Monday, Mar. 4, 2024

Klaassen Celebrates A New Start At ESDCTA Dressage

The horse he’d long wanted proves worth the wait.

Rick Klaassen and Royal Flash 2 (Ragazzo—Windspiel) marked the weekend at the Eastern States Dressage and Combined Training Association’s Memorial Day show at the Horse Park of New Jersey in Stone Tavern, May 23-25, with strong performances in the Prix St. Georges and the Intermediaire I.

“This is his second season in dressage,” Klaassen said of the 16.3-hand horse who was formerly a stallion and successful jumper abroad.
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The horse he’d long wanted proves worth the wait.

Rick Klaassen and Royal Flash 2 (Ragazzo—Windspiel) marked the weekend at the Eastern States Dressage and Combined Training Association’s Memorial Day show at the Horse Park of New Jersey in Stone Tavern, May 23-25, with strong performances in the Prix St. Georges and the Intermediaire I.

“This is his second season in dressage,” Klaassen said of the 16.3-hand horse who was formerly a stallion and successful jumper abroad.

They won an Intermediaire I class (64.37%) and took two seconds, in another Intermediaire I class (65.12%) and at Prix St. Georges (65.00%).

It had been six years and a continent away since Klaassen had seen the dark brown, 12-year-old, Bavarian Warmblood gelding, now owned by Jesse Denson.

He had once been interested in purchasing the horse when he was competing as a jumper in Europe. Although Klaassen liked him, “he was priced out of my budget.”

Then, several years later, when the horse was 10 years old, Klaassen got a phone call from a friend who said the horse was up for sale.

“He had been gelded and had been jumping successfully with a young woman. She had an accident so she was interested in selling him. Luckily for me I was in the market then for a new horse,” said Klaassen.
 
It’s been two years since Mary Ann Pokus’ Casineur Moesgard entered the show ring, but Klaassen couldn’t have been happier when he topped a Grand Prix class.

“I am very, very happy with him,” Klaassen said of the 14-year-old, Danish-bred Warmblood by Schwadroneur. “He has had only one little show the week before this show. Needless to say he is the favorite of his owner.”

Klaassen hopes to qualify him for Dressage At Devon (Pa.). “I would also ride some CDIs because I am Dutch,” said Klaassen.

Klaassen learned the basics of jumping and dressage when, as a 17-year-old, he was a working student in a German barn. He found himself going in the direction of dressage when “people told me I was too tall for show jumping,” recalled Klaassen, 58.

He had held clinics at Pokus’ Eagle Crest Farm when she invited him to come from his home in the Netherlands last year to train at her farm in Howell, N.J.

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Second Chances

“I didn’t know grownups could ride horses,” quipped Barbara Wolfe of Ringoes, N.J., who with her Windsor was the fourth level adult amateur champion on a score of 63.82 percent.

“I wasn’t exposed to life after childhood with horses until I got into my early 30s,” added Wolfe, who has U.S. Dressage Federation bronze, silver and gold medals and is the former mayor of Amwell, N.J.

When she and her husband moved to horse country in mid-New Jersey, she “started putting my toe back in the water,” said Wolfe, who used to get up at 4:30 a.m. to ride before going to her management positions. In her mid 30s, she dabbled in fox hunting, novice-level events and schooling dressage shows, all with the same mare.

As she got older, she realized “the challenges of dressage really interested me. I saw I could keep advancing in it as I got older.”

She bought Windsor, now a 12-year-old Hanoverian, after she and her trainer, Silke Rembacz, picked out the son of Weltmeyer in Germany four years ago. He had just started doing flying changes.

“Now he can do some PSG and I1, but we are waiting for him to get stronger and better in his pirouettes before moving him up,” said Wolfe, who has worked with Rembacz for eight years.

A smart horse, who Wolfe, 60, said is opinioned about everything, is affectionately called “the redhead.”
Rembacz had her hands full, minding 10 horse/student combinations, while riding one horse herself, schooling her 18-hand, gelding Lawrence, and sponsoring a series of adult amateur championships at the show.

“We have all these championships for professionals, juniors and young riders, and I really think we should do something for the amateurs. I think adult amateurs are very, very important to our sport—without them where would we professionals be?” said Rembacz who backs the amateur award for first through fourth level classes as well as Prix St. Georges. “It’s nice for the adult amateurs to have their own victory gallops and winners‚ coolers and big championship ribbons.”

In addition to Wolfe’s win, another student, Dr. Jeanne Van Nuys-Hitt, and her Sirtaki claimed the Prix St. Georges adult amateur championship (64.25%).

Rembacz rode Dr. Sheila Buchbinder’s black Hanoverian gelding, Da Capo (Don Gregory—Granella), to victory in an Intermediaire II class (65.12%).

“It was his first time out. I haven’t shown him for a year because I wanted to get him finished,” said Rembacz who spent six years working with horses in the Medieval Times dinner theater at its New Jersey location. The German-born Rembacz, who is now a naturalized citizen, left the theater to open her Freedom Farm in Flemington, N.J.

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“The plan is to take him Grand Prix in the fall,” she said.

Something To Cheer About

Pep Ralley is carrying on the family tradition of winning. The 15-hand, bay Morgan mare won the Morgan Horse Association’s breed award at a dressage show for the second time in two years. She and owner Johanna Hugo finished with an average 65.30 percent at third level. A year earlier the mare and Hugo won the breed award at the Garden State (N.J.) Dressage Classic.

“Ralley,” the daughter of World Champion Morgan Park Horse, Treja’s Mr. Pepperpot and out of C&M Memory, made a seamless transition from breed classes to open dressage.

Hugo spotted the mare going at the Mason-Dixon (Pa.) breed show. “I liked her gaits so I snatched her up,” said Hugo, 53, of New Egypt, N.J.

The Canadian-bred mare had been sent by owners Donna and Charles Bartliff to trainers Lynn and Kathleen Peebles, who had stood “Pepperpot” at their Waterford, N.J., farm. Kathy showed Ralley in hunter pleasure at breed shows, just as Hugo had with her previous Morgan, Wintop’s Allen.

“ ‘Allen’ hated hunter pleasure so I switched him to dressage. When I trotted him around the ring in a training level class, he let out a sigh of relief,” she said.

The adult amateur tried the same technique a second time, turning Ralley’s up-down, up-down motion into the elastic gaits of a dressage horse. She worked with trainer Sally Siegrist to get the mare into a smooth, flowing way of going.

“I basically work by myself at shows and show her at all the open dressage shows at the [New Jersey] Horse Park,” said Hugo, who lives 10 minutes from the Park.

“I am proud of her. I am competitive, but I want to have fun and enjoy her,” said Hugo. “She is small, not your typical dressage breed, but she does well at the open shows. When she puts on a good test, she gets a score that reflects that.”

Hugo, a retired General Motors employee who volunteered for her current job as a veterinary technician at a small animal hospital, said she’s never encountered any breed prejudice.

Nancy Degutis

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