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his jumping ability. Cindy liked how Jessica

handled Cardi at the inspection and asked her to begin working with him under saddle. Jessica started him in January of his three-year-old year. This is, she feels, the optimum starting time for young horses, especially stallions. For youngsters, she tries to keep the pressure that can come with specialization off. “For the first few months, all they have to do is go, stop, turn—and not buck you off,” she says with a laugh. “It’s too soon to ask for anything else.” After working with

him for a few months, however, Jessica recom- mended that Cindy consider more formal dressage training for Cardi. “I thought he was really special and could compete with the big horses in dressage,” she explains. Cindy agreed and ultimately presented an unexpected opportunity to Jessica: she offered part- ownership in Cardi in return for Jessica’s time and training skills. Jessica swiftly agreed and their three-way partnership became official. “It was an easy decision for me to make. This is a soul

mate partnership—he’s my best friend,” Jessica says with a laugh. “How could I let that go? We joke that I went to Europe three times looking for my next dressage competitive horse and finally found a pony here in Oregon.”


At age three, Cardi entered the competitive dressage ring for the first time, winning his Training Level class. In fact, he was USDF Region 6 Open and Regional Training Level Champion that year, with a score of 72.5%. From there, Cardi continued to move up the levels, winning all the way. As a four year old, he competed successfully in both First Level dressage and sanctioned Welsh shows, mostly in English Pleasure. At five, he was the USDF Region 6 Second Level Champion with a score of 69% and Northwest Reserve Champion with a score of 70%. As a six year old, he was Third Level Champion at Donida (in Auburn, Washington), scoring 71.6%. At

Cardi at the canter during Dressage at Devon.

Photo © Terri Miller.

seven, he made the move to Prix St. Georges, taking the championships at both the USDF Letter Perfect and Champagne Classic Shows. Last year, Cindy and Jessica moved Cardi up to Intermediare I, while continuing to compete him at PSG. In April, Jessica took him to the Golden State Dressage Festival in Rancho Murieta, California, where they won the PSG class with a score of 66.1% and placed third in their I-1 debut. “It was amazing to see him win against all those big, imported horses!” Cindy exclaims.

As the year continued and the wins kept stacking up, Cindy and Jessica made a major decision: they would take their little horse across the country to compete in Pennsylvania at one of the country’s most prestigious dressage events. But things didn’t go quite as they planned.


The entire year was, Cindy says, “a pinch-me experience, simply a magic carpet ride!” Dressage at Devon, held in September, was when the magic carpet threatened to come crashing down. Jessica and a groom made the 3,081-mile trip with three horses, using their own trailer and doing their own driving. On the first day, they had a tire blow out, which took hours to get repaired. When they finally arrived in Pennsylvania, they stayed with a friend for two nights before moving to the showgrounds. During those two days, Cardi somehow kicked himself, injuring his hind fetlock. The next days saw Jessica and her groom icing the

injured joint four to five times a day and anxiously consulting the show’s veterinarian. Despite their hard work, Jessica was forced to scratch Cardi from his first class at Devon’s breed show—Stallions Four and Older Under Saddle. It was heartbreaking for Jessica, Cindy says, but the only choice she could comfortably make. There was never a question, she continues—the two are very protective of their stallion and Cardi’s well-

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