Mikala Gundersen left the talented Pikko Del Cerro HU in Lisa Wilcox’s capable hands while she spent the summer competing Leonberg in Europe. And she credited Wilcox’s work with helping her win the 6-year-old division at the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Championships.
“I couldn’t have done this without her,” said Gundersen, Wellington, Fla. “She got him a little stronger and more collected. We have such a great working relationship.”
Gundersen, 40, hadn’t ridden Pikko Del Cerro HU (Pik L—Rohweena, Rohdiamant) since June but had no trouble taking the ride back. They easily won the preliminary test with 82.00 percent but had a few bobbles in the championship test on Sunday.
“I came in after having a good warm-up, and as we went around the ring he freaked out at the people applauding for the horse before me,” she said. “It took him a while to get settled again, but he was still good. It was just bad luck that we didn’t have the same round as we had on Friday.”
Despite placing third in the championship test behind Nicole Bellah on Winsor (80.80%) and Jessica Jo Tate on Faberge (80.20%), their 77.00 percent was enough to keep them at the top of the standings with an overall score of 79.00 percent.
“He had great canter work, but a couple of the changes were a little tense,” said Gundersen. “He’s got a great walk. I smile and sit there and let him do the work. His extensions were all better [than on Friday].”
The Hanoverian stallion is owned by his breeder, Horses Unlimited, and Gundersen has been working the horse for about two years. She hopes to compete him in the small tour next year.
“He had no power steering, and the brakes didn’t work [when I started riding him,” Gundersen said with a laugh. “He’s a talented horse. He likes to take his time, but the movements are easy. We’ll see how he performs and go from there.”
Tate was blown away by Faberge’s leap into the reserve championship spot.
“I still can’t believe it; this is awesome,” said Tate, Chesapeake City, Md. “The whole thing felt easy and supple. I couldn’t have asked anything more from him.”
Tate, 31, has only been riding the German-bred Westphalian (Florestan—Baroness, Brentano II) since April of this year for her client, Elizabeth Guarisco. Tate hopes that Guarisco will begin riding the horse during the Florida circuit this spring.
“We were looking for a schoolmaster, but [Faberge] was perfect,” said Tate. “He doesn’t get nervous about anything. We do a lot of fun stuff like field work and gallops to keep him fresh. He wants to please the rider and gives a really great feeling. I’m so happy for [Elizabeth] because he’s great.”