During the week he was compared to Superman by one interviewer and had his riding style likened to William Fox-Pitt’s by a number of others. David Ziegler of Beiseker, AB, found himself in the middle of a media frenzy as he rode to two medals in two different disciplines, landing him in the record books as the first to accomplish this feat at the Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships.
The 21-year-old took his NAJYRC debut in Kentucky in July and the two medals in stride, with a heartfelt thanks to his team and the officials. “I have a great team behind me: my parents, the chef d’équipes, my coaches, my grooms. My twin sister Courtney is grooming for me here. Dougie Hannum is here doing all of the physio work on the horses. So, both the horses and I were in a top-class program going into this competition. They all kept me on track and made sure I was everywhere I need to be. The chef d’équipes and the secretaries did a fantastic job of accommodating me and I’m very appreciative to them.”
David first won a Young Rider dressage individual silver on Thursday riding Peninsula Top Man (Topper), his 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, and finished up on Sunday by taking a gold medal in the Young Rider CCI2* eventing with top US eventer Missy Ransenhousen’s 18-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Critical Decision. He and “BG” led the eventing competition from start to finish.
David had picked up the ride in Ocala, FL, when he took a few lessons with Ransenhousen to improve Topper’s dressage. “I was eventing my [current] dressage horse with Missy and he was a bit of a pansy. He ran the junior level [CCI1*], but beyond that he didn’t have the heart for the cross-country,” explained David. “With Missy’s mom [Olympian Jessica Ransenhousen] being the ‘George Morris’ of dressage, it kind of evolved that Topper had a lot of talent on the flat, so we started to bring him over to the ‘dark side.’ At the same time, Missy was campaigning Critical Decision for the London Games. He suffered an injury the same winter I started working with Missy and she decided to retire him from the upper-level competitions. Then it just kind of fell into place that I would take him over as my eventing Young Rider horse.”
David got his start riding in Pony Club at home in Alberta, where he and his two sisters, Courtney and Katelyn, all competed in eventing. He has been a working student at the Ransenhousens’ Blue Hill Farm in Unionville, PA, for two years. “I usually sit on about five horses a day at Blue Hill – youngsters, ones that are misbehaving – all kinds. Everyone who goes there gets taken in by the family. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Topper was being pointed toward Intermediaire I at Devon in September and David is also working with some young event horses at Blue Hill. He has been studying course design and has interned with both Richard Jeffery and Marc Donovan. “I would like to always be involved in the horses. It’s just going to be finding the right path to pursue it. Obviously, there are so many different avenues you can take; you can be a very good amateur and still compete at the professional level or you can have a full-time barn. I will just be feeling my way around to what’s going to work.
“I’d like to do it all. Get me a horse and I’ll try it. I think all of the disciplines can teach you something and I think it’s good, being young, to take every opportunity you can and learn as much as you can.”