Sept. 30—Devon, Pa.
David Marcus picked up his third blue ribbon of the weekend at Dressage At Devon when he and Don Kontes won the Grand Prix Special on a score of 69.4 percent. The pair also won the qualifying round on Friday. 
“I was really happy with him today. There’s so much more that he can still do, and I just rode him really conservatively and rode a really nice, smooth test, which is what I think he needs in his first year in Grand Prix,” said Marcus, a U.S.-born Canadian.
Don Kontes, a 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Don Schufro—Kontessa) owned by Deborah Kinzinger, underwent colic surgery in August of 2011, almost stopping his dressage career before he even started learning Grand Prix movements.
“We started him back in January,” said Marcus. “He didn’t really know any of the Grand Prix before the colic surgery, so we’re just really happy that he’s healthy and comfortable and back again. So for him to have won both of these Grand Prixs is a real thrill.”
Although the horse is on the right track, Marcus added that he is still green to the level and is still developing strength.
“I think he’s still green in the piaffe. He’s new to it all. The piaffe can always be stronger with him,” he said. “[Don Kontes] walked really well today. The walk for him can always be a bit better. Today he was really relaxed in there and was really comfortable. I thought for him today the walk was really strong, but that can always be better.”
-Ashley Holzer and Degas 12 placed second in the Grand Prix Special on a 68.4 percent, far exceeding Holzer’s expectations, but not those of owner Jill Irving. Although Irving usually rides Degas and took him in his first Grand Prix test in April of this year, she handed the reins to Holzer for the CDIs in Saugerties, N.Y., and Devon.
“He’s very, very green. He was very tired at the end. He’s a spectacular horse,” Holzer said. “He’s so honest and so lovely; he was just so exhausted by the end. The only thing that’s lacking is strength and fitness. If he makes a mistake, it’s not talent [that’s lacking].”
-Christopher Hickey and Witness Hilltop earned their second blue ribbon at Dressage At Devon when they topped the Intermediaire 1 freestyle (73.77%). Their upbeat Bruno Mars medley was fitting for what Hickey described as the best show he’s had with the gelding to date.
“I feel like I’m finding better quality tempo and a little more cadence,” he said, adding that a friend was supposed to come coach him through the warm-up but was unable to at the last minute. “I didn’t have someone here to warm me up. It’s a little intimidating when you’re by yourself at Devon when everyone else has someone there helping.”
-Canadian Alexandra Reid, 20, took her third blue ribbon of the weekend by winning the young rider freestyle class. She and V.I.P. have been together since January, and she is aiming to qualify for the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships. Last year, Reid attended Dressage At Devon as a groom for David Marcus and at the time thought, “One day this is going to be amazing. It hasn’t set it yet; it’s mind blowing!”
Video recap of Dressage at Devon: 2012