CDI3* Friday: Jennifer Williams and Joppe K Score First Big Tour Win

Jennifer Williams (USA) and Joppe K logged their first CDI3* win on Friday in the Touch of Class CDI Dressage show at Thunderbird Show Park. It’s news that will surprise exactly no one who has been following their career. They’ve been a formidable partnership since the start.

Williams discovered Joppe K as a coming five year old in The Netherlands in 2018 and was immediately taken by his willingness to learn. “Even when I tried him, he just really spoke my language and understood. We clicked right away,” she recalled.

The KWPN gelding was originally purchased as a sales prospect. Once imported to the U.S., however, it became apparent to Williams that Joppe K had more to offer.

“We quickly discovered that he was very special in the way that he learned and the way that he presented himself. The gaits were [always] nice, but as he developed strength, he started to show really super characteristics and movement and just had a really great knack for sitting and piaffes and all of that,” she continued.

“So we decided very shortly after the purchase that we wanted to keep him and develop him for the future.”

Come spring of 2020, they made their international debut in Wellington, FL and won the CDIYH Six Year Old Final—on a massive 85.600% score. The American rider and striking chestnut have been steadily climbing the training scale and dressage ranks since, earning a pair of top finishes—and an 85% for quality—in the CDIYH Seven Year Old Finals in Wellington in 2021 and podium finishes up to the CDI3* level in 2022 and 2023.

On Friday at the Touch of Class CDI at tbird, Williams and Joppe K danced to their career highest win and personal best score in the FEI Grand Prix CDI3*, sponsored by Wendy Christoff of Delta BC, earning a 70.087 from the judges.

“I feel like today he was really with me. It was a pretty mistake-free test. And he felt more like he does day to day in the training than he has yet in the international ring,” said Williams, who trains with Christophe Theallet and Oded Shimoni.

“I was really proud of just the ride-ability and I thought the changes were quite lovely—the two [tempis], the one [tempis]. He sat and kept the pirouettes very nice and tight and active. I was really happy with that. It was a consistent, quality test. He felt confident and happy throughout. And that was really what I wanted to accomplish today.”

At just nine, there’s plenty more to see from Joppe K, said his rider.

“Everything about him has been very easy mentally. He’s just a very happy horse that loves to work and loves to be a partner,” said Williams.

“He stepped up to the Grand Prix in August of last year as an eight year old and I think he scored a 73 nationally! It’s a big jump to go from national to CDI and our goal is just to keep making him feel confident and loving what he’s doing in the ring.”

And if they happen to qualify for the Pan American Games this fall, that would be okay too, smiled Williams.

FEI Grand Prix CDI3* Results
Rider / Nation / Horse / E / H / C / M / B / Total

1. Jennifer Williams / USA / Joppe K / 68.804 / 69.783 / 69.783 / 70.978 / 71.087 / 70.087
2. Pia Fortmuller / CAN / Frieda / 67.500 / 66.630 / 68.913 / 68.696 / 68.696 / 68.087
3. Rochelle Kilberg / CAN / Florentino / 62.609 / 64.239 / 62.826 / 65.326 / 68.696 / 64.739
4. Sara Pocock / CAN / Connaisseur / 58.087 / 60.261 / 58.304 / 60.261 / 60.370 / 59.457

CDI1* Friday: Erin Silo “Jetts” to Prix St. Georges Victory

In 2020, Erin Silo (CAN) was shopping for a dressage horse to develop. She’d been on the hunt for months, but was having little luck.

“I vetted one in Poland. I vetted one in Langley. I’d gone to North Carolina. I had gone to Alberta. And then covid happened and I kind of gave up on finding a horse since traveling wasn’t really an option,” she shared.

Then fate, and a good friend in fellow dressage trainer Ashley Moore, intervened.

“Ashley actually went up to [the Okanagan to] try [Jett] because her Grand Prix horse was by the same sire [Johnson], but he was too small for her,” said Silo. The aptly named black gelding is only 16.1 hands. “So I’m very fortunate that she’s tall and I got him because I’m short! It was like the universe aligned to bring him to me.”

Even still, it took the former-eventer-turned-dressage-pro a beat to commit to buying the horse.

