar!

About USDF

Founded in 1973, the United States Dressage Federation is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to education, recognition of achievement, and promotion of dressage. For more information about USDF membership or programs, visit www.usdf.org, email usdressage@usdf.org, or call 859-971-2277.