Lexington, Ky.—Nov. 11
Heather Mason jokes that the last thing she needed was another horse when she bought Shmoky Quartz. Now 5, the U.S-bred Oldenburg gelding (Shakespeare RSF—Fhlora) came to her from his breeder Maureen Swanson. He was green and barely able to steer or contain his big canter, but he’s been getting more and more solid during his first year of competition. He stepped up to the plate in a big way at the U.S. Dressage Finals on Friday, winning the open training level championship with a 77.52%.
“He was fabulous,” she said. “He was very nervous, but he stays elastic and stays trying. He’s a super horse. I lucked into him a little bit. The last thing I needed was another horse. I own 20.”
Mason had a great start to her Finals week on Friday, winning the open Intermediaire II championship with her longtime partner RTF Lincoln (68.43%), and they won again Friday night in the open Grand Prix championship (71.30%).
“He was a super boy today,” she said of the 17-year-old Oldenburg/Holsteiner gelding of unrecorded breeding. “He tried really hard. He was on the aids, his pirouettes were super, nice and tight, his piaffes were solid. I’m very happy with him today.”
Mason, Lebanon, New Jersey, has the gelding’s warm-up down pat with 10 minutes of longeing three to four hours before his test, then a 15-minute warm-up.
“He’s 17 now, and I see moments of chill,” she said with a laugh. “He’s one of the easiest horses to ride when he’s mentally good, but he’s mentally a little difficult. He has a wicked spin on him. I have custom-made knee blocks. He spun me off one day, so I changed them.”
Mason will have plenty more chances to win this weekend as she has 10 more championship tests to ride between RTF Lincoln, “Shmoky,” New Beginnings and Manuskript SCF.
Anartz Chanca and Dazzle followed up their adult amateur Intermediaire II championship win on Thursday with a win in the adult amateur Grand Prix championship, scoring a 66.59%.
“He’s been great,” he said of the 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Danone I—Leonie). “I wanted to manage the times because he had the I2 yesterday in the afternoon and the Grand Prix was really early this morning, so there was not much time. I really wanted to have a horse, so this week I’ve been trying to not do too much so I could still have a horse left for the Grand Prix. I think we were able to achieve that. He gave me everything that he has in the arena like he always does, and I couldn’t be prouder of this guy.”
Chanca runs a company full time and rides with his wife, professional Marta Renilla, out of their Tomball, Texas, farm. They keep busy with riding and raising their three children. Renilla won the open third level championship on Thursday with Zalando M.R. Chanca also took home the adult amateur second level championship with Dante Rubin M.R. with a score of 71.70%.
“It’s a good team,” he said. “It’s great to be able to share this passion with her. At the end of the day, I do this for fun. She’s obviously a professional, but she’s so passionate about this, and we love this sport, we love the horses, we love sharing our life. We give up a lot. Maybe our social life is not very good, but we have to sacrifice a lot in the day to day, but it’s all worth it. We’re crazy about this sport. We love it, and sharing it with her and my family is the best you can have.”
Jennifer Truett fell in love with Absolute Dream when he was 2 years old in the Netherlands, and she’s been developing him ever since. The 8-year-old Westphalian gelding (All At Once—Fiona) has finished second a lot in his career, but after a win in the open Intermediaire I championship at the GAIG/USDF Region 2 Championships (Michigan) in September, he was able to carry that momentum to Finals to take home the open Intermediaire I win with a score of 72.79%.
“I’m just thrilled,” said Truett, who lives near Cincinnati, Ohio. “We had a warm-up test yesterday [and] we only got a 62 because he was scared. We basically just said, ‘OK, let’s just go as big and bold as we could,’ and I just wanted to give him a lot of confidence and praise him and tell him he’s a good boy and really give him a place to go because he got backed off in his test of choice class. He was just amazing. That was the best feeling I’ve ever had from him. I’m so excited and so proud of him. He was so brave in [the Alltech Arena]. It’s so much of an environment to take in. The class was huge and super competitive, and he’s young. Regionals was his first win. He’s always been the bridesmaid, never the bride.”