For years, Allison Brock has poured her heart and soul into developing her stallion Rosevelt and bringing him along to the Grand Prix level, all with the goal of competing at Dressage At Devon (Pa.).
“I thought this was the perfect venue to bring him out to a big show,” said Brock, 35. “This is a very prestigious show, and it’s a lot of atmosphere. The venue can be hard for a lot of horses – especially for a stallion – because there’s a lot going on. But he really handled it well. He’s definitely matured in that way.”
The pair traveled a bumpy road to get to where they are now, which made their victory in the Grand Prix for the Special on Sept. 26 a meaningful one.
Brock, of Keswick, Va., first came across “Rosie” in 2007 while she was working as head trainer for Fritz and Claudine Kundrun at their Deer Meadow Farms (Wellington, Fla.).
“Fritz bought him off of a video,” said Brock. “Sue Blinks, my former employer and good friend, had been over in Europe looking at horses and ridden him and said, ‘This is kind of a nice one,’ So Fritz bought him without sitting on him.”
As a young stallion in Europe, Rosie sired an estimated 200 offspring, but now he focuses solely on his performance career. The 12-year-old Hanoverian (Rotspon–Lore) showed natural talent in the dressage ring, but he needed some fine-tuning.
“He’s a very powerful horse, but he was a little bit of a late bloomer in a way,” said Brock. “He’s always had good gaits, but you have to be quick in the Grand Prix, and he was a big mover with slow gaits. He’s had to learn how to shorten himself and get a lot quicker.”
Brock and Jan Brink spent some time campaigning Rosie in the small tour in Europe out of Brink’s Tullstorp Dressage Stable in Sweden, but after a while, Brock decided to take a step back from competition to focus on their main goal: getting Rosie fit and ready for the Grand Prix level.
“We wanted to see if we could make him a Grand Prix horse, and we knew he was going to need some time,” said Brock. “We didn’t want to try to show him and train him at the same time, so I stopped showing him for a while. During that time, we actually went over to England and trained with Kyra Kyrkland and Richard White for a year and a half.”
Whatever It Takes
The pair had some kinks to work out when they returned to small tour in England after about a year’s hiatus, but thanks to Brock’s scrupulous training program, Rosie come into his own starting in 2010, just in time for their return to the States.
Brock now trains with Michael Barisone (Long Valley, N.J.), who has taught her about the importance of fundamentals.
“I have a completely structured and systematic program,” said Brock. “That horse knows the routine no matter what. I want him to feel as confident and prepared as he can be, so whatever I need to do to get him there, I’m willing to do. That’s why I went back and did national shows: to get this horse really confident so that I know that I can push those buttons, have my warm-up routine established, and have a plan.
“I don’t leave anything untouched [in the warm-up],” said Brock. “I do some changes, because that is a big button for him; I know if I can hit those he’s in a good mindset and if I can’t, I need to be able to hit them. When I’m home I don’t hit everything every day obviously, but in the warm-up it’s almost like a roadmap for the horse so he has an idea of what’s going to come up in the ring. I think it makes him feel very safe and secure that he knows exactly what’s going to happen.”
After years of anticipation, Brock and Rosie were finally ready to make the move to the Grand Prix level.
And their win at Devon convinced Brock that their time off and slow progress have really benefited Rosie in the long run.
“He’s a funny horse,” she said. “He got really hot when he became a Grand Prix horse. He spent quite a bit of time doing what I call ‘spronging,’ where he’s not quite bucking but he’s leaping and lunging like a porpoise. He did that for the past two years, and he’s sort of gotten to the point where he doesn’t feel like he needs to anymore.
“I think he finally feels like he knows his job as a Grand Prix horse,” she continued. “They just all arrive there at their own time.”
Brock and Rosie will compete in the Grand Prix Special class tomorrow afternoon.
Don’t miss any of the Chronicle’s online coverage of Dressage At Devon—check in at the dedicated Dressage At Devon page all weekend for coverage of the Grand Prix freestyle, Grand Prix Special and more!
Also look for in-depth coverage of both the breed and performance divisions in the Oct. 13 issue of the print magazine The Chronicle of the Horse.