Saturday, May. 18, 2024

Neruda Tunes Up At The Raleigh CDI

Michael Barisone gets ready for the Olympic Selection Trials with a Grand Prix win.

Michael Barisone wanted to get one more show under his belt before shipping to California for the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions, so he traveled to the Raleigh CDI and Capital Dressage Classic with Neruda.

The trip to Raleigh, N.C., on May 30-June 1 paid off with a Grand Prix win (67.00%) and “the best test so far in his career,” Barisone said.
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Michael Barisone gets ready for the Olympic Selection Trials with a Grand Prix win.

Michael Barisone wanted to get one more show under his belt before shipping to California for the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions, so he traveled to the Raleigh CDI and Capital Dressage Classic with Neruda.

The trip to Raleigh, N.C., on May 30-June 1 paid off with a Grand Prix win (67.00%) and “the best test so far in his career,” Barisone said.

Barisone will head to the Festival of Champions, June 21-22 and June 27-29, for the Olympic Selection Trials. “To be honest, I didn’t need to show at Raleigh to qualify for California. But I was kind of rusty, so I took him to Paxton Farms [Ohio] in May and to Raleigh,” Barisone, of Califon, N.J., said.

Before May, Barisone hadn’t shown Neruda since February. A recurring staph infection on the gelding’s jaw caused major issues. A specially fitted orthotic noseband has alleviated the problem, and Neruda was back in action at the Paxton CDI, tying with George Williams and Rocher for the Grand Prix win.

“I decided I better just go show him,” said Barisone. “He felt phenomenal. I came out of the ring, and I absolutely expected 71 or 72 percent. I guess the judges didn’t agree, but I’ve ridden him before in Europe and gotten 69 or 70 percent, and this was a much better test.”

Barisone was thrilled that Neruda, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood, seems to have matured and become more confident. “Piaffe and passage are his strong points—they always have been. But he’s a funny guy,” said Barisone.

“People look at him and they see his great big neck and his big, bright eye, but he’s actually a very timid animal. He doesn’t know how to be aggressive. Self-confidence for him has always been an issue—not about the movements of the test but about the whole experience of showing.

“He has a horrible fear of other horses. He gets scared of other horses in warm-up. He’s growing out of these issues, but they’re there. Consequently, sometimes when I go into the ring on him, he has a tendency of shrinking a bit and gets a little too low in his neck and doesn’t have as much of a gas pedal. We’ve been working on that, and at Raleigh he felt great in the ring. He moved right off of X with a big trot and his poll up. That’s the first time, beginning to end, that he felt like that in a test.”

Getting The Crowd Involved

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Lars Petersen has no plans to represent his native Denmark in the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong, so his win aboard Succes in the Grand Prix freestyle was just confirmation that their new freestyle is impressive.
Peterson and Succes stole the evening with a crowd-pleasing program that dazzled the judges as well. A score of 74.25 percent put the gray Dutch Warmblood gelding (Clintino—Cinderella) 5 percentage points ahead of Williams and Rocher.

“He was fresh, but he stayed with me the whole test,” said Petersen, who is based out of Wellington, Fla.
The performance was ridden to a quirky collection of cartoon music that delighted the crowd. A series of beautifully executed canter pirouettes down the centerline to a rendition of “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” had everyone in the stands grinning, if not outright laughing. Almost everyone recognized the inclusion of a clip of the Mr. Ed theme into the mix.

“We made a small mistake in the tempi changes, but overall I am very pleased with the horse and this performance. This is the second time we have performed this routine. The first time was at Devon [Pa., last fall],” said Peterson, who plans to take Succes back to Florida and prepare for the fall shows.

Rocher and her famous lop ears danced her way into second place with a little help from Madonna. A beautiful blending of a few of the pop diva’s hits was the backdrop to another solid performance by Rocher (Westcoast—Doramber). Williams and Rocher qualified for the Olympic Selection Trials by tying for 12th in the USEF standings.

Bright Futures

The young horses had their first moment to shine in the 5- and 6-year-old Markel/USEF Eastern Young Horse Selection Trials. The 5- and 6-year-olds went before a judging panel that consisted of Liselotte Fore, Anne Gribbons, and Linda Zang.

Ronatella S, a striking black Hannoverian mare (Rotspon—Hauptstutbuch Ronja), topped the 5-year-old division. Ronatella S is owned and ridden by Joe Sandven. An overall score of 7.944 for two consistent tests was enough to secure the victory.

“We were more forward on Saturday than today,” Sandven said. “The judges were constructively critical, and that was very helpful.

“We love the [Young Horse] program,” Sandven said. “My current Grand Prix horse Rachmaninoff competed as a 5- and 6-year-old. The program has evolved beautifully.”

Sandven and his wife found Ronatella at the Verden sales in Germany as a 3-year-old. “We really wanted to take her back to Germany [for the FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Horses in Dressage, July 31-Aug. 3], but we didn’t get the score today.”

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An overall score of 8.2 is required to qualify to go to Verden, and Ronatella and Sandven just missed. “This is a cool mare,” Sandven said. “She’s a pleasure to ride. We had a terrible go on Friday [in the qualifying class for the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championships, to be held in September in Lexington, Ky.], but if we can get a qualifying score, we’d like to go to Kentucky.”

In the 6-year-old division, Cabana Boy and Christopher Hickey commanded the attention of the judges and walked away with the blue for both days and the overall championship.

Last year’s 5-year-old national champion showed strength and poise in an atmosphere that would be considered challenging for the most seasoned competitor. “I think it’s important to bring the young horses to venues like this,” Hickey said of the indoor coliseum that hosted the young horse classes.

“They need this sort of exposure, because it’s not going to get any easier as they progress into upper level horses.”

Cabana Boy (Contucci—Britania) was the only 6-year-old entry to crack the 8.0 mark, but his overall score of 8.16 was heartbreakingly shy of a return trip to Verden.

“I agree with the score cut-off for Verden,” Hickey said. “It’s important to keep the standard high for the horses we send to Europe to represent us.

“He had super changes on Saturday. I tried to adjust my ride on Sunday based on the judge’s comments, and we missed two changes today. Overall, I’m very pleased with him. This horse has a lot of talent. He’s scoring over 70 percent at third level and we’re schooling pirouettes and tempis. We plan on bringing him back as a developing horse at Prix St. Georges.”

It was a banner day for Hilltop Farm, in Colora, Md. The top two finishers in the 6-year-old class, Cabana Boy and Froelich, were sired by Hilltop stallion’s Contucci and Festrausch, respectively.

Joanna Blough

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