January 20-21, 2007

Ocala Winter Dressage show, Florida Horse Park

The Ocala Winter Dressage show was held at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala, January 20-21, 2007. Conveniently located right of Florida's I-75, the Park offers events for Combined Driving, Eventing and Dressage.

Operated exclusively with donation, it is a place filled with potential, according to one of this weekend's dressage judges, Sarah Geikie. A few things which were rather noticeable were the fact, that the footing for the dressage rings was not in the rings by Friday, so it was rather entertaining to ride the horses amongst bulldozers and other heavy equipment. Our barns faced the mixing plant, where the old footing was remixed, then put on large dump trucks, which were then driven to the actual rings and dumped. By the end of the weekend our horses were sound proof. In addition, it paid off to bring a bike or motorcycle ( the event riders apparently knew this, because they zipped by us from time to time) because it was almost 1 mile from the stall tents to the rings - trust me, nobody left anything behind in the barns when they got ready for their tests.

The dressage show was filled with a large variety of different professionals and amateurs. It was a treat to watch both Karen and David O'Connor compete such horses as Upstage, Steely Dan and Mr. Ripley The horses are in top shape and compete successfully against the dressage horses, winning a number of classes.

Saturday's Prix St. Georges was the largest class of this show with 18 entries. The winner (with a solid 70 %) was Erin Brinkman, with the imported 12 year old Hanoverian mare Bella Luna ( Brentano/Worldcup II), owned by Delight Willing, a long time friend and supporter of Valhalla Farm, the well known Florida breeding farm owned by Erin's family. Erin considers Bella Luna to be the best horse she has ever ridden - considering the quality of horses Erin has been on, that's means alot. Erin and Bella will aim for a spot on the 2007 Pan Am Team - keep an eye out for them ! Erin was also the rider of both Influential and Insightful, both horses were bred by her mother Jean, who also compete and won with Faithkeeper - congratulations !

Sunday's Prix St. Georges was won by Cherri Reiber and Faraon 30 with 65 %. One rider who drew my attention was Debi Crowley and her little 14 year old QH gelding Mighty Mite. They placed 5th in this class which is even more remarkable when considering, that these 2 won Radnor CCI** a few years back !

The other rider who, along with her students, won just about every class she entered was the ever positive Jules Anderson. Whether it was 6 year old US bred gelding Leopold Q (owned by Jules' sister), who at such a young age already has a impressive show record (Winner of NABF 4 year old, highest placed US bred 5 year old 2006 USET Young Horse Championship and 2nd for USFD HOY for Second Level) or Par Avion, 10 year old imported Hanoverian by Prince Thatch ( he was imported by Tiffany Loundon, a past Winner of Rolex Three Day CCI ***), owned by Debra Brookhauser - Par Avion was USDF Third Level Freestyle Horse of the Year, or any of the other horses - Jules kept going and winning.

The inofficial High Score of the show went to Lisa Giltner and her 6 year old imported Oldenburg gelding Roter Milan ( by Rotspon). Twice the pair scored a whopping 80 % at Training level - and yes, he is that nice. Lisa also earned her first GP score towards her USDF Gold Medal by placing second in GP with her gelding Barolo.

Tamra Brown, longtime Assistant trainer to Anne Gribbons won the Intermediare 1 on Sunday with a gutsy and precise ride on the 12 year old Dutch Stallion Leoliet. Nobody deserved this win more, then this hard working young woman! Anne Gribbons and her own 10 year old Swedish gelding Alazan won both the Intermediare 2 and Grand Prix with solid performances, during which Alazan showed off his incredible piaffe and passage. It is wonderful to watch an 'O' judge showcase a horse, which she trained from scratch!

The staff at the Park told me, that they already have close to 500 entries for the upcoming Eventing Horse Trial ( from Beginner Novice to Intermediate) and that closing deadline is still 2 weeks away. I, for one, am glad to see such a Park thrive. The grounds are breathtaking and once all the initial problems are eliminated, this will be the place to come to compete.

By Elly Schobel (

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