Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2024

Orion Stars At Golden State Dressage

Canadians swept the Golden State Dressage Festival and CDI held at the Murieta Equine Complex on April 5-8. Leslie Reid, of Langley, B.C., dominated the small tour classes on Orion, owned by Patty and George Hatch of Surrey, B.C.

Reid’s student, Alexandra Duncan, of West Vancouver, B.C., also swept the young rider classes with her Holsteiner mare Elektra for the second year in a row.


Canadians swept the Golden State Dressage Festival and CDI held at the Murieta Equine Complex on April 5-8. Leslie Reid, of Langley, B.C., dominated the small tour classes on Orion, owned by Patty and George Hatch of Surrey, B.C.

Reid’s student, Alexandra Duncan, of West Vancouver, B.C., also swept the young rider classes with her Holsteiner mare Elektra for the second year in a row.

This was Reid’s third consecutive year to win it all with Orion. “He’s been really consistent the whole time,” said Reid of Orion. “I’m quite happy with him.”

She was especially pleased that he was better than he’d been at the Burbank CDI (Calif.) a week earlier. “He got a little afraid of the electronic scoreboard at Burbank on the warm-up day. It was making a sound when the letters rotated, and every time I went by the board he’d jump. He didn’t do anything bad. It just set that tension in him the first couple of days, and it’s hard to ride that tension and make it look pleasant. It just was unfortunate.”

But Orion likes the arena in Rancho Murieta, Calif. “That’s a bonus with him,” said Reid. “It’s not an easy arena. It’s funny, but just for some reason he seems fairly comfortable in it.”

This is the third year of Prix St. Georges for the 11-year-old, Dutch Warmblood gelding (Jazz—Havanna). Reid didn’t move him up to Grand Prix as they are trying out for the Pan American Games. She was pleased with the Prix St. Georges test (69.50%) but just wanted more of everything—more extensions, more suppleness, more relaxation.

“The [Intermediaire I] was much better,” said Reid of their score of 70.70 percent. “He was more relaxed. I guess it’s an easier test for him. It feels nicer to ride.”

Pirouettes are Orion’s forté. “If I can nail my pirouettes I can usually get 8s,” said Reid. “I had a 9 for a pirouette in the I-1 yesterday, and two judges gave us 9s on the pirouettes today in the freestyle. If I can nail those it really ups my score.”

Orion’s freestyle is performed to Maksim’s “Olympic Dream” from the Atlanta Olympics for the trot work and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s version of the “Bittersweet Symphony” for the canter work. She added clapping to the “Bittersweet Symphony” this year to accentuate the changes. Orin’s changes are “dead straight,” and Reid wanted to highlight them. Karen Robinson of Applause Dressage in Vancouver, B.C., puts together the music for Reid’s freestyles.

This was the end of a six-week, four-show, California trip for Reid, who now has her qualifying scores for the Canadian Pan Am trials which begin June 1-3 in Palgrove, Ontario.

When She’s Good, She’s Good

Alexandra Duncan, 17, also had a better show at Rancho Murieta than at Burbank on her 12-year-old mare Elektra. Duncan only traveled south for the last two shows of the road trip with Reid.


“She got really tense there,” said Duncan of Burbank. “I was really happy with her this weekend. She really came around. The team test on Friday felt better than her individual test. She was much more rideable Friday. She was very fluid and accurate. On Saturday we lost it a bit. She was really, really tense, and the walk was just not there. Today I longed her in the morning before the freestyle, and that seemed to help her a lot. She’s a very hot horse. She can be really on or she’s not. It’s different every day with her.”

Duncan rides her freestyle to Latin and Mediterranean music. Her canter music is new, and she fine tuned the freestyle just before this trip.

Duncan received 8s for her riding and on Elektra’s flying changes. Their half passes and shoulder-ins received 7s and 8s. The main comment from the judges was about the mare’s tension.

“She’s a pretty special mare,” said Duncan. “She’s just getting better and better. She gives you her heart even though she’s tense.”

Last year, Duncan was on the gold-medal Canadian team at the North American Junior and Young Riders Championships (Va.) and was the Canadian representative at the FEI Young Rider Dressage World Cup (Germany), last December, where she placed fourth overall.

Prior to going to Germany, she rode in a clinic with Dutch rider Ellen Bontje. “We kind of hit if off, and she offered to train me,” said Duncan. “I really like her.”

Duncan rode with Bontje in Germany before competing in the World Cup. She is planning to go back to Germany in September with Elektra and Padarco Dolce, her new 6-year-old, Oldenburg gelding by Quattro, for three to six months.

Duncan, who is doing independent studies at high school, completed two years in one and will graduate this spring. She’s taking next year off to ride and then will start college the following year.

Duncan has owned Elektra (Columbus—Cathy’s Reject), who was bred by Rancho La Querencia in Lemitar, N.M., for five years. She hopes to move Elektra up to Grand Prix next year and show Padarco Dolce, her young gelding, in the young rider classes.

First Time’s A Charm

Rachel Saavedra, of San Ramon, Calif., won the Grand Prix (64.20%) and Grand Prix Special (63.56%) on her 14-year-old, Swedish Warmblood gelding, Robello. This was Robello’s first time doing a Grand Prix at a CDI and his first Grand Prix Special test at a recognized show.

“He’s just been so much more solid and so comfortable in himself this year,” said Saavedra. “I can concentrate on riding the test now that he’s not spooking the whole time anymore. It was kind of new ground for us to be able to not worry about him looking at the judges’ booths and marks on the ground and things like that. I feel like it’s really fun now.”


They arrived at the show on Tuesday, so it was a long week for the pair. Saavedra likes to ride Robello twice a day to make sure she gets him settled. After the Grand Prix on Friday she was looking forward to a day off before the Grand Prix Special on Sunday.

“I was feeling the fatigue,” said Saavedra. “It was really a lot of days of hard work. Then they changed the Special to Saturday, and we didn’t have a down day.”

The missed practice day affected them, as Saavedra went off course in the Special. “I was really happy that he was able to come back [after the off course] and stay fairly engaged for me and in front of me,” said Saavedra. “I like to ride the Special on him because it’s definitely a really great test for him. It shows off his passage and his ones, which are his strong points.”

Saavedra has been patient bringing Robello up to Grand Prix. She’s had to take time out here and there as he moved through the levels to get him settled.

“He comes out just 100 percent gung-ho every day single day of his life,” said Saavedra. “He loves his work.”

Bravara, a 4-year-old, Thoroughbred cross mare ridden by Craig Stanley, of Madera, Calif., earned the high-score of the show with a 77.20 percent in training level, test 3. The 16-hand brown mare, owned by Melissa Creswick of Clovis, Calif., was also the open training level champion, in what was only her third show.

“That makes you wonder how you can repeat it again,” said Stanley after the high-point test. “That test was just extra special. She was just super relaxed and very comfortable in the ring.

“She has a really good temperament,” added Stanley. “We longed her first and then I rode her in the warm-up. She felt the same every day. Her natural state of mind is pretty quiet.”

Stanley started Bravara last year and had her in training for five or six months. Bravara went home for the winter, and Creswick rode her and continued her training. Stanley has had Bravara back for a month to get her qualified for the Great American/USDF Region 7 and California Dressage Society championships in October.

Sheri Scott




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