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Fumella Frostbite's Dressage - February 2005 Issue

Well, Dressage diva’s once again recovered from Dave and Tuny Page’s  Annual Balkenhol Bash. As in the past, USET team coach, Klaus Balkenhol and his wife, Judith were the guests of honor and just about every who’s who in dressage made it to the not-to-missed affair. Dave’s wine room, turned into the Palm Beach Port Authority as Dave did his best to educate everyone’s palette on the subtleness on fine port wines. A few thick- tongued dressage queens (no names, you know who you are) were sent back for coffee before the valet’s would relinquish their cars. “But it wasn’t quite as crazy  as last year,” said Tuny. “Last year,  I noticed our sprinkler heads were run over and had turned into fountains.  That wasn’t so bad until I realized every roadside sprinkler head on our street had been hit.  Our street looked like Versailles the next morning.”

Linda Zang was missed at the party but hubby, Jim Lewis (aka Mr. Zang) explained she had a good excuse.  Seems Linda was in Amsterdam working on book with a group of O-judges.  That aught to be interesting reading when it comes out!

Meanwhile, former jumper turned dressage-rider, Carla Morrison showed up at the bash in style in a shiny new blue Bentley convertible that she picked up earlier that afternoon on a whim! Nice wheels Carla!

As the Balkenhol Bash was winding down, Fumella got the scoop on another favorite dressage party that seemed to be in jeopardy.  The famous and very wet YeeFest, looked like it might be cancelled this year due to a split between Melissa and Ken Yee.  Melissa said yes she and Ken were going through the big D, but not to worry she is planning to host the party anyway.  Of course the name Yee Fest will be dropped and maybe something like the Taylor-Made party will replace it, as Melissa’s maiden name is Taylor. As for the split, Melissa said sadly, Ken’s a great guy, but he’s not that into horses and horses are my life.” And Melissa has also made horses her life’s work, partnering with Susie Dutta and Lars Peterson in a new equestrian venture called Success Dressage. We wish them lots of it!

Walter Zettl was in Wellington this week and along with hosting a clinic, he decided it was time to cowboy-up!  Seems Walter teamed up with Palm Beach reining trainer,  Jon Ingram to show some of the similarities between dressage and reining on his new video. Both horsemen had a great time and look forward to collaborating on training again in the future.

At the one of the past USDF Conventions, Max Gahwyler noted that dressage is one of the most regulated of all sports. And with new rules on what’s legal coming out faster than the sport’s show results, he may just be right.  But Fumella came across a few horse laws that pertain to all disciplines that are worth noting. Like the law in Pocataligo, GA that reads, “Horses are not allowed to be heard neighing after 10 PM.” Just say neigh in Pocataligo! And how about the law from Fort Collins, CO that states; “It is unlawful for any male rider, within the city limits of this community, to wink at any female with whom he is acquainted.”  Males winking at males seems to be okay, however! My personal favorite is the law from McAlester, OK that states, “it is taboo for a woman over 235 pounds, attired in shorts to be seen on horse in public.” Who could argue? Thanks to the American Warmblood Society for bringing these important laws to my attention.

Speaking of looking good on horseback, Isabell Werth introduced a new design of breeches that are very slimming and flattering. Unfortunately, FEI Steward and TD, Robert Higgins pointed out that under current USEF rules the black and white pants are not legal for the show ring.  So much for taking ten pounds off your thighs instantly! There’s a dressage rule that needs amending.

Meanwhile ever slim, Anky Van Grunsven, continues to hold her number one ranking in the FEI Dressage Riders World Ranking. (Our own Debbie McDonald is ranked number two.)  But her exclusive agreement with kur composer’s Victor Kerkhof and Cees Slings has come to end. So while the Dutch duo will still work with Anky, they are already in negotiations with other top riders and that could be music to many dressage fans ears!

