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o matter how laser sharp we focus on the brass ring, the scenario in which we grab the prize never seems to take the form we

dreamed. As Tanya Vik rose through the dressage lev- els, she couldn’t have made up a story like the reality of her first time competing at Grand Prix. First, there was her horse. Hanoverian gelding

Divinity 3, nicknamed Vinnie, was a less than obvious FEI prospect when in 2002 he arrived from Germany at Tanya’s Sonoma County, California, training barn. Imported by a student of Tanya’s, Vinnie, a Don Primero son, moved in the barn shoe- less and foot sore with a habit of running over the farrier. When he wasn’t running over the handler, he traveled on the lunge line with rigid front legs out of a straight, low set neck. His hind legs spread wide in all three gaits. While the six year old had good basic training, his trot had little lift and his walk tended to be lateral. Each canter stride was punctuated by throwing his butt in the air and dropping down hard on his shoulders. “I didn’t know what to make of him,” she recalls. “The things you look for in your next FEI horse were not adding up.” After two months, the owner put him up for

from the day before and we just moved on. No matter how difficult the work the day before, he couldn’t wait to work.” Tanya followed her instincts, bought him and wit-

nessed his work ethic and trainability outshine his con- formation and challenging gaits. “He has had to work hard to organize himself well enough for this job. I’ve had to structure him a lot and make the gaits,” says Tanya who works with Lilo Fore (her rock), Sandy Howard (her mentor) and David Hunt (her motivator). Further, the two have

worked out the challenges of Vinnie's active personal- ity. “He has attention deficit disorder. He always has to be doing some- thing. If you’re in the barn he wants you to interact with him. He can’t stand still in the cross ties and paws constantly in the trailer. He provides enter- tainment at CDI jogs when he leaps and jumps and bucks in hand.” “At a show if some-

Tanya and Vinnie perform canter pirouette.

sale. Tanya entered him in a show to improve his sales value. “I could hardly canter on him, but I signed him up for second level. The coolest thing was that he went around the out- side of the arena as if it was the best moment of his life. In the test he performed a better ride than I thought he was capable of. That quality does- n’t come along very often,” recalls Tanya. They scored 73 percent. Vinnie was growing on her, but Tanya had taken

two horses to Prix St. Georges that could not go fur- ther, and she had to make a careful decision. “What endeared him to me is that every day he came out to work happily and positively. He remembered things

thing has him wound up, you would rather be on him than on the ground. I think when he was young

"I didn't know what to make of him. The things you look for in your next FEI horse were not adding up."

someone worked his piaffe on the ground and got him pretty wiggy. I know how to handle him. If I tried to make him well behaved when he’s uptight, I wouldn’t be very successful. You can’t be aggressive with him. You work with him. That’s just him,” she laughs. That energy also

gives him the work drive. “As soon as you put your foot in the stirrup you have a horse you can ride anywhere. And there

aren’t too many horses you can say that about. Every day I ride him I appreciate him.” In the wrong hands Vinnie may have turned bad.

Instead he partnered with a rider whose character and style he mirrored and as they successfully moved up the levels, Vinnie got better. In 2007 the pair competed at the National Intermediare I championship in Gladstone,

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