March 22—San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
Last year, Kathleen Raine and Breanna headed to Europe for a few months. They competed at Hickstead (Great Britain) and Lingen (Germany), and they trained with Jo Hinnemann. Then they returned in time for last fall’s USEF Dressage Festival Of Champions (Ky.) an improved pair. Today they made their 2014 competition debut, winning the CDI-W Grand Prix on a 70.26 percent.
“Going to Europe was so great,” said Raine, Murrieta, Calif. “Our venues aren’t like that, and that’s what she needs. It was really a maturing experience for her. Then showing against the best—it always brings your game up. It’s exciting and fun, and you can focus when it’s the only thing you do all day long.”
Though their Grand Prix test today at the San Juan Capistrano CDI-W had a few mistakes—the horse faltered in the canter pirouettes and swapped leads early in the extended canter—Raine was pleased with the increased rideability shown from her now-14-year-old mare.
“I was really happy with the consistency that she had in the arena,” said Raine. “She felt really with me. We’ve been working on getting her stronger, more fit all the time. Jo has been here several times over the winter, and we work with Christine Traurig and my husband, [Grand Prix rider David Wightman], as well.”
Raine was one of several West Coast competitors, including top-ranked Grand Prix rider Steffen Peters, who decided not to travel to Florida for the CDIs there.
“I thought about it, but our business is here, and we have a lot of out-of-town people who come to train,” said Raine. “Financially, it would be tough. Plus we have great CDIs out here now that I want to support.”
Breanna, a Hanoverian (Brentano II—World Queen, Weltmeyer) owned my Raine, Wightman and Jennifer Mason, will travel east to New Jersey for this year’s USEF Dressage Festival Of Champions. That competition, scheduled for June, is also hosting the selection trials for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. The top six riders from that will then travel overseas for two CDI competitions before the WEG.
“I think it’s great they’re sending so many people to Europe so much ahead of time to do the shows,” said Raine. “I think then once we’re there, things start to play out a little bit. My scores are always higher in Europe than they are here. I think that’s the same for other people, too. I think you can’t compare us to the Europeans until it’s a level playing field.”
The pair is currently in seventh place on the Tim Dutta National Grand Prix Championship/World Equestrian Games Selection Trial Ranking List. But second-placed Guenter Seidel has just announced that his mare, Coral Reef Wylea, will be out for several months with an injury. The top 15 from the list will be invited to the Festival.
Brian Hafner and Lombardo LHF finished second in the Grand Prix on 68.78 percent, and Elizabeth Ball rode Liaison into third (67.23%). Tomorrow is the Grand Prix Special, and riders contest their freestyles on Monday.
Full results from today’s CDI classes available online.