Master Horseman JP Giacomini Goes for Baroque at USDF Region 4 Championships
The Great American/USDF Regional Dressage Championships are designed to promote and recognize the pursuit of excellence. At the USDF Region 4 Championships last week in Lake Saint Louis, MO, excellence is what horseman JP Giacomini delivered with his Baroque Farm USA homebreds, JP Orion and JP Zorro under Cedar Potts-Warner’s saddle.
The full brothers, both grey Iberian Sporthorse geldings (by Hipogrifo PSL out of Adonia (Istoso PSL/Sultana PRE), were competed only once this year but under the sensitive riding of Cedar Potts-Warner, JP Orion, age 15 and trained by Giacomini, won all three 3 Championships, posting 72.838% in Grand Prix Freestyle, and consistent scores averaging 67% in Intermediare-2 and Grand Prix. JP Zorro, trained by Potts-Warner, had similar consistency with I-2 and Freestyle scores of 65.9% and 69.6% respectively, finished just behind JP Orion, winning the Reserve Championship in the two classes. Two full brothers bred and trained at the same farm sweeping five FEI championship titles at Grand Prix and Intermediare-2 at the Regionals Championship is possibly one for the record book.
While JP Zorro fell in just behind JP Orion at the Championships, the show ring barely showcases this versatile horse’s talents. Zorro has an exceptional character that has allowed Potts-Warner to perform all the Grand Prix movements without a bridle, both at home and in public where he has showed immense generosity and poise. Zorro has also competed successfully in Western Dressage and Potts-Warner has trained him to execute an elegant garrocha routine – dancing around the long pole the Spanish Vaqueros use to handle fighting bulls.
“All our horses are Iberian Sporthorses, based on a program crossing PRE for sweetness and Lusitano for athleticism”, said Giacomini. “Now, we are putting warmblood genetics in the mix as well.” Referring to his Iberian Region 4 stars, he explained, “I trained the sire, grandsire and granddam of Orion and Zorro. Seeing them become successful at Grand Prix level was an emotional moment. It is the pinnacle of a breeding project started in the 1980s with my wife Shelley. Orion is the oldest colt we bred and the first to reach the highest dressage level. Many of his relatives are coming down the pipeline under Cedar’s care and education. “
For over five decades, Jean Philippe “JP” Giacomini has been a trainer, teacher and coach of amateur and international riders in all 3 Olympic disciplines. He has worked with Potts-Warner – who is employed at his Kentucky farm – for over 10 years and helped her develop her training skills with the Iberian Sporthorses he breeds. “Cedar is demonstrating an amazing ability to keep her cool in the ring, adapt to the mood of the horses and get the best from them in their classes, in a sensitive and respectful manner,” said JP. “She has gained in-depth training knowledge during her tenure with me, starting many horses at the farm, including some national GP champions for other breeders, and is now transposing that experience to the show ring. I predict that she will soon become a competitor to be reckoned with and her dedication to the job should set an example for aspiring young riders.”
“It was so fulfilling to see the passion and dedication I’ve invested in riding and training Orion and Zorro, and in learning from JP, come together so successfully,” said Potts-Warner. “I have been honored to bring the talent and beauty of these magnificent horses into the spotlight and I look forward to continuing my journey with them under JP’s tutelage.”
JP was first trained by a retired French Cavalry officer, and rode in show jumping, eventing and steeplechasing in France, before studying dressage for a year under Nuno Oliveira in Lisbon, where he started young horses under the master’s supervision. He later became the assistant of Dom Jose Athayde at the Portuguese National Stud of Alter for 4 years. Dom Jose, a leading disciple of Oliveira, was the founding Head Rider of the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art.”
Giacomini has trained over two dozen horses of different breeds to Grand Prix level, including the Lusitano stallion, Novilheiro, trained to dressage GP, competed up to Intermediate eventing with European champion Rachel Bayliss, and became an international winner for British show-jumper John Whitaker before returning to stud. His student Rachel Bayliss won Individual Silver in European eventing with Gurgle the Greek, and four Golds with Mystic Minstrel (Individual European Eventing Champion and Team World Champion). In the early 80’, she competed her horse in both international dressage and eventing the same year, a fairly unique feat in the sport.
