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performed her first Grand Prix test and placed them first in the open classes at the Dressage Affaire show in Del Mar, California. Five weeks later she won the open Grand Prix class with a 67 percent at the Del Mar National Show.

“I have ridden a million horses and never had this con- nection,” says Nick who was for sever- al years a working student for Olym- pian Guenther Seidel and contin- ues to train with him regularly. From 1993 to 2000 Nick worked at a large sales barn in Holland riding under international dressage competitor Anne van Olst. One of his greatest accom- plishments during his stay was starting and training the now famous Dutch Warmblood stallion, Krack C, and together they won the Pavo Cup for young Dutch horses two years in a row.

worries. So we repeat and repeat until she is comfortable. With some horses you can exaggerate an aid, but that worries her. So if I show her something enough times, she understands. Afterwards she does her homework overnight.”

Nick Wagman and the lovely Uforia.

For example, Nick began teach- ing her to rein back in his usual way. “Normally I teach the horse by using the aids from the saddle while someone on the ground lightly taps her front legs. Then the horse asso- ciates my aids with backing. When we did that with Uforia she had a meltdown. No one had ever treated her like that. She thought she was being punished. The next day, as soon as I got on her she did a rein

back, as if showing me what she learned.”

Uforia excels in piaffe, passage and pirouettes, though her conformation does not necessarily reflect her abilities. “She’s typical mare from her back to her hind end; a little long, a little high in the croup, but conformation doesn’t always dictate if a horse can do it.”

Nick first recognized this rare bond with Uforia when he trailered her to their first horse show together. “At the show someone else was going to lead her out. I undid the butt bar. She wouldn’t move. She heard my voice, and kept turning around to look at me. So we switched places. As soon as I went to her head, she literally sighed, dropped her neck and walked out. That was the essence of her – relying on me for her security.”

Their special relationship extends to their work under saddle. “I can maybe count five days when it wasn’t a great ride with her. She has decided I am the person she trusts, and she is always trying her hardest to figure out what I’m asking her to give me her utmost.”

The idea that Uforia was bought to resell has disap- peared. Nick compares their relationship to that of the iconic dressage pair Debbie McDonald and Brentina. “Their harmony made them so special. No matter what happened you knew that mare was trying her utmost for Debbie. That’s how I feel about Uforia.”

Because of Uforia’s intense nature and desire to do right, Nick has learned to accommodate her style of learning. “She is very smart. If she does something wrong, she

In her rapid rise to Grand Prix, she has had to learn to extend her strides. “In Prix St. Georges, the horses with huge extensions do well. When you get to Grand Prix those big extensions have to turn into tiny movements like piaffe,” Nick describes.

Uforia is learning to open her stride, now scoring 7’s and 8’s on extended movements. Judges’ marks also reflect improvement in her frame. “Her neck is a bit short so she has a tendency to look overly round and a little short in the frame. I work to keep her out where the judges want her.”

The plan for the pair is to continue on the road to improving their Grand Prix while in the back of his mind Nick is dreaming about making a bid for a place at the 2010 World Equestrian Games on the mare he had no intension of buying.

The Irish Sport Horse, BALLINAKILL GLORY

Knowing Ballinakill Glory you might think her nickname “Pippa” is the Irish word for princess. No, this three day eventing star, an Irish Sport Horse, was not nicknamed for her lifestyle, but to honor her grandmother, Ballinakill Pippa.

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