Pia Fortmüller of Priddis, AB, won the CDI3* Grand Prix during the third week of competition at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival held from January 27 to 30, 2022, in Wellington, FL.

Held on January 27, the CDI3* Grand Prix attracted a total of 11 competitors and saw Fortmüller claim victory with a score of 70.457% riding Frieda. The win was even more impressive as it marked Frieda’s first time competing at the Grand Prix level in Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI)-sanctioned competition.

Returning to the International Arena on January 29, for the CDI3* Grand Prix Special, Fortmüller and Frieda once again broke the 70% barrier. This time, the pair earned a score of 70.255% from the five-member panel of judges for third place with a test that highlighted the mare’s strong passage work, one of the test’s most difficult movements.

“I am absolutely over the moon, excited, and thankful,” said Fortmüller. “In the Grand Prix test, I felt her confidence grow. The trickiest part is how fast those movements come in the test. It’s one thing to do it at home, but it’s another to put it all together in the ring. I was especially happy with her confidence and to feel her breathing with me throughout the test.

“In the Special, it felt like the beginning of something really special,” continued the 36-year-old. “Our goal this weekend was to deliver consistent tests, so for that to come together was a really great feeling.”

Fortmüller has been training the 11-year-old black Hanoverian mare (Fuerstenball x Rouletto) since Frieda was two years old.

“My partner, Lars, found her as a two-year-old,” explained Fortmüller who owns Frieda in partnership with Lars Busch. “We were living in Germany at the time, and she caught his eye at a mare and foal auction. She is a precious horse, and it’s been the most exciting journey to develop her through the levels.”

Fortmüller and Busch operate Dancing Feet Dressage – named with a nod to their respective careers as dressage trainer and farrier – in Priddis, AB. Since returning from Germany six years ago, the couple have been traveling to Wellington, FL, each winter. In addition to her own horses, Fortmüller has a group of clients who will also compete on the winter circuit through to April.

Canadian Olympian Evi Strasser earned a score of 72.180% in the CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle riding Disney Tyme to music from “Aladdin.” (Susan J. Stickle Photography)

Canada also fielded two entries in the CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle, held on January 28. The most popular event of the weekend saw riders choreograph required movements to the music of their choice and earn both technical and artistic scores. Riding to music from Disney’s “Aladdin,” Evi Strasser of Sainte-Adele, QC, earned a score of 72.180% with Disney Tyme to place fourth. Finishing in fifth position was Ariana Chia, 30, of Winnipeg, MB, who scored 71.420% riding her long-time partner Fiderflame, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Fidertanz 2 x Abanos).

“He was just magic!” enthused Strasser, 57, of her freestyle performance with Disney Tyme which earned high marks for its degree of difficulty and artistic interpretation. “This horse is so amazing; he was dancing. It was so fun to ride, and it was so easy that the aids were invisible. He was on the ball.”

Strasser continued, “We rode to super music from “Aladdin”. The horse’s name is Disney Tyme so it’s a fun thing to do. The freestyle was made by Gary Patterson of England who does a lot of my music. In the evenings in the big stadium, the music fills the room. The horse is so impressive with such lightness, it was like we were dancing by ourselves out there. It was one of those magical rides in your career that are so special.”

Strasser has been partnered with Disney Tyme since purchasing the 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Diamond Hit x Weltmeyer) at auction in Germany as a three-year-old.

“I bought him as a three-year-old turning four and trained him up all the way to grand prix,” said the veteran of Olympic, World Equestrian Games, and World Cup Final competition. “It took a little while for him to be able to handle his talent but we’re getting to the point where he’s able to power forward and not stress himself out. It’s so easy for him, and I’m so lucky to ride him. I’m over the moon with our performance!”

See all AGDF 3 CDI3*/4* results here.

For more information on the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival, which will host a total of six weeks of international competition sanctioned by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), visit gdf.coth.com.