NEDA 2019 Fall Festival of Dressage Spotlight
By Nikki Alvin-Smith
New England Dressage Association once again hosted their Region 8 Dressage Championships/CDI-W Y/J Saugerties at their 2019 Fall Festival of Dressage on September 18-22nd at the HITS showgrounds in New York. This USDF sanctioned event was sponsored by the Great American Insurance Group (GAIG).
The brilliant weather meant surprisingly warm temperatures for the time of year, and aside from a foggy morning on day one, the rest of the event enjoyed perfect weather for equestrian pursuits.
As the climax of the Region 8 season, with over $25,000 of prize money at stake, horses and competitors that had qualified to participate ran the gamut of seasoned professionals to eager amateurs enjoying their first major show. With a season of qualifying shows behind them, some of the 700+ horses that participated did look tired but everyone brought their best efforts forth.
This stellar CDI event, well run as always by the wonderful NEDA team and their bevy of volunteers, was a qualifying competition for the 2020 FEI World Cup Dressage Final North American League, and the 2020 FEI North American Youth Championships, so it was very well attended with $8350 from NEDA provided in place awards.
Let’s check in with some of the competitors and hear how the show went from their perspective.
Here’s what Emily Donaldson, Parkesburg, PA had to share:
CH: Can you tell us how your test rides went - ups and downs, highlights or lows?
Emily Donaldson: I was really pleased with the fact that each day Audi came out feeling more confident and ready to work. The PSG was a little rocky with regards to the relaxation, but I was happy he stayed with me. He felt his best in the I-1 and I was thrilled with how solid the test felt. We almost had a mistake free test but I didn't balance him enough at the end of two tempis and he threw in extra making it 9 instead of 7! I was expecting him to feel a little tight the morning of the Freestyle. However he came out totally ready to go. I allowed 30 minutes of warm-up but I could have gotten away with 20 minutes and he got tired in the ring resulting in some mistakes at the end of the test in our tempi changes.
CH: What is your background in equestrian sport? How did you arrive in the dressage spotlight?
Emily Donaldson: I've been riding since I was 5 years old. I foxhunted, did hunter/jumpers, evented and then decided at about age 13 I wanted focus on dressage. I'm not why since I didn't exactly have a horse designed for the sport. I had a TB gelding, Endeavor, who never went past First Level, but we had success at Training Level. I think I liked being successful so I thought I would do more of it! My next horse, Thanks A Bunch, was an OTTB that I took from First Level to PSG. I think "Hootie" tested my commitment to the sport because there were many times that I just wanted to throw in the towel. He didn't make anything easy but he taught me so much. I was a working student for Courtney King-Dye in 2005 and then Jennifer Baumert in 2006.
CH: Audi is a super horse. How did you come to own/have the ride? What have been some of his training highs or obstacles you have had to overcome.
Emily Donaldson: When I was still competing Hootie I thought it would make sense to buy a young horse to bring along so that I would have something when it came time to retire Hootie. I bought Audi as a 2 year old from his breeder Nancy Murray in Fair Hill, MD. He is by Sir Sinclair out of Priceless (Idocus). Audi has always been a big horse but he's a bit like an elephant afraid of his own shadow. He's wicked sensitive but so sweet. The connection I have with him is unreal. To say that I love him would be an understatement. I'm his person. He's 100% my horse. I was the first person on his back. He was not easy to start. My friend Elisabeth Mullin and I had a heck of a time getting him going as 3 year old. He didn't want to canter. Audi has struggled with a fear of horses coming towards him so warmup rings at shows have been challenging. When he's scared he rears or spins the other way. He's had slow steady success up the levels. He has some kissing spines and had an issue with his sacroiliac that honestly would have caused any other person to just walk away. I felt that he was mine and I had nothing to lose, so I basically developed a new strategy for training him.
CH: Do you have any mentors/trainers/team members you’d like to give a shout out to? What would you like to say?