“I definitely liked him, but I was very apprehensive to spend [the money]. I grew up in the eventing world, buying horses off the racetrack for $5,000. So that was the first time that I was spending more than $5,000 on a horse,” she continued. “He was lovely, but I was really scared to make a commitment that big. I had sold my apartment and I was like, I’m spending my apartment profit on a horse. It was a totally irrational decision.”

In the end, it was her trainer Shelley Lawder’s confidence in the horse that convinced Silo to make the leap. But it was Jett’s charming personality that made her glad to have done it.

“He’s a quirky little dude. He’s super, super affectionate, but he can be quite spirited. He can be a little ball of energy that you don’t necessarily always know what’s going to happen,” she smiled. “But I love his quirkiness and I love his personality.”

On Friday at tbird, the Touch of Class judging panel loved their partnership. Sixteen pairs came forward to contest the FEI Prix St Georges CDI1* sponsored by Bonnie Brae Farm of Victoria, BC. It was Silo and Jett’s second ever CDI show and their first ever CDI victory. Earning a score of 69.563%, the Canadian rider and KWPN gelding were the only pair to crack the 69% barrier. It’s their personal best score by nearly two percent.

“Hands down it’s our biggest win,” smiled Silo.

“I was just pleased with how he handled himself and the environment. I thought he might think the Jumbotron was going to eat him. But, overall, he was good. He let me really ride him and I thought, for a green horse, he showed a lot of ride-ability and a lot of heart. And I love riding his tempis because they’re just a forte for him.”

Silo was equally impressed with the venue. “I’m just gobsmacked to be at Thunderbird. The facility looks insanely beautiful. It’s such an amazing experience to be able to come out and ride at a setup like this, with the caliber of judges and everything.”

FEI Prix St Georges CDI1* Results
Rider / Nation / Horse / H / C / B / Total

1. Erin Silo / CAN / Jett / 68.235 / 70.147 / 70.306 / 69.563
2. Dominique Buckland / CAN / Spangkaergaards Ramulus / 69.559 / 68.088 / 68.676 / 68.775
3. Lindsay Seidel-Wassenaar / CAN / Iko / 68.088 / 68.382 / 68.088 / 68.186
4. Gloria Schriever / CAN / Hilton OC / 68.088 / 68.382 / 67.647 / 68.039
5. Crystal Kroetch / CAN / Jysta Wizard / 67.206 / 68.382 / 65.735 / 67.108
6. Shelley Lawder / CAN / Epona S / 66.912 / 68.971 / 64.559 / 66.814


CDI3* Saturday: Joppe K Earns Second Personal Best

American dressage rider Jennifer Williams had one focus in mind for Joppe K heading into Saturday’s FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3*, sponsored by Wendy Christoff of Delta BC, at the Touch of Class Dressage Show: fitness.

“I think, at this point, he really just needs to be fitter in the test,” she said of the nine-year-old chestnut gelding.

“For some reason, the last five years, I’ve always had a day off in between the Grand Prix and the Special and all four of [the CDI] shows I’ve done with Joppe, they’ve been back to back and it’s a lot.”

Joppe K rose to the occasion at Thunderbird Show Park. The pair returned to the 20 x 60 “sandbox” on Saturday and reclaimed the top spot on the CDI3* leaderboard with a personal best score of 70.638%. Williams and Joppe K also won Friday’s FEI Grand Prix CDI3* with a personal best score.

“I did feel that he was a bit more tired today, but he was very honest in the work. And he just was getting better and better at the test went on,” said Williams.

“I really felt like the confidence from yesterday carried through to today, and I didn’t find myself testing him as much to make sure that he was with me. I just knew that he was with me.”

The highlights of the test for Williams were the piaffe and the passage and “a clean, quality test.”

“He was 100% honest. I had the feeling that he was willing to give me more [in the piaffe and passage] if I would have asked for more. And that is a great feeling, especially on the final centerline. I was really proud of his effort.”

Joppe K is owned by the Joppe Partners, a group that includes Bob and Tina Desroche, Lisa Norling and his rider. Williams believes the KWPN gelding has championship potential.

“He’s a horse that I really believe in for the future. So whether he’s ready this year [for the Pan American Games] or not, we’re just going to keep doing our thing and keep him confident and happy and healthy. If things work out, great. And if not, we just keep going,” said Williams, who trains with Christophe Theallet and Oded Shimoni.

