Sunday, May. 26, 2024

Hard Work Pays Off For Patton-Hallman At Great American/USDF Region 5 Championships

She takes home multiple FEI-level championships aboard horses she’s trained all the way up the levels.

Teri Patton-Hallman likes to start her own horses. Between the expense of buying something already going and concerns over fixing someone else’s mistakes, she finds it’s just easier to begin with a clean slate.

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She takes home multiple FEI-level championships aboard horses she’s trained all the way up the levels.

Teri Patton-Hallman likes to start her own horses. Between the expense of buying something already going and concerns over fixing someone else’s mistakes, she finds it’s just easier to begin with a clean slate.

But the real satisfaction in bringing along her own horses comes when Patton-Hallman goes home with an armload of awards as she did at the Great American/U.S. Dressage Federation Region 5 Championships held in Scottsdale, Ariz., Oct. 31-Nov. 2.

Patton-Hallman won the open Prix St. Georges (67.25%) and Intermediaire I (62.38%) championships with Wynsum, a 10-year-old Hanoverian (Wolkentanz—Weichsel). And then she took home the Grand Prix championship (64.17%) with Fontainebleau, a 14-year-old Hanoverian (Wanderer—Wischnu). She’s owned both horses since they were 3.

“I’d rather spend the money on the quality of horse. It’s more rewarding,” said Patton-Hallman. “Fontainebleau is my third horse that I’ve trained to Grand Prix.”

She explained that “Boo” has needed extra time in his training because of his large size—he’s 18 hands.

“It’s always taken me a little bit longer to get him through the levels because he is so big,” she said. “He’s very willing to please. Sometimes he over-tries. He’s a really good horse.”

The pair has only been showing at Grand Prix for a year, but Boo already excels in his piaffe and passage. “I wasn’t as happy as I would like to be [with the Grand Prix test at the championships],” said Patton-Hallman. “I’d like to have a mistake-free test. We had a few mistakes here and there. The Grand Prix is coming. Right now it’s about communication for the transitions.”

Wynsum is the complete opposite of his stablemate. “He’s a boisterous young man,” said Patton-Hallman with a laugh. “He tends to like to do airs above the ground. He’s really started to mature since I started taking him on the road with Fountainebleau. I’ve been tickled pink with how he’s showing this year.”

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She said the Prix St. Georges test went well at the regional championships, but she lost Wynsum’s attention when someone brought a few horses up to the covered arena during her Intermediaire I test.

“I was pleased with how he’s handling the shows now. He put in some good tests. We’re working on the Grand Prix at home, but it kind of depends on the horse. I just let the horses tell me when they’re ready.”

Patton-Hallman has lived in Arizona since 1985, but the 47-year-old dressage trainer recently relocated to Carefree from her mountain home in Payson, where she’d previously run her business. She said many of her clients came with her, but the close proximity to Phoenix of her new location has expanded her business rapidly.

“I’m leasing stalls with an indoor and outdoor arena. My business had doubled,” she said. “A lot of my clients did very well at the show. One student, Jennifer Ayers, who won the adult amateur Intermediaire II championship, also did her first Grand Prix at the show and got both scores in the next two days for her [USDF] gold medal! What a show for her too! We had a big party at the barn that night.”

Although Patton-Hallman teaches and trains in Arizona, she tries to show as much as possible in California.

“There are so many Olympic riders in California,” she said. “[Competing there] gives me an idea of where I need to go to improve my training. After my divorce I was going to move to California. But I really like Arizona, and I found someone special to me here. It’s a lot easier now that I’m down in Carefree, and it’s only seven hours instead of nine hours to California.”

Patton-Hallman has Christine Traurig come to give clinics on a monthly basis and also travels to her as often as possible for lessons.

An Equine Professor

Meredith Watters credited her trainer, Kim Yacobucci, for helping her achieve her championships in the adult amateur Prix St. Georges (62.75%) and Intermediaire I (60.75%), but it was her horse, Ilford, who she claimed was her best teacher.

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“He is a schoolmaster. It’s not that he just does the tricks, he teaches you to ride correctly,” said Watters. “He’s taught me really good basic riding. I’m a better rider now because of the opportunity to ride him.”

Watters started riding “Illy” a year ago when her horse, Gelato, came up with a mysterious lameness. She knew Illy because he was boarded at her barn, and he happened to come up for sale at the same time that Watters decided to turn “Jelly” out to see if time would heal what veterinarians couldn’t diagnose.

“The lady who owned Illy had purchased a Grand Prix horse, so Illy became available. I was lucky enough to get to buy him,” said Watters.

Watters, a homemaker from Scottsdale, Ariz., had never competed above fourth level before purchasing the 18-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Dutchboy—Ersina II), but she ended the year with her USDF silver medal and two state championships as well as the regional tricolors.

Watters also managed to fit in volunteering for the Arizona Dressage Association around competing in the regional championships. “Our club put on the regional show this year. I’m the treasurer and on the board of the Arizona Dressage Association,” she said. “I think it’s important that everybody in the club volunteer because it’s a big undertaking to put on the regionals as a club. We don’t have that many members. A lot of the show checks came in before the show, and I also did the program for the show. That way I felt like I’d done my volunteer commitment before the show so I could concentrate on riding during the show. After the show is over, there’s a million more checks to be put in and bills to be paid.”

Before Watters moved to Arizona nine years ago, she foxhunted and evented as well as riding dressage, but now she’s firmly focused on improving her flatwork. Spending a year riding a schoolmaster enabled her to progress in leaps instead of baby steps.

“He really taught me the basics like inside leg to outside rein. You have to be bent correctly. It’s not the tricks,” said Watters. “It’s the stuff in between the movements, getting him through and round and bent. When you’re correct, he rewards you by being correct. He’ll go from stiff and uncooperative to round and really cooperative and then you get an ah-ha moment. He does not give it away for free. He makes you work.”

And now that Watters has learned so much from him, she’s decided to give someone else the opportunity to learn from Illy by selling him while she tries to apply her newfound knowledge to Jelly, who’s come sound after a year off.

“I’d like to start him now that I have this new information and abilities from Illy,” said Watters. “I’m going to see if I can train Jelly. Right now he looks like a wooly mammoth because he was up in northern Arizona, but I’m hoping he can come back after he’s been clipped and gets his shoes on. I’ll be a better rider for him.”

Sara Lieser

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