Emily Donaldson: Well I've been fortunate to work with some fantastic trainers over the years. Kathy Adams has been a friend and mentor of mine since I was 13 years old. She is always there for me and has taught me so much. She was helping me out at this Saugerties event which was super cool. I owe an immense amount of gratitude to my trainer and coach, Lars Petersen. I started working with Lars in the fall of 2017 and have ridden with him ever since. He 'gets' Audi in a way that I don't think many people ever have. Lars has pretty much changed my mindset about how to work through things. He has taught me so much about being a creative trainer- how to problem solve, how to feel my way through things and it has made me a better rider and teacher. Lars views every training challenge as an opportunity. Even when I make mistakes, he doesn't act embarrassed, frustrated or upset. He has compassion, a sense of humor and a mindset that encourages me to be my best and keep working harder to make things better. He has given me so much confidence and I can't tell you how important that is- to have a trainer that believes in you and your horse.
CH: What was the best thing about showing at NEDA 2019 from the perspective of a competitor?
Emily Donaldson: I love showing at HITS in Saugerties. The stabling is super. The rings are well laid out with good footing. The vendors are always terrific. Debra and Steve run a great show. I also love Miss Lucy's Kitchen and Black Eyed Suzie's in the town of Saugerties.
CH: What are your future plans with Audi?
Emily Donaldson: We are planning to go to Region 1 GAIG's and then gear up for CDI's in Wellington, FL next season. My goal is to qualify for the I-1 Championship at Lamplight next year.
Editor’s note: If you would like to learn more about Emily Donaldson and the services she offers please visit her at http://www.emilydonaldsondressage.org
Winner of 3rd Level Junior YR Championship Olivia Turcott had a brilliant season aboard MW Donnahall. Owned by Jen Vanover, this mare put in a great performance and Olivia showed professionalism and talent at the competition.
CH: How long have you been riding dressage and how did you come to be interested in the sport?
Olivia Turcott: I have been riding dressage from the age of eight. I started to show competitively when I was 12 years old. At that time, I was riding both Dressage and Hunt Seat and I had started training with Stephanie Brown-Beamer. Stephanie introduced me to Lendon Gray and it was during a lesson with Lendon that she expressed to me, “You would be a waste in the Hunter world” – it was that moment that changed my mindset and I became completely dedicated to Dressage.”
CH: How long have you had the ride on MW Donnahall? Can you tell us about training highs and lows/hiccups or difficulties or obstacles overcome.
Olivia Turcott: My season started out on a low note when my horse, of five years, Prosecco, showed signs of lameness due to EPM in early March. I was introduced to Jen Vanover, owner of Maplewood Warmbloods, around the same time, and started working at Maplewood assisting the head trainer, Lindsey Holleger, with grooming, tack cleaning and caring for their horses. I was very fortunate that Jen offered me her personal mare, MW Donnahall, to ride for the season.
Although I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to ride MW Donnahall there was a lot of work to be done before our first show. First, I had to get to know her and create an appropriate training program that would work best for her. Having only owned geldings, my next challenge was to be able to form a bond with an opinionated mare in a short period of time so that our riding showed harmony and fluidity.
Being able to ride a horse that is trained to Intermediare I is an amazing experience! The fancy mover that she is, MW Donnahall, has helped me improve how I ride upper level movements.
CH: Can you tell us a bit about how you felt your tests went and the experience of riding at NEDA regionals?
Oliva Turcott: It is always exciting to participate in the Region 8 Championships. There are many wonderful horses and riders to watch many are very inspirational - that includes Juniors all the way up to professionals.
I brought two horses with me, my 17-year old Rheinlander gelding, Prosecco, along with MW Donnahall. I competed each day showing Prosecco at Third level in the open class and MW Donnahall in the Third Level Junior Championship class. Having ridden Donna in the Third Level test n the open class as a warm up the day prior, I used the judge’s comments and Donna’s strengths to enhance our ride and achieve the highest championship score possible – 69.063%.
