Liz Austin and Friesian Stallion Thys Capture FEI High Score at Vermont Dressage Days
Essex Junction, Vermont (August 14, 2014 )- Liz Austin returned to the FEI ring in style over the weekend of August 9th, riding Philip Bailey’s eight-year-old Friesian stallion, Thys, to a victory in the Open Prix St. Georges class on Sunday at the annual Vermont Dressage Days show in Essex Junction, Vermont. Riding for judge Fran Dearing Kehr, Austin’s score of 66.184 earned her the highest FEI score of the weekend in addition to the highest scoring Friesian award. “Thys is the first Friesian I’ve ever had in training. I’ve known him for a few years now as I helped his previous rider, Rachel Deemer, with him quite a bit, so I already knew he was of incredible quality. It wasn’t until I started riding him full time that I realized just how talented he really is. It is a testament to the excellent basics Rachel put on him that I’ve been able to come so far with him in such a short period of time,” says Austin, 30, of Williston, Vermont.
Austin debuted two horses at the FEI level two weeks ago at the famous GMHA July Dressage, one being a sales horse, Ricochet, owned by Mary Piro, who came out at Prix St. Georges with over a 68%, and the other was Thys. “I brought Thys along to GMHA to school since he’s only been to a few dressage shows in his whole life. He was so well behaved, I decided to enter him in the Prix St. Georges on Sunday, as well. I couldn’t believe how well he handled the pressure considering he’s only eight years old and had previously only ever shown first level! It really is a testament to his character that he was able to come out at FEI for the first time and have such a successful debut.”
“He is definitely capable of scoring over 70% at Prix St. Georges, and if he keeps going the way he’s going, he will be able to score over 70% at Grand Prix, as well. I can’t tell you how many people have told me he’s the nicest Friesian they’ve ever seen. He has three world-class gaits and one of the best work ethics I’ve ever worked with. I can make him as hot and sensitive as I want in the ring, then drop the reins and send a beginner out hacking on him. He is a fabulous ambassador for the Friesian breed.”
No stranger to success in the FEI ring, Austin has a long history of riding stallions to championships at the international levels. Her two most successful mounts to date were both approved Dutch Warmblood stallions- Olivier (Idocus x Porter), with whom she was a two-time national champion, Horse of the Year winner and reserve rider for the FEI World Cup and Hierarch (Cocktail x Amor), the horse she won an individual silver medal with at the North American Young Rider Championships. “As my mom has now taken over the ride on Olivier, it has been really fun and rewarding for me to have another stallion to bring up the levels. In many ways, Thys reminds me of Olivier (whom Austin trained from a youngster) with his raw talent, incredible athleticism and desire to work.”
Next on Austin’s agenda will be the New England Dressage Association’s Regional Championships in September where she will compete both Ricochet and Thys in the small tour. “The plan with both horses is to continue to get them comfortable at the level and keep getting them exposure. I have a number of young horses in training right now, some of the best kept secrets in the country, but none of whom I have much interest in showing until the are FEI so I am so thankful to the owner’s of both Ricochet and Thys for giving me the opportunity to continue to get in the show ring.”