Courtney King and Idocus to Represent U.S. at Rolex FEI Dressage World Cup Final
Courtney King and Mythilus Sweep Small Tour at Festival of the Horse CDI-W/Y
BURBANK, CA – April 3, 2007 – Courtney King and Idocus placed second in the USEF National Grand Prix Freestyle Championship/U.S. League Final in Burbank, California, on April 1, 2007, with a score of 75.50%. The placement resulted in King and Idocus being named to the team of four combinations who will represent the U.S. at the Rolex FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final to be held April 18-21 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
King, 29, of Sherman, Connecticut, and Idocus, a 17-year-old bay Dutch stallion by Equador out of Eretha owned by Christine McCarthy, were ranked fifth in the nation coming into the U.S. League Final, which was contested in the Equidome at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center as the featured competition of the Festival of the Horse CDI-W/Y, held March 29 through April 1 in Burbank.
“My goal for this year with Idocus was to make the League Finals and that was a good goal. I was really happy to make that. I was not expecting to make the World Cup,” King said. King received coaching help from both U.S. Dressage Chef d’Equipe Klaus Balkenhol and Steffen Peters while in Burbank, and acknowledged, “Idocus has just been getting better and better. I’ve had some great help with him.”
King and Idocus competed in the Grand Prix for Freestyle on Saturday, March 30, which determined the order of go for the Freestyle Championship and League Final on Sunday. In the Grand Prix, King and Idocus scored 68.458% to place third in the field of seven horses. Steffen Peters and Floriano placed first, scoring 73.417% and Leslie Morse aboard Tip Top 962 were second with 68.458%.
On Sunday, in the USEF National Grand Prix Freestyle Championship/U.S. League Final, King and Idocus placed second place in the class of six horses with a score of 75.50%. Peters and Floriano won with 78.700%. Morse and Tip Top 962 earned third with 73.00%.
Following the competition, King, Peters, and Morse were named to the U.S. team for the Rolex FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final. Catherine Haddad, who resides in Germany and earned scores through the Western European League, received a Wild Card from the FEI to compete on the U.S. squad. While admitting she was a bit “shell-shocked” to have made the team, King said, “I’m really thrilled – and especially to be going with Steffen, and Leslie too!”
King earned her trip to Las Vegas by flawlessly performing a technically difficult freestyle. King worked with Terry Gallo of Klassic Kur to create this Broadway-themed soundtrack specifically for Idocus’s gaits and personality. This was the fourth time King has exhibited the kur and she has made adjustments to the choreography with each outing. Based on comments from the panel of judges at Burbank, King said she plans to adjust the choreography again prior to the World Cup with the aim of boosting the score even higher.
The music for King’s freestyle is a creative mix of show tunes utilizing “We’re Off to See the Wizard” from “The Wizard of Oz” for the walk; “Fiddler on the Roof” for the trot work; and “Cavity Cat” from “Cats” for the canter. Technically, the choreography is challenging and includes difficult transitions that Idocus performed fluidly and seamlessly such as the one-tempi changes on a half-circle to a double pirouette and a dramatic final centerline that included transitions from a piaffe quarter-fan to extended trot to passage to the halt/salute right on the button of the music’s flourishing end.
King was obviously pleased at the conclusion of her freestyle, beaming after the final halt and salute, and strongly hugging Idocus around the neck. King explained that her enthusiastic reaction after the halt was not about anticipating a high score or the possibility of making the team at that point, but was actually a reaction to Idocus’s responses to her during the ride. “I have asked my horse all these things to do and how much he gives back is really how my reaction is at the end,” King explained. “I felt like he gave me his all and stayed right with me. I was so happy with his reaction to me.”
While King has been competing at the FEI level for nearly 10 years, including as a competitor in the 1998 North American Young Riders Championships, this is her first time making a team for the United States. She shared her feelings on being teamed with one of America’s greatest representatives, Olympic and World Equestrian Games medalist Steffen Peters. “I don’t feel on the same level with him at all,” King said. “I definitely have a great rapport with him, but to me he’s still an idol. We’re very good friends, but I still really hold him up on a pedestal and strive to be more like him.” King will stable her horses with Peters in San Diego and continue training with him until the World Cup.
King noted that she missed having Guenter Seidel in the competition. Seidel had to withdraw when Aragon was injured after the jog. King commented, “I definitely feel the team spirit and I really felt for the loss of Guenter. It was disappointing yesterday in the Grand Prix. It felt very empty to not have that other great person there. The rest of us were vying for the team, but the two of them, Steffen and Guenter, are the leaders, the stronghold. I’m not as good of an anchor as Guenter would be obviously, but I’m thrilled to get the opportunity and it is my hope that as the years pass I’ll grow and eventually be an anchor like Steffen and Guenter.”
