Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2024

Proton’s Energy Propels Ishoy To Paxton Victory

It takes a special kind of horse to compliment the dramatic and cinematic alchemy of Klaus Badelt’s Pirates Of The Caribbean score the way Proton can. There are even fewer horses who can seamlessly glide from Pirates to bass bursting hip hop via an electrifying passage tour accompanied by the song “Candy Shop” by Fifty Cent.


It takes a special kind of horse to compliment the dramatic and cinematic alchemy of Klaus Badelt’s Pirates Of The Caribbean score the way Proton can. There are even fewer horses who can seamlessly glide from Pirates to bass bursting hip hop via an electrifying passage tour accompanied by the song “Candy Shop” by Fifty Cent.

But Proton was just that horse at the Paxton Farm CDI*** while Cindy Ishoy piloted the high-energy black gelding to victories in the Grand Prix (65.95%) and Grand Prix freestyle (70.90%) in Batavia, Ohio.

“My daughter Kayla helped me a lot with my music. She played Fifty Cent for me, and I first said, ‘I can’t use that,’ ” Ishoy remarked after dissecting the lyrics. Her daughter promptly replied, “No, no, you take the words out,” Ishoy remembered laughing.

Spectators at Paxton giggled and gasped enough even without the lyrics when Fifty Cent burst over the sound system. But that reaction fit Ishoy’s freestyle objective perfectly.

The curt musical shift aligned impeccably with Ishoy’s choreography and Proton’s powerful and dramatic movement. While their progressive arrangement demanded attention, it was the technicality of movements—especially in the canter work—and their fluidity of execution that put the pair’s score over the top.

“It is a very technical test, and I try to highlight his strong points. There are two double pirouettes and two single pirouettes, and that’s a lot of high collection,” Ishoy explained. “But I was a little concerned doing it today because it was his first show back.”

The 13-year-old German-bred was Ishoy’s slated mount for the World Equestrian Games (Germany) for the Canadian team last summer, but an ill-timed hyperextension injury kept Proton at home on the bench.

“I had to take the high road and not go to the World Equestrian Games. If I continued on, it could have been a career-threatening injury,” Ishoy said. “My vet [Canadian team veterinarian Allen Young] said it would be best to put the horse first and give him the three months to recover.”

Ishoy and Young took ample time nursing his soundness back. She walked him under saddle twice a day and slowly worked trotting and cantering back in to their routine while months fell off the calendar. Finally, with a clean ultrasound to give resolute peace of mind, Proton was ready for the ring again.

“When I went from the two-tempi into the one-tempi in a circle I thought, ‘Oh man I haven’t done this since last July,’ ” Ishoy said of one of the climactic movements of their freestyle. “But he really came through for me. I was really happy with him.”

Even before watching Proton’s stellar freestyle performance, it was obvious he missed the sweet taste of international competition over the past 10 months. He was ready to rock and roll even before the bell rang.

“When a horse takes off with you around the ring it puts most people off,” Ishoy said referring to Proton’s excessive energy when circling the ring before their freestyle. “But I’d rather him do that than go in there and be sticky. So I just let him run a little bit but let him know I was still in charge. I was really glad we were able to read each other and say, ‘Let’s do this together.’ ”

With a partnership eight years strong, Ishoy and Proton are ready to take their show on the road again. “I’d like to go to more CDIs and to Devon [Pa.] and maybe the Freestyle Championships in Canada,” she said. “But after last year with all my hopes going to the World Equestrian Games, we’ll just take it each day at a time.”

One Step Closer To Dancing On The Sand

Katherine Poulin-Neff knew exactly where she wanted to take Brilliant Too. And after the trifecta they pulled off with Prix St. Georges, Intermediaire I and Inter-mediaire I freestyle victories, they’re right on track for the Pan American Games selection trials in Gladstone (N.J.) this June.


Despite a slight misstep in their FEI Intermediaire I test on Saturday, Brilliant Too’s forward energy peaked for Poulin-Neff during that performance.

“Overall the test was really good, and I was really pleased with him. But in the very last two-tempi he did a one-tempi, and he’s never done that before,” Poulin-Neff said, slightly shocked.

Though Friday’s Prix St. Georges performance also yielded a blue ribbon for the pair (68.80%), a warm-up alteration helped produce a 70.15 percent in the Intermediaire I. “Because it’s been so hot here I didn’t warm him up as long. It definitely helped,” Poulin-Neff said.

After watching Brilliant Too’s effortless flow through both tests, it wouldn’t have been presumptuous to guess they would find similar results after their freestyle on Sunday.

Brilliant Too trotted to new music that really let him flaunt his stuff. The upbeat ragtime ensemble, to which Poulin-Neff choreographed an electrifying but difficult test, produced a 74.10 percent.

“This is the first time I showed [this test with new trot music],” she said. “He’s a very happy horse, and my training is geared around keeping him happy.”

