Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2024

Ebeling And Rafalca Rise To The Occasion At Pebble Beach

Despite a spooky arena and snapping flags, this duo dominated the Grand Prix.

Jan Ebeling and Rafalca blew away the competition at the Pebble Beach CDI, July 3-6 in Pebble Beach, Calif. They led the Grand Prix with a score of 68.04 percent, 4 percent higher than second-placed Karen Ball and Luciano.
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Despite a spooky arena and snapping flags, this duo dominated the Grand Prix.

Jan Ebeling and Rafalca blew away the competition at the Pebble Beach CDI, July 3-6 in Pebble Beach, Calif. They led the Grand Prix with a score of 68.04 percent, 4 percent higher than second-placed Karen Ball and Luciano.

“Pebble Beach is a pretty difficult arena,” said Ebeling. “The flags are low and right by the arena, and when it gets cold and the flags start to snap back and forth, it’s difficult for the horses. Rafalca handled it quite well. She was a little tense at first, but after going once around the arena she was fine.

“In the collected walk there was a big gust of wind and the flags were snapping and making a lot of noise, and I thought, ‘Oh no, not right now in the collected walk!’ But she didn’t care,” Ebeling continued with a laugh.

The 49-year-old trainer from Moorpark, Calif., said he felt a huge improvement in Rafalca since last year. She had a minor injury in Germany last fall that set her training back three or four months, but now she’s 100 percent. He’s been working mostly on the basics with the 11-year-old Oldenburg (Argentinus—Ratine) this year.

“All the movements in the Grand Prix test, of course, but mostly transitions, transitions and more transitions,” Ebeling said. “A lot of transitions within the gaits and between the gaits. A lot within the gaits like collecting the trot, speeding up, then passage, piaffe and back to trot. All those things that make the horse more submissive, more supple and build strength.

“There are always things that need to improve, of course,” continued Ebeling. “She’s green, and we’re still working on improving the balance in the piaffe and passage and working on expression. She’s got a really good natural rhythm, and her frame’s pretty good. Overall, I’m really happy with her Grand Prix. She’s a horse that goes in the show ring and does pretty much what she does at home. So you know what you’re going to get, which is nice.”

Rafalca also won the Grand Prix freestyle in the CDI. She performed to music from the movie The Mission. Karen Robinson of Applause Dressage in Vancouver, B.C., did the music, and Ebeling put together the choreography. The freestyle had a difficult beginning, starting off with one-tempis and then going into 1 3⁄4 pirouettes right in front of the judges and then two-tempis on a loop. This was the first time Ebeling performed his new freestyle, and the judges loved it, giving them a 72.10 percent.

“There are still a couple of things that I want to change on it,” said Ebeling. “Not really anything drastic. My trot extensions are going away from the judges, and I think it’s better if they go toward the judges. I think you never really get done with your freestyle.”

The freestyle also features half-pass in passage and ends with passage down the centerline, then piaffe at X in a fan motion, first left and then right, and then back to the passage down the centerline to a halt.

“That was the best piaffe that I got,” said Ebeling. “When Wolfram [Wittig] was last here from Germany, we worked to improve the piaffe and passage. So I thought that it worked out pretty well, and maybe I could use it for my freestyle.”

Rafalca was imported from Germany two years ago. She’s owned in partnership by Ebeling’s wife, Amy Ebeling, Ann Romney, Beth Meyer and Pat Crow.

A Newcomer Makes Her Mark

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Susan Halasz wasn’t bothered by the cold and fog at Pebble Beach. She only moved to California a year ago after spending 30 years in Denver, Colo. What’s a little fog compared to ice and snow?

Halasz is now based at Anke Magnussen’s Royal Oaks Farm in Thousand Oaks, Calif. She won the CDI Intermediaire I (66.90%) and Intermediaire freestyle (67.95%) with Chardell Steves’ 11-year-old, Dutch Warmblood gelding Paradiso B.

“His Intermediaire I was a pretty solid, clean test,” said Halasz. “He wasn’t so sure he liked that arena. Everything’s pretty close to the ring, and he was a little worried about that. I had a few tension problems in the Prix St. Georges. No mistakes in any of his tests but some tension, and “he spooked at the [bank] next to the arena in the first test and kind of flew around a little bit.

“The I-1 is getting fairly easy for him,” continued Halasz. “He’s pretty reliable, even if he’s a little bit on edge.”

