Pacific Coast Dressage Wrap-Up
New show creates a “healthy base” and sets stage for big future.
Jennifer and Jürgen Hoffmann brought two horses to the inaugural Pacific Coast Dressage CDI, presented by Adequan, and won everything winnable. Jennifer Hoffmann and the 12-year-old Oldenburg mare Finesse won the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special, and Rondoro Noblesse won the Prix St. Georges and Intermediate 1.
Returned from eight years based in Germany, the Hoffmanns were excited about the new show before they even set foot on the 242-acre Galway Downs Equestrian Center in the heart of Southern California wine country. They were counting on a viable CDI circuit on the West Coast to develop their horses and clients. Proof of widespread dressage community support was evident throughout the March 6-8 competition, which included many championship qualifiers and open classes at all levels.
The Hoffmanns were among many to fully support the effort, and their sweep was a cherry atop what they described as a very positive development for the region. Finesse’s 70.319% in the Grand Prix Special followed Friday’s win of the Grand Prix with a remarkably consistent score of 70.391%. The mare is owned by Lisa Bradley and sired by Festrausch, (Florestan).
The German Dressage owners’ Austrian stallion, Rondoro Noblesse, is hot on Finesse’s heels as a Grand Prix contender. He dominated the Small Tour this weekend with a 71.716% at Intermediate I and a 70.588% at Prix St. Georges, boding well for his performance career and for joining the Hoffmann’s breeding program eventually. He earned high scores in his stallion approvals and the Hoffmans project he’ll keep doing the same in the dressage court.
Claire Elise Manhard and Wilfonia had a good Grand Prix weekend. It’s a nice progression from their USEF Young Adult Brentina Cup title last year, and Manhard was thrilled with their performance. In today’s Grand Prix Special, a glitch in the canter half-passes was the only major snafu in a second-place finish of 67.979%. They were third in Friday’s Grand Prix test.
It was great to see Nick Wagman on another beautiful horse after he and Don John’s viable 2020 Olympic bid ended in Florida with that horse’s temporarily sidelining injury. There were many positives to celebrate with Zenith, Beverly Gepfer’s 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood by Painted Black and out of an IPS Krack C mare. Zenith was purchased as an amateur horse, but turned out too hot for that. The upside is upper level potential clearly on display at Pacific Coast. Friday, it was contained lightning expressed in big, free-flowing movements: they were a close second with a 69.478% in the Grand Prix. During Sunday’s Special, the lightning escaped the bottle with a premature start in the first walk-to-piaffe transition: “a particularly fragile spot in the test,” Wagman explained.
“Overall I’m super pleased,” said Wagman. “The beginning of the test felt great and he was coping with his energy. But I had to make him wait. The more you make him wait, the hotter he gets.” The Del Mar National CDI is next and Wagman is pleased with Zenith’s ongoing progress.
Quite The Comeback
Linda Houweling and the 12-year-old Oldenburg mare Zaouira had a super show. They won the CDI Adult Amateur Intermediate I and CDI Intermediate Freestyle and were second in the Prix St. Georges. After back surgery three years ago, Houweling wasn’t sure she’d be even riding the mare again — ever. Their Bach and Vivaldi freestyle was actually designed for one of Houweling’s trainers to use with Zaouira, who was sidelined herself by a blind splint in the interim.
“That’s why this is all so emotional,” said the rider and dressage supporter who lives in British Columbia and spends time training in Southern California. She works regularly with Shelly Lauder and Leslie Reid and spent three weeks with Johan Hinnemann prior to Pacific Coast Dressage. Along with the joy of being back in the saddle, Houweling was thrilled with their freestyle, which earned a 70.408%. Fluid trot and canter half-passes were favorite segments from a “generous” mare, said the rider. The ease and grace of their tests gave no hint of the struggles preceding their return.
Like many of the 150-plus who participated this weekend, Houweling assured she’d be back for Pacific Coast Dressage II in November, also at Galway Downs, which now hosts major competition in all three Olympic equestrian disciplines. The new show was organized by Horse and Rider Boutique owner Barbara Biernat, with big assists from manager Debra Reinhart of Centerline Events and Robert Kellerhouse, equestrian facilities manager of Galway Downs and veteran eventing competition organizer.
High praise covered footing, by Footing Solutions, the FEI Stabling, a beautiful spacious venue, efficient organization and, most of all, a friendly vibe. West Coast dressage enthusiasts are grateful to have Pacific Coast’s two CDIs added to the region’s international calendar that shrunk with the fall 2019 loss of a four-CDI circuit that went kaput. Rebuilding the trust and support of the community has been no small task, Biernat acknowledged throughout the planning stages. In the end, she was as happy with the outcome as the exhibitors were.
Along with opportunities to ride in front of international judging panels and qualify for various championships, “It’s really all about community,” said Biernat at the close of competition. “I grew up riding in Germany where all the shows had cake and beer tents. Everybody hung out and had a chat.” Supported by business and individual sponsors, Pacific Coast had its American equivalent with bubbly during the FEI jog and a pizza party Friday during the Grand Prix. There was a general sense that the show’s success is shared by all who made it possible with sponsorships, donations and participation.
“We are all really motivated to make this happen,” concluded Biernat. “I think we established a healthy base and I think there will be even much more support in November.”
For complete results, visit www.horseshowoffice.com.