A Capital Start to the 2016 NCDCTA Show Season

The 2016 NCDCTA dressage show season got off to a grand start with the Capital Dressage Classic, held the first weekend in June at the J. B. Hunt Horse Complex in Raleigh. Not only was this year’s show expanded from two days to three, but the first day, Friday, June 3rd, was focused on the Adult Amateur (AA) riders.

Patti Hildreth, a member of the NCDCTA board and Chair of the Show Committee, joined the board several years ago with the specific intent of creating more benefits for the AAs who comprise almost two thirds of the membership. One of the first moves the board made toward that end was to split out AAs from Open and Jr/YR competitors in all classes. The next change: “This year, since we expanded the CDC to three days, I thought we needed incentives for folks to come on Friday, and a money class for AAs was the perfect thing,” Hildreth said.

And that it did! Thirty-four AA competitors entered Friday’s money classes, many taking off from work for the opportunity. Three hundred dollars were awarded to the top three finishers in the second test at each level from Training through Fourth, $1500 in all. No additional fees were needed to enter, and to keep the competition fair there was only one rule: each horse/rider combination must not have shown at a higher level.

Not only was the weather hot Friday, but so was the competition. At Training level Jody Morse and her 13 year old Fjord mare, Mai, earned the highest score among all the money winners, over 72.30%. And that was just the beginning. The pair competed in six classes and earned over a 70% in five of them and a membership in the 70% Club!! “It was an incredibly successful show and I couldn’t be happier with our success,” Morse gushed. A dentist from Kernersville with over 16 employees in her practice, Morse, like many of us, finds it challenging to fit riding into a busy work and family schedule. Dressage partners for the past five years, she and Mai ride as often as they can with Jean Devenny.

Tonya Bruno and her 7 year old “homegrown” 100% Foundation Morgan gelding Matton Majestic (Pete) not only took home the first place money at First level with a score of 67.5%, but also continued their dominance, for the first time ever earning two scores above 70% and as a result are also brand new members in the 70% Club. Bruno has been “working at dressage for about 15 years, with nice horses and consistent, professional instruction .” However, it wasn’t until she moved to North Carolina and started working with Bailey Cook that she learned to appreciate the finer points of dressage and started to see her scores improve. Bruno says “It was thrilling! It should me that we can do it with the right coaching. Very gratifying! Thanks NCDCTA for making it possible!”

Another star at First level, taking second place honors and money, was Allison HackettDorn and Magnum PI. Former hunters, HackettDorn and Magnum began their dressage journey together just 3 ½ years ago, and have worked very hard with trainer Becca Vick to get to First level. Building on Friday’s nice ride, Saturday they scored a personal best at First, 3 with a score of 73.088%. “We had a great time at the CDC!” said HackettDorn. Apparently so!

Rounding out the First level AA money winners was Sandy Higgins and her 12 year old Swedish Warmblood Mare, Image Of Canina; Higgins said her primary focus when she entered the CDC was to do well in Friday’s First 2 class. Higgins bought Image as an unbroken 6 year old and admits to some “...moments of struggling along the way, but his weekend I was so proud of her!” She credits their success to trainer Patrick Marley for his willingness to stick with them and his encouragement. Higgins extended her “...sincere thanks to NCDCTA for offering this reward to the Adult Amateurs. It is a wonderful way to recognize us.”

The incentive of winning money Friday was what encouraged Bonnie Blake Gibson to enter all three days of the CDC instead of just two. Although noting her score Friday in the Third 2 money class was not her best score of the weekend, nor was it her best ride of the weekend, it was enough to win third place money. “It was certainly a bonus to come home with a check!” Gibson said. “In addition, having the extra rides on Friday was a great warm up for Saturday and Sunday where I ending up winning the 3rd level Division AA championship. It was a very successful weekend and I was so pleased with my mare, Grace Kelly, as she was so focused and obedient in all our tests. I would certainly encourage Amateurs to come out early next year to take advantage of the AA $$ classes on Friday.”

Indeed, plans are underway to expand the money available for prizes in 2017. To that end, the greatly missed Used Tack Sale of yore made its reappearance, run by Hildreth. Proceeds from the sale have been designated to the AA prize money pool for 2017. It is fitting to close with a huge thank you to all the sponsors who made the AA money classes of Friday at the CDC possible! In alphabetical order:

  • Sarah Blanchard and Home Team Realty
  • Rebecca Blikslager and Custom Saddlery
  • Lombardi Mobile Equine
  • McKnight Equine Mobile Veterinary Service
  • Laura Pendleton NCDCTA

And last but not least, thanks to Patti Hildreth and Whinstone Farm for the Wine and Cheese Wind Down party Friday night. It was a great way to cool down, relax, and relive some very impressive highlights.


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