Edited Press Release
The Adequan® Desert Dressage I CDI-W and the Spooktacular National Dressage Show, presented by Platinum Performance, concluded Sunday, October 24 at the new and improved Desert International Horse Park (DIHP). Among the highlights of the day’s exciting competition, Nick Wagman piloted Heatcliff, owned by Beverly Jean Gepfer, to top honors in the Vitaflex CDI1* Intermediate I. To conclude the afternoon in the last class in the International Arena, Ben Ebeling and ACR Enterprises Inc.’s Bellini took home top honors in the Voltaire CDI3* Intermediate I Freestyle.
San Diego-native Wagman closed out his week with a win Sunday morning in the Vitaflex CDI1* Intermediate I riding the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Heatcliff (Florencio – Ulivi, Olivi). Making their debut in CDI competition this week, the pair received a score of 69.794%, earning high marks for their skillful display of pirouettes and flying changes. Though Wagman has only been partnered with the gelding for two years, they have been progressively moving up the ranks since their start in Second Level competition. Wagman and Heatcliff dominated competition at the DIHP as they rode to the win the day prior in the CDI1* Prix St. Georges with a score of 70.529%. The pair impressed the judges Saturday with their display of extended canter and balance in the eight-meter collected trot circle.
Coming off of a whirlwind year qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Wagman looks forward to settling at home in San Diego to focus on his younger mounts for the upcoming 2022 season. Though Wagman has had to work diligently with Heatcliff to overcome noise sensitivity, he spoke highly of the gelding’s talent and promising future. He hopes to begin competing with Heatcliff in Intermediate II competition by the spring of 2022.
Later in the afternoon, athletes gathered for the Voltaire CDI3* Intermediate I Freestyle. In the end, it was Ebeling who rose to the occasion aboard Bellini, a 12-year-old Hanoverian mare (Bertoli W – Weserfee, Weltmeyer). Showcasing Karen Robinson’s choreography in the International Arena, Ebeling and Bellini proved they were the ones to watch, scoring a 73.725% to top the class. Ebeling showcased the mare’s talent through flying changes on a curved line, as well as transitioning into a trot half-pass immediately out of a halt.The mare has been under Ebeling’s family training since she was 3 years old, now moving up the ranks with him in the irons. He looks forward to eventually competing with Bellini at Grand Prix.
Taking second place in the class was Laura DeCesari aboard Pamela Farthing’s 11-year-old KWPN mare Flower-Power (United – Watch Me, Gribaldi). The duo rode to the musical stylings of Frozen, showcasing finesse around the arena to earn a score of 72.750%. The judges awarded the pair high marks for their shoulder-in and flying changes. DeCesari and Flower-Power most recently qualified for the 2021 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions, earning fourth place in the Intermediate I Freestyle Final.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Nick Wagman – Vitaflex CDI1* Intermediate I winner
“He is owned by Beverly Jean Gepfer and Kirk Martins and I’ve had him for about two and a half years. He was doing Second Level when we got him so we’ve come a long way and it’s really exciting. This is his first CDI, so we can’t complain about how he did. He’s a really fun horse to work with but with some challenges. He’s really noise sensitive, I’ve never had a horse this noise sensitive before. Everything depends on him getting acclimated to loud speakers and clapping and paper moving, so we’ve come a long way and I really feel like his confidence is growing. I’m super excited about where we’re headed.”
On his test:
“I think he has really improved in his collection and he’s getting stronger. I’m feeling the piaffe-passage starting to develop at home and it’s showing in the test work as well. It’s still just a matter of him getting strong to consistently do that in the test, but his canter work and his pirouettes were a highlight today. He got all of his changes. There was some spookiness in there but considering it all he is now able to pull it back together and get through the test. I’m just thrilled that he is doing this. Huge thanks to my amazing groom Jose Alaniz who I can’t do anything without. He gets a ton of the credit because he spent hours walking [Heatcliff] around getting him used to the golf carts and everything. It’s not just me out there, it’s everyone.”
On future plans with Heatcliff:
“I think we will continue doing the CDIs and keep getting him experience at home working towards the Grand Prix. I hope by spring to maybe start my Intermediate II work with him and just see how he develops as a Grand Prix horse. We’ll take it day by day but all of the talent is there.”
On lessons learned at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics:
“I think having gone through the whole process and experienced everything it took to get to Tokyo, not only to qualify for the team but to actually get to Tokyo, I think I am a lot stronger. I think I realized there is a lot of stuff to not sweat anymore and take it all in stride. To realize, for me at least, the larger picture is the Olympics or something of that level so these wonderful shows are just a learning tool to help get to that place.”
On competing at the Desert International Horse Park:
“The venue is fantastic. Everyone is thrilled – the stalls are great, the footing is great, we are so lucky to have this venue in California so I hope we continue to make good use of it. I am staying home [in California] this season and we are going to focus on all of my young and up-and-coming horses and we’ll hopefully be able to come out here quite a bit. This is a stay at home season for me. We’ve been gone for most of the year so I’m looking forward to being home for a while.”
Ben Ebeling – Voltaire CDI3* Intermediate I Freestyle winner
“She has been in my family since she was 3 years old. We bred her in Europe with a friend of ours Christian Heinrich and it’s been a horse that my dad was training. I started riding Behlinger in the Young Riders and [Bellini] was a horse for after. She’s really come into her own and today was awesome for her.”
On his routine highlights:
“I think the highlights were the changes on the curved line. She also has some really great half passes coming out of the halt directly into a trot half pass. That’s a difficult move for most horses as the queue is the same for the canter so they get confused. But she just handles it perfectly. I think it was a really great pattern for her.”
On his Freestyle choreography:
“I have to give all thanks to Karen Robinson. She really does a great job, not just with the choreography but the music as well, and it fits this horse and a couple of my other ones. It’s fantastic choreography. I always like to make my Freestyle a little bit difficult so something is always coming up, but for me that’s the best.”
On competing at the Desert International Horse Park:
“It’s fantastic here. The management has done such a great job, even better than last year which was already amazing. I really have to thank my parents, especially my mom [Amy Ebeling] for helping me get here and everything that she does for me. She had to stay home this weekend but she’s really in my corner all the time. My dad [Jan Ebeling] as my coach has been really great.”
On future plans:
“We will head to Florida around Thanksgiving. We will be back here for the second [Adequan® Desert Dressage] show because we can’t miss out, it’s so much fun! She is really schooling a great Intermediate II and developing into a great Grand Prix horse so I’m really hoping to either take her into that arena this year or continue developing towards that.”