CH: Any trainer/owner/team support member you’d like to tell us about/give a shout out to and why?
Olivia Turcott: I have the honor and privilege of being trained by Stephanie Brown-Beamer of Hampton Dressage. Stephanie has taught me how very important the fundamentals of riding are and to follow the training pyramid so that I effectively improve each and every one of my rides. I owe so much to Stephanie for sharing her knowledge and teaching me about subtle details that I never knew could be so important and how to take charge of my riding.
Another special person that has helped shaped my riding is Cameron Banks. Cameron found Prosecco, my first competitive dressage horse, for me. Cameron and I would ride together when I first got him and I would always try to emulate her. I am very fortunate that she has taken such a special interest in me and, to this day, continues to guide me on this wonderful journey that I am riding.
Of course, I have to thank my parents, friends and (barn) family. Everyone of them have been so supportive of my riding; encouraging me every step of the way and standing ring side as my biggest cheerleaders!
CH: Future plans for you and MW Donnahall?
Olivia Turcott: Because of my support team and under the guidance of my trainers, I have been fortunate to attain some of my goals: achieving my bronze medal at 16, twice championing the Dressage Seat Equitation Semi-Finals and qualifying to ride at the Festival of Champions in Illinois. However, one of my goals that I have not been able to attain is qualifying for the (FEI) Junior team and riding at the NAYC – I am hoping this year that goal becomes a reality.
Thank you for allowing me to be apart of this article!
The Norwegian Fjord was beautifully represented in the dressage arena all season long, and even members of the Norwegian Fjord group on Facebook were impressed by the success of Fjords in dressage in the U.S.A. as they readily admitted they don’t utilize the breed much for dressage in their own country. Obviously good training and good breeding has much to do with the successful outcome of this non-traditional dressage breed. In very large classes and perhaps with a little unnecessary bias against the breed from the judge’s box in this author’s opinion, the clean performances held up and Fjords from Region 8 will be represented at the Nationals. Here’s a chat with one of the key Fjord competitors Koryn, who not only successfully navigated Fjords to ribbons and championship time in KY but also showed other breeds to success at NEDA 2019.
Koryn Doolittle showed three of Wendy Luscombe’s talented Fjords (shown here aboard BRF Osten) to some success over the weekend in fiercely competitive classes.
CH: You were riding several horses at the Regional Championships. Could you tell us a bit about them all and how you felt their tests went? Any special difficulties you had to overcome with them in training?
Koryn Doolittle: I competed six horses at the Fall Festival. Don Giovanni, a Danish warmblood owned by Stephanie Nowak competed at Prix St. Georges and Intermediate 1. He felt fantastic at the show and was very excited the first couple of days including the I1 championship day on Thursday. Things don’t often line up just in time for the Regional Championships, but I felt that after a season of strength and confidence building he was really starting to feel good about himself at just the right time. Although it led to a little bit of a fiery start to the show! We had a big spook just before our I1 and some of that excitement carried into a bit of tension in the test. With all of that extra energy we had some loss of balance in a couple of movements, but he still finished 9th with a 66.765% and we are all very happy that he clearly felt so excited about his work! The Prix St Georges was on Friday and he felt incredible. He wasn’t as hot as Thursday, so he let me ride him a little more “normally” and it was an amazing feeling. It was one of those tests where my heart started to race with excitement at how “with me” he felt. We ended up finishing 6th with a 68.897% in that humongous class. I know he has even more in him as he continues to build strength and the ability to put it all together in the test, so it was very exciting.
Then of course I rode Wendy Luscombe’s power Fjords: Orgonne (Fuzz), Octane (Baby), BRF Osten, and Koriakin of Narnia (Kori). The Fjords always put a big smile on my face. How could they not? It’s so much fun even riding them to the arena. Everyone you see is smiling at them. Plus, they really love their job. They all look pretty similar, I think people often think that I’m riding or hand walking the same poor pony all day long, but they do have quite different personalities.
