Sunday, May. 26, 2024

Ringside Chat: Sarah Daehnert Gets The Ride On Half Moon Delphi

She’s an elegant grey mare who represented Great Britain at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (France) with Michael Eilberg, finishing eighth in the Grand Prix freestyle and helping her team to silver. And, as of a few weeks ago, Half Moon Delphi is considered a U.S. horse, as Bob Price purchased her for Sarah Daehnert to compete at the Grand Prix level. 

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She’s an elegant grey mare who represented Great Britain at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (France) with Michael Eilberg, finishing eighth in the Grand Prix freestyle and helping her team to silver. And, as of a few weeks ago, Half Moon Delphi is considered a U.S. horse, as Bob Price purchased her for Sarah Daehnert to compete at the Grand Prix level. 

This winter Daehnert, 36, competed Uno Samantha, a 9-year-old Danish Warmblood (Blu Horse Shepart—Uno Domenika, Donnerhall) she owns with Price, and Costalero XXI, a 13-year-old Andalusian (Minero VII—Costalera VI) stallion, at the small tour level in Wellington, Fla. She’s spent the last few years building an exciting string of horses with Price at his Pegaso Farm in Mettawa, Ill., and now at Pegaso South in Wellington, Fla., as well. 

We caught up with Daehnert to hear her plans for Half Moon Delphi, why she fell in love with the mare at first ride, and all about the other horses you’ll likely see her on next Florida season. 

How did you find Half Moon Delphi?

The search for her has been ongoing for four years!

Bob and I have been looking for a long time for some horses. It started out when we bought three 4- and 5-year-olds, and then it went from there. 

The horse we found didn’t have to have team experience. There aren’t many, to be honest, that are of that caliber, with some experience. 

I need a horse like Delphi because she’s very soft and well-trained and can bring me into the sport. I’m new to the international sport right now; I have some experience and have ridden a lot of Grand Prix horses, but as far as being in the ring, I haven’t had a lot of opportunities. Michael has done a phenomenal job training her. 

I sat on the mare, and I picked up the reins, and she’s soft and supple and light. She really is what she looks like. That’s a testament to the training and her abilities. I just got lucky to find her. I tried a few others, and I have to say I had the same feeling [with Delphi] as when I sat on my mare Samantha. You just know. You strive to have that feeling.

Right now she’s at Patrik’s. Basically she is very fit, and any rumors of her being not fit aren’t true, and I think Michael has cleared up as well. She’s sound and going. She’s going to stay with Patrik through November, and I’ll be flying there once a month before I spend October and November there. We have four horses there at the same time.

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Who are some of the other exciting horses in your barn?

More recently we invested in Juno Samantha, and we also got [a Dutch Warmblood (Johnson—Brieka) stallion] Breezer from Patrik Kittel, and we have a 6-year-old named Evander. [Evander is also a Dutch Warmblood (Vivaldi—Zabarina).] 

We bought a breeding stallion, Corifeo II—he’s an Intermediaire II or Grand Prix horse—we’re focusing on collecting and getting semen from him now. He’s not the caliber of Delphi, but he was meant for me to get into the sport. He’s a really, really nice stallion.

Samantha and Breezer both turned 9 this year, so they’re just in the beginning of learning the Grand Prix. My goal with Samantha and Breezer is the short Grand Prix this year.

We bought Samantha when she was 7, and Patrik has been coming to my place since then. He’s very busy, but he comes to me about every 4 or 6 weeks. He seems to believe in me, so I’ve been very lucky. We’ve been fortunate that he’s helped us find the horses. 

He was the reason we found Delphi. He was like “Sarah, I’m searching, I’m looking,” and along the way we found some other nice horses. 

Half Moon Delphi showing at the 2014 Alltech FEI 
World Equestrian Games (France) with British rider
Michael Eilberg. 
Photo by Sara Lieser

How did you start riding with Patrik Kittel?

I’d been riding with Scott Hassler, and we were looking for horses for me to compete. At that point, we were looking for 7- to 9-year-olds, going small tour or at least schooling small tour, with the potential to go Grand Prix. 

Patrik had a couple of horses for sale at that time, and I tried a few at his farm, and we bought Samantha then. Bob and I asked Patrik to come over because he’d trained the horse for eight months. I rode with him for a week, and it really worked well. It just clicked. His training style is very soft, and his horses are very forward and light and elegant, and it was a really good fit for my riding. The mare just kind of blossomed. 

It’s really worked, and it’s developed into a great training relationship. I feel really fortunate to have Patrik because he’s been in it so long. I train every day, and I really listen, and I take care of the horses the way Patrik does.  

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What are your plans for this season with Delphi and your other horses?. 

We’re going to start small, and we’ll be getting to know each other. She has phenomenal piaffe and passage, but I have to get to know her. We bought her as a potential horse for [the 2016 Olympic Games in] Rio, and hopefully it all goes in the direction we’re planning.

We’ll ship her to the United States Dec. 1, and she has to stay in quarantine for two weeks. I’ll sort of map out my Florida schedule then, but I’d like to show her at Grand Prix in some CDIs. Hopefully we’ll have gone to smaller shows while I’m in Germany, to kind of get prepared for Florida.  

What’s your background in the sport?

I started out riding when I was very young up Wisconsin, but there wasn’t a lot of dressage there. When I was 7, 8, 9, then I started to get more interested in dressage, at the local levels, riding at training level. 

I went to college and started riding a little more seriously at the same time. I never planned on being a professional rider. I do have my masters in clinic psychology, but I just kind of went from there. I rode at Tempel Farms and was pretty successful with one of their Lipizzans. [Daehnert previously showed as Sarah Hippenstiel after marrying then Tempel Farms trainer Jochen Hippenstiel.]

Then I met Bob, and we formed a relationship, and since then I’ve been getting more and more into the sport. Before that, I was mainly doing local and regional things. Now I’m trying to get into the international sport. 

Bob has been a rider. He loves the Spanish horses, and they do have their really good points. He’s an entrepreneur, and he’s always working constantly in his company, but on the weekends he comes to ride. He takes videos and watches the shows. He really studies the sport. I’ll walk in the house, and he’s watching the World Cup on the TV. 

It’s all new to him, and I’m a little more familiar with the ins and outs. But he just wants it all to go well.

We are doing some breeding as well. We plan to do embryo transfer with Uno Samantha, and then eventually also with Half Moon Delphi.

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