Dressage Show Spotlights Adult Amateurs
Two Southern Pines Adult Amateur riders took different paths in choosing the horses that would help them achieve success in the dressage ring. One chose a horse without a trainer's help and the other had her trainer choose her horse for her.
Both horses were at the top of their game at the Dressage in the Sandhills horse show held this past weekend at the Pinehurst Harness Track. The show attracted over 190 riders.
Rhonda Dretel knew exactly what she was looking for in a horse when she embarked on a whirlwind shopping trip to Europe two months ago, totally on her own, to find the horse of her dreams. Dretel tried 35 horses in eight days. She decided to bring back an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding named Titus, whose sire is Welt Hit II. They achieved the highest score of all the Amateur rides in their USDF Freestyle debut.
Dretel rode her freestyle, which was produced by Marlene Whitaker, to a medley of Elvis Presley songs including "Don't Be Cruel." She scored a 76.250 percent. (The only score to best her for the top score of the show was professional rider Jim Koford's score of 77.714 percent riding Werites SSF at First Level.) Dretel's freestyle was judged by Gretchen Verbonic of Landrum, S.C., who didn't give out many scores over 70 percent.
"She (Dretel) rode boldly forward. The music enhanced her already beautiful horse and that is what it (freestyle) is all about," said Verbonic, who is an "S" level judge and has trained five horses to the Grand Prix level.
Dretel decided Titus had the rhythm to do a freestyle, which is choreographed to music, after hearing him tap on the wall of his stall with his foot to gain attention. Titus would tap once, then twice then three times in a rhythmic beat to get Dretel's attention.
"He (Titus) is a bit of a character," said Dretel. "He likes to be the center of attention, kind of like his mother."
Dretel also won the Third Level Test 1 Amateur Sweepstakes class, scoring a 66.923 percent. She also won a Third Level Test 1 class, scoring a 66.667 percent. Titus was rewarded for his performance by having the last day of the show off.
Adult Amateur rider Amy Bresky is one step closer to achieving her life's ambition of riding a Prix St. George test. Bresky purchased her 11-year-old Hanovarian Welkin last June sight-unseen from her trainer, Verne Batchelder.
"I decided who better to pick out my horse then the person who knows the way I ride," said Bresky.
Her instinct turned out to be correct as Bresky and Welkin have forged a good partnership. Bresky won the Fourth Level Test 1 Amateur Sweepstakes class, scoring a 62.558 percent.
She and Welkin also won a Fourth Level Test 3 class in their preparation for riding a Prix St. George test.
"The Fourth Level Test 3 class only had two people in it because most people ride the Prix St. George test because they feel it flows better," said Bresky. "I want to feel consistent before I do a Prix St. George. I'm still not feeling totally confident about some movements like the pirouettes and the tempi-changes."
Bresky also took a fourth place on Sunday in another Fourth Level Test 3 class.
Professional rider Jim Koford, formerly based in Southern Pines and now based at Pepperwood Farm in Raleigh, rode a slew of horses to top ribbons.
Koford and Werites SSF had a stellar ride at First Level Test 3, earning a 77.714 percent that was the high score of the show. Werites also earned a second place (69.8) in the Young Horse Test of Choice class.
"Werites is my little girl with a curl," said Koford. "When she is good, you can't beat her but when she is bad, she can throw a tantrum. She's a super-talented horse but very volatile. I was thrilled with her performance."
Koford also took a first place in the USEF Developing Horse class with the stallion Don Principe. Judges Lilo Fore and Anne Gribbons, both FEI O level judges (the highest rating for a dressage judge) awarded Koford with a 68.939 percent score.
"It validated the work I've been doing over the winter to lay down a test like that in front of such discerning judges," Koford said. "You better have your act together riding for them. They are unforgiving."
Koford continued his winning streak at Fourth Level (Test 2) with Rhett earning a score of 66.591 percent. Koford earned numerous other top ribbons with the other horses he brought to the show.
"Every horse I brought to the show put in a strong performance," said Koford, who is heading for a CDI in Kentucky this week followed by a CDI in Raleigh.
Rebecca Vick rode Jim Koford's 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood Nils by Cantango to a first place in the FEI Intermediare I class, earning a 62.0, and they were third in the Prix St. George class.
"It's a great opportunity for me to ride at the FEI level again on a nicely trained horse," said Vick, who is based out of Karen and Ed Brisson's Good Deeds Farm in Vass. "Nils is a lot of fun."
Vick also won the Sport Horse Versatility Professional Challenge aboard Dawn Wenniger's 4-year-old Don Derrick. Don Derrick proved his versatility by winning a 4-year-old dressage class, and then going into the Sport Horse Versatility course and negotiating the obstacles like he was a 15-year-old trail horse.
"I drew the youngest horse," said Vick. "But Derrick proved to be the horse with the most experience negotiating obstacles. He was so easy, and he was perfect. We all had a great time. Everyone was hamming it up. Jim Koford had on flower bracelets and a grass skirt. Jim dropped his reins over the bridge playing to the cheering crowd."
Brendan Curtis came in second, scoring just two points less than Vick. Curtis was one of the competitors, along with Vick, who took part in Robert Dover's "Search for America's Next Equestrian Star Dressage" that aired on the Fox Reality Channel in October 2007.
Vick also rode Jan and Bill Taper's Houdini to two second-place finishes at First Level.
At the FEI Prix St. George level, Peter Nordlander won the class with Mozart, scoring a 63.5. Nordlander continued his winning streak with Charlotte Brent's Dolce Vita, riding the mare to first place at Second Level Test 1, scoring a 66.316. Nordlander also rode Penny Stuckey's stallion Karolina King to a second place at First Level (Test 4) scoring 63.421.
Nanci Lindroth took top ribbons with Paula Johnson's mare Farah Diba F. Diana Hoberecht put in strong performances with Dante, as did Doreen Schlict with Classico.
Junior rider Bernadine Dembosky rode Carousel Prince to two first-place finishes at Second Level.
Leigh Swanson and Able Ally were second in a Training Level Test 3 with a score of 62 percent. And, last but not least, former Hoofbeats correspondent Sue Smithson debuted her new horse Topaz S, earning a second place with a score of 68.929 percent in Training Level Test 2.
For full results, go to www.carolinadressage.com.
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