Fuzz is competing at PSG, which is just fantastic. If you look at the way he’s shaped you would not think that he would be competing in a double bridle and a shadbelly, but his excitement to learn tricks got him to where he is. He cannot wait to get in the ring when they blow the whistle and he often finishes his tests with a triumphant whinny after my final salute. I was very happy with how he felt during his warmup test on Thursday. It was a clean test and he was so happy to do it as usual. However, his score was disappointing at a 60.882%. Regionals tend to be tougher for the Fjords and this was no exception. He has been scoring in the 65% range all season with a test like that, but it just wasn’t our luck for this show. Friday the PSG championship class was a bit disappointing. He is usually a little fireball entering the ring, and the championship class was the first one all season that he felt just a bit tired so we had a couple of mistakes, and there’s no room for mistakes in that caliber of a class on a Fjord. But we know it was only one class and he has accomplished so very much. It’s been incredibly fun showing everyone what the Fjords are capable of and feeling the joy that they get out of it.
Octane (Baby), showed in the Third level Championships. That pony is all business when it comes to his job. He is so into accomplishing things. I couldn’t have been happier with his Championship ride. It has been a bit more of a journey teaching him to do clean flying changes, and he’s finally understanding them and trusting me to guide him. It’s a wonderful feeling to have it all come together in one test. He tried so hard. He received a couple of 8’s from one judge, including one in the shoulder in and one for the halt rein back. His final score was a 65.688% which again was a little low in comparison to how he has been scoring but he still finished 11th in a class of 33. Now that he is getting confident with those flying changes, I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next. He has talent for the pirouette work and I believe he’s been getting tired of Fuzz getting the majority of the buzz.
Kori finished 7th in the Second Level Championship, and I was very pleased with how he went in the class. He is the most unique of the Fjords in the sense of our training methods. He’s 19 years old and he knows what he wants in life, and he has taught us to respect that. He gets the most interesting show warmup of them all. It typically consists of stretching and lateral work in the walk down the lane on the way to our warm up, a big canter to get him excited about going forward to my leg once we get to the warmup (this often includes a buck or two) and then I make sure that he’s supple enough for the canter to walk transitions. All of this happens in about 10 minutes. If there’s still time before I get to go in the arena, I usually leave the warmup area and do my best to keep him sharp to my leg but also get him to think that he’s going for a trail ride or at least looking at something more interesting than the middle of a sand arena. He has to be kept interested, and it’s very important not to wear him down in the warm up and just trust that he can do everything. Then when it’s time to go into the test I say a little prayer that it worked and it usually does. We were lucky that he got the 8:00 ride time in the fog. He’s always inspired by cool air and anything that’s different. Almost all of my training on him at home is done out on the hills. He especially loves it when the grass is a little long and tickles him.
Osten was and is an angel pony. He is such a sweetie and always gives his work his all. Some judges prefer the way that Kori moves (he competes at the same level), but Osten always tries his little heart out, and there was no exception for Regionals. I’m SO happy and proud of his accomplishment of 4th place in that open championship. He really deserves it. I’ve been working with him since just after he was backed, and every step of the way he has made it clear that he wants to please. He did everything that I asked in the test and I couldn’t be happier. He hasn’t quite developed the medium trot yet, so I can see how bigger horses can gain a lot more points in that area than he can right now, but I have a feeling with his attitude he’s going to find a way to get a little air time in those too one day.
