Wellington Journal, Part 3

Wellington Journal, Part 3: Palm Beach Dressage Derby, 30th anniversary  by Sylvia Harmon
Photo: Jodie Stevens Kelly and Manhattan (more photos here!)
Sunny skies, cooler-than-normal Florida temps, and blustery winds marked the 30th anniversary of the Palm Beach Dressage Derby March 1 -3 at Equestrian Estates in Loxahatchee, Florida. But the unseasonable weather did not discourage most of the entries of this dressage world institution.

My class-of-choice to cover for this article, was Sunday's FEI Grand Prix Musical Freestyles. And what a talented group of horse/rider combos!  I must say that I don't ever recall seeing as many happy horses, with floppy ear and swinging tails, in any one FEI class before! The class was a true joy to watch and the musical selections were the icing on the cake.

First up was Jodie Stevens Kelly (USA) riding Manhattan,  a 19 year-old Dutch Warmblood. The first song in their medley was the envigorating  Eye of the Tiger.  Next on deck was two-time Canadian Olympian, Jaqueline Brooks, riding  D-Niro to  Allelujah by the Web Sisters and  Big Yellow Taxi. USA competitor from North Carolina, James Koford and his mount, Rhett entertained with a medley of American Indian-themed music in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Wounded Knee Incident. In case you don't remember, James's career in dressage was catapulted into fame with the legendary pinto warmblood Art Deco. Canada's Diane Creech , aboard Devon-L pranced to a medley beginning with the music of Enya. 

Break time, and decisions, decisions........do I use the time to shop at the exclusive vendors or sacrifice myself to cover two awards ceremonies to warm the hearts and souls of my beloved GMO members, freezing in the cold weather up north ? (It's getting deep here! :)) Anywhoooooo, just for you :
  • First was the Dressage Foundation Carol Lavell "Gifted" award - $25,000 grant to study in Europe - this year was given to double recipients Adrienne Lyle and Wizard and Sharon McCuster and Wrigley. Carol went on to say how grateful she was for the financial assistance she received along the way that ultimately enabled her and Gifted compete in the Olympics. She said " the award is a way for me to follow my philosophy which is 'What goes around should come back around'."
  • The second award was the Hanoverian High Point award went to Torry Polonitza and "Seraphina".
Following the break, Denmark's Mikala Gunersen and My Lady (Danish Warmblood, of course!) resumed the musical freestyles with familiar tunes from Elvis, the Bee Gees and Aways on My Mind. You could almost sing along if you weren't trying to steady a camera. The pair finished with an impressive 72.775%, giving them 3rd place. Fellow countryman, Lars Peterson and Mariet  wowed the crowd with a medley of circus-themed songs and won the class with 76.4 %. Birthday Boy Jaimy Irwin from Canada and Lindor's Finest kept us transfixed while riding to She's Got the Look and You Can Call Me Al. By this time my legs are beginning to ache and I'm not longer paying attnetion to the music. But just as I'm beginning to feel sorry for myself, the lovely Lynda Alicki and her dog, Maddie, join me to watch a few of the remaining rides. Capturing second place with a 73.625% was Loxahatchee resident, Shelly Francis and Doktor, out of Diamond Hit. Finishing up the class and earning 69.175% was David Marcus and Swedish Warmblood Don Kontes. What an inspiring group of riders and a great way to wrap up my last article for the series! I hope you have enjoyed the "Window to Wellington" that i've attempted to bring to you this season. It was only a small partof the horse action down here and perhaps next year you might want to consider , at least, a long weekend in Wellington. If available, I'll be happy to give you directions and info. Perhaps you will even be inpired to write your own article about a particular equestrian event! Then I'll be free to go to the beach! :)

'Looking forward to coming back home in time for spring and horsin' around in beautiful eastern PA!

See also part 1 and part 2 Wellington Journal!