McKayla Langmeier (USA) knew the door was open for her to take her first FEI victory of the Traverse City summer season on Friday of week four at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF). With determination, she sped to the win in the $38,700 GFL Environmental CSI3* Welcome Stake with Linda Langmeier’s entry Jiselle NS.
“I’ve had this mare since she was 6 years old so we’ve grown up together,” Langmeier, now 23, said of the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Balou Du Rouet x Voltaire). “I recently stepped her up into the three-star height and she’s been handling it so well. I have to thank North Star for the opportunity to have this mare. She’s the foal of Kachina, one of the horses Lou and Charlotte Jacobs had, so she’s really a family horse.”
When Langmeier returned for the jump-off, as one of 11 clear pairs from the original 37 entries, Kent Farrington (USA) led with Greya, the sole double-clear in 38.20 seconds, with the door left slightly open for another pair. Langmeier blazed around Andy Christiansen’s (ECU) course, clocking in at 36.00 seconds. Alex Granato (USA) came close to catching her time, sliding into the second-place position with Helios VD Nosahoeve, owned by Kisma Equestrian, LLC, pushing Farrington into third.
Langmeier’s boldness paid off, scoring the mare’s first CSI3* victory. “Going in for the jump-off, I wanted to test my mare because recently in the jump-offs we’ve been having one or two down,” she explained. “I still wanted to go fast and figure it out at that pace. My plan was to give it my best ride. She was right there with me every stride.”
When she first tried the horse, Langmeier liked Jiselle’s quirky style and knew they’d be a great match. “She has a lot of character,” Langmeier continued regarding why she adored the mare from day one. “She fights you here and there but she’s always so careful and keen to the jumps. When I rode her that was something I loved about her.”
Preparing for Sunday’s $145,100 CSI3* Grand Prix, the future isn’t certain for Jiselle NS, but Langmeier knows she will continue to progress the horse at the CSI3* and CSI4* level as she is ready.
Darragh Kenny Scores Serendipitous Win in $30,000 Traverse City National Grand Prix
Later Friday afternoon, the day was Darragh Kenny’s after he scored a second Grand Prix victory in less than one week. The win Friday came aboard Serendepety, owned by Oakland Ventures and Beerbaum Stables, in the $30,000 Traverse City National Grand Prix.
“I bought her when she was 5,” Kenny (IRL) said of the 8-year-old Hanoverian mare (Stolzenburg x Escudo). “I bought her with friends of mine and we owned her together until she was 7, when Ludger Beerbaum bought half. She’s a horse I’ve produced since she was very young and I think she’s incredibly special. She’s one of the most fun horses to ride and I’m enjoying producing her.”
Kenny was one of seven pairs to jump clear in round one of competition, going up against several other top professionals in the short course. Second to last in the order, Kenny clocked in the fastest time by nearly two seconds, putting pressure on Canada’s Erynn Ballard, who was last to go with Nanini Van D’Abelendreef. With two rails down for Ballard, the win was Kenny’s, aboard his extremely promising mare.
Alison Robitaille (USA) ended up just behind the pace, placing second with Ester De Maugre, owned by Alison Firestone LLC, while Charlise Casas (USA) took third place with Chaccolina D, owned by Always Faithful Equine, LLC.
Despite Serendepety being a young horse, Kenny knew he could lean on the mare’s natural speed and carefulness to guide him to the win. “She’s done it in every age group the whole way up into this,” he said of her progression up the levels. “We were talking about it before I went in for the jump-off; we were at a show last year in Valkenswaard and she won all three 7-year-old classes. Speed is not a problem for her.”
Kenny has his strategy for bringing up young horses down to a science, and, although it’s still personalized for each individual horse, his track record is showing that the process works.
“I produce them very slowly and I find that works well normally,” he explained. “Then when they’re 9, they’re ready to do whatever you want them to do. I keep it a really slow process, don’t show them too much, give them lots of breaks, and they become what they’re going to be in the end.”
Show jumping resumes Sunday with the $145,100 CSI3* Grand Prix.
Joey Roman and Cascatero Capture Junior Hunter Championship
Joey Roman has put the grunt work into developing his Large Junior Hunter, Cascatero, for the past three years and he now fully feels the fruits of his labor at this point in their relationship, taking top honors Friday in the Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division after a successful GLEF IV.
“I have had him for about three years now,” Roman said of “Cooper”, a 9-year-old Warmblood gelding. “I got him as a 6-year-old and we’ve both grown together. I know him like the back of my hand and we work very well together. I’ve had a pretty successful past couple years on him. This is my last junior year so my last year showing in the Junior Hunters, but I hope to continue doing him in the bigger derbies and hunter classes.”