Drummer is another non-traditional dressage horse! He is a Quarterhorse owned by Dede Rosenfeld. I have been working with Drummer and Dede for about a year now, and he has made a lot of changes in his work. Again, he has a big strong neck and shoulder, so he has to work extra hard to learn to sit and carry his weight behind as well as stay supple in his neck and back. But, he has an amazing ability to sit. It’s so much fun to feel him use his body to its full potential. I was also very pleased with his effort in the Third level Championship. His scores were split, the judge at C gave him a 65.125, but the judge at E was not charmed and gave him a 58.75%. His only mistake was a stick in one walk pirouette, so it’s just too bad that he wasn’t fully appreciated. His final score was a 61.938% We know that Regionals can be tough on non-traditional breeds, and we are still so happy with the effort that he gave. He tried really hard and was with me through the whole test. He’s been hovering around 65% for the season, and the Championship class was I think his best effort.
CH: The Fjord BRF Osten was competing against some fierce competition, and I’m sure you are very proud of your placings together at this event. Could you comment as any adjustments you make when competing on different breeds to your routines/training/show preparation?
Koryn Doolittle: As far as their routines go compared to other horse the basics of dressage training are the same. They have big necks and a lot of mass, but they need to learn to work the same way as any other horse learns to work with their conformation. They do tend to be less complicated mentally in that once they learn something, for the most part they’ve learned it and don’t need to be ridden as long as some other horses in order to find their best work. Usually their pre test warm ups are 20-25 minutes compared to many horses I’ve ridden that need something more like 40 minutes. They also work less frequently per week than my warmbloods. This may not be the case for all Fjord owners, but we have found that 3x per week of training plus 1-2 days of hacking (big hills) has been perfect for most of them. Before the show, rather than ramping up the work, we usually give them a very easy few days before show day. They stay supple pretty easily especially since they live outside and they are more excited to do their jobs when they’re a little fresh.
CH: Could you give us a little background into how you came to show in the dressage ring? Any special mentors along the way? Owners/trainers/horses?
Koryn Doolittle: I inherited the horse gene from my Mom and was lucky enough to have the opportunity to grow up with horses in my backyard. When I was a kid I was a starry eyed eventer and I thought that was my calling. I spent my early years in USPC and went through the c2 rating. At that point dressage played a fairly small part in my riding. But my Mom purchased a Friesian weanling and it was her dream that I would ride her dressage. When the Friesian was old enough, Mom offered to pay for dressage lessons for me if I would take them on her horse. Of course I wanted to learn as much as I could, so I took her up on it. Then I became totally fascinated with the art of developing dressage horses.
Courtney King Dye has played the biggest part in developing me as a dressage trainer. I’ve also learned a lot from Lendon Gray as she regularly teaches at our barn, but I’ve been with Courtney almost 10 years now. She has found many horse opportunities for me to learn on, and some of her clients were very supportive of me as well under her tutelage. Scott Hassler has started teaching us regularly too, and I am thrilled to be learning from him as well.
CH: What are your plans for the horses as we head forward.
Koryn Doolittle: Plans going forward are Gio will aim for the Dressage Finals in November, and he is schooling the GP, so we will see what he would like to do next season. That could be the Small Tour on more of an International level or possibly the Grand Prix work. And we will see what the Fjords are up to as well!. Hopefully Osten will start more work on his flying changes, and I believe Baby will be up for 4th Level pushing on PSG before we know it. Drummer will be pushing toward 4th Level as well, and Dede will get back in the saddle once she recovers from an injury. But for now they get a bit of a break and we will be sure to have some fun riding in the snow before too long.
Thank you for reaching out. I’m so blessed to have such a wonderful and mixed group of horses and owners.
If you would like to learn more about Koryn Doolittle and the services she offers, please visit her at Facebook.com/KorynDoolittleDressageLLC. Koryn lives in Bantam, CT but she is mainly based out of Bel Air Farm in Millbrook, NY (owned by Clair Glover) with her business Koryn Doolittle Dressage LLC where she offesr full training as well as lessons.
The Merry Band at The Catskill Horse was also pleased to check in with Grand Prix professional David Collins. Not only did David compete at this event, he also had a bevy of horses and students competing at Region 8 Championships. David Collins has turned the dressage market on its head by making great horses here in the U.S.A. and selling them on as trained horses to renowned European riders.
