Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2024

Great American/USDF Region 2 Championships Belong To Barteau


This young rider phenom proves she can win in any class with any horse.


Kassandra Barteau capped off a glory-filled season by taking home almost all of the young rider honors available at the Great American/USDF Region 2 Championships. The only level she didn’t win was
third level, and she didn’t have a horse entered there.
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This young rider phenom proves she can win in any class with any horse.

Kassandra Barteau capped off a glory-filled season by taking home almost all of the young rider honors available at the Great American/USDF Region 2 Championships. The only level she didn’t win was
third level, and she didn’t have a horse entered there.

Riding six different horses, she captured 10 regional championships, Sept. 27-30,  at the Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Ill.

“I had a really great year last year, but I have all new horses and really good ones and had an even better year this year,” said Barteau.

In June, Barteau, 19, won the inaugural young rider championship at the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions (N.J.) with Gabriella.

She went on to win the team test with “Gaby” at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (Va.) and earned an individual bronze medal in the Prix St. Georges test.

So it was a grand finale to her season to win four regional championships with Robert Oury’s 15-year-old, Hanoverian mare (Grosso Z—Wiebe).

“She’s perfect. She’s my favorite horse. I haven’t found a horse that I have a better partnership with yet,” gushed Barteau. “I’ve worked with Gaby for five years. We learned lead changes together. We got to move up the levels together, and we made mistakes together.”

Building a strong relationship with a horse is one of the factors behind Barteau’s numerous victories.

“I can’t groom Gaby for less than 45 minutes,” said Barteau. “I groom her meticulously and curry her and rub on her. I give her treats every time I walk in the barn. It feels like she knows it’s me when I’m riding her and she is working for me. I groom all of my horses myself and have a personal relationship with them on the ground.”

Other standouts in Barteu’s impressive lineup included Sheffield, who won the junior/young rider Intermediaire I  championship (67.75%) and placed second behind Gaby in the junior/young rider Prix St. Georges championship.

“He’s a baby yet, only 8,” said Barteau of Kristin Allen’s Dutch Warm-blood gelding (Incognito—Passion).

“He’s learning. He’s such a sweetheart. He is the most honest horse I’ve ridden in the ring.” Sheffield may work out as Barteau’s young rider mount for next year, or possibly Raymeister, an 8-year-old Holsteiner stallion (Rantares—Miss Nickel Annie) owned by Ginna Frantz.

Barteau won three championships with Raymeister at first and second levels. And she’s got another young horse in the works, Sarasanna GP, also owned by Frantz, who won the junior/young rider training level championship (72.80%) and placed second behind Raymeister at first level.

“Sarasanna and Raymeister have the nicest gaits I’ve ever ridden in my life,” said Barteau. “Sarasanna is my new mare, and she’s so fancy. She’s a lot hotter than Gaby. I’m used to riding lazier horses. She’s been teaching me a lot. She’s a Sandro Hit mare and full of energy.”

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And one of the things the 5-year-old Hanoverian (Sandro Hit—Rionda) has taught Barteau is that it’s time to work on her position.

“I can be clumsy on Gaby, put my leg a little far back, and she puts up with it. You get on a hotter horse that is smaller and more compact, and you can’t do that,” said Barteau. “I’m realizing that I need to be more polished, more correct with my aids and quiet. I get a little bit hectic sometimes in my riding. I haven’t worked on my position enough. I get on and ride and work on the horse and not myself.”

Barteau hopes to take Gaby in the Brentina Cup next year, as well as competing at the NAJYRC again and even doing some 6-year-old tests with Sarasanna.

“I’m glad I’m not 21 yet. I’m glad I have two more years,” she said. “I have gotten better every year, so I’m hoping that in two years it will be better.”

Moving Up In The World

Endel Ots, 22, just made the transition to the open division this year, but you wouldn’t know it by the four tricolors he took home at the Region 2 championships.

Ots, who is an assistant trainer for Barteau’s mother Yvonne and her step-father Kim Barteau at KYB Dressage in Gilberts, Ill., rode some of his best tests aboard Bentley, the horse that Kassie Barteau campaigned and won with last year.

“Kassie won everything last year at Region 4, and she wanted to focus on Gaby and Gladstone,” said Ots. “When they went to young riders, I rode him for a little bit. I ride better this year than I did last year, and he’s so much better too. We just clicked, and it was a lot of fun.”

Ots scored extremely well with Bentley, sweeping the small tour championship classes and earning a 76.12 percent in the Intermediaire freestyle.

Bentley, a 14-year old Danish Warmblood (Sorel—Sacajawea) owned by Allen, taught Ots all about making a horse honest to the aids.

“He’s an aloof horse. He goes through periods of paying close attention to you and having a partnership to being in another place,” said Ots. “He’s like a kid in school who pays attention and then starts daydreaming. When he was really paying attention, I’d quiet my aids down. When he zoned out, I would double the strength of my aids to shock him a little bit. As soon as I felt him pay attention again, I’d go right back to quiet, correct aids.”

