A Filly at Finals

Saleska H2O, held by Kendra Hansis, winning the 2022 USDFBC Region 8 Filly Final. Sally was handled by Rachel Lauffer. Judges were Gwen Ka'awaloa (far left) and Susan Graham White (second from left).

By Kendra Hansis

Showing yearling warmbloods in-hand can be a challenge. They manage to go through every awkward growth stage as they take in new show environments, which makes for some interesting situations. The great thing is by the end of the season, you generally have a youngster who’s not only more mature physically, but is well-adjusted to the hectic show atmosphere of a big regional championship. If you’ve ever considered showing a youngster in-hand or in Materiale, do it! You’ll have a much more mature horse by the time you’re ready to go up the levels.

When I brought my yearling filly Raleska (Rascalino/Warkant/Argentan), bred by Linda Woltz, to the New England Dressage Association (NEDA) Fall Festival and Great American/USDF Regional Championships for Region 8 in 2009, I had low expectations. She hadn’t scored particularly well that summer, and the competition can be pretty strong at Regionals. To my great shock, she earned an 80.35 from Kristi Wysocki and Bill Solyntjies to win the Region 8 Filly Final! I was blown away and got emotional. Bill noticed, asked her bloodlines, and said, “I don’t know why you’re surprised. She’s bred to the nines!” He added, “Don’t sell her,” advice I’m glad I took. 

Raleska winning the 2009 GAIG USDF Region 8 Filly Final. Handler Heidi Conlon. Judges were Kristi Wysocki and William Solyntjies.

After earning her Elite title, Raleska became one of my foundation broodmares. I’ve bred seven foals from her, including approved stallion Fortunato H2O and licensed stallion Faraday H2O, both by Floriscount. Last year, she finally gave me a keeper filly, Saleska H2O, aka Sally, by St. Schufro. Although I don’t often show foals, I showed her. She did well, ending the season ranked #1 Filly of Current Year with USDF. The yearling year can be its own animal, though; you never know what to expect because of all the wonky growth phases.

Sure enough, Saleska H2O’s scores covered quite a range! We headed off to the NEDA Breed Show III and Region 8 USDF Breeders Championships not knowing what to expect. It was great seeing so many breed show friends, as always. The weather and venue, Anke Ott’s Avalon Farm, were beautiful, and the show was well run. Saleska H2O was a little looky and placed second in her class in the breed show. She felt a lot more comfortable on day two. It was such a thrill when she placed first in the USDFBC Region 8 Filly Final — the same class her mother had won! Saleska H2O is again ranked #1 with USDF, this time in Yearling Fillies.

Kendra Hansis breeds dressage prospects at her farm, Runningwater Warmbloods, in Frenchtown, NJ.

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