Images and Observations of Pan American Dressage Competitors

~Article as posted by
~Written by Diana DeRosa

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While watching the second round in dressage our reporter and photographer for the Pan American Games, Diana De Rosa wrote her observations, as if she did not have enough to do to keep her busy. As the person who has covered every Olympic Games, World Equestrian Games, and Pan American games for since we began in 1997, Diana has the knowledge and understanding of all disciplines, although she admits Dressage is not her strongest sport. Given there was no live streaming of the event, we wanted to share her observations and some detail with our readers. Please feel free to contact us, for any corrections or added info, and we will do our best to accommodate. Diana photographed all competitors and can be reached at Diana DeRosa <>


The second day of Dressage at the Caledon Equestrian Center was a critical one for the U.S. team if they wanted to end their concern of getting qualified for the Olympics next year in Rio. Here is a look back at the second of two rounds for those vying for medals and/or to get qualified for the Grand Prix Freestyle.

The field started with a total of 42 riders, only two less than the day before after the rider from the Dominican Republic was eliminated because of the horse’s “uneven” gait.

Then the second rider to go, Marie Aponte Gonzalez aboard the Oldenburg Pretty Woman was a scratch. Other than that the order of the previous day was repeated and started off with Brazilian rider Leandre Da Silva aboard the Oldenburg gelding Di Caprio.

He came in with a score of 69.474 and finished his Intermediaire test on a score of 69.026, taking the early lead. After the first day of Dressage, his team stood fourth behind the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, but in the end he would help his team garner the Bronze Medal.

The third rider in the order was Manual Montero riding the Hanoverian gelding Everybody Dance Now for Chile. They entered with a first day score of 58.842 and finished the second day with a slight increase to 59.868.

Team Silver Medalist at the Central American Games, Margarita De Castillo aboard Quanderus was next to go on her elegant chestnut gelding. When they finished their round a whistle was joined by cheering for this rider from Guatemala. (Round 1: 61.579, Round 2: 62.026)

Brazil’s Sarah Elizabeth Waddell was next riding the 14-year old chestnut Westfalian gelding Donelly 3. As they ventured down the centerline Donnelly stumbled but quickly recovered and continued the ride as if nothing had happened. Like so many of the other competitor’s, her horse did not seem fazed by the atmosphere, which was pretty calm compared to other international events. While they did not take over the lead from teammate Di Caprio, they were a close second with their score of 67.184% (Round 1: 65.632) and helped their team maintain its overall position.

When she finished her ride Sarah was clearly pleased with Donnelly’s otherwise faultless performance. In fact, as she was leaving the arena she wiped some happy tears away from her face.

Next in the order was Michele Batalla Navarro riding Vivi Light for Puerto Rico. Vivi is a 14-year-old Danish Warmblood mare. Michele’s past credits included being a member of the Costa Rican team at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, MEX. At one point as she headed down the centerline Vivi spooked and slammed on the breaks for just a second or two, perhaps because of the two volunteers who were seated directly in front of her or because of the clock with red illuminated letters. Yet, it didn’t seem to faze the mare again during the ride. She also broke her gait while cantering around the corner at that same end of the arena. (61.868, 62.026)

The next rider to go was Colombian Juan Sanchez de Brigard aboard First Fisherman, a Hanoverian gelding. He gave his horse one simple pat after completing his ride and finished with a score of 62.289, with a first round score of 62.658.

Entering the arena in the eighth position was Venezuelan rider Irine M. Moleiro De Muro aboard her 13-year-old KWPN gelding. She was a gold medalist at the Bolivian Games in 2009. Her horse appeared totally relaxed in front of a crowd that was slightly larger than the day before but still with only half the seats filled. Like so many of the other riders, her horse went through the test fairly smoothly not making any obvious mistakes. Overall the marks in the scoring generally came down to the quality of the movement rather than because of messing up some part of the test. Going into her final halt her big smile was obvious followed by a bit of hugging. (65.500, 66.632)

The final rider to go before the first 20 minute break was Bermuda rider Virginia McKey riding the gelding Wolkenglanz. The beautiful liver chestnut was ridden by an individual competitor since Bermuda has no team represented at these Pan American Games. She had a little bobble at one point picking up the canter at F and her pirouettes could have been better but overall she and her horse seem relaxed. (61,421, 62.816)

The first horse after the break to enter the arena was the Hanoverian gelding Wettkonig ridden by Julio Fonseca from Chile. They increased their first day score of 60.947 by one point to 61.947.

