Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024

Ebeling Edges Out The Competition At Pebble Beach Dressage


Jan Ebeling hoped to gain mileage with Rafalca at the Pebble Beach CDI, Pebble Beach, Calif., July 5-8, but he went home with a whole lot more after winning the Grand Prix (66.91%) and taking second place in the Grand Prix Special (67.04%).

“She had done one Grand Prix at a small show in Moorpark [Calif.],” said Ebeling. “This was really her debut.”
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Jan Ebeling hoped to gain mileage with Rafalca at the Pebble Beach CDI, Pebble Beach, Calif., July 5-8, but he went home with a whole lot more after winning the Grand Prix (66.91%) and taking second place in the Grand Prix Special (67.04%).

“She had done one Grand Prix at a small show in Moorpark [Calif.],” said Ebeling. “This was really her debut.”

The talented Oldenburg mare (Argentinus—Ratine) has impressed the judges ever since Ebeling imported her in 2005. She placed third at the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF National Intermediaire I Dressage Championship (N.J.) last year, and Ebeling thought about keeping her in the small tour to try for the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this summer.

But, in the end, he decided to bring the 10-year-old out at Grand Prix instead. “We really didn’t want to stay at the same level,” he said. “The trip to Brazil is a very stressful one. The horses are gone for a long time. We are planning on going to Europe, and there’s only so much you can do.”

Rafalca had a mini-debut at the Rolex FEI World Cup Dressage Final where she and Ebeling performed the Grand Prix test ride with judge Axel Steiner’s commentary, but Pebble Beach was her first CDI.

“She was very focused and really came through and had no major mistakes,” said Ebeling. “There’s always stuff you wish you could do over, but I was extremely happy.”

He was especially pleased with her focus in the arena. “She had good pirouettes, good trot, good zigzags—she was really on,” he said.

As Ebeling continues to develop Rafalca at Grand Prix, he said that more time in the ring is key, as well as continuing with their training at home.

“She just needs to go and do it,” he said. “We’re still keeping the piaffe a little bit forward. The judges came afterwards and said the horse looks great, already better than in Las Vegas. She’s very willing. Her temperament is great. She wants to learn. She’s a very pleasant horse to train because she’s very eager.”

And Rafalca isn’t the only talented mare in Ebeling’s Moorpark, Calif., barn. He won all three small tour classes with Sandrina, a 9-year-old Oldenburg (Sandro Hit—Stutbuch).

“I didn’t go out and say I wanted to buy mares,” said Ebeling with a laugh. “I really didn’t want mares. They can be difficult at the shows. It’s always a problem going through quarantine. But when I saw the horses I changed my tune very fast.”

Ebeling moved Sandrina up from third level to Prix St. Georges this year. “The judges really like her presence,” he said. “She’s beautiful, black and tall. She’s a big mover with very expressive extensions. In those tests you have to have good pirouettes because they have coefficients, and I think my pirouettes were pretty good.”

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The two mares are quite different to ride according to Ebeling. “[Sandrina] is a very different type of mover,” he said. “She is very leggy, very tall. As far as temperament goes they are similar. Rafalca might be a little bit hotter than Sandrina.”

Ann Romney owns San-drina and shares ownership of Rafalca with Jan’s wife, Amy.

And there’s another secret weapon in the barn—Louis Ferdinand, an 8-year-old, Westphalian stallion (Lauren-tianer—Bijou). Ebeling won an open show Prix St. Georges classes with the young stallion (68.75%) and placed second in the developing horse Prix St. Georges (67.00%).

“He’s a little rubber ball,” said Ebeling. “When he moves, he is very soft and a pretty fancy horse. We’ll see what happens to him. He has not done an Intermediaire I yet. He’s a little greener and a year younger. But every time he’s been out doing Prix St. Georges, he’s scored very high. It’s very exciting to have these good horses and the people who buy them for me.”

A Time To Reflect
Ebeling wasn’t the only one feeling pleased with his progress in the CDI. Leslie Morse took home second place in the Grand Prix with Tip Top 962 after tying with Rafalca (66.91%) and then moved ahead of Ebeling in the Grand Prix Special (68.40%).

“I’m trying to get him really relaxed in the ring and confident,” said Morse. “I think the scores showed that. He got so confident that for the Special I could really push him.”

A disappointing ride at the World Cup Final this spring reinforced Morse’s opinion that it was time to stay home and really work on putting it all together for Tip Top.

“Sometimes you’ve got to keep going down before you can step up,” she said. “You learn more from the bad days than the good days.

“Sometimes the show ring ride is not reflective of your schooling. The World Cup wasn’t that reflective of his work, but it was reflective of where he was in his being. I needed to address that.”

So instead of heading to Europe or even shipping to the East Coast, Morse has stayed at home in Beverly Hills, Calif. She’s been building a new barn, putting her other Grand Prix stallion, Kingston, back into work after an injury and helping Tip Top build confidence.

“I’m trying to get him a little less expressive, more consistent and supple,” she said. “Once you teach them the stuff you have to go back, beautify it and figure out where you’re losing him.”

Morse plans to keep things low key for the rest of the year. She’ll keep showing, but at local shows.

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“These past few times I’ve taken away some of the brilliance, but I needed to do that to build,” she said. “I want to get to the point where I don’t lose points on little things like the halt. I want him truly through, relaxed on my aids with brilliance.”

She’s In Good Company

For Brianna Dutton, the opportunity to show at the same venue as international superstars like Morse and Ebeling was almost as exciting as the bevy of blue ribbons she picked up at third and fourth levels in the open show aboard Tibet.

The 18-year-old from Tracy, Calif., couldn’t stop winning—she grabbed first place in six third level classes as well as both of her fourth level, test 1, classes. This was the first time that Dutton had shown fourth level, and it was also her debut at Pebble Beach.
 
“We always do pretty well, but you never really expect to win that much,” said Dutton. “It was a really great show. We were just moving up to fourth level.”

In the past Dutton has only been able to spectate at Pebble Beach because she didn’t have the right horse to compete. But a year ago she purchased Tibet, a 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Idocus—Muziek).

“It took us a year to find Tibet,” she said. “Of all the horses, he had the best movement, the best temperament and personality. He’s a really hard worker and it’s a pleasure to ride him.”

“Timmy” is a barn favorite, constantly seeking out attention and treats, whether he’s in his stall or in the paddock.

“He tries really hard,” said Dutton. “Whatever you ask him to do, he’ll try really hard to figure it out. He’s a hard worker.”

Dutton came to dressage by default. She started riding at age 8 and was drawn to eventing but had to stop when she was diagnosed with scoliosis.

“My chiropractor told me it was better if I didn’t jump,” she explained. “So I started riding dressage because of that.”

Weekly chiropractic adjustments keep Dutton in good form for riding, and she tries to keep contact sports, or contact with the ground from a fall, to a minimum.

“If I don’t get adjusted, my posture will get worse and I’ll slouch,” she said. “I’ll find myself weaker. Getting adjusted aligns my back and it’s easier for riding.”

Her difficulties with scoliosis have inspired her career choice. “In the fall I’m going to school at the University of California at Santa Barbara,” she said. “I want to major in biology and eventually be a chiropractor. I’ll have to do humans first, but I want to go back to school and do horses.”

Dutton currently trains with Nadine Pestana but plans to work with Charlotte Bredahl-Baker when she goes off to college. “I’m hoping to keep competing,” she said. “I want to go as far as I can.”

Sara Lieser

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