Saturday, May. 25, 2024

Behind The Photo: Grand Prix And A Grande



Melissa Lund celebrated earning the final Grand Prix score for her U.S. Dressage Federation gold medal on Aug. 6 with an unusual victory lap—one that took her through the Starbucks drive-through line in Mason City, Iowa.

She and her black Arabian gelding, K.S. Fadls Phoenix, clip-clopped through the line like any other thirsty travelers, out for a little caffeine and adventure.

“I like doing fun stuff,” Lund said. “I thought it would be funny, and if I put a video online my friends would think it was hilarious. That was pretty much that!

“Plus, I wanted some Starbucks,” Lund added. “My class was at 7:52 am, and I needed some caffeine!”


Earning a USDF gold medal and riding through a Starbucks? All in a day’s work for Melissa Lund and K.S. Fadls Phoenix. Photo courtesy Melissa Lund.

An adult amateur working in finance, Lund takes every opportunity she can to bring a little excitement to her riding routine, which happens mostly at Caille Farm in Monticello, Minn. She likes the variety, but she also thinks it’s important for her 17-year-old gelding. She’s had him since she was 11 and trained him from intro level to Grand Prix.

“I think it’s really unfortunate we don’t do more fun things in the horse world,” Lund said. “If you really look back at dressage and where it started in the French military—that’s what I’ve read at least—the whole premise of the sport was to be able to develop a partnership and have your horse be trained enough that you can do crazy things, like ride it into war. Obviously modern sport is way different, but the whole basis still is really about partnership and training.

“To me, I should be able to ask my Grand Prix dressage horse to do anything, and he’ll do it, because we have achieved that level of partnership,” she added.


This marked their first foray into vehicular pursuits, but Lund and Phoenix have dabbled in their fair share of equestrian sports as well, with varying levels of success.

“I tried vaulting with him one time, which was an absolute disaster because I have no jump,” Lund said with a laugh. “I tried to vault onto him, and I ended up running into him. We did a stint in jumping, but he’s earthbound, so that didn’t work. Tried mounted shooting a few years ago, and he doesn’t love it, but I think it’s kind of fun, and he goes along with it.”

While her extracurriculars might seem odd, particularly in the upper-level dressage world, Lund said that the horse she does them on amazes people as much as anything.

“He’s a purebred Arabian, which really surprises people—that he’s not crazy and can do stuff like this!” Lund said. “But I actually have found from riding other horses too that a lot of Arabs, once they get over it, they’re really smart horses, and they can be really great. They’re super trusting, too, so that’s kind of fun.”

The Starbucks employees looked around for carrots, but ultimately Lund rode back to the Bara Trac competition with only her green tea Frappuccino in hand.

She had to return shortly after though. Out of frame, the pony they brought along as a buddy left a pile of manure in the line, which Lund dutifully removed before heading back to the barn.




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