Saturday, May. 18, 2024

McDonald Headlines Dressage At DevonWood

Dressage At DevonWood, July 27-29 in Sherwood, Ore., was Brentina’s first public appearance since the 2006 World Equestrian Games, where she helped anchor the U.S. team’s bronze-medal effort.

She and Debbie McDonald performed their signature Respect freestyle. “It was very exciting. The crowd was so into it, and it was so much fun. She had a great time,” said McDonald of Brentina.
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Dressage At DevonWood, July 27-29 in Sherwood, Ore., was Brentina’s first public appearance since the 2006 World Equestrian Games, where she helped anchor the U.S. team’s bronze-medal effort.

She and Debbie McDonald performed their signature Respect freestyle. “It was very exciting. The crowd was so into it, and it was so much fun. She had a great time,” said McDonald of Brentina.

“She feels unbelievable. Her energy level is so amazing, even for a 16-year-old. It’s never like you have to produce it—it’s always right there for you,” she added.

McDonald plans to take Brentina to Europe for two months this fall and make her competitive return there at the Bremen CDI in Germany, Oct. 4-7. “We’ll do some CDIs with her, and a couple of national shows, and finish with a CDI with Felix,” McDonald said.

McDonald also had a budding star at DevonWood—Felix topped both Grand Prix classes (66.35% and 69.68). “I’m really happy with what he’s done so far. Now he’s got four Grand Prix [classes] under his belt. He’s a lot more extravagant than Brentina, but the work ethic is not quite as sharp as hers. I have to work a little harder on him. I’ve had him since he was 3 as well, so it’s been great to watch him grow up,” said McDonald.

Felix competed at the 2002 FEI Young Horse Championships (Germany) as a 5-year-old, “but he hasn’t shown much since then,” said McDonald. “I showed him a little bit at Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I, and then came out this year and did a few Intermediaire II tests, and then moved up to Grand Prix.” She’s taking him to Europe along with Brentina for his first big tour.

Leslie Hornacker grew up in New Jersey, riding western, American Saddle-breds, and a little bit of hunters and jumpers. It wasn’t until the 1980s that she first dabbled in dressage, when she began eventing. But 10 years ago, she decided to stick to dressage. “After my third knee surgery, I decided it would be wise to be closer to the ground,” she said.

She bought Woodstock RH as a green 4-year-old seven years ago and has brought him up through the levels. At DevonWood, they won a class of third level, test 3 (63.72%), and a class of fourth level, test 1 (66.27%).

“It’s been a tremendous learning experience for the both of us,” Hornacker said. “We’re moving up through fourth level, which is kind of a challenge since he’s a bit long through the back and slow behind. I’m 100 pounds soaking wet, so it’s a constant challenge.”

Hornacker, Hailey, Idaho, keeps her horses at home and cares for them herself during the fair-weather months, and she rides with Debbie McDonald when she can. “I’m just an old amateur enjoying my horses, with a lot of good friends who are also amateur riders,” she said.

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Adrienne Lyle rode Wizard to win a test at Prix St. Georges (70.62%), the Intermediaire I freestyle (67.50%) and a test at Intermediaire I (71.50%) at Dressage At DevonWood.

Sue Minton-Edison took a 19-year break from riding and just got back in the saddle five years ago at age 49. “When I came back to it, I thought dressage would be a good place to start, and I was going to start jumping again. But dressage was so exacting and rewarding that I never got away from it,” she said.

Minton-Edison, Sixes, Ore., and her husband have a company developing systems to take viruses and
bacteria out of water. She had shown hunters and open jumpers in her 20s but stopped riding when she
was 30. She bought None-such 31/2 years ago, importing him from the Netherlands. “He was working through third level, so I started showing at second level. I hadn’t intended to show this year but ended up being able to go to a couple of shows,” she said.

At DevonWood, they won fourth level, test 3 (66.09%), and were second or third in four other fourth-level classes. “He hadn’t shown since May, so the first day he was a little frazzled, but he settled. On the last day, I didn’t expect to win—my goal is to go out and let go and take a risk,” Minton-Edison said.

