If you are a Canadian dressage fan and are considering taking in the Adequan Global Dressage Festival this year in Wellington, FL, you will not be disappointed thanks to the strong contingent of Canadian competitors sporting the maple leaf on their saddlepads. With the CDIW underway, riders across North America vie for scores to qualify for their respective teams. This is making for large Grand Prix classes in Wellington and some great competition for the avid dressage fan.
I attended the Grand Prix, the Grand Prix Freestyle and the Grand Prix Special at AGDF 3. In addition to the CDI, the National classes provided an opportunity to watch combinations such as Ashley Holzer and Radondo (now competing for the USA), Brittany Fraser and Soccer City, Tina Irwin and Laurencio, and Eiren Crawford and Warello, to name a few of my favourites!
The FEI Grand Prix CDI3* was held on Thursday, January 25th and boasted 22 combinations in total. There were several great seats from which to view the rides and I settled in to take in the action. Sahar Hirosh and former Canadian grand prix mount for Karen Pavicic, Don Daiquiri, kicked off the class. Sahar produced a steady test for a score of 64.043%. The first ride which really caught my eye was Yvonne Losos De Muniz and Foco Loco from the Dominican Republic. This horse is a very expressive mover with great lift and suspension in the trot. Expressive changes and a beautiful final line of passage/piaffe earned her a 70.217%, which was the first score of the day to break the 70% barrier.
The first Canadian in the ring was Simone Williams riding Farley. Some unfortunate tension in the walk in which was otherwise a very nice test resulted in a 63.848%. Eiren Crawford’s test had some unfortunate errors, and when I asked about her ride she stated, “Warello felt great in the warm-up and when I entered the ring, I ran out of gas!” Still, Eiren’s test had some strong points, such as her lovely flying changes, and despite the errors she came away with a score of 63.848%.
Megan Lane of Canada entered both Caravella and San D’Or in the CDIW classes. San D’Or produced an overall beautiful Grand Prix test with very nice extensions. There was an unfortunate spook in the passage; however, Megan recovered in expert fashion and scored a 69.217%. When I spoke with Megan she stated that she also has the impressive mount Denver with her in Florida this season. Although I wasn’t able to see Denver show this weekend, I will be following the scoreboard when Megan brings him out.
Brittany Fraser and All In entered the ring and there is no mistaking the presence of the big liver chestnut gelding by Tango. I was looking forward to this ride after watching Brittany and All In ride at the Carl Hester symposium in October of 2017. Brittany did not disappoint this Canadian fan with her test, which was scored a 71.217%. All In’s extensions are so powerful it leaves the spectator wondering how fabulous that must feel as he powers across the diagonal.
The clear winner of the class, Laura Graves and Verdades, produced a test that was a pleasure to the eye. Laura is very soft with her hands and Verdades appears to respond to invisible aids. Their score of 79.630% took first place in the Grand Prix.
Friday night under the lights for the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDIW saw 15 riders return to ride on a windy evening with light showers at times. Canadian Olympian Jacquie Brooks rode D Niro to the ‘Sounds of Silence’ kur for a score of 69.675%, landing her in tenth place. Jacquie’s music, which is the same song throughout, is a bit unorthodox but a pleasure to watch, with goosebumps proving that she made an impact on this spectator. Canadians Megan Lane, Belinda Trussell, and Brittany Fraser displayed very strong freestyle tests, all scoring over 70% and leaving this Canadian thrilled with the performances of the evening.
The FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3* afforded the opportunity to see several spectacular rides, and the weather was considerably more cooperative, with sunshine and light wind. Megan Lane and Caravella showed their experience as a pair, scoring 72.383% for second place in a very competitive field of 14 Grand Prix combinations. Diane Creech and her mount Diana C were another Canadian pair who produced a strong test. Diana C, a mare of obvious quality by Damsey, scored 67.838% for seventh place. Canadians Jill Irving and Degas 12, and Liz Steacie and Callahan rounded out the Canadian contingent in the Grand Prix Special.
As a fan of dressage, I had been looking forward to attending the Adequan Global Dressage Festival for some time. The experience did not disappoint! The rings are beautiful, the footing is impeccable, and the show staff are all incredibly friendly. The number of great horse/rider combinations seems endless and left me feeling like I must return to catch even more of the action before the end of the season. I will be following the Canadian combinations with keen interest as the World Equestrian Games will be upon us soon and every point counts!