NEDA Fall Festival of Dressage CDI 2013 The Canadians are "All In"
by Nikki Alvin-Smith
With over 660 horses stabled on Saturday and more arriving as we sat chatting with Stable Office Manager Kati Bradshaw at lunch that day, the New England Dressage Association yet again demonstrated how to hold a well run show. This is the largest dressage show in the U.S.A. and the classes were filled to capacity during the event which ran September 19th through 22nd, 2013 at H.I.T.S. showgrounds in Saugerties, New York.
Did anyone miss the presence of the jumpers? Doubtful. All the rings were well uitlized and the Canadians dominated most of the advanced competition placings. Attendees spent a good amount of time standing for the Canadian National Anthem, something which was thoroughly enjoyable.
Canadian Ashley Holzer crowned her thirteen year old Swedish gelding Jewel's Adelante several times during the event, winning the CDI Grand Prix with a 71.149% and beating out a good field of accomplished talent. Judged by some of the biggest names in the judging world ( N.E.D.A. always brings in a superb line up of judges), Anne Prain, Axel Steiner, Anne Gribbons, Francis Verbek and Maribel Alonso with the highest placement at 338.5 from Francis Verbek, Ashley then also went on to win the CDI Grand Prix Special with 71.563% with Lois Yukins and Jeanne McDonald switching in for Anne Gribbons and Axel Steiner.
Ashley Holzer has ridden several horses to success on the Big Tour as part of the Canadian Dressage Team, including one of my all time favorites, the "Black Beauty" stallion Gambol. And full disclosure here, I currently own three homebred young Gambol fillies so I may be a tad biased. Holzer's previous mount "Pop Art" was shown at this event to some success by Jill Irving. For the past year, Holzer has also been training the up and coming Canadian rider Brittany Fraser, who garnered many wins at this CDI with her elegant and totally engaged horse, All In. An inspiring team.
Brittany Fraser and All In, were totally "All In" at this event. On Friday Fraser won the CDI Prix St George 73.289% with nearly three percent between her and American Kimberley Herslow and Rosmarin. Fraser's Intermediate I ride was superbly ridden, with excellent flow and accuracy scoring a well deserved first place with a score of 73.684%, nearly four percent above the second place finisher Canadian team mate Maya Markowski riding Lumiere.
The harmony of Fraser and her eight year old KWPN gelding were a joy to behold and many FEI riders came out to watch this tour.
" All In is a horse of a lifetime," said Brittany Fraser, " In 2010 I went to the Equine Elite auction in Holland and purchased him as a five year old. I started out at first level and brought him along. All In was super here at NEDA. He was relaxed and confident in the ring and that's all I wanted from him. Next show is Devon and I am really looking forward to it."
Some other notable rides from the Canadian contingent included Chris Von Martels aboard Zilverstar.
There were some excellent parts in Von Martel's's test and he is another rider that is one to watch. Von Martels was also a good team player, and was quick to offer up help to Fraser during the awards ceremonies, when her All In took exception to joining in the awards proceedings.
If you missed the CDI Grand Prix Freestyle, you missed a real treat. It was hotly contested and Lars Petersen did a good job with Mariett and won with 76.575%. The freestyle was challenging and very well produced. But Canadian Jaqueline Brooks riding the astonishly beautiful D Niro won the hearts of everyone with their expressive performance. This 16.2 hh gelding is a powerhouse of energy and very correctly trained and placed 2nd.
The CDI Young Rider Individual was a duel between Canadian Ally Dunlop with Danero, and Emma Lengle of New Jersey on Arami, which Ally Dunlop won with a beautiful performance.
Danero is not a happy horse in award ceremonies however, so Dunlop stood for her National Anthem without him, while Emma enjoyed a well deserved solo awards lap.
In the Regional 8 Championship Class for Adult Amateurs at Grand Prix, the "Cinderella" story Belgian/Quarterhorse Fynn went first and placed first with Candace Platz D.V.M. piloting this only nine year old ex PMU horse to victory with some beautiful piaffe steps and very forward tempi changes in front of judges Joanna Crilly and Sue Mandas. Fynn narrowly escaped being sent to France in 2004 where he would have been a different feast for the eyes, when the crisis over Premarin horse farming erupted and many Canadian bred horses were sent for meat consumption.
" I almost didn't bring Fynn to Saugerties, thinking as a pair new to the Grand Prix we really didn't belong at Championships. I felt honored to be here, and my goal was to give Fynn a credible ride, to do him justice so the judges could see that my unlikely dressage horse deserves his turn on the centerline without apology for his lack of 'traditional' dressage pedigree. I am humbled and grateful that we met that goal, and more," stated Candace Platz after her victory gallop.
Like many Grand Prix riders Platz has worked long and hard to achieve her dream of riding Grand Prix. She credits the recent help of her trainer Ruth Hogan Poulsen with her success in attaining this goal. " Honestly, I am still in " Pinch me, this can't be real" mode," said Platz.
In the GAIG/USDF Intermediate I Open Championship the competition was fierce. There were some lovely rides, and while the experienced Shannon Dueck stole the class with Cantaris and a 71.382% score, there were plenty of big names in the ring. Lawrence Poulin, coached by Michael Poulin, executed a lovely performance on the Swedish warmblood Cody. If he had not made a rider error, missing the centerline in the first part of the test he may have placed in the top ribbons. The horse was excellently schooled, and Michael Poulin was momentarily disappointed to see his 'student' make the mistake, but sat ardently watching from the sideline throughout the test. It is often frustrating to be the coach.
