Lexington, Ky.—Nov. 8
When Amy Gimbel had the opportunity to buy Eye Candy five years ago, she admitted to dragging her feet a bit. She’d ridden the mare at her trainer Heather Mason’s barn and didn’t want to let anyone else have her, but she just couldn’t commit.
One day Mason finally gave her an ultimatum and told her to decide by midnight, so she trudged out to the barn to see if maybe “Candy” would decide for her.
“It’s pouring rain, and it was pitch dark and I said, ‘I’m gonna walk out there, and if I call her and she comes, I’m going buy her. It was torrential downpour and it was miserable, and I went out there and I called her name, and I could hear in the darkness her trudging through the mud,” she said. “So I bought her over text message.”
The pair won the adult amateur training level championship at U.S. Dressage Finals in 2014 and have returned a few times since then. This year they topped the adult amateur Intermediaire I championship, scoring a 72.79 percent.
“It just feels like time that you invest and the heartache you put into it, there’s a culmination to it,” said Gimbel. “Eye Candy was absolutely fantastic today, and I feel very lucky to be here. Every time I try to make a plan with Candy she decides we’re going to need a different plan, and that was no different today. Last night they changed times because of the footing and the temperatures, so we were changing our warm-up plan and how to get us in the right frame of mind. From the time I got on, everything worked. The test had a very nice flow to it.”
The 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (UB-40—Wednesday) can be a bit of a chestnut mare according to Gimbel, 38, Oldwick, New Jersey.
“In the arena she can be sassy, but when she’s in, when we are in sync and I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, it’s incredible,” she said. “She just keeps getting stronger and fitter, which is only helping everything. I’m figuring out different ways to be able to create the uphill energy that I want. On the ground, it just depends on the day, and if there’s food involved. She can be aggressive about her space, and that’s one thing that kind of, we’re very careful about who handles her and does anything with her. Once the lead rope is attached to her, it’s a very different horse. She can still be a little bit protective of her space, but it’s not to the same degree.”
Jennifer Roth topped the open third level freestyle championship aboard her 11-year-old Oldenburg (Sir Donnerhall—Feldbunte) gelding Serengeti, scoring a 73.71 percent. Roth rode to music from “Game Of Thrones.”
“I was very thankful to be in the Alltech [indoor arena] this morning!” she said. “It was 23 degrees out, and being in the heat was definitely a bonus. My horse was great. He can be a little quirky, so I’m just thankful that we kept all four feet on the ground; he screamed a lot during the test. He sang along, it was magical.”
Roth, Pataskala, Ohio, reflected on her choice to purchase the gelding a year ago off a video on Jim Koford’s recommendation.
“He can be persuasive, so we decided, heck, let’s take a chance,” she said. “With horses that you buy sight unseen off a video, sometimes they have some special behaviors. The first show I went to I couldn’t trot him down centerline—he slammed on the brakes. He goes backwards very fast. Both at regionals and Devon [Pennsylvania] we had some interesting moments in some of the tests!”
When Christine Malpartida first met Freudentänzer five years ago, she knew he was the one. She was ready to buy a horse after leasing a mare, and her trainer Bobbie Gutman found the gelding in Germany and instantly fell in love with his personality.
The pair won the adult amateur training level championship at Finals two years ago, and they returned this weekend to top the adult amateur second level championship (71.50 percent).
“I think it’s cool to be able to start a young horse,” said Malpartida, 42, St. Petersburg, Florida. “He’s talented, he’s smart, he’s willing, so he’s got a lot of the key pieces you would want. It’s nice to see him come along and that he’s happy and content and comfortable in the work.”
The 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Furst Nymphenburg—Design-RA) is reliable in the ring for Malpartida, who loves the commitment and challenge of dressage after growing up riding the Peruvian Paso Finos her family bred and trained.
“I just always know I can count on him,” said Malpartida, who owns and manages real estate in Florida. “He’ll go out there, and he does the work and just as solid as you can imagine, which is cool to me. I just know he’s going to be right there.”
We‘re on site at the Kentucky Horse Park for the U.S. Dressage Finals! Check back at coth.com all weekend for more news and stories. If you’re at the show with a cool story, let us know by emailing Lindsay at email@example.com. Look out for the Dec. 2 print edition of the Chronicle for more from the show.