Andrea Schorpp Pinot (who was in the Pan American Games in Guadalajara) rode the KWPN stallion Zedrick Dyloma for Guatemala. Coming around the corner early in the ride her horse spooked and nearly reared but Andrea was able to immediately get Zedrick back and focused on the ride instead of what had spooked him. It was a bit of a surprise since it was not clear what had spooked the horse. In fact, when the horse later did a pirouette at that same location he showed no signs of being spooked by anything. Kudos to Andrea for quickly taking control of a situation which could have erupted into something much worse.

The third rider from Brazil was 19-year-old and Brazilian rider of the Year Joao Victor Marcari Oliva. Joao was the third rider representing the Brazilian team on his Lusitano stallion Xama Dos Pinhais. The beautiful solidly built stallion started off with some strong extensions across the diagonal and continued with an overall smooth ride with no obvious mistakes. Joao was the youngest rider in this field of competitors. Typical of the Andalusian breed the horse looked solid and strong and seemed to competently negotiate all the movements in the test. At the end of his ride Joao simply dropped the reins and let the horse lead the way out of the ring as he responded to the cheers of the crowd with thumbs up and waves. The pair were rewarded with a solid score of 69.211 to put him second individually and helped maintain a placement in the top five for the Brazilian team. (Round 1: 69.184)

The next rider to go had represented her country in the Pan American Games in 2011. Anne Egerstrom Batalla was riding the gelding Amorino for Costa Rica. She stopped a bit early for her first halt and the horse rolled its head a bit at the walk and took a step to get into the pirouette but overall showed no clear mistakes in the test. As was the case with so many of the rides it was more about quality of movement, engagement, and acceptance of the bit, then it was about whether they actually completed all the movements in the test. (66.053, 63.552)

When Christopher Von Martels entered the arena as the first rider to represent Canada, the arena erupted with cheers. He’d put in a very solid performance of 75.26 the day before on his KWPN gelding Zilverstar and with such a tight race he went in determined to ride a solid test. The horse has an extended trot that has an elegant floating feel to it as he moves around the arena. In fact, that same feeling seems to be present in many of his other movements as well. You almost get the feeling that he is bouncing off the ground. When the horse had a solid bobble at his extended trot across the last diagonal, while obvious, they both recovered quickly to finish out the ride to the cheers of the crowd. The rider at one point pointed to his horse as if to say to the crowd that Zilverstar was the one deserving of their cheers. They finished their round on a score of 76.210.

Next to go was the first rider representing Argentina, Maria Juliana Ugalde riding the gelding Caquel Cautivo. Unfortunately the horse decided that he needed to go as she attempted her first extension across the diagonal and so not only did it interfere with achieving a true extension but about half way through he broke into a few strides at the canter. In general, the ride was conservative but just competing at these Games was an achievement and hopefully will be the beginning of seeing more Argentinian combinations competing in the future. Overall, her canter work was stronger than her trot tour, especially the gallop across the diagonal. (60.658, 61.421)

U.S. rider Sabine Schut-Kery was next on Sanceo as the first rider representing the U.S. She has had a number of victories in the Prix St. Georges and performed solidly on the first day earning a score of 71.790. Sancelo started off the ride with an elegant, fluid and graceful extension and continued with a fault-free test, solid pirouettes and a strong canter tour and flying changes that appeared to be quite easy for the horse. When their ride was complete the American team cheered from the side as Debbie McDonald performed her signature whistle. The rider through a kiss to the members of the American support staff and shook Steffen Peters hand as she walked up the departure ramp, finishing with a score of 73.553.