In the 12 years she’s been riding Sterling, Kari McClain has formed a strong bond with the striking gray gelding. “I got him as a 3-year-old in Sweden. I wasn’t looking for a horse for myself, but I fell in love with him. He was a wild, unbroken thing, but he took my breath away.

“I’ve learned that all that big movement is hard to contain, and he’s been a slow developer, but he’s been a lot of fun,” she said. At DevonWood, they won a test of Intermediaire I (60.37%) and a class at Intermediaire II (56.95%) and were second in the Intermediaire I freestyle (65.50%).

“I’ve put together a new freestyle for him this year, and at DevonWood it came off the best it has so far this year, so I was tickled with that,” said McClain, who rides and trains out of Olympia, Wash.

“He’s a very quirky guy, but he’s sweet and loveable. He’s really grown to love his job. He loves to go down the centerline. The story of his life is that he tries too hard.”

DevonWood was Pik Pocket’s first big dressage show, and he went home a winner, topping a test of
second level, test 3 (64.41%), and of junior/young rider/adult amateur second level, test 4 (66.19%), with owner Lisa Koch.

Koch, who works at Xerox, bought Pik Pocket, a Hanoverian-Thoroughbred, a year ago. “He’d been shown training level as a young horse but hadn’t done much for a few years,” she said of the 10-year-old.

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Koch, Redmond, Ore., lives on a ranch with her husband, who has roping horses. “It’s more of a cowboy town than a dressage town!” she said. Pik Pocket lives out 24/7 and goes on trail rides and is unfazed by cattle. “I bought him because he’s a reliable type, and he can hang out for three or four days and then I can get on and go.

Brooke Voldbaek and Pauletta Parina topped two classes of Prix St. Georges with scores of 66.00 percent and 64.75 percent, and a class of fourth level, test 2 (66.81%), at Dressage At DevonWood.

Brooke Voldbaek and Pauletta Parina topped two classes of Prix St. Georges with scores of 66.00 percent and 64.75 percent, and a class of fourth level, test 2 (66.81%), at Dressage At DevonWood.

Trying Out A New Movement
Picasso Jr. took the concept of the freestyle a bit too far at Dressage At DevonWood. During his Intermediaire I freestyle with owner and rider Diana Dusevic, Picasso Jr. suddenly bolted, jumped out of the ring, and ran up the hill.

“I’d never ridden in front of so many people before. In warm-up, he felt fine, but when my music started, he felt kind of hot. I was going through my freestyle, and it was going really well, the best he’s ever gone,” Dusevic said.

“I got to my walk, and then I had to pick up the canter to go to my pirouettes. I could feel he might do something, because he was so pumped up. When I got the canter, he bolted. He took off from C all the way down to A, and then he came across the diagonal at full speed. People were screaming. It was quite the adventure!”

Picasso Jr. cleared the dressage ring fence in fine form—much to Dusevic’s surprise. “This horse hates jumping—he doesn’t even walk over poles,” she said. “He got to the fence, and I thought he was going to stop and I’d go over his head. But he jumped it! He ran up the hill and kind of paused, and Debbie McDonald reached out and grabbed the reins. So, I met Debbie McDonald, which was great!”

Picasso Jr. redeemed himself later that day, however, by winning an Intermediaire I test with a 62.00 percent. “He was Mr. Angel, and did anything I asked,” said Dusevic with a grin.

Dusevic, Burnaby, B.C., is a sales representative. “It’s difficult balancing the riding and the job—I only show on Saturdays and Sundays, usually,” she said. “I did jumpers as kid, but now I’m terrified of jumping—I normally fall off.”

She bought Picasso Jr. three years ago in the Netherlands. “When I bought him, he was a stallion, was only doing training level, and had never shown before. He was very green,” she said. “I did second level, third level, fourth level, and then this year we skipped Prix St. Georges and went to Intermediaire I. He’s done really well.”

Molly Sorge
Mary Cornelius Photos

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