Sept. 30—Devon, Pa.
The small tour CDI classes at Dressage At Devon were full of big, elegant warmbloods, but when BR Danny’s Secret cantered down centerline, she caught a few more eyes.
Making her CDI debut, the diminutive Friesian/Arabian mare (Danny—Julliet, Ms Santana) didn’t have her best test with professional rider Angelia Bean, scoring a 58.86 percent in the Prix St. Georges, but she’s still a thrill to ride for both Bean and her owner Linda Butz.
“Today was not her best day. She was uncharacteristic. She’s normally very hot, and in the warm up I have to settle her down, but she was very quiet, and I wasn’t quite sure what to do about that!” she Bean.
Butz took up riding in her mid-50s before going on a vacation where she would be trail riding. She wanted to be able to canter, so took some lessons.
“She took four lessons and thought that would be enough. It wasn’t enough to canter on vacation, but it was enough to get her hooked,” said Bean.
Four months after that, and she was ready for her own horse. She found “Secret,” who hadn’t been started yet.
“The interesting thing is that Linda bought her off a video, and we tease Linda that it didn’t occur to her that if you’re buying a riding horse the horse should be ridden in the video!” said Bean with a laugh.
After a few months with a local cowboy, Bean got a call that the mare needed some work on her canter departs. After a winter together, Bean kept riding her.
“We got along. I just really liked her. She’s super smart, she’s on the hot side, which I think is really fun, and she’s a really athletic little horse. We took her to an Arabian show that spring, and that’s when she was training level champion,” said Bean. “We joke that it was the most expensive horse show in the history of horse shows because at that moment Linda was hooked on going to horse shows.”
Eight years later and Butz is two scores away from her U.S. Dressage Federation bronze medal on Secret.
Friesian/Arabian crosses are popular in Europe for driving.
“The Arabian/Friesian crosses in Europe are called Turbo Friesians, and usually she lives up to that name, but today she was very pleasant,” said Bean. “My game plan in the ring is generally to keep the tempo steady while she’s firey underneath me, and today she was very pleasant. It was an uncharacteristically relaxed test for her. As I rode it, I thought, ‘I suspect this is a little boring!’ And it was.”
She’s hoping for a little better tomorrow in her Intermediaire I tests. The show is local for Butz, who lives nearly within walking distance. Bean competed Secret at Devon a few years ago at fourth level. Now they’re working on some Grand Prix movements and looking toward the future.
“She’s the best-kept secret. She’s extremely affectionate. She’s a little bit demanding,” said Bean. “She’s queen of the barn, and she knows it! That Arab personality comes out—just very people-oriented horses. Everybody knows her, and she knows everybody.”
For more from Dressage At Devon, click here.
The USEF Network live stream can be found here.
Be sure to check out the Oct. 9 issue of the Chronicle for more about the winners at Dressage At Devon.