Next to go was the first rider representing Mexico. Jose Padilla aboard the KWPN gelding Donnersberg finished fourth for the team in Guadelajara. Overall they put in a solid test with a good first pirouette but a second one that could have been a bit tighter. Donnersberg performed a solid halt so well done and square at the end of the test that it almost surprised his rider who dipped slightly forward when the horse stopped so sharply. (66.237, 66.842)

Last to go in this second group was the second rider for Colombia, Marco Bernal aboard the Westfalian gelding Farewell IV. He was recipient of the President’s Athlete’s award in 2010 and placed in the World Cup in Las Vegas in 2009. He started out with an extension that could have shown more engagement. He also had one flying change where the horse was a little delayed and a minor bobble at the end of the second set of flying changes. The final extended trot was a little rushed, a result of not being engaged enough from the hind end. No matter the bobbles, the rider was clearly thrilled with having completed his test. (67.921, 67.658)

Marco’s ride was followed by an hour long lunch break during which time the overcast skies opened up to allow the sun to shine through. So, those riding in the afternoon had hotter conditions.

The first to go after lunch was Karen Atala Zablan riding the Westfalen Weissenfels representing Honduras (62.00, 65.447).

They were followed by Venezuelan Patricia Ferrando Zilio aboard the Hanoverian Alpha’s Why Not (63.158, 65.447). Both horse and rider looked ready for competition as they entered the arena for their warm-up and waited for the bell to ring giving them their 45 seconds to enter the competition arena. She was the second rider to compete for her team. They were a little slow with one of the lead changes but overall there were no obvious mistakes. They ended their ride with energy to spare and a halt that could have been held a bit longer and squared up a bit more.

Chile’s Oscar Coddou Molina rode into the arena next on the grey Lipizzaner stallion Favory Duba 66. They had a little bobble between pirouettes and a break into the canter turning into the final ride down the centerline but other than that the test seemed to have energy and power, especially in the flying changes. (62.579, 60.237)

Alexandra Dominguez rode the 19-year-old KWPN Beijing A into the arena next representing Guatemala. The horse performed nice pirouettes. Overall the ride was strong but at times felt a little rushed. (64.184, 61.500)

Joao Dos Santos rode in on the Lusitano stallion Veleiro Do Top as the final rider for Brazil. Their second round score of 70.158 was the high score for the team and helped them secure the Bronze Medal. (Round 1: 67.842)

Christer Egerstrom aboard the Oldenberg gelding Bello Oriente for Costa Rica entered the arena. By this time the sun was directly overhead and was feeling almost too strong but it didn’t seem to affect the performance of the horses. They added a score of 66.658 to their first round score of 66.790.

When Canada’s Brittany Frazer entered the arena on All One, it was clear they were going to put in a brilliant performance with elegance, precision and strong elevated movements. The KWPN gelding performed flawless flying changes and beautiful trot and canter tours. Only at the end after the horse halted and the crowd suddenly roared did the horse spook from the sudden noise. (76.105, 76.079)

The last rider to go before the 20 minute break was Ecuadorian Julio Mendoza Loor aboard the Oldenburg gelding Chardonnay. It was a tough place to be following the enormous performance that preceded them but they met the challenge in their own way. They ended their ride with a halt that could have been squared up a little more but unfazed as Julio proudly punched both fists in the air. It was nice to see the pride he took in a ride he was proud of. (67.026, 68.211)

The first rider to go after the break was from Argentina and her big black stallion made an impressive picture in the arena despite having to take care of business very early in the ride on the first circle. Maria Fiorencia Manfredi did a good job with Bandurria Kacero negotiating a ride that tested flying changes, shortening and lengthening in both the trot and gallop, attention to detail and elegance and engagement. The petite rider looked quite tiny on her tall mount. (68.658, 69.369)

When USA rider Kimberly Herslow entered the arena on her Hanoverian gelding Rosmarin, those of us from the U.S. were biting our nails knowing that every U.S. ride was important to the overall team score. We watched with anticipation to see how they would do in their first Pan American Games. She entered the arena with 18 seconds to spare. Her horse also had to take care of some business along the long side but continued with a conservatively smooth round that got huge cheers from the US support staff and lots of smiles and punches of joy from the rider. They were rewarded with a score of 77.158 that was then combined with their earlier score of 75.184. This was a strong help for Team USA.

