No one was happier than Ashley Holzer after Adequan Global Dressage Festival 5, held Feb. 6-10, in Wellington, Florida. Not only did she sweep the small tour classes with her 9-year-old Hanoverian mare Valentine (Sir Donnerall I—Renaissance, Ragazoo), but students P.J. Rizvi and Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu had wins at Grand Prix, and Lindsay Kellock and Jill Irving had strong showings as well.
We caught up with Holzer to chat about her string of horses and her goals for the future.
Chronicle: Can you tell us about your small tour horse Valentine?
Holzer: I’ve had [her] a long time, since she was 4. I bought her from Eiren Crawford, who was actually in Denmark at the time. She’s a Canadian woman that I know, and she’s had [Valentine] since she was 2 ½. I saw her when she was 3 and tried her [then], but Eiren convinced me to buy [her] when she was 4.
How has she come along since you’ve had her?
You know, she’s always been the most beautiful horse in the barn, but she was a little bit temperamental when she was young. She’s a very sensitive mare, and I actually credit her with tuning my riding to make sure I’m a more sensitive rider. I hadn’t really had a mare before, so it was actually a learning curve for myself. I am very attached to her, so it’s thrilling to see her out here doing this.
What are your hopes for her this year?
I would love to go to Europe with her and show small tour with her if I can. My Grand Prix horses I’ll bring out in the next month because I’d to take them to Europe too, and I didn’t want to do too much and exhaust them. I’d like to take them to Europe and have her tag along as well to get some experience. I’m so old now I don’t know what the goal should be anymore.
So you’re not necessarily thinking Pan American Games for this year?
No, I’m not thinking Pan Ams for this year. I’m thinking more about going to Europe, and I’m really trying to look at my Grand Prix horses for the [2020 Tokyo] Olympics.
Can you tell me about your Grand Prix horses?
So I have Havanna 145 [a 12-year-old Hanoverian (Hocheadel—Riviera, Rodgau)] that I showed last year; I’m going to bring her out again. I have another horse called Radondo [a 13-year-old Oldenburg (Blue Horse Romanov—Celine, Blue Hors Don Schufro)], who’s also going to be coming out in March, and another horse Mango Eastwood [a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Wynton—Bambina, Sandro Hit)], who I think I’m going to start nationally in March and then bring him out in Europe. I’d like to hopefully start him at maybe Tryon [North Carolina] here, and then after Tryon go over to Europe if all goes well.
Havanna I’ve had about two years, and “Mango” I really have only had a year. I had him in Europe this summer, and we did a few Grand Prixs and did quite well. I really love the horse; I think it’s a special horse, but he’s very young. He’s only turning 10 this year, so I didn’t want to push him too much. The other one [Radondo] I actually showed at the small tour in Europe two years ago and was very successful doing that, and then I took him to Europe last year, and so I’m hoping he’ll come out and be great in the Grand Prix.
Your students have had great showings this week. How do you feel about how all of their successes?
I’m so thrilled with all of my students that do so well. They’ve worked so hard, and people think, oh, you just show up—no, they have been grinding for a long time. So when you come out, and you see their hard work pay off, it’s really—my husband leaned over and gave me a hug in the middle of P.J.’s ride because it’s emotional to me. They work hard, these girls. Lindsay works crazy hours too, and to see her to have that success, as a coach and as a friend, it’s a thrill.
Rizvi’s horse Breaking Dawn, “Edward,” is 18 this year and still going.
And going! Going a little too much, obviously! We sort of misjudged the warm-up a bit, but you know what, if a horse is that old and still wanting to go, that says it all, doesn’t it? That they’ve been well taken care of, that they love their job, and he’s not out there thinking, ‘Oh my God, when is this over?’ He’s out there having a great time, and you know that song, ‘I am 16 going on 17’? We say, ‘I am 18 going on 3.’ He’s excitable at home as well. He’s a great animal, and I’m so excited for him.
What’s the plan for your students?
Lindsay would like to go to Pan Ams [with Floratina]. Brittany’s plan is to have a baby. And Jill is really gearing up for the Olympics. Arthur is really her big push for the Olympics. [Last weekend] he made a few mistakes in the ring. He’s a Jazz [offspring], and he’s very, very sensitive. But what I saw in the warm-up is the best he’s ever gone. I said, ‘Oh my God, here’s the 75 percent horse,’ and she turned around. I’m like, ‘No, dummy, it’s you! It’s you!’ He was just unbelievable, and I really think give him a little bit longer, and he is going to be a top horse for her, so that’s exciting.