But their crowning score went beyond complimentary tunes and consistently fluid movement. “His canter work is really strong, and we did all of our tempi changes on circles and went immediately into a full pirouette in both directions,” she explained. “The technical difficulty is extremely high, but we had no mistakes in the canter—except for the extended canter when he switched leads at the end, but that was my fault.”

Regardless, the majority of their in-sync performance delighted her. “I’m waiting to see what the judges say about the trot music,” she added. “If they like it, I’ll use it at Gladstone.”

Terry Gallo of Klassic Kur designed the new section. “I really wanted something fitting to get the crowd going and to wake people up,” she said.

Susan Jaccoma and Wadamur, Saturday’s Intermediaire I second-placed combination, rode last in the freestyle and took a valiant stab at wedging themselves between Poulin-Neff and victory. They delivered a beautiful test during which Wadamur whinnied a jolly note through their final extended canter. But 70.90 percent wouldn’t match the well-delivered technicality of Poulin-Neff’s ride.

She and “Zuel” were unstoppable, and she said their success together stems from a unique partnership that’s matured since Day 1. Her parents—1992 Olympic team bronze medalist Michael Poulin and S-rated dressage judge Sharon Poulin—bred and raised Brilliant Too (Brilliant—Blue Brigetta).

“I’m the only person that rides him. We have a really special partnership with each other,” Poulin-Neff said. “And we do other things besides just riding in the arena. We spend a lot of time trail riding, and he does some galloping—he loves to gallop—and it’s really good for him. I just like to make sure he has a really good basic foundation.”

Last June, the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF National Intermediaire Championships at Gladstone (N.J.) brought reserve honors in the Intermediaire I freestyle and a third-placed finish in the Prix St. Georges for the pair. Poulin-Neff said she and Zuel have been thoroughly filling minor gaps in their routine ever since.


“Pirouettes have been my main focus of improvement since Gladstone,” she said. So with the Pan Am selection trials qualification in hand, their next ride of focus will be in front of the selection committee.

Back In The Game

Laura Noyes found herself back in sync aboard long-time partner Syncro at Paxton Farm. After a couple of less-than-ideal shows this winter and spring, their Young Riders  freestyle victory injected some much-needed confidence.

But that blue ribbon didn’t necessarily come easy. Noyes spent the first couple of days during the Young Riders Prix St. Georges and Young Riders Team test swinging like a metronome from one spectrum to another trying to find Syncro’s ideal rhythm.

“The first day he was a little behind my leg so I didn’t ride him very forward, and that hurt our scores a little. The second day he was a little wild and kept spooking at stupid things so he was more in front of me,” Noyes said.

But by the time Sunday’s freestyle rolled around, their best abilities merged, and a supple and focused test resulted.

Syncro had a steady energy that produced precision pirouettes to Noyes’s delight. They danced along to the Peanuts smooth jazzy piano tracks that matched Syncro’s personality well.

“It works really well for him, and I’m really happy with [the choregraphy],” Noyes said. She designed the test with Syncro’s strengths in mind, with a helping hand from Ruth Hogan-Poulson, who also arranged the music. “It just seems so perfect for him because he’s such a little dork,” Noyes added laughing.

But their harmony was slightly soured last December after some bad luck struck at the FEI Young Riders World Cup (Germany).

“He was a little bit off in both of the medium trots in the first class,” she recalled. “Obviously, something wasn’t right. I rode him early the next morning before the next class and he felt worse so we scratched.”
Syncro’s troubles stemmed from a shoeing issue, but he was sound the following Monday.

Noyes hoped a spring trip to the Welling-ton CDI (Fla.) would re-bolster some confidence after Germany, but the show’s locale became a bit much for Syncro.

“It was an absolute disaster! It was a pretty scary ring, and he was just crazy,” she remembered. “The second day was better, but he was still a bit tense. The last day the music was really loud, and it was really windy. It was just not a very suitable environment for him.”

But unwavering direction from trainer George Williams (who won the Grand Prix Special at Paxton) and a large dose of tenacity eventually had Noyes and Syncro speaking the same language again. “I’m feeling much better after Paxton. I feel like we’re back in the game,” she said.
She bought the now 13-year-old Trakehner gelding in North Carolina from Diane Eisenhower with the North American Young Riders Championships in mind. That was four years ago when both she and Syncro competed at first level.

“My ultimate goal with him is to make it to Grand Prix some day. He’s gotten my [U.S. Dressage Federation] bronze medal and my silver medal so hopefully I can get my gold medal on him,” Noyes
said. “He’s my second horse—I had a pony before him—but I don’t think I could ever get rid of him.”

After heading to the Raleigh CDI (N.C.), Noyes wants to focus on qualifying for NAJYRC (Va.) to represent Region 8.

Joshua A. Walker




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