Diane Creech earned high scores and top placings throughout the 2014 Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, FL. After three intensive months of training and competing her string of horses owned by Leatherdale Farms, the Canadian rider is heading back to her home base in Ontario.
Season highlights for Creech include several top finishes in the Grand Prix Freestyle with Devon L, who racked up many of the highest Freestyle scores among the Canadians competing in Florida. Creech and the 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding (De Niro-Wibranda, Wolkenstein II) scored an impressive 73.175 percent in the Freestyle at the AGDF 3 CDI-W Jan. 24. Their performance earned them second place behind only Creech’s trainer, Lars Petersen, and ahead of a competitive field including riders from six countries.
Devon L also finished fourth with 72.300 percent in the Freestyle at the AGDF 1 CDI-W and took fifth with 71.950 percent at the AGDF 5 CDI4*.
“This year is the first year that he was really getting into the freestyles and enjoying them, so that was a big step for him,” Creech said. “I think he’s starting to mature a little bit more. It doesn’t take him so much by surprise, and he likes performing for the crowd.”
Along with competing Devon L against the top horses gathered in Wellington for the winter, Creech focused on making steady progress with her other mounts, moving several of them up the levels during her stay. Two Leatherdale Farms owned horses, Hallmark and Chrevis Christo, worked on the transition from small tour to Intermediaire II. The goal for both horses is to eventually join Devon L at the Grand Prix level.
Chrevis Christo, an 11-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (Lavallo-Chrevi’s La Vi, Matador), won several times and placed in the top two every time he competed at Intermediaire II. He earned consistently high scores, including a 72.105 percent and a 70.592 percent.
Hallmark is a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding by the Leatherdales’ deceased stallion His Highness and out of SPS Lapislazuly by Lancier. He collected scores in the high 60s at Intermediaire II and placed in the top four in large classes each time he came out.
“I’m really excited and happy with them,” Creech said. “It’s a big step up from the small tour to Intermediaire II. I think they did really well. They pulled through, tried hard and demonstrated the great abilities that they have.”
Also moving up in the ranks was the promising Diana C, a 7-year-old Hanoverian mare by the Leatherdales’ stallion Damsey and out of Belinda by Brentano II. She stepped up into Fourth Level in her first time competing in Florida and accumulated several scores in the 70s, indicating she will be one to watch in the future.
“I’m so proud of Diana C,” Creech said. “The Florida season is not an easy task, and she showed that she really fits in. I’m very excited about her.”
While the intense show schedule kept Creech busy, she also devoted plenty of time to educating herself and her horses, working with Lars Petersen to fine-tune her efforts.
“When I come down here, it’s really my training time – we take the horses to the next step with Lars’ training help,” she explained. “Now, they can all look forward to a break when we get home, and then I’ll continue their training. We’ve brought the horses up another level, so my big goal is to confirm what they’ve learned and make it easier in the ring for them.”
“The learning curve here is incredible,” she added. “It’s very important to be here in Florida – that’s what makes you a better rider and trainer. It’s a very competitive environment. You have to come out of your comfort zone and work and improve.”
Creech’s family steps up to take care of her barn while she’s away, making it possible for her to spend the winter developing her horses in Wellington.
“I’m very thankful for the people at home,” she said. “My mother and my sister run my barn while I’m gone, and my mother takes care of my daughter. I also appreciate everyone here who works so hard to run these shows – they need a big thank you in making this happen for us.”
She added that she could not thank her horses’ owners enough for giving her the opportunity to train and compete in Florida each winter.
“I’m so grateful to my owners, Doug and Louise Leatherdale, for all their support and understanding,” she said. “It’s absolutely incredible every year.”