Three US Riders share their Summer European Dressage Tour as they head to Hickstead CDIO
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Posted by Betsy LaBelle
Shelly Francis, 54, a long-time high performance rider for the US Dressage Team, rode Pikant in 1996, as second alternate for the Olympic team: in 1997 they won the USDF Grand Prix Champion Horse of the Year, and went on to compete at the 1998 World Equestrian Games in Rome. In 2005, she competed Dominion to the top six in the US team rankings. Francis of Loxahatchee, FL has spent the last four years quietly training Patricia Stempel's Doktor, a 2003 Oldenburg gelding, to once again have the opportunity to compete at the highest level in the world. With amazing skills and know-how she's built through ingenuity and invention, Shelly shines in Europe with two horses, Doktor and Danilo, both under the ages of 10 yrs.
Kathleen Raine, 47, of Murrieta, California, is also a long-time team member for the US Dressage Team. She was reserve on Avontuur for the 1996 Olympics. Kathleen and her talented mare Fidelia were named alternates for the 2000 Olympic Games held in Sydney Australia. With the mare, Breanna, Kathleen won the FEI Six-Year-Old Division Championship for the West Coast at the 2006 Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Trials. The pair also qualified to go to Verden in 2006.
David Blake, 34, an up-and-comer with a bright future for the US team. David, who works and trains out of Steffen and Shannon Peter’s farm (Arroyo Del Mar) when at home, said about his European tour, “First and foremost a huge thank you to USET and USEF for the grant and the support to enable a young professional like me to have the opportunity to show in Europe. Jenny Van Wieren and Courtney Barnett were instrumental in helping with planning and paper work. I am sincerely grateful to both USET and USEF, without the grant money they provided, I would never have been able to make it here. The next person I have to thank indefinitely is Guenter Seidel. He really has shown me the ropes in Europe. He has not only been helping me in the training while I'm here but also many others things I would have struggled with on my own. Going on my first trip with someone of his caliber has really been ideal for someone like me.
The biggest thing for riders showing abroad is the sense of urgency. We spend all this money and time planning out a relatively small tour. I have the feeling that every show is so important. The pressure to make every ride count can become overwhelming. There is pressure to show the people that supported you, that it was worth their investment in you, is also always looming in the back of your mind. Luckily for me Ikaros's owner has been doing this for a long time and knows about showing and taking the time for a horse and rider combination to become a partnership and mature together. Melanie is really great to talk to after my rides. She is very supportive. Everybody knows that it’s easy to call the owner after a great ride, but sometimes it is difficult to stay confident in yourself if you feel like you could have done better. Melanie understands, and I'm grateful we have such an open line of communication between us.
In closing, I'd like thank everyone who was financially supportive to me for this trip. You know who you are and I couldn't have survived here without your help. Last but certainly not least, being gone for so long and leaving a business behind would have been impossible if not for Rebecca Rigdon, my fiancé. She has been taking care of everything at home, our house, pets, and both businesses. To be able to accomplish a tour like this takes a lot more than a horse and funding, you also need a very strong support system at home.”
The Team for next week’s Hickstead CDIO August 1-4, 2013 include:
- Shelly Francis (Loxahatchee, FL) on Patricia Stempel's Doktor, a 2003 Oldenburg gelding
- Arlene "Tuny" Page (Wellington, FL) on her own Alina, a 1998 Danish Warmblood mare
- Kathleen Raine (Murrieta, CA) on Jennifer Mason, Kathleen Raine, and David Wightman's Breanna, a 2000 Hanoverian mare
- Guenter Seidel (Cardiff, CA) on Coral Reef Ranch's Coral Reef Wylea, a 2000 Westphalian mare
The following combination will compete as an individual and serve as an alternate for the team at the Hickstead CDIO3*:
- David Blake (Encinitas, CA) on Melanie Pai's Ikaros, a 2000 Danish Warmblood gelding
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