Three divisional champions at this year's seventh annual Youth Dressage Festival are wrestling with the question of whether to pursue their college educations or their riding goals, and they've come to different conclusions.
The Youth Dressage Festival was held in Saugerties, N.Y., on Aug. 12-14.
After more than 40 years in the saddle, Hap Hansen is just three victories away from achieving the century mark for career grand prix wins. And while he won't be first to get there--Aaron Vale cleared the 100 mark during last winter's Florida circuit, joining Ian Millar and Margie Engle--for Hansen, reaching the 100 mark is just a milestone on a long journey.
Aiming for such a milestone might stress out the average grand prix rider, but Hansen, 52, isn't average. He views such a possibility with his usual aplomb.
In his first dressage test in America, Monaco, the future Olympic medalist, tripped on the centerline and nearly fell down. "It was a fourth level test, and he fell twice," recalled his Olympic partner and owner Dorothy Morkis.
To finance her trip to Europe to train with international star Ulla Salzgeber, Emily Gershberg went deep into debt.
Gershberg, who runs Apple Hill Farm in Hudson, N.Y., with her brother, Adam, drained every bit of savings she had in order to spend last summer training with the two-time Olympic team gold medalist in Germany. She arrived there in early June 2004 with her 7-year-old, Dutch Warmblood gelding, Pancratius, and the trip cost her around $35,000.
Nine-year-old Isabelle Leibler was thinking of buying a new dressage saddle, but after competing in this year's Youth Dressage Festival, she doesn't need one.
Leibler, of Greenwich, Conn., won not only the training level and first level divisions for 9- to 12-year-olds, but she also emerged from the three-day competition, in Saugerties, N.Y., as the overall high-score champion with a score of 258.384. She went home with two new saddles.
Hurricane Charley, which ravaged the Southeast, also made an impact at the Millbrook Horse Trials, which was cut from three days to two. Upon hearing that the remnants of the hurricane were expected to hit the Millbrook, N.Y., area on the last day of the event, held at Coole Park Farm, Aug. 13-14, organizers opted to run the show jumping phase on Saturday after cross-country. However, the decision was made after most riders had completed the cross-country course and did not expect to be show jumping a few hours later.
Danielle Gavriluk rode away with the high score at the Ox Ridge Summer Dressage Show in Darien, Conn., aboard Wolkenspeiler.
"We had a great start on Friday, but Saturday wasn't as great. He jumped out of the ring and got eliminated, and that was the end of that," Gavriluk said.
Gavriluk, of South Dartmouth, Mass., and Wolkenspeiler earned a 78.84 percent in Sunday's training level, test 2. It was the crowning moment to what had been a successful weekend at the Ox Ridge Hunt Club, Aug. 20-22, for Gavriluk, who trains with Gerd Zuther at Peak Rock Farm.