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pure Warmbloods versus mostly Thoroughbred or Thoroughbred/ Warmblood crosses. This fact alone does tend to make a difference in the dressage performances one sees in top competition. But what about the riders?

“In the eventing world there is still much angst about the

Sometimes there is an assumption among “pure” dressage folk that the form of dressage seen in three-day-eventing is somewhat diluted in quality. By this I mean that dressage riders do not give eventers much credit for ever mastering “real” dressage. Despite the obvious fact that dressage judges at horse trials are the same folks as the judges at USDF competitions, judging by the same rules, standards, and scoring methodology, there really is a general impression of some kind of “difference”. And that difference often focuses on the riders, who very nearly never overlap between the disciplines at the upper levels. So for fun and to make a point, New Spring Farm’s

increasing emphasis on dressage performance in world level competition.”

this was the mount for the ‘Big Challenge.’ As it happened, Cheryl and I were out of the country that weekend, so Michael took Baron to St. Louis on his own, adding to the pressure. Stallions will be stallions of

course, and the first warm-up at the SLADS show grounds included some airs above the ground, but from that point on horse and rider found the work ethic needed and behaviors were all steady and yeoman-like. The judges seemed to enjoy this pair,

in fact enjoyed them enough to more than make the weekend successful. Here are the scores:

recently added young trainer, Michael Larsen, decided it would be worthwhile to pit himself against the USDF’s first big ladder rung in achievement, the Rider’s Bronze Medal. To understand the challenge fully, one must know that there are many dressage riders who work for years to earn this honor, needing two scores above 60% at each of the three levels First, Second, and Third, from different judges for the two scores at each level. And USDF rules do not allow one to show a horse at more than two adjacent levels at one show, so at least two shows are needed also. Until June 5, 2009 Michael had never shown any horse

at any recognized USDF show, though he had evented for years, even briefly up to advanced level several years ago. The St. Louis Area Dressage Society conducted a pair of back-to-back shows June 5–7 (counting as two separate competitions on the same weekend), and had enough judges coming that it was at least theoretically possible to ride all six needed rides in one weekend to earn a Bronze Medal. We have a young ATA-approved stallion, Baron Verdi, never shown above third level in dressage, campaigned as an eventer and a jumper, but lately he has mainly been a homebound breeding stallion. Michael had been sharing the riding duties on him with Cheryl for the previous two months, and all of us agreed that

First Level Test 1 .......................73.000% from Leslie Weiss ‘r’ First Level Test 2 .......................70.556% from Leslie Weiss ‘r’ First Level Test 4 .......................72.363% from Sue Malone-Casey ‘S’ Second Level Test 2 ..................72.973% from William Solyntjes ‘S’ Second Level Test 2 ..................72.973% from Anne Rawle ‘S’ Third Level Test 1 ......................64.359% from William Solyntjes ‘S’ Third Level Test 1 ......................65.897% from Sue Malone-Casey ‘S’ Third Level Test 1 ......................64.615% from William Solyntjes ‘S’

So, as one can see, Michael’s USDF Bronze Medal was

won by a pretty substantial margin. Their tests qualified them for show championship only at First Level, and they won it. Michael received for Rider scores of “7” on six of the tests, and one “6” and one “8”. Baron Verdi for Gaits earned six “8”s, one “7”, and one “9”, that “9” from Sue Malone-Casey. Mission accomplished; USDF Bronze Medal certificate issued and received in one weekend by an event rider riding “eventing dressage” or “real dressage?” You be the judge.


About Tim Holekamp: He and his wife Cheryl own New Spring Farm in Columbia, MO, and in Ocala, FL, and have been active Trakehner breeders for the last 25 years. They currently stand two stallions, Windfall and Baron Verdi, and have won numerous ATA awards. Tim served on the ATA Board and chaired several committees for many years in the past. He is presently on the USEA Young Event Horse Task Force and the USEF High Performance Owners’ Task Force. Cheryl is a Grand Prix rider, a trainer and coach, and a USEF “r” dressage judge and USEA YEH judge.

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