Michael Shondel - This is His Year

Sunday, March 23, 2003
Posted by Contractor


The Challenge of Dressage

Michael admits that dressage is an unusual sport for a young man. “There’s only two of us in Young Riders,” he smiles, but knows exactly why he’s attracted to it. “How hard it is. It’s the constant challenge. I’ve always ridden horses, so it’s kind of ‘in love with riding’ and working with Cesar, and just everything – competing, winning.”

Ultimately Michael has a multi-faceted plan for his future. “Olympics –
skies are the limits. Whatever I can do. I’m in the Marine Corps. I’m in the
officer candidate program while I’m in college. Hopefully, if everything
works out I can ride for the Marine Corps. That’s my next goal.” The Corps does not currently have an equestrian team, but that is not a deterrent to Michael. “They sponsor boxers and racecar drivers and other things and I’m hoping I can talk them into sponsoring me.”

Michael will graduate with a business degree and hopes to have a career as a professional rider. To continue his training in dressage, Michael transferred from Gainesville to Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, because the school is 30 minutes from Cesar’s barn in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey. “And they allowed me to take this semester off and take classes down at Palm Beach Community College.” So while he’s earning blue ribbons, Michael is also earning 12 credits. He rents a room two miles from Cesar’s winter barn in Jupiter, Florida.

Michael and Wallaby, A Strong Team

Michael feels that Wallaby will make a good horse for the Championships.
“He’s extremely eager to learn. You only have to tell him once when he does something wrong, or when he doesn’t understand something you only have to correct him once. Some horses it takes a week to get them to do something right if they’re doing it wrong but with Wally, you correct him and he’s doing it right.”

USA ‘O’ Judge Axel Steiner, one of the panel presiding over Michael’s
winning rides at the Zada/WEF Dressage Classic CDI, remarked, “Shondel with the big chestnut – international level class horse. Should do really well. Looking forward to seeing him progressing a little bit.”

Though Michael has been competing at this level for almost five years, he
feels that this year he is a true contender. “This is really my competitive
year. I worked my way up to this. It was still ‘learning’ back then.”

Mary Hilton for DressageDaily.com