Sunday, Apr. 21, 2024

Messinger Scoops Up A Win At Great American/USDF Region 1 Championships

The amateur rider wins with her homebred.

Mary Messinger of Hillsboro, N.C., epitomized the happy amateur rider as she sat in the barn on a bale of hay, excitedly calling friends and family.

Messinger was broadcasting the news that she’d won the Region 1 adult amateur training level championship, one of the largest classes at the Great American/USDF Region 1 Championships, Oct. 25-28 in Lexington, Va.


The amateur rider wins with her homebred.

Mary Messinger of Hillsboro, N.C., epitomized the happy amateur rider as she sat in the barn on a bale of hay, excitedly calling friends and family.

Messinger was broadcasting the news that she’d won the Region 1 adult amateur training level championship, one of the largest classes at the Great American/USDF Region 1 Championships, Oct. 25-28 in Lexington, Va.

“I bred him, I broke him, and nobody else has ever ridden him,” Messinger said about Full Scoop, her 5-year-old, Hanoverian gelding.

“It was the perfect test. I haven’t had a perfect test all season. There has always been a bobble here or there—a break in the canter or the stretch wasn’t there. It all came together today,” she continued.

She and Full Scoop scored a 70.40 percent for the win.

Messinger’s voice cracked with emotion as she talked about her horse. She bought Full Scoop’s dam as a weanling, despite starting out to look for a more mature horse that she could already ride and compete.

The mare, Faure (by Waldorf) won her Hanoverian testing program. “Then I got pregnant, and misery loves company,” Messinger said. “So she had to get pregnant too.”

The result was Full Scoop.

Then life took one of those unexpected turns and Messinger’s husband lost his job. Messinger put Full Scoop on the market but couldn’t go through with selling him.

“He’s sensitive, and he can be hot, but he’s very trusting of me,” Messinger said of the 17-hand gelding.

Despite his size, Messinger said the horse is very light on his feet.

Messinger and Full Scoop also won an open first level, test 1, class in the VADA Fall show run concurrently with the Region 1 Championships. This was Full Scoop’s seventh show in just his first year of showing.

“He gives you a wonderful feeling of having the power underneath, but he also listens and comes back with this wonderful light contact,” Messinger said. “His attitude has always been, ‘What’s next?’ I never ride with whips or spurs. He’s got lots of go and, at the same time, has the whoa.”


Messinger calls her 10-horse barn a “one-woman operation.” She fits riding in around a full-time job as a database administrator and taking care of her two children and cheering them on at athletic events. “If you really want to do it, you’ll make it happen,” she said.

Marnix Dances And Wins

George Williams swept a double-header, winning both the Region 1 Championships Grand Prix and Grand Prix freestyle classes.

Marnix, a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood, appeared to be listening to and dancing along with the pulsating bass of “The Beat Goes On” in his piaffe on the centerline during the freestyle.

“I was very happy with my ride last night,” Williams said. “It was one of those moments that we all work very hard for. And hope that they may actually happen. He was on and right with me the whole time.”
Marnix has not been an overnight success, Williams acknowledged. “He’s taken a while to mature. He’s 15, and of course has always been in Rocher’s shadow. But I have tried to take him pretty much everywhere with us, because the world has proven to be a little bigger and a little wilder than he thought it should be. I’ve tried to expose him to as much as possible.

“I was particularly thrilled that this competition was in an indoor situation, because he needs to become a little more comfortable in this environment,” Williams added, recalling wryly that a demonstration ride at the Washington International Horse Show (D.C.)  was “a little overwhelming” for his horse.

 Owners Chuck and Joann Smith of Richwood, Ohio, imported Marnix from Holland in the fall of 2000. “He showed a good ability for both piaffe and passage work, so we were just taken by him,” Williams explained. It’s taken a while, but Williams believes he is maturing into a solid Grand Prix horse.

“He lacked so much in confidence in the beginning,” Williams said. “He gets a lot of confidence from the rider, and he’s very dependent on his rider in that way.”

Williams’ freestyle utilized all selections by Cher. He said he was driving one day and happened to hear “The Beat Goes On” and thought it would be a great foundation for a freestyle.

Williams also claimed the open first level championship on Vemeer, also owned by Chuck and Joann Smith. Vemeer is in his first year of competition, and Williams described the 5-year-old Dutch Warmblood as having a super attitude and excellent gaits.

“He likes looking at things; but I also know that if he is listening, he can do very well,” Williams said.  “We were ready to go either way. He’s grown up a lot this weekend.”

Full Days, Blue Ribbons

Jim Koford of Raleigh, N.C., could have taken the award for the busiest rider at the show. Koford could be spotted leaving one dressage arena and then mentally riding his next test and drawing the movements with his forefinger in the air in front of him.

He was scheduled to ride in every level from training to Grand Prix except for Intermediaire II, but ended up having to scratch his Grand Prix mount, Donatelli, who has been under the weather with a virus since Dressage at Devon (Pa.) in early October.


Koford rode Don Principe, a 16.3-hand, 8-year-old Hanoverian, stallion by Donnerhall, to the Region 1 open Intermediaire I championship (68.37%). Maryanna Haymon of Columbia, N.C, owns Don Principe. 

Koford and the 8-year-old Hanoverian stallion also claimed third in the Region 1 open Prix St. Georges championship with a 65.00 percent. “You make a couple of bobbles, and you get beat,” he said. “That galvanized me to get it done [in the Intermediaire I class].”

Haymon purchased the stallion in Germany as a 5-year-old  for her breeding program. “He’s shown a lot of talent,” Koford said. “I recently had some wonderful opportunities to ride with Lars Petersen and Conrad Schumacher. Our test was a really fun ride—happy, positive, forward, right where we needed to be. He’s showing a nice talent for Grand Prix, but I don’t have any agenda.”

Koford described himself as a “blue collar trainer. I help everyone from riders doing walk-trot to Grand Prix. If you come to work with me it’s not because I have any sort of cachet. We’re all here just to help each other and get it done,” he said.

And while he’s got real winners like Don Principe in his string, he’s also pragmatic about horses. “I ride anything that walks through the doors,” Koford said. “I don’t cater to any certain group of horses or owners. I’m sort of a bottom feeder. I have to find the horses that no one else wants because they rear, they buck or they’re somehow unsuitable. If the price is right, let’s give it a go and see what they can do. I
still get a kick out of riding the underdog—the funny horse that just can’t find its niche.”

Making Good Progress

Dorrie Addy-Crow of Lancaster, Pa., and Rotterdam beat out 33 other entries to win the Region 1 open Prix St. Georges championship (65.75%).

Melissa Richards imported the 9-year old Dutch Warmbood gelding by Welt Hit II two years ago. “He was kind of a second level or rough third level at that time,” Addy-Crow said.

The horse had primarily been a trail horse in his earlier days and had only started his dressage training six months before being brought to this country. “This is his first year at Prix St. Georges, and we’re very happy with him,” she added.

Addy-Crow described the gelding as having great movement and as being a bit hot. “I like a bit of oomph, and every now and again it comes out,” she said. “But the more that he does, and as he’s gone up through the levels, the better he gets.”

The pair has been working with Christopher Hickey this summer to push the gelding a bit more up in his frame and into self-carriage.

“We had a nice clean test,” she said about her championship ride. “If I had to say something negative about it, I would have to say that at times, he could have been more in self-carriage, and I had to help him a little bit. But he was very good and did everything I asked.”

Addy-Crow plans to head for Florida in January and hopefully show at Intermediaire I.

Roberta Anderson




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