Devon, Pa. – Sept. 30, 2023 – The lights of the Dixon Oval illuminated the first qualifying pair for the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final Riyadh (KSA) to be hosted April 16-20, 2024 from the North American League. Dressage at Devon presented by Kingsview Partners is proud to be a part of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ – North American League offering the CDI-W Grand Prix Musical Freestyle each year at Dressage at Devon. As a long-time staple on the qualifier calendar for one of the biggest events in international dressage each year, top riders from around the country make their way to the historic show for a chance to ride in one of the best competition settings in North America. Known for it’s electric atmosphere, Benjamin Ebeling and Indeed tapped into the energy of the fully-packed grand stands in the Dixon Oval to deliver a performance worthy of contesting for the World Cup title next spring, earning more than just a blue ribbon.
The field of competitors for the CDI-W Grand Prix Musical Freestyle presented by Kingsview Partners was stacked as the Dixon Oval saw the top ranked riders on the FEI Dressage World Cup™ North American League Standings including No. 8 ranked rider, Evi Strasser of Canada; No. 9 ranked rider, Michael Bragdell of the U.S., as well as top young competitors, Benjamin Ebeling and Hope Cooper, and even the return of Tokyo Olympic pair, Yvonne Losos de Muñiz of the Dominican Republic and her long-time partner, Aquamarijn. With so many talented horses and riders in attendance, only a show-stopping performance would take the cake.
Ebeling delivered just that posting a score of 77.325% aboard the 2008 Danish Warmblood mare by Hofrat out of De Niro 6. The pair is one step closer to their goal of qualifying for the FEI World Cup Dressage Finals in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2024. Ebeling spoke highly of his partner tonight, Indeed, and the connection they have formed saying, “She speaks for herself, we have developed a great partnership and we have spent a lot of time together, trying and failing, and failing is really part of the journey to get to successes like these. The freestyle is made up of all strong female diva roles which really suits her, it’s all for her, and she knows it. She has been in the family, owned by Vantage Equestrian Group II, LLC for five years, and I have been lucky enough to have the ride on her for two years.”
“I am really grateful and lucky to have the owners of Vantage supporting me,” Ebeling continued. “I hope the thirty minutes of grooming and massaging her before the ride was enough. I feel that really spending time with her in the stables before the ride continues to develop the partnership. I don’t want to just shake hands with her and get on, I want to really be in the know with her and have that deep conversation, sometimes I sing to her, sometimes I dance in her stall – she is a special horse and she needs that connection with someone.”
The theme of old guard versus new wave was in full effect on Saturday night during the freestyle as fellow up-and-coming rider, Tanya Strasser-Shostak, daughter of Evi Strasser, and her mom’s mount, Fidelis Tyme claimed the second-place position on a personal best score of 74.280%. It was a big evening for Strasser-Shostak and the 2010 Oldenburg gelding by Moosbachhof’s Fit for Fun out of Peron, who not only competed in her first-ever CDI-W freestyle, and made it on the podium, but the Canadian rider also qualified for a spot on her country’s team for the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile later this fall.
“It is his first Grand Prix season, our first season together, our first musical freestyle under the lights – for both of us, first World Cup qualifier,” Strasser-Shostak said, “there were a lot of firsts here tonight!” The pair only started doing CDI’s in May, and now they are qualified for the Pan American Games on the Canadian team. “We thought, in preparation for the Pan Am’s, let’s do Devon and try to see how it goes. I mean, honestly, every ride on him is literally the biggest gift. I mean, I know that’s super cheesy, but I’m so grateful to have him, he’s just so honest and has such a big heart, he’s so kind and he’s very much with me.” She continued stating, “I’m just so over the moon with it. The atmosphere tonight was just incredible. It is just amazing to have this type of venue in North America and such a positive crowd, and such a wonderful group of organizers that really make it fun and have everything running smoothly, even though it’s such a big show.”
Rounding out the top three was the yet another talented young rider, Hope Cooper, who made her second appearance in the Dixon Oval under the lights, having participated in the NorCordia Dressage at Devon 2023 Master Class presented by Running ‘S’ Equine Veterinary Services with Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour on Thursday evening aboard a different mount. Cooper and Jane Karol’s Flynn PCH, a 2006 Hanoverian stallion by Falsterbo out of Walt Lady (by Walt Disney) were the final pair to enter the Dixon Oval. Having to contest against a field of tight scores, Cooper and the experienced Grand Prix mount danced under the lights of the Dixon to contemporary hits including, Mi Gente by J Balvin and Willy William and of course some Beyonce, delivering a score of 74.115% just missing out on the second-place position and settling into the third-place podium.
“I am so proud of Flynn and it was so much fun. The atmosphere here is so electric and the people are cheering and clapping and I couldn’t ask for a better horse or a better audience and it was just all the stars aligning to have so much fun tonight,” Cooper said of her third place finish tonight. The freestyle was evolved from her U25 Freestyle with a different horse.
Speaking into how participating in the NorCordia Dressage at Devon 2023 Masterclass with Catherine Laudrup Dufour helped her tonight, Cooper said, “definitely a lot in the piaffe and passage work, just in the crispness in the beginning, and honestly I have to really thank Cathrine [Laudrup-Dufour], Dressage at Devon, and NorCordia, and all the sponsors of the Master Class because it really gave me the chance to ride in front of a huge audience which I haven’t really done in my career yet, and that gave me a lot of confidence, and I think I really carried that confidence over to Flynn which was really a great feeling.”
