Sabine Schut-Kery has always had the big picture in mind when contemplating Sanceo’s future. Her eventual goal is Grand Prix, and she’s not planning to skip any homework along the way.
But at the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Western Selection Trials, the timing worked out to achieve an intermediary goal, and the Hanoverian stallion (San Remo—Rivera, Ramiro’s Son II) came away with a qualifying score for the FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Cham-pionships in Verden, Germany.
Sanceo earned an 8.12 in the Pre-liminary test (worth 40 percent of the overall score) and 8.30 in the Finale test (60 percent) to finish with an overall score of 8.23, the championship ribbon and a possible ticket to Verden.
“What is so nice about him is his very elegant and light type,” noted judge Natalie Lamping.
“He showed a lot of expression and is exactly what we’re looking for in this division. To top it off, he was beautifully ridden. Every movement he did, he looked like he wanted to do it, not as if he had to.”
“He’s so willing, super honest and intelligent,” said Schut-Kery, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
“He was really solid last year as a 4-year-old, but now he is really starting to bloom and get stronger. He was super! What can I say, he’s the whole package. I very much appreci- ated getting the judges’ feedback about him, especially with the quality of this panel. It’s a great feeling to hear in their comments that we’re all on the same page with the direction the horse is going.”
In addition to Lamping, FEI O-level judges Linda Zang and Gary Rockwell judged the young horse classes at the Flintridge Riding Club during the Flint-ridge CDI*, held May 26-29 in La Cañada- Flintridge, Calif. Schut-Kery was adamant that the young horse program is only one component of an overall training plan and that the classes may not be the right fit for all horses.
“Even after winning the California Dressage Society’s 4-Year-Old Futurity last year, I never said, ‘OK, I definitely want to do the 5s with him next year,’ ” she said.
“He was purchased to be an FEI horse for me, and every step is towards that big-picture goal. So the young horse program wasn’t necessarily part of our plan, since I don’t like to package the horses into a particular time frame at that age. The beautiful thing is that it all came together this spring for Sanceo. He’s been ready for it, and it felt right to do it.” Sanceo was bred in Germany by Gerhard Dustmann and purchased by Alice Womble-Heitman of Hempstead, Texas.
“I like training the young horses from scratch, and I keep all of my options open with them,” Schut-Kery said.
“The program provides the structure to properly train an FEI horse, but sometimes the timing doesn’t work out. I don’t want to push them for a short-term goal and abuse their kindness; I want to give them the freedom to develop on their own time.”
With the selection trial win, Sanceo has qualified for the U.S. short list for the World Championships and may receive an invitation to compete in Ger-many in August. Horses must score 8.2 or better in the selection trials or in an international competition to be eligible to compete in Verden. Emily Wagner’s WakeUp earned a qualifying score at the Central selection trials (Ill.) in the 6-year-old division, and invitations will be issued after the final scores are in for the Eastern selection trials, held June 3-5 in Virginia.
“We’re still considering our options and gathering information to make the best possible decision for the horse and his future. It’s a lot to think about, and we don’t want to do anything that could negatively impact his development,” said Schut-Kery.
A New Experience
The FEI 6-year-old tests are equivalent to third level and include four flying changes in the Finale test. But 60-year-old Sherry Van’t Riet, Monte Nido, Calif., relishes a challenge. She rode her own Sir Deauville (Sir Donnerhall—Estella, De Niro) to win the 6-year-old title with an overall score of 7.09 and enjoyed every moment of her experience.
“I haven’t had a horse in this program before,” said Van’t Riet.
“We had just purchased Sir Deauville before last year’s Flintridge show, and we saw the young horse classes there. I said to myself, ‘That is so neat! I want to do that next year.’ So here we are!”
Her Oldenburg gelding was bred in Germany by Karl-Heinz Drees. Even after competing in warm-up classes and earning a score of 7.38 for the Prelimi-nary test, Sir Deauville still had energy to spare on the third day, resulting in a minor explosion during their second lead change.
“He can be hot,” explained Van’t Riet.
“But he’ll act up for a moment and then go right back to work. His next two changes were beautiful. Overall, he went really well.”
Despite a low submission score for his antics, their Finale test score of 6.90 was enough to claim the title, and Van’t Riet appreciated the opportunity to get feedback from the judges.
“It meant a lot to me to get in front of such a great panel and be critiqued,” she noted. “The judging of these classes is so different, but I think it’s very interesting, and I learn a lot from their comments.”
Van’t Riet was keeping her options open regarding a possible trip to the National Championship and focused on simply enjoying her winning weekend.
“I have been smiling a lot,” she said. “My ultimate goal is for this guy to be my third horse that I’ve brought to Grand Prix. I want to build another solid horse for that level. So we’ll see what’s next.”
Worthy Of A Freestyle
Flintridge’s CDI served as the last Pan American Games qualifying competition for Southern California, and several riders were looking to earn final qualifying scores. Jan Ebeling, Moorpark, Calif., was fresh off the plane from a European tour and the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Final with his Grand Prix mount Rafalca, but he realized he needed a freestyle score with his Pan Am hopeful Rosen-zauber 8.
He made the decision to post-enter the CDI and contest the small tour with less than a week’s preparation. Deborah Harlan’s striking black Hanoverian mare (Rotspon—Shining Sun, Shogun) rewarded Ebeling’s faith in her by dominating the division and sweeping the Prix St. Georges, Inter-mediaire I and freestyle with scores of 70.26 percent, 70.70 percent and 70.29 percent, respectively.
“I was really pleased with her, especially since I’ve been gone for over a month while in Europe with Rafalca,” said Ebeling.
“In the meantime, she wasn’t schooled on any movements; she was just ridden long and low by my assistant, Carly Taylor-Smith. So I returned and had only a week to get ready, and I wasn’t sure if it would work out or not. But I’m really happy with her effort, and obviously Carly did a great job with her while I was gone.”
“Rosenzauber 8 is such a nice airy mare, so pleasant to watch, and I love her lightness and how good she is in the contact,” said Lamping.
“I found myself giving one solid score after another—7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 8. She’s so steady and obviously tries so hard to please her rider.”
Ebeling confirmed that the 10-year-old mare makes his job easy.
“She is awesome to ride,” he said. “She’s the type of horse you could ride all day long, so easy and light, with a great work ethic. I’m really looking forward to the selection trials [at the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Cham-pions in Gladstone, N.J.] with her.”
The Intermediaire I freestyle will be a crucial component of the Pan Am selection trials. But with so little time to prepare for Flintridge, Ebeling had to borrow an 11-year-old routine, which had belonged to a previous mount, Ricardo. The Zorro music was strong and didn’t quite fit with the elegant mare’s style.
“Since this was only her third Inter-mediaire I test, we weren’t even sure if she would be ready for the demands of a freestyle yet, so we used the old one just for this show to fulfill the score requirement for the trials. But now she definitely deserves all new music and her own choreography,” Ebeling said with a laugh.