Halasz, 45, rode her freestyle to a combination of classical music recorded by the 12 Girl Band, a Chinese band using traditional Chinese instruments, and a version of the Kinks’ “Girl You’ve Really Got Me Going” for the trot work. Terry Ciotti Gallo of Klassic Kur put together the music.

“The 8 o’clock start time in the cold and fog made for a little more exciting ride, but it was pretty good,” said Halasz. “I was a little bit off my music a couple times. When he’s a little bit more energetic, sometimes it’s easy to get ahead of the music.

“He’s very powerful and when he gets excited, he’s a little strong for me from time to time,” said Halasz of the almost 18-hand Paradiso B. “But he always tries hard and is willing. He’s kind of like a giant black Labrador on the ground.”

Halasz found Paradiso B (Kennedy—Feline) in the Netherlands four years ago. This is his second year in the small tour, and she hopes to move him up to Grand Prix at the end of the summer.

A Change Of Plans Pans Out

Don Devere just started competing at Prix St. Georges this year, so his rider, Carolyn Adams, didn’t plan to enter him in the CDI. When her trainer, Dirk Glitz, suggested riding in the CDI rather than the open classes, it was a scramble to see if Don Devere’s passport would arrive in time. But it was worth the hassle, as the Oldenburg gelding trotted off with the blue in the Prix St. Georges (64.20%).

Adams had planned to compete in the Developing Horse Prix St. Georges, as Don Devere needed another score to qualify for the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championships. She wanted to use the Prix St. Georges class in the open show as a warm-up. Of course, with the entry into the CDI, plans changed. The CDI Prix St. Georges was Don Devere’s first class, and he had to face the electric main arena for the first time.

“He puffed up a little bit in reaction to the flags, but that was kind of nice,” said Adams, of Pleasanton, Calif. “It’s kind of a spooky arena, but he stayed with me. He trusts me a lot. He gets scared, and you can feel his heart pounding away, but he trusts that I’m not going to put him in a bad situation. So his test went well and was nice and clean.”

Adams, 54, was back at the barn caring for the three horses she and her husband Patrick Adams brought to the show, so she didn’t hear any of the scores. As there were only eight horses in the Prix St. Georges, all of the riders were called back for awards.

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“I didn’t know that I’d won the class until they were putting on the top three ribbons at the back gate to the arena,” said Adams. “I thought, ‘At least I’m in the top three.’ I was very happy and surprised when we got the blue.”

Adams has ridden Don Devere since he was 4. His owner, Maydo Lorimer, is an A-circuit hunter trainer, and she asked Adams to ride him for a week while she was away at a show. Lorimer, of Oakland, Calif., was taking dressage lessons with Adams at the time. Five years later Adams is still training and showing him.

“It’s been a fun journey,” said Adams.

Don Devere won the Developing Horse Prix St. Georges (67.98%) and is now qualified for the championships. The 9-year-old Oldenburg (Blue Hors Don Schufro—Luisa) was imported from Germany by Glenwood Farms, and Lorimer purchased him when he was 3.

A Push Pays Off

While Karen Ball, Coto de Caza, Calif., earned great scores in the CDI, she also achieved wins in the open show with 8-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Milton. The pair carried off three blue ribbons at second level with scores in the 70s and another at third level with a score of 64.87 percent.

“Third level is a bit of a push for him,” said Ball. “He always comes out and shows strong on the first days of the show and then decreases from day to day. He likes to show one or two days and then take a day off, and then come out and show again.”

Ball’s schedule for Pebble Beach didn’t allow that, so Milton had to show three days straight. “It got a little harder on the third day to pull the hard scores,” Ball admitted.

Ball, 42, calls Milton her “steady Eddie.” She’s been concentrating on the basics with him since finding him in Denmark in the fall of 2006 for owner Susan Ennis of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.

“I think he will be an FEI horse—he’s got a lot of talent,” said Ball. “I really enjoy riding him. He’s the most trusting soul.”

Ball picked Milton (Milan–Ramona) out for his owner to ride, but health issues have kept Ennis out of the saddle. Ball competed Milton at first level last year, even after having surgery in December of 2006 for a ruptured disc.

“I love Pebble Beach!” said Ball. “Anything to get me out of the heat. This is just the greatest show. It was hard for me to get back in my truck and go back to the heat at home.”

Sheri Scott

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