Roman actually prefers the process of bringing up younger horses over being handed a horse that’s already prepared for the top level.
“I have had experience riding younger ones and I personally love riding them,” he explained. “I’ve never had horses that were ‘made’, per say. I’ve always had to make my own or get younger ones that had potential. This wasn’t really something new to me and I like riding the younger ones a little better sometimes.
“I love seeing the progression,” Roman continued of why he enjoys working with young ones. “It’s one of my favorite things about riding younger horses. You learn so much about them and I love seeing how drastically they can change. You get to make them up yourself and that’s really rewarding to see them blossom into their full potential.”
Friday marked a memorable victory for Roman, as he rode to a score of 92, the second-highest score they’ve received in their time together. They took three victories in the division, along with a second place. “We’ve grown so much together,” he continued. “I have a great team behind me who helps prepare the horses to get into this ring and helps them compete at their full potential. It’s nice going into the ring knowing you have everyone behind you and it’s up to you. You have all the pieces and it’s something you have to put together.”
Training with Frank and Jen Madden at Capital Hill Show Stables, Roman is also dipping his toe into the higher levels of the jumpers, hoping to continue to progress as he starts his amateur career next year.
“I hope to get a lot more experience in the jumper ring,” Roman shared. “I have a jumper I show in the High Junior Jumpers and we’ve grown a lot together as a pair. I hope to keep growing together in the jumper ring. With Cascatero, I just hope to continue this year we’ve been having. I hope it all follows through with indoors.”
The season in Traverse City has been a successful one so far for Roman and his mounts, but it’s not over yet. Cascatero will jump in Saturday’s $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Copper Fox Farm, and Roman will contend in the High Junior Jumpers.
Hunter action continues Saturday with the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Copper Fox Farm, beginning at 5 p.m. ET.
Pongracz and Sztyrle Clock Clear Rounds in Madd Horse LLC 1.10m and Turnham Green 1.0m Jumpers
On Thursday, professional Nick Pongracz had the chance to catch ride a brand new mount in the Madd Horse LLC 1.10m. Aboard Lauren Jorgensen’s Quality Z, Pongracz jumped a clear round to prepare the horse for upcoming action in the Amateur Jumpers.
“[Quality Z] is a catch ride so I rode him for the first time warming it up to show,” Pongracz, who works for Ivan Rakowsky, explained of his first time sitting on the horse. “His owner, Lauren, is a working student for Don Stewart and she bought the horse two years ago from Aaron Vale. he was competing with it in 1.40m and National Grand Prixs. Her trainer asked if I would do a class on him to jump him around and make sure he was smoothed out for the weekend and the weeks to come.”
As a young professional, Pongracz is used to catch riding and actually finds it one of the most rewarding parts of his job in the equestrian industry.
“I love catch riding,” he said. “It’s one of my favorite things because when it goes well and the person I’m riding well is happy with the progress and round, it’s the most exciting thing for me. I love figuring new rides out and getting that click right away.
“The riders being thankful and happy is the ultimate [goal],” Pongracz continued. “I love riding for other people just as much as I love riding for myself. I love setting them up because I appreciate the gratitude they show when their horse goes in and has a good round.”
In the Turnham Green 1.0m, Federico Sztyrle piloted two mounts, both of which were recently imported and are gaining experience for different reasons.
Aboard Karamia, Sztyrle went in with the intention to continue to educate the 6-year-old mare that he purchased as a project. “I bought her fourmonths ago, and she had very little experience so I just started developing her to see how far she goes,” he explained. “It’s a very nice horse and those classes are very good for that type of horse to develop and to learn.”
Aboard Diariboe De Bijoux STW Z, owned by Julia Strawbridge, the motive was slightly different, because the goal is that the horse will be a top amateur competitor. With Strawbridge, the horse will compete in the 1.15m so the horse must be properly tuned for the amateur ride.
“The other horse – we call him Bo – he belongs to a client and he also just came from Europe three months ago,” he said of the 8-year-old Zangersheide gelding. “He’s done 1.30m but I have to teach him to be patient for the client. I use those [1.0m] classes a lot to educate them and Americanize them a little bit. Our style is looser and we use less pressure. For him it’s also very good to do those types of classes.”
Adapting to the American style of riding is something quite a few European horses have to undergo once being imported, and Sztyrle finds that the lower level classes help the horses adjust to a different style in the setting of the show ring.
“It’s working for him,” he said of the horse adapting to the softer style. “He was ridden by a strong rider and then also a kid who rode in a very German style, with the head down and extra pressure with the leg. My client is a light rider; she used to event. But the horse is learning. In the beginning it’s hard for them because they have to find their own balance, but it’s coming along better and better.”