Also at this event, Hana Poulin ( who incidentally was trained by Candace Platz until last year and competed here last year on Candace's PSG horse Maestoso Glena II in 2012 at PSG who this year was shown beautifully by Mary Hall at NEDA at PSG), rounded out the Poulin contingent, though unfortunately Hana Poulin did not place in her Third Level Open Championship class though her test on her Lusitano was steady. This class was huge and a well deserved first place win went to Heather Mason riding Romantico SF with a score of 72.885%. Mason also placed third aboard her Lincoln. Romantico was adeptly handled during the awards ceremonies by Mason, when he took exception to something at C and displayed a "Hi Ho Silver," moment. Her forward seat and re-assuring pat on his neck during their solo lap certainly reinforced what they had showcased beautifully in the ring, which is how well this partnership works together. Mason won many other classes at the show on her various mounts including earning the 2013 Region 8 Intermediate II Champion title.
Another performance that stood out in this class, was some excellent riding from Tracy Olsen riding Zem, a nine year old Dutch gelding owned by Tracey Smith. The pair performed a harmonious test with elegance and aplomb.
The GAIG/USDF Intermediate I Adult Amateur class was won by Jeanne van Nuys-Hitt aboard the bay Oldenburg gelding Sirtaki. This pair performed a stunningly smooth test that bodes well for her continued success at the top levels of the sport.
If you love a horse with a splash of color you could not miss the performances this weekend of Carol Heckman and Manchado who exhibited some extremely correct work in their classes. Heckman placed 2nd, just a few points behind Melissa Borkosi and Napolean in the Third Level Adult Amateur Championships.
Heckman's test was a very professional effort and it must have been tough for judges Axel Steiner and Marilyn Heath to decide between the two.
Heckman's score of 67.949% was well earned and she showcased very correct riding and was obviously very 'together' with her horse.
Another up and coming young rider to look out for is Tesla Whitaker. She won the JrYR Third Level Championship riding her Bavarian gelding Sage. This lovely bay gelding is only nine years old, and the pair provided a composed test with very good forward movement and accuracy.
There were many good rides as well as excellent rides to be seen at this big event. The Training Level Championship Adult Amateurs are always one of my favorite classes to watch as I believe you truly see where we rate as a dressage nation by looking at our lower level riders, as well as those at the top. Elizabeth Straus of Salt Point, New York and her Oldenburg gelding Ario won the class with 70.700%. while Nancy Singer of South Salem, New York also did a fantastic job on her grey thoroughbred Frederic.
Another rider that showed some excellent horsemanship and promise for the future was Risa Hoag aboard Solstice (Sully). Risa and this KWPN warmblood produced a great test and exhibited some lovely correct work. She placed 6th in this very large class, and should be very proud of her elegant horse and correct ride.
“I am over the moon that Sully and I made it to the Championships! I had given up my dream of riding when I sold my last horse in 2011. But Carol Seaman at Outfoxed Farm had other plans for me and for Sully. She had him tacked up for a lesson and I bought him that night. We just clicked from the first ride and it’s been an amazing partnership. We qualified for the Championships with our first two rides at Windy Hollow earlier this year! And considering we had only been together less than a year, I was ecstatic. It is an honor and a pleasure to care for this very special horse. He is my dance partner and my friend and I’m glad I was able to give him a good ride our first Championships. We are looking forward to moving up the levels in the coming years!” said Risa Hoag, Nanuet, New York and added, " Oh by the way, he had never done dressage before arriving at Outfoxed Farm! He was a jumper who just didn’t want to jump anymore! So glad!"
The NEDA Fall Festival 2013 Breeders Classes saw some good entries and progeny for the future of dressage in the U.S.A, though it was sad to not see more entries overall.
While a strong Hanoverian and GOV Oldenburg contigent were on display, other breeds sadly had no entries at all. The Stallion Championship/USDF BC Qualifier was won by Rocazino, a seven year old American Warmblood owned by Fie Studnitz Andersen. Rocazino ( Rosenanz/Escarda/Silvio I ) was bred by Heino Lueschen. The horse displayed some fabulous gaits and won several classes under saddle at this event.
Dakesa HM, a super Hanoverian filly bred and owned by Hof Mendenhall of Massachussetts, took her Dacaprio lineage to the top of the class once again. Linda Mendenhall also bred the winning filly of 2013 presented, Bellasaria HM Belissimo M/EM Day Dream/Don Bosco. This filly exhibited much confidence and fine trot work and balance and took the Foal Championship.
As we have come to expect from Beth Jenkins, Show Manager extroadinaire, this event was very well run. The score help from Centerline Events ( Debra Reinhardt) and the breed show help from Chesapeake Equestrian Events kept everyone on track and on time. This show truly is run by an army of volunteers, and it was very graciously hosted by Beth and her team. The Competitors Party and fun Wizard of Oz contest kept everyone busy Saturday night. There were many more vendors in attendance than last year too, so there was plenty of fun shopping to do and at least two saddle fitters on hand who did some brisk business.
The HITS staff did a brilliant job keeping the rings perfect and managing these very large showgrounds. With seven rings going at once and nearly 700 horses on the grounds at one stage and 1600 rides, this was a very big event to organize and entries were turned away according to Beth Jenkins as NEDA simply couldn't handle any more without a larger volunteer base, which left a waiting list of hundreds.
So next year send your entries in early folks, or you may be disappointed.