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Isabelle and Dream-Light at the 2009 NEDA Fall Festival.

Photo by Matt Baldelli

tendency to collect hotter horses; I’d rather say whoa than go. Sometimes that translates as explosive! But I like them alive and fresh. That does not necessarily reflect the breed, but it is what we tend to choose.” Chico is a bay/brown gelding by Comeback II out of

Gardans Manon, a Rambo mare. He’s ten this year and is up and coming; he is competing in the small tour and scored a 69% in Intermediaire I. Lars is focused on moving him up to the Grand Prix. “He’s 17.2 hands and a lot of horse but he just wants to

learn and please,” says Melissa. “He also has a huge buck! He doesn’t do it often, but when he does, he goes very high in the air. He has a very classical piaffe and passage and natural movement.”

MOVING UP FROM PONIES

Isabelle Leibler made a big impression with her German sport ponies, and the 14-year-old from Greenwich, Connecticut chose a Danish Warmblood for her move up to a horse. Dream-Light is a 9-year-old mare imported by Lars that Isabelle’s family purchased for their daughter two years ago when the mare was competing on the small tour. Isabelle also still has two ponies competing, as well as Fakir Rouge, her mother’s Selle Français stallion. Things got off to a rough start when Dream-Light

contracted an E. Coli infection, which set her back, but Isabelle carefully rehabilitated her, with four and a half

months of fitness work in the field: trotting, cantering forward and bringing her back, and using hills and cavaletti to develop her fitness and

musculature. She just restarted the elegant chestnut mare in training this past winter. “Dream-Light is really hot and really forward but mostly

really sweet,” she says. “I was looking for a Young Rider horse, possibly something to do Grand Prix with. She’s 16.3 hands and I was a lot smaller when I found her, but she’s perfect.”

Isabelle’s mother Renee says, “I wanted something with

a nice temperament, knowing it would be her first horse. She’s the sweetest horse and loves people. We also wanted a young enough horse to take Isabelle up the levels. It was a difficult task, but Lars really found what we were looking for in Dream-Light. She has really good natural gaits and is floaty and elegant. There’s a horse named ‘Fred Astaire’ in her pedigree, so she must come by it naturally!” The step up from ponies to a horse can be a challenge, not only because of the height difference but because a horse’s movement is different from your typical pony. Isabelle boasts, “She’s very pretty to look at—not as

clunky as some bigger horses. The transfer from ponies to a horse was not as difficult as I thought it would be with her, though my chestnut pony does have big movement. Lars is one of the best trainers in the world; he is so good with the ponies and with Dream-Light. He’s demanding

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