A year ago Arlene "Tuny" Page was just getting Wild One's feet wet in the Grand Prix ring. But he was a fast learner, and now he's earned himself a berth to the FEI Dressage World Cup Final by putting in two solid tests to win the U.S. Equestrian Federation Freestyle Championship and the World Cup's U.S. League Final in Wellington, Fla., March 17-18.
"I'm tickled because it's the first time this horse has believed everything I told him," said Page after her Grand Prix ride.
How far would riders and trainers go to win in dressage? Would they subject their horses to something painful, something psychologically debilitating, something that could break all but the best horses, yet put those exceptional athletes on the podium time after time?
These accusations and more are just part of the hubbub that has surrounded the technique of training, called Rollkur by some, round and deep by others, and now hyperflexion by the Federation Equestre Internationale.
Ashley Holzer's had a heck of a season in Florida this spring, winning so many championship coolers that she might need to buy some new horses to fill them.
But it was truly a battle of the titans at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI in Loxahatchee, Fla., March 3-5 when Leslie Morse flew in from California to show both of her Grand Prix stallions after a six-month hiatus.
The big class of the weekend--and it was big--was the CDI Grand Prix on Saturday. With 37 horses, it might hold a record for the largest CDI Grand Prix in the United States.
This weekend's eventing competition at Galway Downs in Temecula, Calif., couldn't really have gone much better for Robyn Fisher. She didn't touch a rail in show jumping, on Sunday, April 2, finishing the competition in the lead in both the two-star and the three-star divisions.
Fisher took a commanding lead in dressage with Le Samurai in the CIC-W and held it throughout the competition. She incurred time penalties on cross-country because she had to circle "Sparky" a few times to make him rideable, but she still held the lead before show jumping.
It may have been April Fool's Day, but Robyn Fisher was all concentration as she piloted Le Samurai to a clean, but slow, cross-country run in the Galway Downs CIC-W in Temecula, Calif.
The pair had a large margin after dressage, leading with 48.6 over Ildiko Hites on Ben Fox (65.2) and Anne Lindley on Merlin (65.3), but that gap narrowed considerably when Fisher racked up 24.0 time penalties for 72.6 points.
You can't help but look at Kingston when he enters the arena at A. Immense and powerful, yet with a surprising grace, this Dutch Warmblood stallion has always been a crowd pleaser.
Kingston was a U.S. Dressage Federation winner from day 1, and he and rider Leslie Morse were the second alternates for the 2004 Olympics. But 2005 marked a breakthrough year for horse and rider as they settled in at Grand Prix and left an impression on the international dressage scene.
The Canadian anthem seemed to play continuously as Ashley Holzer took home one blue ribbon after another in every class she entered at the Gold Coast Opener Festival CDI in Loxahatchee, Fla., Jan. 19-22.
The Grand Prix boasted an impressive field of competitors. Charlotte Bredahl Baker travelled from California with Komo, and Canadian Evi Strasser and Colombian Cesar Parra were competing with their 2005 FEI World Cup mounts, Quantum Tyme and Galant du Serein, respectively.
Riding the musical freestyle has always been a strength for Colombia's Cesar Parra, and he was able to show off today with Galant du Serein for the win in the Grand Prix freestyle at the Wellington CDI (71.92%).
The pair started their partnership in 2004, competing at the Athens Olympics. Parra has patiently bided his time this spring, working for a top CDI finish.
"The joy is in the every day work," said Parra. Still he couldn't hide his elation at finally finishing with the blue.
It was just over a year ago that Arlene "Tuny" Page rode Wild One in his first Grand Prix test. It's hard to believe that he could come so far as to win the U.S. Equestrian Federation Freestyle Championships, and finish first in the U.S. League Final for the FEI Dressage World Cup.
But that's exactly what Page and "Double V" did tonight, beating out Leslie Morse and Tip Top 962 by a narrow margin for victory in the Grand Prix freestyle.
Arlene "Tuny" Page has always known that her Hanoverian gelding, Wild One, is a talented athlete with the potential to really compete at the Grand Prix level. But she's had to convince him step-by-step to trust her and let her ride him when the atmosphere gets exciting.
They were put to the test under the lights at Wellington on the first night of the U.S. Equestrian Federation Freestyle Championships and U.S. League Final for the FEI World Cup, held in Florida, March 17-18.