Tuesday, Jun. 4, 2024

Marshall Makes Off With Three Wins At Warm Up, Cool Down

This young rider’s prioritizing pays off with her biggest victory yet.

Catherine Marshall may have been disappointed to miss out on her region’s win at the North American Junior And Young Rider Championships, but she struck gold herself on the same weekend, July 24-26, at the Golden State Dressage Warm Up, Cool Down show.

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This young rider’s prioritizing pays off with her biggest victory yet.

Catherine Marshall may have been disappointed to miss out on her region’s win at the North American Junior And Young Rider Championships, but she struck gold herself on the same weekend, July 24-26, at the Golden State Dressage Warm Up, Cool Down show.

Marshall and her 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Genesis Danse Avec Moi, were selected as first alternates for the Region 7 NAJYRC squad, which topped the field in Kentucky, but when no spots opened up before the championships, the 20-year-old rider re-routed to Elk Grove, Calif. She and “Genesis” swept all three of their Prix St. Georges classes.

Marshall, Pleasanton, Calif., moved Genesis up to Prix St. Georges in February, and in April she set her sights on the NAJYRC. She’s a sophomore at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., but she took the spring semester off to focus on the team tryouts.

“Trying out for young riders was a blast,” said Marshall. “Genesis was very competitive through all of it. Making the first alternate was quite an accomplishment. I’ve learned a lot, and I know what to expect for next year. It’s been an incredible year.”

And while the gamble didn’t pay off with a trip to the Bluegrass State, it still set Marshall up for plenty of success.

 “He was just on this weekend,” she said after her Warm Up, Cool Down wins. “He hates the heat—he’s a very lazy horse. But thank goodness all of our rides were before 8:30 in the morning.”

While Marshall often struggles to keep Genesis, by Gibraleon, in front of her leg, the gelding was fresh and fluid in Friday’s junior/amateur Prix St. Georges test, scoring 69.97 percent.

“He was so soft and nice,” she said. “It was a really fun test. I wasn’t asking for anything brilliant, just a smooth test. I knew when I came out of the ring that it was a really nice test—I didn’t think it was a 69 percent, but I knew it was a good test.”

The pair made a few small mistakes in Saturday’s test, including a break in the trot extensions, but their score of 65.00 percent was still good for the win in the open Prix St. Georges class. On Sunday, they topped the same class with the very same score.

“It felt like my rides on Friday and Sunday were equivalent in smoothness and on how fluid they were,” said Marshall.  “They both were mistake-free. I was very happy with the way he felt in each of his tests this weekend.”

Marshall bought Genesis as a very green 5-year-old when she was just 15. She was just starting high school at the time, and she only had a year of dressage experience and less than that in showing hunters.

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“By buying a young, green horse, I was able to get the quality that I wanted,” said Marshall. “My goal when I got him was to be a young rider. It was a long shot, but it certainly paid off in the end. He’s been a great horse.”

Genesis is 17.3 hands and had poor ground manners when Marshall bought him, but he’s since turned into a puppy-like pet. She enjoys trail riding and hacking bareback around the barn.

“He’s a total love,” she said.

Although she rode with Michael Etherly while at school, Marshall has trained with Elizabeth Hendrix on and off for the past five years, and she’s now a working student for her.

That Appy Attitude

Everyone on the show grounds noticed Medicine Bow, the loud leopard Appaloosa gelding owned by Vickie Morse. But since she’s owned the gelding for the past nine years, Morse is used to attracting plenty of attention. And considering the condition the 16-year-old gelding was in just a year ago, she’s thrilled to have him out and about and turning heads once again.

Morse, Sebastopol, Calif., wanted to join her daughter in her equine activities and went shopping for a first horse nearly a decade ago. Medicine Bow was out in a pasture, and his owners at the time were afraid of him, but Morse took a chance and bought the gelding without even riding him. She thinks he was 7 or 8 at the time.

But last year a mysterious health issue almost ended Medicine Bow’s career. Morse and her daughter Mary Beth Elze took the gelding to the veterinary school at the University of California, Davis, with what they thought was a broken shoulder, only to learn that he’d actually contracted pigeon fever. An abscess had developed just 10 centimeters from his heart.

The gelding underwent surgery and spent four days at Davis. The initial prognosis was that he might never be sound enough for even casual riding, but Morse and Elze have since rehabbed him successfully, and he’s now back to competing in dressage, doing some jumping and enjoying the trails. Elze plans to qualify him for the California Dressage Society and USDF Region 7 championships in October.

Elze, Santa Rosa, Calif., also competed with Medicine Bow at Warm Up, Cool Down, winning all four of her training level, test 3 and 4, classes, with a high score of 71.60 percent. On the weekend prior, Morse had ridden the 16.2-hand gelding in the CDS Northern Region Amateur Adult Competition and placed fourth in the training level division.

“My mom has been wanting to show off what he can do,” said Elze. “This was my first show on him, and including my rides this weekend, I’ve only ridden him seven or eight times in the last three years.”

The pair clicked almost immediately, however.

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“He’s phenomenal,” Elze continued. “I’m so used to my old horse, who was super easy and did whatever you wanted before you knew you wanted it. Medicine Bow is an Appy. He’s got the Appy attitude [of] ‘I can do whatever I want.’ He and I have developed a great work ethic. Now I know his idiosyncrasies and he knows mine. It’s been a wonderful couple of weeks with him.

“In the first test he decided he wanted to swap leads, which he never does,” she added. “He finds little things to do during the test. Even with the error we still got a 67 percent. The next test I figured out what we needed to do, fixed it, and got a really great score [71.60]. Then I fixed every other little thing that we needed, and it was an even better ride.”

No Contest

Chelsey Sibley and Contester II scored a hat trick as well, posting one of the highest scores of the competition in the process. The 7-year-old Holsteiner stallion swept all three of his fourth level, test 3 classes over the weekend, notching a 73.90 percent in one.

“He’s just such a good boy to ride,” said Sibley, Sonora, Calif. “He’s getting stronger and stronger. This was his best test all weekend. He got both sets of changes, and that has kind of been a struggle for him. But when his changes are good, they’re huge and wonderful. They’re going to be amazing.”

Josephine Walsh, of San Jose, Calif., bought Contester II (Contender—Filianes) as a yearling. Having fallen in love with the stallion’s full brother when Willy Arts of DG Bar Ranch had imported him a few years earlier, she made her original offer to purchase Contester II sight unseen before he cleared customs at the Los Angeles airport.

Walsh’s trainer at the time, Allida Allen, was flying home from Europe on a horse transport flight and saw Contester II. Taken with the stallion, she called Walsh as soon as her cell phone started working upon landing. Walsh was on the phone to Willy Arts trying to buy the yearling colt before Arts even knew the plane had touched down, but it took a full month for Walsh to talk Arts into the sale.

“He’s everything you’d want,” Sibley said of the stallion. “He’s got the gaits, he’s got the mind, and he tries for you in the ring. He’s the same in the ring as he is outside. He’s wonderful.”

Sibley has been riding Contester II since the fall of 2007. Last year she competed him at second and third levels, and next year she hopes to show him in the developing horse Prix St. Georges test.

“He’s starting to do a little piaffe and passage, and it’s really, really good,” she said. “He’s very easy to teach stuff to—everything you ask of him, he tries.”

Contester II spends his days in a hot-wire paddock next to two geldings on Sibley’s 90-acre farm in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Her two miniature donkeys, Mr. Pacino and Mr. Deniro, often duck under the fence to visit with the stallion.

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