Road Trip Quest for Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games Qualification Scores
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Puerto Rico’s Luis Reteguiz-Denizard and Colombia’s Marco Bernal pair up for cross-country trek
Puerto Rico’s Luis Reteguiz-Denizard and Colombia’s Marco Bernal have been on a road trip the past two weeks - from their homes in Florida to Illinois for Lamplight, then to New Jersey this week and possibly up to Canada the following week. The riders share a common goal - to earn the necessary qualification scores to represent their countries at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in September. If successful, they will be the first dressage riders to represent their countries at a WEG. After a celebration dinner for Yvonne Losos de Muniz who earned her second score at Lamplight, for both Luis and Marco the quest was still on and still in reach.
To compete at the WEG in September, horse and rider pairs are required to earn two scores of 64% or higher from “O” judges. So far, Bernal has earned one of his scores, and Denizard still needs the two scores. Both are riding horses who are very new to Grand Prix work.
In April, both competed at the Kentucky Cup test event. Denizard’s score fell shy by three points, making the 16 hour drive home a long one. But the two persisted and traveled 19 hours to compete at Lamplight last week, where Bernal earned his first qualification score in the Grand Prix test on his horse Halgbot. “The most important part of this process is that the horse is improving a lot,” said Bernal. “This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. He’s getting better and better every day, and by the time September comes around, he will be there in terms of performance.”
Denizard did not earn the score he needed in the Grand Prix test at Lamplight and was planning to go back home, giving up on the idea of competing at the WEG. "I had thrown in the towel, called my wife and told her I was heading home" said Denizard. But then he rode the Special on Sunday and things changed. Although not a qualifying score, it was a pivotal moment because things came together for he and his horse Nalando. When Renee Isler, who sponsors Lou, saw that he placed second in the class, she simply texted him “Canada?” because she wanted him to continue on and keep trying. Bernal, too, was consistently encouraging. Denizard ultimately changed his mind about returning home, saying, “the fact that the input and reaction from judges was so positive about the way I rode, it made me want to continue on.”
So on Monday the duo packed up their horses and drove to New Jersey, where they will try again to earn their scores at the ENDCTA show in Allentown. Denizard remains hopeful. “For me to compete at the WEG would do a lot for the sport of dressage in Puerto Rico," he said. If he earns his first qualification score in New Jersey, Denizard will continue to Canada to try for the second.
Renee Isler is an adult amateur competitor who sponsors Denizard, Courtney Dye, Liz Austin, Jocelyn Weise, and several other top riders who she feels represents her own values of hard work, honesty, and the spirit of giving back to the dressage community. She's rooting for Denizard. "Lou is one of the hardest-working riders I have ever met. My hope is that this hard work will pay off in the competition ring, because I'd love to see someone like him – an underdog if you will – compete at the WEG."
And Bernal and Denizard have bonded on this trip. Although neither relished the idea of being away from their businesses and sources of income for this length of time, they are glad they are on this trek together. “We’re having a great time, and we never run out of stories,” said Bernal. Bernal is very excited about his liaison an innovative new company called Hydro Alternative Energy (HAE), which has signed on to sponsor Bernal.