Success, Gratitude, and Goodwill Prevail As Heidi Degele Pays It Forward
Sunday, October 10, 2021
Top dressage rider, Heidi Degele loves to give her working students a chance to prove their mettle by earning USDF medals. Last month Allie Riddell, who works for Heidi Dressage rode Degele’s gelding, to the win in both of the Third Level classes the Wellington Classic Dressage Fall I & II show at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida. With scores of 67.943% and 71.4%, Riddell is well on her way to her USDF Bronze Medal. The pair was also awarded the Vita Flex Victory Pass Award for their win on Saturday.
“I think of it as paying it forward. These girls come and want to work for me and I want to give them have an opportunity to go out and get their USDF medals”, said Degele, who owns Heidi Dressage, a successful horse sales business based in Loxahatchee, Florida.
Photo - Joanna Jodko Photography
Degele was grinning from ear-to-ear as Riddell went down centerline, sharing that she loves seeing her students and her horses excel. “Allie had no prior show experience before joining Heidi Dressage. Despite this, she has scored in the high sixties, and now seventies every time out. This has been great for her and she is having a blast,” said Degele while watching Riddle compete.
While Riddell is new to competing in recognized dressage shows, Degele’s 16-year-old gelding that Riddell had the opportunity to show, is an experienced mount who has had an impressive career with Degele. They were invited to the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions twice–once in the Prix St. Georges and once in the Grand Prix and they earned a place in the Top 10 in the Nation both times. Degele had also shown him in the Grand Prix where they consistently earned scores over 65%, and she has ridden him in the Grand Prix dressage quadrille for the Challenge of the Americas, a Wellington fundraiser for breast cancer research. “He is quite the showman and loves to be in the ring, so he is the perfect experienced partner for my working students to learn the ropes on”, said Degele.
Degele is also focused on showing the up-and-coming horses in her sales barn. At the Wellington Classic Dressage Fall show, Degele showed Ibistrona D, a 2014 KWPN mare (Don Tango-Biastrona, Sunny Boy) owned by Equine Holdings LLC and also enjoyed a winning weekend, scoring a 75.556% to claim the blue ribbon in the Fourth Level, Test 3. “I'm super proud of her and she's coming along really nicely and showing a lot of potential. I'd love to do the CDI small tour and then finish her to the Grand Prix, but she is, unfortunately, for sale. If somebody comes along with the right price, they will have the pleasure of taking her up the levels instead of me, but that is the nature of my business.” Maybe that is why Degele enjoys every ride so much and never takes the opportunities for granted. She shares those opportunities with her working students and there is a vibe of happiness and gratitude when you stop by her stall area at the shows.
Next stop for Degele and Ibistrona is Ocala, Florida where the pair will show in the National Fourth Level division at the CDI Dressage Show at the World Equestrian Center later this month. “It is very important for my sale horses to prove themselves at a variety of venues and the World Equestrian Center is as big a venue as we have in this country, so I am excited to show her there”.
Degele’s business has done well in the last couple of years and she believes it has to do with a winning mental attitude. She said that although the effect of COVID meant there were fewer horses in her sales barn, they are of a high quality. “We have just recently sold a few horses this past summer, and we're looking forward to this coming season. “I think any successful business owner will agree with me, as long as you can keep a positive attitude with whatever gets thrown at you, then we can all push forward,” she said with her signature smile shining.