Canadian dressage riders recently topped the leaderboard at both the Wellington CDI-W Global Dressage Festival, held February 3-5, and Wellington Classic Dressage Spring Challenge CDI 3* West Palm Beach, held February 10-12.

At the Wellington CDI-W Global Dressage Festival, Toronto native  Ashley Holzer rode her long-time partner Pop Art (Amsterdam x Cabochon) to first place, scoring 73.596% in the Grand Prix test on February 3.  The 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding is owned by her mother, Moreen Nicoll, and her husband Rusty Holzer. On Sunday, February 5, the pair was also victorious in the Olympic Grand Prix Special, scoring 71.867%.

Victoria Winter of Toronto, ON, finished in fifth place in the Grand Prix riding her 2010 World Equestrian Games partner, Proton, Neil Ishoy’s 18-year-old Baden-Wurttemberger gelding sired by Patriarch, with 64.830%. In sixth was Jacqueline Brooks of Cedar Valley, ON, riding her new mount, D Niro (D-Day x Napoleon 625), a 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding owned by Brookhaven Dressage Inc., scoring 64.702%. Gary Vander Ploeg of King City, ON and Cezanne, a 13-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Jean Vander Ploeg and Jack Leitch, were fifth with a score of 64.244%. Brooks and D Niro finished third in the Grand Prix Freestyle, scoring 68.625%.

At the Spring Challenge CD13*, held the following week, four Canadian riders placed in the top ten in the Grand Prix test. Diane Creech of Caistor Centre, ON was the leading Canadian with Devon L, Douglas Leatherdale’s 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding sired by De Niro, earning 68.532% for third place. Brooks and D Niro were sixth with 66.319%, Vander Ploeg and Degas, Jean Vander Ploeg’s 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding sired by Donnerhall, finished in eighth with 64.809%, while Evi Strasser of Sainte Adele, QC, rounded out the Canadian entries riding her 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding sired by Aktuell, with a score of 64.489%.

“Devon L is showing his maturity and his owners, Mr. and Mrs. Leatherdale, are very happy to see his progress,” said Creech. “They believe in giving young horses time to develop their talent is the right thing to do, and Devon L has developed into a top athlete and is enjoying it.”

On Sunday, February 12, Brooks and D Niro placed second in the Olympic Grand Prix Special with 68.956%, while British Columbia native Shannon Dueck of Loxahatchee, FL, earned a fourth place finish scoring 67.200% with Ayscha (Welt Hit II x Rouletto), her 11-year-old Oldenburg mare. Creech and Devon L scored 67.044% for fifth and Strasser and Action Tyme were seventh with 66.111%.

“I am so impressed with D Niro,” said Brooks. “When we were able to buy him last February, he was a Prix St Georges horse. Today he is sitting with a 68.7 % average with three months still available for Olympic qualifiers for the Canadian Dressage Team. He is everything I had hoped he would be and more.”

In the Under 25 division, Megan Lane of Collingwood, ON rode her long-time partner Caravella, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, to first place in both the Grand Prix and the Intermediaire II (64.842%) tests. Creech, riding Douglas Leatherdale’s eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Hallmark, also finished third in both the Prix St Georges (65.342%) and Intermediaire I (68.789%) tests. The pair earned 67.792%, which was good for fourth place, in the Intermediaire I Freestyle.

The future stars of Canadian dressage held their own in the Young and Junior Rider divisions. Alexandra Dvorak of Hillsburgh, ON, won both the Young Rider Team (66.623%) and Freestyle (68.417%) tests and finished in second place in the Individual test (65.711%) riding Thomas Dvorak’s Fling, a 12-year-old Westphalian gelding. Mathilde Blais Thereault of Montreal, QC rode her 14-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding, Michelangelo, to first place in the Young Rider Individual test (66.000%), second place in the Team test with 66.096% and third place in the Freestyle (65.333%). In the Junior Rider division, Tanya Strasser-Shostak of Sainte Adele, QC, won the Freestyle test riding Ruby Tyme, Karen Soupcoff’s 11-year-old Oldenburg mare, scoring 69.750%. The pair also placed third in both the Team (64.910%) and Individual (65.500%) tests. Laurence Blais Tetreault rode his 15-year-old Westphalian gelding, Pissarro, to second place in the Junior Rider team (66.982%), Individual (68.026%) and Freestyle (68.375%) tests.

The judging panel for Wellington CDI-W Global Dressage Festival included Leif Tornblad (FEI 5* ¬DEN), Stephen Clarke (FEI 5* GBR), Gustaf Svalling (FEI 5* SWE), Gary Rockwell (FEI 5* USA), and Janet Foy(FEI 4* USA). At the Spring Challenge CD13*, the judges were Stephen Clarke (FEI 5* GBR), Gustaf Svalling (FEI 5* SWE), Axel Steiner (FEI 4* USA), Marian Cunningham(FEI 4* PER), Lorraine McDonald(FEI 4* CAN), Liselotte Fore (FEI 4* USA), Jeanne McDonald(FEI 4* USA), and Sarah Geike (FEI 3* CAN).