When Shannon Dueck decided to breed her grand prix mare Ayscha, she had high hopes for the foal. The talented and feisty Welt Hit II mare began her grand prix career at just age nine, and competed against the best throughout Canada, the USA and Europe. When a minor tendon injury in 2013 required Ayscha to take some time off, Jen Vanover of Maplewood Warmbloods expressed an interest in breeding her to Franziskus – a relatively unknown stallion then, but now renowned as Ingrid Klimke’s top competition partner.
The resulting filly, MW Angelika, is following in her parents’ competitive hoofprints, already exceeding everyone’s expectations. Get to know this angelic mare who Shannon describes as the horse of her dreams.
Just the facts
Registered name: Angelika MW
Barn name: Angel
Year of birth: 2015
Owners: The Ayscha’s Angels Syndicate
Winning the CDI1* PSG and I1 at Dressage at Devon in 2022.
What has developing Angel been like?
She’s a stunning mare – beautiful conformationally and absolutely gorgeous looking. But she wasn’t a “wow” mover. She’s a pure mover, but not wow. The first time I lunged her I was underwhelmed, to say the least. But I knew I could develop her gaits; I had done it before. My horse Korona had no trot when I got him at age three, and I developed him into a very nice Grand Prix horse with a lovely trot and a beautiful passage, so I knew I could do that again.
Training this horse is like training from a textbook and now I’m at a stage in my career where I know the textbook. I’m really grateful that this mare came into my life when I’m able to develop her to the best of her ability. I think I might not have been able to do that if I had her 20 years ago. It’s such a gift to have this kind of relationship and this kind of horse when I have the knowledge and the background to make the best of it.
Every day she gives me 100%. There are no bad rides on this mare, ever. Every day is amazing. It’s an incredible feeling. I don’t push her that hard in the show ring because she’s not even 8 yet. Its lovely and it’s pretty and it’s enough for right now. I’m not putting pressure on and I’m making sure she thinks the show ring is a friendly place.
The trot is pretty nice in the ring now, but it’s becoming “wow” at home. The canter will take a bit longer but it’s going to be very special too. It’s all there and because I know she will be able to get a 75%, it’s ok if she gets 70s now. That’s something I’ve learned over the years; it’s ok to be patient and to take your time. She does all the Grand Prix movements; now it’s just about strength and development. She’s going to get there and she’s going to be spectacular.
Describe her personality in one word.
She’s a princess, absolutely. And she’s turning into a queen.
Does she have any funny habits?
She’s not a fan of other horses, especially horses touching her, but she LOVES people. When you come down the aisle she’s the first one with her head out the door, demanding scratches and climbing into your pocket.
What are her favourite treats?
She loves bananas, strawberries and watermelon. And we just discovered she’s a big fan of drinking Prosecco!
If she wasn’t a dressage horse, what would her ideal career be?
A ballerina, I think, or maybe a supermodel. She was born to walk the catwalk.
What’s one thing that would surprise people to learn about Angel?
I use her to help clean up around the farm. When we get large palm fronds and tree branches that fall, I can drag them behind Angel and she doesn’t blink an eye. Before we started her under saddle, Angel was with Rachel Ehrlich at Greengate Hanoverians, and Rachel put in hours and hours of desensitizing work with her. She will go through pool noodles, over tarps, anything really, and I’ve kept up that work. Because of that foundation this mare trusts me completely. It’s really incredible.
What is your plan for her?
Our long-term goal is to do very well in the 2028 Olympics, because she’ll be 13 then and really coming into her own. But she’s so close to Grand Prix now that as long as I don’t push her, and let her figure her way through a Grand Prix test, I do think it’s possible that we could go to Paris next year.
We are competing for Canada at Small Tour in the Nation’s Cup this week in Florida and I’m declared for the Pan Ams, which would be Small Tour as well. After that I’m going to concentrate on getting her out at Intermediare II in some national shows where there isn’t any pressure.