It was a Mexican rider who next entered the arena with a goal of putting in a superb round in hopes of clinching a bronze medal. Jesus Palacios was riding his Danish Warmblood gelding Wizard Banamex. They finished on a score of 69.500 which was combined with 69.526 from the first round.

Then it was Colombia’s turn to enter the arena with Raul Corchuello Vernal on the Hanoverian gelding Beckham. They performed solid pirouettes and decent trot and canter tours. His solid square halt at the end was a nice finish to a good ride. (69.237, 67.658)

Venezuelan rider Alejandro Gomez Sigala aboard the KWPN gelding Zalvador entered the arena with a solid stop. His test was rewarded by his rider as the horse walked out of the arena with a long and relaxed head and neck. And as he passed in front of the VIP seats he brought his top hat too his chest as a show of respect for the applause. (66.105, 64.210)

Virginia Yarur from Chile rode her liver chestnut Rheinlander gelding Finn next to showcase the talent of this horse despite the humid and hot conditions. The gelding had a musical tail swinging throughout his ride. While the halt at the end was not perfectly square the overall performance was pretty accurate and garnered a score of 70.210 from the judges and was combined with their earlier score of 69.158.

Esther Mortimer Jones riding the Hanoverian gelding Adajio continued with some solid movements. It was impressive to see a rider and horse combination from Guatemala put in such a solid performance. (70.290, 67.053)

She was followed by another solid ride by the Puerto Rican pair of Luis Denizard and the Hanoverian gelding Royal Affair to finish the next to last group of riders. (69.395, 70.211)

Our final two Americans would be coming next in the final group of the day before the winners of the team competition would be named.

The final group of riders would be performing grand prix which meant passage and piaffe would be added into their rides and that extra element of difficulty would give them an extra quotient of 1.5%.

Starting off this final go round was Argentinian rider Micaela Mabragana riding the Swedish Warmblood gelding, Granada. (67.220, 67.167). This was a very respectable test for someone in a country that doesn’t have access to the quality of training that some of the other countries have.

Next up to the cheers of the crowd was Canadian rider Megan Lane aboard the KWPN mare Caravella. This was an important ride for the Canadians so all eyes were on the results. Her flying changes were very expressive as they bounced across the arena. Their final piaffe passage down the centerline was well done as the crowd waved flags throuhgout the arena in support. They finished on 72.892 and combined that with 70.900.

On our radar was the next rider who entered the arena and that was Laura Graves on Verdades. Our hope was that they could do even better than their 75.080 score achieved the day before to help alleviate some of the fear of who was going to be the final victors in this event.

Our support staff was on the sidelines with cameras at the ready and hopes running high. Laura entered the arena with a perfect halt. While the piaffe passage tour was quite good they did have one bobble at the corner of the arena near the entry gate, but they continued on without it impacting their round. She had another bobble right after the final pirouette but other than the canter tour was impressive because of how easily Verdades embraces all the difficult movements. They received a solid mark of 78.677.

It was Argentina’s turn next with Cesar Lopardo Grana entering the arena on Tyara, a KWPN mare. Overall it was a respectable round with some nice passage and piaffe. As they neared the end of their ride the piaffe was not as strong. The left pirouette was also a little weak. But the right was better. (63.200, 64.480)

Canadian rider Belinda was next and for her initial halt the horse did not stay still but that was followed by a brilliant extension. After that it appeared that the horse could do no wrong nailing every movement. (73.440, 76.578)

Now there were just three riders to go with the next entering the arena Ramon Beca Borrego riding the Lusitano stallion Zaire for Uruguay. The test appeared as if the horse was a little tired or affected by the heat although it did perform some very nice moves which at times were a little uneven. The horse continued to be very consistent performing a nice piaffe passage even at the end of the ride. (60.960, 61.647)

Mexican rider Bernadette Pujals rode Heslegaards Rolex, a Danish Warmblood gelding, to a score of 69.422 (69.440) with just one rider to go.

That last rider was Steffen Peters aboard Legolas 92. While it wasn’t a personal best because of two bobbles in the piaffe/passage and two more in the tempi changes, Steffen was still pleased with his mount. They had scored a personal best the day before finishing on 77.240 which was then combined with this second day score of 74.167.