Recently David sold Bojing to Hubertus Schmidt, German Olympic Gold Medalist. This is the 4th (count’em!) FEI trained horse that David has made and then sold back to Germany. Bojing, according to Schmidt, will be ready for Grand Prix within six months. David Collins imported the horse from Germany as a 3 year old and has trained the horse to PSG. That’s an amazing testament to David Collins and it is wonderful to see him ride as well as bring his students to this event.
Here’s how NEDA 2019 went for David’s students from his valuable perspective, with a few tips thrown in!
CH: You had many students competing at the Region 8 Championships this year. Kudos! Could you share with us their names/horse names and the outcomes of their rides?
David Collins: Thank you! I was very fortunate to have so many horses and students competing at the Region 8 Championships. And each horse show is different within its similarities to other shows. This one had cold mornings and warm sunny day and you couldn’t ask for better horse show weather. With this thermal dynamic contrast in mind, let me start by writing about chestnut mares.
Leslie Hanlon brought her mare “Rainsong”, aka “Ruby”, a beautiful Hanoverian chestnut. Don’t believe everything you’ve heard about chestnut mares. We have several nice ones at Centerline Stables. Ruby is a dream-mare, but she still expects good riding from her owner. In direct contrast to the dreamy type, I like the saying: “Nightmare” is spelled M-A-R-E for a reason. In general, mares—even dream-mares, don’t tolerate mistakes from a rider as well as a gelding. (Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s OK to make mistakes on a gelding).
Leslie rose to the occasion and to her horse’s high standards. Leslie and Ruby qualified for the Nationals in Kentucky at both Training and First Level.
Sandra Cohen competed on another beautiful chestnut, also a dream-mare, named Grace Jones. Like Rainsong, Grace expects a certain level of precision from her rider, especially from the spurs (she has been known to flip-the-hoof from a spur she found unjust). It’s true evolutionary irony that both horses and humans lift their phalanx into the air when they are mad. Fortunately, a high thrust of an equine phalanx wasn’t a problem in any of Sandra’s rides at HITS. Sandra and Grace qualified at both Third and Fourth Levels and for the Fourth Level Freestyle.
Susan Kessler kept the odds honest, i.e., she doesn’t own a chestnut mare. Instead she owns a beautiful dark bay gelding, named “Damascus”, aka “Ben”. Susan and Ben are a new partnership. Like many geldings, he’s somewhat goofier than the mares. When he’s serious, he’s awesome. Susan is learning, “The focus of the horse comes from the focus of the rider”. Susan rode a beautiful Training Level Test 3 at the show. The judge rewarded her with a 71%. Unfortunately, Susan’s 71% took place on the day before the Championships. On the important day, the ride didn’t go nearly as well. I’m a member of that club also: Win-the-Warmup-Ride Club.
It’s disappointing to know you can do well and to have things go wrong when it counts. The big consolation is that nearly every rider can share a personal version of the same experience. Training and riding dressage is a lot like training a snake to be a broomstick. Some days the snake just doesn’t feel like sweeping. Or, perhaps, a better way of looking at this: Educating a horse is like educating a child. A child can be in a good mood, a bad mood, or many other moods; but he still must go to school. Showing up counts. Education builds confidence with proper nurturing. We’re not at our best every day. One can only hope that both the good and bad days get better. This creates an upward trend. Trends are more important than individual days, no matter how good or bad these days may be. And it’s OK to feel bad. Bad days can be powerful motivators. Really good days are easy and reward hard work. The risk of a super day is when the rider expects another on the following day and takes it out on the horse when this doesn’t happen. Super days are outliers and seldom happen in succession. Dwelling too much on either gets you stumped so keep moving in the moment or you get stuck in the last one. It’s all part of the dynamic process of learning dressage. With each step you’re getting better or worse.
