Wellington, FL (March 7, 2015)— With the wind at their backs during a blustery day at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida, riders took to the ring demonstrating their skills and, in some cases, their sportsmanship. Young Ayden Uhlir, a nineteen-year-old based out of Hampton Green Farm in Wellington, rode into the ring with an attitude that exemplified excellence and teamwork with her horse. Uhlir’s sense of sportsmanship earned her the Premier Equestrian Sportsmanship Award. “In the beginning, there were a couple of spooks” Uhlir said about her ride in the FEI Prix St. Georges. “Usually I let that get to me, but this time I really stayed focused. Every time we went down to the far side, I said ‘you are not going to spook, we need to focus on our work,’ and that’s what happened!” She smiled.
The class, formatted like a true Derby, paired riders to compete on the same horse in back-to-back tests (Koschel/Pavicic and Lyle/Petersen), with the rider receiving the highest score moving forward to the second round. Riders were given a five-minute familiarization period with the horses before performing an FEI Prix St. Georges level test. “Last year when I heard the Palm Beach Dressage Derby would be held at our venue, I had been told about the history of the show and I thought that a Derby needs a Derby (class). That’s why I set this up this year to test out how it would work,” said Thomas Baur, Director of Sport at AGDF. “It was great that we had four top riders join us, and we will work on something for next year to make the Derby class a larger part of the week.”
Uhlir and her mount, a sixteen-year-old KWPN gelding, received the award after competing in the FEI Prix St. Georges. “Sjapoer is usually pretty spooky— even though he is an old man, he’s still a little baby at heart,” Uhlir informed. He just celebrated his “sweet sixteen” on the seventh of February, when he received a carrot cake sprinkled with sugar cubes. Uhlir is proud of her competitive season with Sjapoer (Contango-Jenia/Woldgang) thus far. “The season has been going great!” she exclaimed. “At the last couple of shows we have been achieving top ten in the Prix St. Georges, and now we are working on dressage piaffes—which at sixteen is a bit of hard dream, but he puts a lot of heart in and I really appreciate him teaching me everything I know.”
Uhlir explains that sportsmanship is important in and around the ring because a rider isn’t just competing in the ring, but in everyday life. “You get to know these people and be in their same world,” she explained, “so why would you not have a great attitude. To be negative is a poor way to live. I want to spread the idea of being nice and just moving forward when stress or negativity comes your way.” Uhlir is appreciative of where she is today, and thanks Kim Boyer of Hampton Green Farm for all of the opportunities that she has been granted. Her ultimate dream is the Olympics, though her short-term goals include the Small Tour where she plans to do as much as she can do to go as far as she can go.
Christoph Koschel received the highest overall score of the class, with a 71.421% aboard Kelly Layne’s Von Primaire, which ultimately moved him to the second round to compete against Adrienne Lyle, who received a 66.579% aboard Melody Jackson’s Fortune and Fame, pushing her into the final round of competition. Lyle won the final round of the Derby, scoring a 66.816% aboard Leah Wilson’s Zango with Koschel finishing just behind on a 64.053%.
“I think that this is something for a Saturday night. It would be really fun,” said Baur. Koschel added that these competitions are fun for spectators, and there are several ways to make the class more difficult for riders. “These competitions are great because you get to see horses being ridden by different riders and like Thomas said, a derby needs a derby. They’re very popular in Germany. It would be great to add some sort of Freestyle element to the class as the final round. It would be something really nice for the crowd and make it more challenging for the riders.”
Lyle, who entered the International Ring at AGDF for the first time this season to participate in the class, was thrilled with her win and expressed the most sincere gratitude to the owners who volunteered their horses for the competition. “I was very excited when I received the invitation to compete, and it’s great fun. Thank you so much to the owners for giving us this opportunity. It was incredibly generous of them, and they put a huge amount of trust in our hands to make sure their horses had a positive experience in the ring.”
Lyle and Koschel both started the first round on large warmblood geldings, proceeding to ride the smaller Zango, a feisty P.R.E. stallion, who made both riders work for their scores. “I rode two completely different horses today. We had one bigger mover and then one little firecracker of a horse, so it was really interesting. You get a couple of minutes to warm-up and figure them out, and then you have to go in there and ride to the best of your ability. It’s a great challenge,” remarked Lyle.
The planning for next year’s event has already begun and the extra preparation time will allow Thomas Baur and his team to create a truly spectacular event. “With more time I think we can really make this class an important piece of this competition,” he stated. Karen Pavicic agreed and said the event was well received considering its inaugural year. She noted, “A lot of people were asking about it and I think there was a lot of interest, which will continue to grow as people understand what it is and the format. People were asking about live-stream and wanting to watch, which is a great thing to know for next year.”
Chris Von Martels (CAN) and Zilverstar added another FEI Intermediaire 1 Freestyle to their list of wins this year at AGDF. The pair scored a 74.950% to take home the win. Fellow Canadian Christilot Boylen and Donatella 79 finished behind Von Martels in second with a 72.050% and Silva Martin (USA) and Aesthete followed in third receiving a 71.950%. The FEI Intermediaire 1 Freestyle class was presented by Peacock Ridge.
Von Martels and “Zilver” have made a tremendous statement this circuit with their ability to perform consistently. The duo placed second this week in the large FEI Prix St. Georges class and also won the AGDF 5 I-1 Freestyle as well. “It was another fantastic week for us. He had a great result in the Prix St. Georges and actually yesterday in the I1 he was very good, we just had a big costly error, which we lost points for, but that happens. He’s been so consistent, and I’m thrilled,” he said.
The pair is steadily working towards their goal of representing Canada at the 2015 Pan American Games to be held in Toronto later this summer and will compete for Team Canada at the AGDF 12 Stillpoint Farm FEI Nation’s Cup in a few short weeks. “For myself and all of my horses, we know the areas we need to focus on in terms of training but with Zilver in particular, he’s developed a lot more strength and confidence. Now his real potential is showing, and his quality is shining,” said Von Martels.
Correction from the press release on March 7, 2015: Something Special C, 2000 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Ferro x Gicara II x Beaujolais) who placed 6th in yesterday’s FEI Grand Prix Special, ridden by Adrienne Pots, is owned by James & Elizabeth Bramsen.
AGDF 10 will host the Florida International Dressage Youth Championships beginning this week, highlighting the riding of young dressage riders from around the world, alongside FEI CDI 1*/3* competition. Classes will begin on Wednesday, March 11, and continue through Sunday, March 15. For more information on the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival please visit, www.globaldressagefestival.com.