If Elizabeth Ball was thrilled with U.S.-bred Selten HW (Sandro Hit—SPS High Princess) and Michael Bragdell’s win in the 4-year-old division at last year’s Markel/USEF National Young Horse Championship, she was ecstatic to be in the saddle for the win in the 5-year-old division today, Aug. 22.
“He rose to the occasion,” said Ball, San Diego, Calif. “He was a bit quiet yesterday [in the preliminary test], but he really came into his own. I allowed a little less time in his warm-up and emphasized the canter to loosen his back and only trotted right before I went in. It really paid off.”
Ball has only been riding “Selten” for about two months, as the horse had been in training with Bragdell at Hilltop Farm, Colora, Md. Ball brought the Hanoverian to California in June.
“It’s been a short, but exhilarating journey,” Ball said with a laugh. “He’s great around the barn and easy to handle. Michael’s great training and foundation really allowed me to bring him up.”
The judges, Hilda Gurney, Linda Zang and Maryal Barnett all enjoyed watching Selten’s lovely performance.
“He shows the expression, impulsion, uphill balance, elasticity and correct basic training that we want to see in a horse at this age,” said Gurney. “We’re delighted to see such a lovely prospect.”
While the judges felt that the walk (7.5) was Selten’s weakest gait, they rewarded his rhythmic trot with 9.2, his canter with 9.0 and his submission with 8.9 despite a small bobble in his turn on the haunch. Selten also received a score of 8.8 for general impression for 86.80 percent. Their total for the weekend (40 percent of preliminary test and 60 percent of championship test) was 85.20 percent.
“His canter definitely had more expression and engagement,” said Ball, 45. “Every time I ride him he’s learning more and more. It’s really coming together. He’s a big, young horse, and we’re just really taking our time with him.”
San Shivago Takes Reserve Honors
Louise Koch was completely confident as she and San Shivago moved to enter the ring for their test, but an odd accident rattled their composure.
“Our warm-up was excellent and right before we entered a woman ran in front of him and accidentally hit him in the face,” said Koch, West Lake Village, Calif. “He cut his nose, and he was totally backed off as we entered the ring.”
Despite the minor shake-up, “Shivago” still put in a stellar performance, and the judges were delighted to see such a lovely prospect. They awarded him 8.8 for his trot, 7.8 for his walk, 8.0 for his canter, 8.0 for submission and 8.5 for general impression for a score of 82.20. The score was enough to keep them in second place overall.
“He has so much talent, and as he’s developing his trot is getting better and better,” said Koch, 62. “What’s neat about this program is that we have a chance to get these young horses in the ring, and it’s gotten me excited again. This is a very specific goal and it’s really challenging. I’m really excited about trying to change my riding style a bit and become more of a master than I have been and maintain the exuberance of the young horse.”
San Shivago (Sandro Hit—Donna) is an approved Oldenburg and Westphalian stallion. Koch hopes to begin collecting him in November.
“Shivago has given me a second chance, and he has the best disposition in the whole world,” said Koch. “I would love to pass it on.”
Zatino H (Sir Sinclair—Karma) and Emily Gershberg had consistent performances to put them in third overall with 80.16 percent. Zalona DG (Olympic Ferro—Jager Meester) and Willy Arts snagged fourth with 78.40 percent, and Steinway (Sandro Hit—Rosalea) and Ulla Petersen finished fifth with 76.36 percent.