Top young riders kicked off CDI competition for the highly anticipated Saturday line-up of classes starting with the CDIU25 Grand Prix 16-25 sponsored by American Equus. Earning the blue ribbon was Allison Nemeth aboard Karen Nemeth’s 2011 Danish Warmblood mare, Tiko, (Tailormade Temptation x Akinos 2) on a score of 65.590%. Nemeth also earned accolades last year at Dressage at Devon, but as the groom for the winner of the CDI-W Grand Prix Musical Freestyle, Alice Tarjan, earning The Jeanne Pake Memorial Trophy.
Speaking into what it means to win the CDIU25 Grand Prix 16-25 at Devon, Nemeth said “It is a little unreal to me still, she and I just moved up to this level this year and I didn’t have plans to do a CDI for quite a bit longer, so just to come here to Dressage at Devon was an awesome experience, and then to do this well, it’s just been so good. The atmosphere here at Devon is not like any other show in the US.” Regarding her experience of showing at Devon, “This is a really fun show, to be in the action the whole time is just, again, not something you get anywhere else in the US,” Nemeth said, “For the horses it’s just like a really good experience for them to go out there and try to stay with you and I was so glad she stayed with me out there today!”
No stranger to Dressage at Devon, Vanessa Creech-Terauds and the 2012 Hanoverian gelding, Daniel L, owned and bred by Louise Leatherdale of Leatherdale Farms earned a score of 64.795% ultimately taking home the second-place position. As an accomplished Canadian FEI Dressage Rider for Team Leatherdale, this was not Creech-Terauds’ first ribbon of the week. She and Leatherdale Farm’s 4-year-old Hanoverian mare, Duett claimed the Reserve Champion title in the division earlier this week.
U.S. rider, Siena Harris-Gissler rode her newest mount, Status Royal OLD (Statesman OLD × Rubin Royal OLD) to a score of 64.615%. Previously campaigned in the U25 division by Benjamin Ebeling, Status Royal OLD is considered one of the most successful American U25 mounts. From Nations Cup teams, to multiple European Grand Prix wins, to scores up to 74% in the senior Grand Prix, this 2010 Oldenburg gelding and his new rider of only a few weeks round out the podium with a third-place finish in first-ever test together in the Dixon Oval.
The precursor to the main event, the CDI3* Grand Prix Special saw Canada’s Evi Strasser and Déjà Vu Tyme go two for two here this year at Dressage at Devon, capturing the victory in both last night’s CDI3* Grand Prix Qualifier, as well as this evening’s CDI3* Grand Prix Special. The pair posted a 66.117% to take the victory over Christian Garweg, who posted a 64.745% aboard Karen Meyer’s 2009 Dutch Warmblood Gelding, Excalibur RS (Glock’s Johnson TN × Lancer II). Rounding out the podium in third was Emily Wyman and Gretchen Stearnsand’s, Chigali, a 2007 Dutch Warmblood Gelding Chigali, by Kigali out of Chronos.
Competition at Dressage at Devon will conclude Sunday, Oct. 1 with Freestyle Day!
PICNIC GROVE LUNCH LECTURES
The Current Application of 2 Track Movements – Williams Dressage & Xenophon Press – Presented by Richard Williams – Williams, with a vast knowledge of the history and theories of dressage, spoke passionately about what he and his wife, Frances Williams have learned from countless educational sources, including from one another and from the many educational dressage books that can be found at their own Xenophon Press. Richard and Frances Williams offer unique, customized services for the serious equestrian. The Williams’ philosophy promotes Classical Dressage methods. The rider’s development and education parallels the education and training of the horse. The William’s encourage training the horse and rider together, so that riders can benefit fully from the training the horses receive while at Williams Dressage. For more information on Williams Dressage and Xenophon Press, head over to their booth here at Dressage at Devon!
Hagyard Pharmacy Presents Relyne GI – Resolvet by Hagyard Pharmacy – Presented by Mark White – For all those who have ever had a horse with ulcers, and have not had success with omeprazole and/or sucrulfate, Resolvevet by Hagyard Pharmacy’s Relyne GI could be the new hero for your horse’s health. The unique combination of a patented stomach-buffering hyaluronan and the immune effects of a beta glucan helps the horse to maintain a healthy digestive system. Studies have shown that 90% of horses who received Relyne GI for 30 days showed complete healing, a significant improvement over the 70-75% success rate seen in other pharmaceutical ulcer treatments. For more information on Relyne GI, head over to the Relyne GI trailer by the Dixon Oval warm-up ring.
Dressage at Devon would like to thank all of the vendors who participated in the Picnic Grove Lunch Lectures, which included: The History and Current applications of 2 track movements, presented by Richard Williams; Bemer Low Frequency PEMF therapy to increase blood flow-better health for you and your horse, presented by Amy Robb; A Horse Farm for You-Considerations and Basic Facts, presented by Krasi Henkel; Learn about Stubben Saddles, presented by Stubben Saddle Representative; Hagyard Pharmacy presenting Relyne GI, presented by Mark White; The Benefits of Equine Sleeve vs. traditional standing wraps, presented by Reid Doyle, Vice President & Co-Founder and Sara Lyons; The Benefits of Equine Pulse Performance Therapy; Because Your Horse Deserves to Eat Heathy Too! Daily Dose Equine presented by Janet Geyer; and Blue Stem Botanicals- Drink your Garden!
Feature Video of the Day
Benjamin Ebeling and Indeed. Video by Olivia Airhart, Mane Source Media for Phelps Media Group