In sort of related news, Canadian Shannon Dueck, (now located in Wellington, Fl) just imported a young sale prospect from Sef Janssen named Baby Bonfire.  Naturally, Fumella had to have a first hand look at the little bugger. No disappointment.  Baby Bonfire moves like his namesake and last word was the fancy four-year-old was already sold. Send more of these to states, Sef!

And also from Europe, Monica Theodorescu has been getting a lot of press for her clinics in France. But word from my sources is she has been here in the US helping out lucky FEI riders in the Carolinas, too.  Some say she has selected a certain top FEI competitor who she may be wooing to move to Europe! We’ll keep you posted!

On the home front, hats off to Ingred Pollak for earning her USDF Gold Medal. She got her final grand prix score at the Canterbury show last month riding Gatsby! You show girl! Interestingly, former owner, Sharon Criswell also got her gold medal on Gatsby way back when! And where has Sharon Criswell been hiding? She left Wellington and headed off to California and the CDS, but then we hear no more. Call or write Sherri.  Are you out there having fun in the ole California sun?  We want to know!

Meanwhile, Wellington dressage trainer, John Zopatti continues to spice things up. We told you about his Eventing debut, this month he took his jumping pursuits to new heights and tied for second place in the Winsome Dressage/Jumping Spectacular at the Wellington Dressage show. First place was again, Zopatti’s stable mate, Bent Jensen teamed with the invincible, Anne Kursinski!  As Zopatti’s ride time in the hit and hurry class neared, he was nicknamed John Go-Potti by friends.  Seems pre-jumping jitters had Zopatti spending a lot of time in the Port-O-Potty before his ride!  Two weeks prior to the Winsome Spectacular, Zopatti spiced things up with all fours on the ground.  He and student, Carla Morrison paired up for a fourth level pas de deux at the GCDA Opener CDI. Their duet scored them a  healthy 74.650% and a pair of blue ribbons!

Oh and if you are into guys with big scores, you’ll want to be on the lookout for Marco Bernal riding Mordechay Shahak’s Westphalian stallion, Farewell.  The pair earned an 85.385% at the Wellington Dressage show in early February and my sources say that may be the highest score ever awarded at a WEF show! And kudos to Ken Braddick and Horse Deals Magazine for sponsoring a special award recognizing the Wellington Dressage Show’s high score winner.  Horse Deals presented Marco with an embroidered cooler and beautiful crystal trophy form Van Dell Jewelers. Marco gushed and said “It was a great ride. I didn’t want it to end. I could have kept riding and riding.”  Well at least it was happy ending, Marco!

And speaking of happy riders, I think that the city of New York will have to change their slogan, now that Canadian, Ashley Holzer, lives there.  Instead of “I love New York”, how does “I love Ashley” sound- because it seems everybody does.  The judges in Wellington love Ashley , as attested to with her many wins at the first two Wellington dressage shows this year.  And students (and fellow New Yorkers) Diane Fellows and Ellen Lazarus just can’t say enough nice things about Ashley. Even her Canadian team mates sing her praises. And what’s not to like, she’s talented, beautiful and riding with panache. Gals’ like this could put an end to the old joke…what does a dressage queen use for birth control. Her personality!

Nice or not-so-nice, there are so many opportunities for to watch great dressage coming up in the next month that dressage groupies may find themselves in overload. Check out the Dressage Workshop (with Hubertus Schmidt, Linda Zang and Mariette and Raymond Withages) at Cesar Parra’s Performance Farm in Jupiter on March 7th and 8th, or the Young Rider’s Clinic (with Lisa Wilcox, Steffen Peters, Debbie McDonald,, Robert Dover, Kathy Connelly and Lorraine Stubbs)  put together by Weiss Family Chiropractic Centers March 11th and 12th at Two Swans Farm and Still Point Farm. Or mark your dressage calendar to attend the Challenge of the Americas fund raiser March 12th at Palm Beach Polo, which is chock full of celebrity riders and judges!  Not to mention the WEF Dressage CDI show March 17-20th. Fumella will see you there!

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