Canada’s Jacqueline Brooks and D Niro were 13th in yesterday’s Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Gothenburg, Sweden. Brooks checked in with the Chronicle about her trip overseas, her Grand Prix test and how much D Niro loves being at a horse show.
We were in Wellington, Fla., showing before we flew over here. D Niro was invited to the Global Dressage Festival CDI***** about 10 days before we shipped. I have to say, the Dutta Corporation is top of the world. You make the one phone call, “I want to be in Gothenburg on this day,” and everything else is taken care of. I actually flew with him, which I like to do. They’re always a little better with people they know if something goes wrong.
I flew from Miami to Amsterdam with him and then went to Guido and Britta Klatte’s for the layover. That was very interesting to me because 22 years ago, I bought my first horse from Guido and Britta, and I stayed with them for about a month then, trying the horse and everything. Tim Dutta flew me over to try that horse then too. I have a long history with them, but I haven’t been back to the farm since. So we had a great reunion, really fun, and the facility was really perfect. They had a nice barbeque for us.
He’s been here since Sunday, so he’s had a lot of time to be in the rings and climatize. It’s not like with the European horses; we don’t have big indoor shows like this. We have The Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, and it’s maybe 1/3 of the size. This was the biggest, most electric venue he’s ever had to go down the centerline in. I’ve been working with [fellow Canadian Olympian] Ashley Holzer here. She’s been my trainer for 22 years.
Last summer he went to the London Olympics, so it wasn’t that long ago since he flew. The first time that horse does anything he’s very suspicious. He’s not a hot panicker, but he wants to smell everything and check everything out. He likes to move. He does not like to stay at home. If he hears a trailer, he’s whinnying in his stall, “Get me on it!” If you let go of the leadline, he’d canter onto it. He’s in a hurry to be different places. He has, I think, a very active mind, and it’s satisfies him to be around different stimuli.
He certainly came in for the Grand Prix yesterday and noticed that it was a bigger ring, more flowers and people in the stands, and his eyes got a little big. But he was never not attentive. Ever. He was a little bit sitting in my lap for the first three movements, but once he realized it was the same test—he really knows that pattern and where he’s going in that test—he was really just concentrating on the pattern. He was a really good boy. I think it was the nicest feeling I’ve ever had in a Grand Prix.
He was the ring again this morning, and then he’ll go tomorrow morning too. I hope by tomorrow afternoon then I have a little more concentration, and I can ride him a little more in the bridle. The way the horse is, once he gets in there once, he’ll be much more comfortable the next time.
The last World Cup Final I did was in 2007, with Gran Gesto. It was in Las Vegas, and Vegas was really fun. I think I have more horse this time, so I feel like I’m more in the thick of the middle. I’m hoping to move up maybe a couple of places tomorrow if I have a really great ride. I think there’s room to move up a few spots.
Gran Gesto is a beautiful horse, and I’d never take anything away from him, but going in I knew where he sat in that company. It’s a little bit more fun to be a little more competitive. Certainly since then I have two Olympics under my belt—2008 in Hong Kong with Gran Gesto and London with this horse last year. I think I’m better prepared for the venue and size of the competition. I had a great time in Vegas, but I’m really having a good time here.
Today we did a whole walking tour and had lunch in the old part of town. It’s a really cute city, very friendly people, and it’s such a nice walking city.
Tamara Williamson did our freestyle. It’s actually her singing and her band playing. We’re really excited that the world gets to hear it in there. We thought it’d be two years before we’d get in a place to qualify for a World Cup. It’s a freestyle worthy of a World Cup. It’s a beautiful freestyle; I hope we ride up to the level of it.
See all of the Chronicle's coverage  of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Final.