Caroline Forsberg owns a stunning dark bay mare named Sambuca. Sambuca has more fire in her than any chestnut in our barn. Sometimes horses with great talent can be firecrackers when they’re young. Dr. Volker Moritz told me a story over dinner about a young horse named Rembrandt. He said he could have bought that horse for next to nothing as a lower level horse. Nicole, the owner, was frustrated that Rembrandt was always out of control. Of course, Rembrandt went on to win an Olympic gold medal.
Caroline’s horse, Sambuca, showed many instances of fire at the show. Fortunately, Caroline is quite accomplished as a rider and often finesses Sambuca down the right path.
CH: Any special shout outs you’d like to give to members of the team/students/families etc. Any special highs/lows to highlight?
David Collins: I’d like to thank the staff at Centerline Stables. They go above and beyond to make shows and the boarding experience superb and enjoyable. We are really lucky to have such dedicated and knowledgeable horse people tending to our equine mounts. And special thanks goes to Sara Vanacek for managing and keeping all of the pieces in all the right places, a true juggling act.
CH: If you had one piece of advice to give any student of dressage that wishes to achieve recognition of their work at this level what would it be?
David Collins: Educate yourself. Watch videos, watch the warmup arenas at shows, read books and magazines (read my book, Dressage Masters), and take lessons on as many different horses as possible. If possible, travel to a foreign country to gain experience on different horses and in a different culture. Good dressage doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
“Von nichts kommt nichts” is a German expression that means “From nothing comes nothing”.
CH: What is the most common piece of coaching advice you find yourself repeating as a leading trainer/coach?
David Collins: “Simple is often confused with easy”:
Directive Idea of a 20-meter circle in Training Level Test 1:
Regularity and quality of the trot; bend and balance in turn and circle; shape and size of circle.
It takes a lot of practice to make a good circle.
“Horses and riders learn by doing. What they are doing is what they are learning”
CH: Sincere congrats by the way on the sale of another horse back to Europe! How is Bojing doing with Schmidt?
David Collins: Thanks. Bojing is doing super with Hubertus Schmidt. It’s really fun to see the progress. Hubertus plans on showing him soon.
A fabulous class that really came down to the wire at this CDI event was the GAIG/USDF Open Championship and Heather Mason rode two horses very successfully in this class deep with talent as well as having two other horses she owned competed in the same class.
Qredit Hilltop exhibited some extremely correct training and powerful gaits under Michael Bragdell and his counter change of hand work and all lateral work was a pleasure to watch. Many riders had an issue transitioning from passage to canter during this test and the work at the piaffe/passage tour was often clumsy. Not so for Heather Mason and RTF Lincoln, Warsteiner or for Michael Bragdell and the handsome Qredit. The professionals certainly shone in this class and the final win was a close call. Judged by Lois Yukins and C and Kathy Rowse at B, the outcome was decided by just 1.625%.
One of my personal favorites in the class was the ride by Cara Klothe on Mo Swanson’s Hhot Tamale. They scored 62.826% so were out of the top placements but aspects of their test certainly bode very well for their future development. They had made a strong showing throughout the season and their evident rhythm in all facets of the test was a joy to behold. Catskill Horse magazine did reach out to Klothe for comment but as of press time had not received a response.
There was plenty of activity at the vendor booths with saddles galore to choose from and lots of horse lover goodies to be shopped for and enjoyed.
Please don’t forget to support the dressage sport by visiting these class sponsors:
Elise Genest Arts and Cheavaux
Fifteen Hands Horsewear
Horse of Course
In Stride Equestrian
In the Stirrup
Sound Advice Musical Freestyles
The Merry Band at the Catskill Horse wishes each and everyone of the riders that qualified for the 2019 US Dressage Finals National safe travels and good luck at the Kentucky Horse Park, November 7-10th.
Editor’s Note: Lead feature article photo: Kim Litwinczak riding Fortissimo