Kelly Burke Hayner and Rantaro Triumph in FEI Grand Prix de Dressage

Saturday, August 1, 2009
Posted by Christy

Traverse City, MI - July 31, 2009 - It was another gorgeous day at Flintfields Horse Park this afternoon as the FEI Intermediaire I and FEI Grand Prix de Dressage classes were held in the Grand Prix Ring.  Horse Sports by the Bay, Inc. has been awarded the opportunity to host the 2010 Great American Insurance Group/United States Dressage Federation Region 2 Dressage Championships based on prior performance producing quality dressage shows, and this year's Dressage by the Bay Series is carrying on that quality.  Dressage by the Bay Series II will continue through tomorrow evening with much more exciting competition.

Debbie Riehl-Rodriguez judged today's classes, which were generously sponsored by Hampton Green Farm.  The FEI Intermediaire I class was first to show, and Colleen Haveman and Warello continued their success, again taking the top score in the open division with a 69.737%.

The FEI Grand Prix de Dressage followed, and Kelly Burke Hayner of Hamburg, MI, rode Rantaro to the high score in the open division with a 64.681%.  Rantaro is a 13-year-old bay Holsteiner gelding (Rantaras x High Voltage MMP) that Hayner and a partner have owned for two years.  When Hayner first got Rantaro he was at Fourth Level and this is now his first year showing Grand Prix.

"He is without question the most amazing horse I have ever ridden," Hayner smiled. "Even though this is his first year, he makes the Grand Prix feel easy. I come out of the ring and I feel like I could go in and try it again. His mistakes are mine. He is very, very generous and he is the most honest, trying horse."

Hayner spoke about today's Grand Prix test, stating, "Today was good. Today was day three, so he was a little bit tired, but I still loved the way it felt. It was forward and rhythmical. It was supple and it felt very through.  Overall I am so thrilled. I expected the first year to just be about getting in and doing the test, and I really didn't expect him to be as reliable and successful as he has been."

Hayner owns Rantaro with a partner, and she explained that the agreement was that they would sell him after two years. "He has turned out to be a spectacular Grand Prix horse, so it is going to be really hard for me to let him go," she acknowledged.  "My goal is to find a sponsor that will buy out the half that my partner has so that I can still be in control.  I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't want him.  He has no holes; there is nothing in the Grand Prix that is hard for him. He is totally sound, he is totally healthy, and he is supple and soft and light. You can ride him in a snaffle, I have never taken him down the centerline with a whip, and he does the Grand Prix in a small spur.  I don't know too many horses like that."

Hayner has been coming to Dressage by the Bay since its start several years ago, and expressed how much she loves riding at the show.  "I come every year and I absolutely adore it here," she smiled. "The footing is amazing, the staff is amazing, and the show grounds are very sophisticated, which is a really good experience for the horses.  I will continue to come. I think it is a wonderful show facility and the staff are so accommodating; you just don't find that everywhere you go."

One of the most exciting aspects of today's test for Hayner was getting to show in the spacious Grand Prix Ring overlooking Traverse City.  "It is amazing," she grinned. "It is a little intimidating because you don't know how the horse is going to feel down there by himself, but so far all of my horses have been very relaxed and very secure, and I think a lot of that has to do with the footing. The footing is so far superior here and the horses know it, so their backs can stay loose, they can stay supple, and they don't have to worry about themselves."

Along with the exciting dressage competition, Flintfields Horse Park also hosted the By the Bay Local Rider Day Finals all day.   Today's classes were the conclusion to the By the Bay Local Rider Series, which consisted of five shows held April through July at both Flintfields Horse Park and Northern Pines Farm in Maple City, MI.  Shows offered classes for the local Northwest Michigan hunter/hunt seat riders and the all-breed English/Western community. Today's show served as the finals where the series year-end awards were presented.

Dressage by the Bay Series II will continue tomorrow at Flintfields Horse Park with more exciting dressage competition including musical freestyles.  The 2009 Horse Shows by the Bay Equestrian Festival will continue through Sunday, August 2.  For more information, please visit