Cindy Olson and Pikko del Rio
By Jennifer Keeler
The week before their biggest show of the year, pediatrician Cindy Olson and her 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding Pikko del Rio weren’t thinking much about dressage. They were trying to survive the wrath of Hurricane Matthew as the Category 4 storm barreled towards their home in Wellington, FL.
Thankfully the winter equestrian paradise was spared the worst of the storm, and as the rain clouds parted the pair began their 10-hour journey to Conyers, GA, to join 510 other competitors for the Great American/USDF Region 3 Championships. Together Olson and Rio competed at the inaugural 2013 US Dressage Finals at Training Level and then returned a year later at Second, and after a summer devoted to training were now hoping to earn one of the final group of invitations for Kentucky, this time at Third Level.
“The venue at the Georgia International Horse Park was lovely, and the organizers and volunteers of the show deserve a big thanks for all of their efforts,” said Olson. “It was a picture perfect few days and I did remember to take a moment to look around and enjoy the moment. Despite the long trip and our harrowing week leading up to the show, Rio was happy and energetic and he behaved perfectly at the show.”
On Thursday the pair enjoyed a solid performance in their Third Level warm-up test, followed by their Third Level Adult Amateur Championship Test on Friday. “We rode a clean test and received a 61.7% score, placing somewhere in the middle of the pack of about 35 riders,” Olson explained. “So unfortunately we did not qualify for the Finals this time, but I was very happy with our test and all the progress we are making.”
Although disappointed to not be returning to Lexington this year, Olson is already looking forward to trying again in 2017. “Now I have my qualifying scores for next year’s Regional Championships which will be closer to home in Wellington, so I’m excited to try for the Finals again. It’s been a lot of fun sharing my story and I wish everyone best of luck in Kentucky this year !”