Listening to the winners of the Wellington FEI Nations Cup CDIO, it’s clear that being a part of USA Team I was a highlight of the winter season for Allison Brock, Kim Herslow, Olivia LaGoy-Weltz and Laura Graves. And claiming victory over the two teams representing Canada made the competition, held March 23-27 at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Fla., that much more memorable.
“I can say for all of us that it was a really, really positive experience,” said Brock. “And it was fun! It was great to hang out in the barns, blasting the radio and dancing as we braided our horses. We had a good time supporting each other.”
“We really kind of pulled together in a team effort,” added Herslow. “It’s an amazing experience when you have people there and you feel that support. Everybody’s wanting you to bring out your best, and when you can actually do that and pull it off, that’s pretty awesome.”
Afer combinations performed Intermediaire I and Grand Prix Special tests today, total points earned over the past two days were tallied. USA Team I earned a total of 452.59 points, beating out Canada Team I (Diane Creech on Robbie W, Chris Von Martels on Zilverstar, Megan Lane on Caravella and Belinda Trussell on Anton), who finished second on a score of 438.96. The riders on Canada Team II, Tina Irwin (Fancy That), Christilot Boylen (Donatella 79), Shannon Dueck (Cantaris), and Jill Irving (Degas 12), joined their fellow countrymen on the podium, placing third on 424.77 points.
Last to go in the ring, Laura Graves and Verdades rode to an impressive 75.88 percent to once again earn the highest mark of the Grand Prix class.
“Bringing home a gold medal in your own country is really special,” said Graves, Plymouth, Fla. “But I have to say that I’m the type of person who is always looking on to what’s next, and I can’t wait to hopefully be on a team with some of these people again and bring home gold in another country.”
Looking ahead, Graves believes that with a bit more training over the summer, she and 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood “Diddy” can earn even higher marks in the Special.
“There were places where we improved and places where I’m still kind of figuring out how to ride my horse, even though I’ve trained him his whole life!” said Graves. “Sometimes it’s about figuring out where it put your leg on, when to put your leg on, how to put your leg on – all these little things that sound so silly that make such a big difference, especially in a Grand Prix horse.”
Kim Herslow also admits she’s constantly learning about Kiroli Enterprises LLC’s Rosmarin, a 10-year-old Hanovarian gelding she’s ridden for seven years. The pair earned their personal best score of 76.15 percent in the Intermediaire I test today.
“I’m thrilled with my result today,” said Herslow, Stockton. N.J. “I still feel like there were places where I could have gotten a little bit more, so I just have to learn how to ride that. My horse is so honest and consistent that it’s really just about me trying to figure out how to ride the test [with expression]. I’m excited that we’re still growing together.”
Allison Brock and Rosevelt put in a beautiful Grand Prix Special test to score one of their personal bests, as well. Despite accidentally miscounting her one-tempis, the Keswick, Va., resident gave an elegant performance to earn 74.25 percent.
“Actually, [Rosevelt] was just being helpful in the mistakes in the one-tempis; he just wanted some extra credit,” Brock laughed. “But he was really pulling for me the whole time, and I’m just so proud of him. He’s maturing, and he’s proving he can do this and come out even stronger the next day of competition, and that’s really important in a team type of horse.”
With this USA Team I victory, the United States now has 10 points in the FEI Nations Cup Dressage Series.
“These riders all stepped up to the plate today, and it was glorious to watch,” said Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover. “I really feel confident that [U.S. dressage is] headed into the future with more and more depth than we’ve had before.”
Wrapping up the final week of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, riders will compete in the CDI*** FEI Intermediaire I freestyle and Grand Prix freestyle on Friday, March 27. Be sure to follow the action and tune in to The Chronicle’s Live Stream!
For more information on the 2015 Wellington FEI CDIO*** Nations Cup, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.