Danielle Gavriluk rode away with the high score at the Ox Ridge Summer Dressage Show in Darien, Conn., aboard Wolkenspeiler.
“We had a great start on Friday, but Saturday wasn’t as great. He jumped out of the ring and got eliminated, and that was the end of that,” Gavriluk said.
Gavriluk, of South Dartmouth, Mass., and Wolkenspeiler earned a 78.84 percent in Sunday’s training level, test 2. It was the crowning moment to what had been a successful weekend at the Ox Ridge Hunt Club, Aug. 20-22, for Gavriluk, who trains with Gerd Zuther at Peak Rock Farm.
With French Kist, her 6-year-old, Hanoverian gelding, she won a second level class. But it was her score with Wolkenspeiler, her 5-year-old, Hanoverian gelding, that most surprised her.
Gavriluk has had the the 17.1-hand Wolkenspeiler, by Weltmeyer out of an Anglo-Arab mare, for less than a year, and their first months together were a bit of a struggle. She bought him in Germany last October at the Elite Auction sale.
“He was kind of difficult, to say the least, and a lot of people were intimidated by him. I think the whole auction scene was just too much for him. Some horses handle it well and some don’t,” Gavriluk said. “I think that there were just too many people riding him and handling him.”
Despite his less than gentlemanly behavior at the auction, something just clicked for Gavriluk. “I just had a good feeling about him,” she said. She followed her instincts and it was a wise choice. “Since I brought him home he has just blossomed. He’s a bit of a different type. He’s not as personable as French Kist. But he’s great. He gets 8s and 9s on his gaits consistently.”
Gavriluk, who started out as a hunter/ jumper rider, operates a small dressage barn with her husband, veterinarian Geoff Fernandez.
“We basically import Hanoverians and also buy U.S.-bred Hanoverians. We raise them, train them and sell them as 3- to 5-year-olds,” Gavriluk said.
She expects Wolkenspeiler and French Kist to both make it to Grand Prix, but she has a special place in her heart for French Kist.
“French Kist is an absolute sweetheart. I think he’ll be my best horse. He’s another Elite Auction Horse I bought in 2003,” Gavriluk said. “He’s by Fabrano, and his half-brother–Weltall [ridden at the 2004 Olympics by German Martin Schaudt]–is an international-level competitor in Germany. They are very similar, and if my horse is half as good as that horse, then I’ll be thrilled. He’s got a wonderful temperament, wonderful gaits and wonderful rideability.”
Bill Warren and Bill McMullin, who co-own and operate a training facility in Slatersville, R.I., dominated the lower level classes. The duo was consistently in the top placings with scores near or above 70 percent.
Warren and Brighella dominated first level, with three wins. McMullin also won at first level, aboard Leiden, and with Ducan, he won at second level.
Jennifer Baumert, of Columbia, Conn., and Launardo won first level, test 3 (66.00%) and test 4 (72.50%). With Rubikan, she earned second level wins. Then she and Orion won Sunday’s fourth level, test 1 (65.34%).
At the FEI level, Yvonne Losos de Muniz, who rides for the Dominican Republic, rode Rittersport Las Marismas to the win in Friday’s CDI Grand Prix (62.16%). They also won Sunday’s CDI Grand Prix freestyle (65.95%). Right behind them in Friday’s class was Christopher Hickey, who has returned from spending his summer in Germany training with Ulla Salzgeber. Riding Levin, Hickey scored 61.70 percent.
Emily Gershberg, of Hudson, N.Y., also spent her summer in Germany training with Salzgeber, and it seemed to pay off. With Pancratius, her 7-year-old, Dutch Warmblood gelding, she won Friday’s fourth level, test 3 (65.21%) and Saturday’s fourth level, test 1–a class with more than 20 riders–with a score of 68.14 percent.