The stunning Lipizzan! We are celebrating them as our September Breed of the Month on YourDressage!
Dressage riders who choose Lipizzans as their mounts are eligible for special awards through the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards program, as the United States Lipizzan Federation is a participating organization.
Here, a competitor in Region 3 shares about her natural showman Chester, the lone non-gray Lipizzan born to his breeder, and the work they’ve done to overcome injuries and rise to the top of the dressage ranks.
By Janet Buckner
Back in 2008, a Florida breeder of Lipizzans for 40 years welcomed a bay colt into their Lipizzan family. He was the only non-gray Lipizzan foal born to this breeder, and he was promptly named Chester. Tradition requires male Lipizzans be named in a certain way for the registry, so Chester’s fancy name was Siglavy Presciana II-II (Siglavy Aga x Presciana II). He was backed at five-and-a-half-years-old, and when I met him in 2015 at 7, he was a recently-gelded, sassy, but beautifully started 15.1 hand powerhouse. It was love at first sight, and I had to buy him.
Within six months, we went to our first schooling show at Training Level. We survived that initial season, competing at Training and First, the next season in Second Level “hell” as it’s sometimes called, and finally in 2018, managed to get a fairly confirmed flying change to compete at Third Level, earning our USDF Bronze Medal. In 2020, we competed at the Great American/USDF Regional Championships in Florida at Third Level, and a bit later, had a little freestyle fun! This season, I donned my shadbelly and Prix St. Georges was our goal for the 2021-2022 season and happily, we had success. Next season, I-1 is on the menu.
But it wasn’t always a smooth road. It never is. And while I took a lot of productive lessons, I wanted to train Chester up the levels myself. In the early days of riding a young, inexperienced horse at shows, there could be drama, tantrums (Chester’s – which he expressed by stomping a foot at the final halt/salute, and grunting), spooking, and good luck getting him over his back like a proper dressage pony. Many times I felt like I was riding a llama. It was part of the process, but when it was happening, at times it was hard to keep my sense of humor! Second Level – well, why do a canter/walk/canter when one can just do a flying change? Why counter canter when one can just do a flying change? Chester seemed to think I was the stupid one in the partnership. It was not our most successful year, scoring-wise.
The season for Third Level started out nicely, but the dressage gods had other plans. A suspensory strain in 2018 set us back for 90 days. After the requisite rehab (tack walking and such) we were back in business… for about 5 weeks. Too much raucous play in the turn out overnight resulted in a hole in a rear deep flexor tendon and suspensory branch issues. When your vet says, “I don’t want to say it’s a career ending injury…”, well, your whole dressage life passes before your eyes, right?
A second opinion on the injuries was warranted and there were some expensive options suggested, but as the second opinion veterinarian said, “they may or may not work. What is required is time, and most people don’t want to take the time.” What else could I do? I chose the “time” option with laser and magnawave as my treatments of choice. The clock ticked away, the 2019 show season didn’t happen for us, and month after month we walked, finally trotted, and then cantered. Finally, very late in the 2020 season, we were able to compete, where we qualified for, and competed at, the Region 3 Championships at the Florida Horse Park at Third Level, and rode a Fourth Level test as well at the open show.
We just kept working on the quality of our work, getting the movements cleaned up for PSG, and gave it a try in December 2021. While we didn’t get enough scores for the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards this season (short just one score), we had a great year. Unfortunately, another soft tissue injury occurred at a show during a crazy, noisy hail storm, scaring the daylights out of all the horses in the stalls (rearing, spinning, screaming), and Chester was no exception.
To wind this up, Chester can be quite a showman – it’s in his blood after all, and his enthusiasm for the freestyles is evident. We hope to continue through Grand Prix and throw in some fun freestyles to get our Freestyle Bars. It’s a long-term goal, but I hope to do a Century Ride on Chester at some point. We’re only about 10 years out now!