For the immediate future though, Joppe can look forward to some time off.

“The horses live outside 24/7 at our place in Washington. He’ll get a few days off in the paddock,” she continued.

“I think the downtime for him is just as important as trying to make him fit. So we’ll keep some fitness routine going that’s outside of the dressage ring, because when he’s just having fun and fresh he is just such a blast to ride and I want to keep that in him.”

Pia Fortmuller (CAN) and Frieda took second in the Grand Prix Special CDI3* on a score of 67.771%. Sara Pocock (CAN) and Connaisseur, third on 65.596%.

FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3* Results
Rider / Nation / Horse / E / H / C / M / B / Total

1. Jennifer Williams / USA / Joppe K / 71.277 / 71.489 / 70.319 / 70.319 / 69.787 / 70.638
2. Pia Fortmuller / CAN / Frieda / 67.774 / 68.404 / 67.774 / 68.511 / 66.391 / 67.771
3. Sara Pocock / CAN / Connaisseur / 65.426 / 67.553 / 65.000 / 65.106 / 64.894 / 65.596
4. Rochelle Kilberg / CAN / Florentino / 65.638 / 65.213 / 65.745 / 63.617 / 61.489 / 64.340


CDI1* Saturday: Silo Grabs Second CDI1* Win

Erin Silo (CAN) was feeling the pressure on Saturday ahead of the FEI Intermediate I CDI1*, sponsored by Bonnie Brae Farm, at the Touch of Class Dressage Show. Hot off an international win in Friday’s Prix St. Georges CDI1*, her first with the nine-year-old KWPN gelding Jett, and contesting their second ever CDI1* event, expectations were high for the green pair. And their first-in-the-order draw didn’t help.

“It was definitely more pressure today!” said Silo. “And then even more pressure being the first in the ring. You’re the initial one laying down the track and clearly, you want to do well.”

Her trainers, Canadian Olympian Leslie Reid and USDF Gold Medal Rider Shelley Lawder (CAN), offered encouraging words and strategic advice to help focus the 39 year old rider.

“I had a good pep talk [in the morning] with both Leslie and Shelley with regards to not overthinking it,” she continued.

Reid’s advice: “Ride every step and don’t forget that the parts between the movements need to be ridden as focused and as structured as movements themselves.”

Silo put their combined wisdom to practice, executing a fluid test with Jett to earn a second personal best score of 69.951%—and her second win—of the week.

“I was really proud of how focused Jett was and how he stayed with me in that big environment. Yesterday, he had a big spook in the test, whereas today he really felt like he was with me and tried really hard for me,” she noted.

“Jett is still green in the arena. He still needs a lot of miles and a lot of experience to get really confident. But I would say that having had a day in there yesterday and then returning to it today, he felt more settled.”

There was one hiccup outside the arena though…

“Ironically enough my horse pulled a shoe in the warm up arena, but I did not know until after the test. So we did the entire test with only one shoe on the front foot!” laughed Silo.

“So that’s horses. You have to learn to be adaptable and go with it, because you can never be as prepared for things as you want to be.”

Silo’s coach Shelley Lawder (CAN) took second aboard Balancee on a score of 68.137%. Dominique Buckland (CAN) and Spangkaergaards Ramulus finished third on a score of 67.843%.

Touch of Class Dressage continues Sunday with the CDI Freestyles. Catch all the action on tbird TV.

FEI Intermediate I CDI1* Results
Rider / Nation / Horse / H / C / B / Total

1. Erin Silo / CAN / Jett / 71.029 / 69.118 / 69.706 / 69.951
2. Shelley Lawder / CAN / Balancee / 67.941 / 67.206 / 69.265 / 68.137
3. Dominique Buckland / CAN / Spangkaergaards Ramulus / 67.206 / 69.412 / 66.912 / 67.843
4. Eiren Crawford / CAN / Hendrix / 67.647 / 68.235 / 67.206 / 67.696
5. Kelly Irving / USA / Fresco I.D. / 66.629 / 66.618 / 67.941 / 67.063
6. Lindsay Seidel-Wassenaar / CAN / Iko / 66.471 / 67.500 / 66.176 / 66.716