Ots also rode three horses in the open third level championship and captured first, second and fourth place. Natal, the winner (67.90%), had the best test of his career.

“With Natal, I wanted to ride every test as a schooling test,” said Ots. “I didn’t care if I got a 45, but I fixed the thing. It worked in the end. Every ride up to the regional ride was like that. I just want to school this horse so that when I want to spend all my money, I’ll spend it all on that regional ride, and that worked out.”

Michele LeClair imported the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Corleone—Elkina) three years ago and had plans to show him herself, but life got in the way, so she sent him to KYB Dressage for training 10 months ago.

A New Partner And A New Ride

While Ots and Barteau must adapt to new horses quickly, that transition is not so easy for people who only ride one horse a day. Carole Allgauer traded in her beloved Grand Prix horse for a newer, greener model and managed the change with grace by taking home the adult amateur third level cham-
pionship with her new partner, Reflex.

Allgauer, 56, had competed Romulus to Grand Prix two years ago, but she decided, with the help of her trainer, Patricia Becker, that he probably had peaked and might need a lighter job in the future.

“I sold him to a wonderful lady in Indiana who needed a companion,” said Allgauer. “She has a husband who is dying, and she needed something for her mental stability.”

But finding a new horse was not so simple. Allgauer has had three hip replacements, so her next horse had to have the right personality. Yet she also wanted to be competitive and wasn’t looking for a schoolmaster. She bought Reflex with the help of Becker, who is the head trainer at Allgauer’s Fireside Farm in Wadsworth, Ill.

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“I wasn’t sure I could ride him,” admitted Allgauer. “He had more movement than I was used to, and he was a hotter horse. We had some disagreements, and I came off in the wintertime.”

But in the past four months the pair has bonded and started to work well together, culminating in the adult amateur third level championship (68.48%), as well as two additional third level wins at the same show.

“I still don’t think she’s tapped everything that the horse has to give,” said Becker. “I knew he was a little more horse to ride, but I’m confident in her ability that she will get all of that out of him. He will be the really special horse that she needed.”

Allgauer said the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Cabochon—Liosa) only had one flaw when she bought him. His flying changes were not consistently clean.

“I’ve done a lot of exercises to get him to truly be on my aids,” she said. “We do a lot of collected canter and then forward canter, keeping the jump, like you’re jumping off a trampoline with the hind legs. He can be a little lazy in the hind legs, so when I would ask him on my aids, he would be a stride behind. But now the changes are reliably there 90 percent of the time and getting better every day.”

A Schoolmaster In The Making

Becker, 32, couldn’t decide if she was more proud of her students’ accomplishments or her horses’ ribbons at the regional championships.

“It’s really a chance for my students to shine,” she said. “For the adult amateurs and the juniors, it’s really a chance for them to go out and show their competitive spirit in a good way.”

But Becker showed her competitive spirit too, placing first in the Intermediaire II championship (65.00%) and second in the Grand Prix (65.62%) with Weltano. She also took the reserve championship in the Intermediaire I (70.12%) and the Intermediaire freestyle (68.37%) with Sandor as well as placing at the lower levels with young horses.

Becker has had Amy Grahn’s Weltano, an 11-year-old Hanoverian (Weltmeyer—Beauty), in training for five years so he can eventually be Grahn’s competitive partner and teacher.

“I was super proud of the fact that he went into the Grand Prix cold—I didn’t do a warm-up class with him,” said Becker. “He went in, and his most difficult movements that were hard for him—the passage and piaffe transitions and the zigzag—were some of his best movements. He had two small mistakes throughout the test, but other than that he went in and powered through the test the way I know he can.”

Becker was equally proud of Weltano for his continued improvement. “He is a little bit of a couch potato in his mentality,” she said. “I knew he would be a good small tour horse, but I wasn’t sure how he would take to the pressures of the Grand Prix. He gets better every time I take him in the ring.”

She’ll keep showing Weltano for another year before handing the reins back to Grahn. “I’ll always ride him some, but once I feel he’s confident in the piaffe and passage in the ring all the time, which he is at home, then Amy will take him in the ring,” said Becker.

And Becker has her own Grand Prix horse in the making. She has high hopes for Sandor, an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Flemmingh—Dora), that she co-owns with Anne Ramsay.

“He’s a lot of horse, a big horse with big, powerful gaits, and he really does have a talent for collection,” said Becker. “He scored a 70 in the I1. He deserved every bit of that.”

Sandor can get explosive, and he demonstrated this with an unfortunate incident after the awards ceremony.

“I was on the ground going from one horse to another, and something spooked him, and he jumped up and kicked out and caught me in the thigh,” she said. “I managed to get through the freestyle. He helped me through the freestyle quite a bit. We lost one pirouette, which he usually scores well on, because my left leg didn’t work!”

Fortunately, Sandor channels that energy once he hits the show ring. “He is energetic,” said Becker. “I ride him in the morning before the class. I can get on him, and he’ll leap around and stand on his hind legs. It’s never anything that scares me but very exuberant. But when we go in the ring he’s all business.”

Sara Lieser

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