Giacomini, who is based both in Harrodsburg, Kentucky and in Ocala, has given private clinics in recent years for the instructors of the French National School (Saumur) and the Cavalry Regiment of the Republican Guard of Paris’ dressage team. He has worked with thousands of problematic horses of every discipline while giving clinics on five continents. His passion is to help horses of any breed develop the correct biomechanics of their gaits as the foundation for all disciplines. He is particularly noted for correcting walk issues and for the fluidity of piaffe and passage transitions he has discreetly produced for many international riders.
JP’s approach is always holistic. He works personally on hoof balance, verify saddle fit and practices myofascial release through massage and neurological reset. All his staff riders trim the horses they ride and do body work before training sessions. JP is always seeking amplitude of motion range and symmetry of movement as a mean to maintain and improve soundness. This is all done without any recourse to medication or injections. The same techniques are used from starting babies to the work of GP horses, including innovative work-in-hand, lunging and long-lining, before it is transposed under saddle. JP owns several international patent-pending on shock absorption and neurological medical devices, as he continues developing techniques and equipment designed to support horse welfare. He is always studying classical masters’ writings and scientific research that can be used to better understand horse behavior and physiology. Several of his articles on dressage history and training theory can be found on Eurodressage.
The late French master, Michel Henriquet, author of 8 books about dressage and its history, trainer of many GP horses, (including Orphee, first Iberian horse to reach the Olympics), student and promoter of Nuno Oliveira and coach of Catherine Henriquet, 2013 French Dressage champion, was called a “Dressage Legend” by the German magazine Cavalo and named “one of the last figureheads of French Classical Horsemanship” by Eurodressage.com. Henriquet considered JP’s innovative Endotapping Method™ as the newest cornerstone of the Classical Horsemanship Tradition. This is what he wrote following a clinic at his stables near Paris: “After the ‘General Actions’ of La Gueriniere’s classical horsemanship in the 18th cent. and Baucher’s ’Partial Actions’ in the 19th cent. that Nuno Oliveira has managed to harmonize with such elegance in recent times, we are accessing the ‘Perceptual Effects’ of JP’s Giacomini’s Endotapping. This remarkable method helps us further facilitate training for the benefit of both horse and rider. JP’s masterful work makes him, without a doubt, an innovator in the classical dressage continuum. If the 3 geniuses of horsemanship’s who preceded him were still alive today, they would have appreciated this important evolution of our Art … The study of the horse’s behavior is always JP’s first preoccupation. He wants to be understood by the horse who must always work with him and never in resistance, in the spirit of ethology [study of equine social behavior from a biological perspective]. He addresses the mind of the horse, although he does it through the unusual path of controlling his locomotion.“
Latest News: On October 17-18, Tamarian Farm is hosting a Dressage Symposium with JP Giacomini and USET member and Pan Am double gold medalist Carole Grant, organized by Liz Cornell of Proven Equine LLC. They will coach FEI level riders on horses of different levels up to the GP through the proven training techniques they use. Like Giacomini, Grant had a USDF Regional success last month with student, Andi Patzwald, on Amy Grahm’s Hudson 18, winners of the GP Freestyle and GP Reserve titles – Region 2 at Lamplight Equestrian Center. Both trainers will be at Tamarian this winter for coaching serious competitors, and trainers interested in clinics and weeklong courses on training techniques and theory designed to improve the welfare of their horses through better biomechanics and behavior. Organizer contact: Liz at (352) 653 55 97.
Learn more at www.jpgiacomini.com and www.tamarianfarm.com.
Photo: (L to R) -Region 4 Champions and receiver Champions: JP Zorro and JP Orion with Jean Philippe “JP” Giacomini and Cedar Potts-Warner