Courtney King and Mythilus Sweep Small Tour at Festival of the Horse CDI-W/Y
On Friday, in her first class at the Festival of the Horse CDI-W/Y in Burbank, CA, Courtney King and Mythilus, a 13-year-old, bay Dutch gelding by Ferro owned by Richard Malloch, scored 71.91% to best a field of 28 horses in the CDI FEI Prix St. Georges, which set the tone for her domination of the small tour.
Returning to the Equidome at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center on Saturday, King and Mythilus won the CDI FEI Intermediaire I with a score of 73.00%, topping the roster of 26 horses.
On Sunday, King and Mythilus were back in the Equidome for the CDI FEI Intermediaire Freestyle and again claimed victory with a score of 75.100%, making it a clean sweep of the small tour classes at the Festival of the Horse CDI-W/Y.
King worked with Terry Gallo of Klassic Kur on this freestyle, which includes an unusual mix of music. The track features “Conquest of Paradise” for the trot work, a Gregorian chant by a boys’ choir for the walk, and “Enigma” for the canter. King is especially enamored with the chant. “It is absolutely exactly what I wanted. It’s enchanting for me. I love it!” she enthused. She is amused with her canter music selection, noting, “My fiancée tells me that the only place that he’s heard that before is in a strip club, so I was a little bit concerned about having that in the freestyle, but I love listening to it again and again. It makes me happy and at the end I always giggle a little bit because it’s just a little bit naughty. It’s really a fun, fun freestyle. I love the music.”
Judge Cara Whitham (O) of Canada, who officiated at E for the I-I Freestyle, commented on the duo, saying, “He has a talent for collection – real talent for collection, this horse. And Courtney, the two of them make such a wonderful harmonious pair, and I don’t think he’s that easy a horse to ride. Somehow she just manages to work it out right with that horse. I would say she’s a very strong contender for your Pan Am team.”
Judge Whitham also remarked on the choreography King exhibited and noted, “Her freestyle was interesting today. It was rather simple actually. She was very clever in her trot work. She kept it rather uncomplicated, shall we say. And the canter work she put in more degrees of difficulty. Where she really gained her marks was that the technical was so well presented and the entire pattern flowed throughout. There were no question marks when the degree of difficulty was asked for – it just happened instantly. It was one of the most harmonious presentations. ” She also appreciated the freshness of this freestyle, noting, “That’s what freestyles are for. They should show the best part of the horse and interesting innovative ideas.”
King is aiming Mythilus for the 2007 Pan American Games, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July. King and Mythilus are currently ranked first in the nation heading into the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF National Intermediaire I Championship/Pan American Games Selection Trials. The trials will be held at the Festival of Champions, June 14-17, at USET Foundation headquarters in Gladstone, New Jersey.
“I couldn’t have been happier with Myth this weekend,” King said. King and ‘Myth’ made their show ring debut earlier this year on the Florida winter circuit and achieved several wins and good ribbons, but she declared that the gelding has turned a corner since coming to Burbank. “He was so light on my seat and on my aids the whole time. I was thrilled and I think that’s coming through.”
King explained that she is now working Mythilus more on the Grand Prix work, which is helping to get him more collected and improving their small tour performances. “When I got him more collected, then I could let him out a little bit more. They were the best feeling tests that I’ve had and it makes me very inspired for his future because you need that kind of suppleness and ‘on the seat, not the hand’ for Grand Prix,” King explained. “He has a lot of talent for Grand Prix and that was my one question mark on how good he could be in the Grand Prix – the ride-ability. This weekend makes me extremely confident that he will have that ride-ability and be just as good, if not better, as a Grand Prix horse than he is as a small tour horse.”
King Claims Victory with Rendezvous 3 in Open Prix St. Georges at Burbank
King has another candidate for the 2007 Pan American Games in the mare Rendezvous 3, a 12-year-old Warmblood owned by Francine Walker. Rendezvous 3 is currently ranked sixth in the nation heading into the Pan Am Selection Trials at Gladstone.
In Burbank, King and Rendezvous won the Open Prix St. Georges on Friday with a score of 69.00%, topping a field of 18 horses. The duo placed second in the Open Intermediaire I on Saturday, earning 71.50% in a class of eight horses. Kathleen Raine aboard Antares won with 72.00%.
“I was really, really happy with Rendezvous,” King enthused. “Right before she came to California, we rode in a clinic with Hubertus Schmidt in Florida for three days and that was awesome.” King also competed Rendezvous successfully in the small tour in Florida, and noted that the clinic was the pinnacle of Rendezvous’ work over the past few weeks. “She’s developed so much power physically in the trot,” King pointed out. “Hubertus said there aren’t many horses in the world who can trot like this. She really has a talent for it.”
King related that after the hard work of the clinic and the cross-country flight, Rendezvous arrived in Burbank a bit tense. “Her muscles were really, really tight and it took a few days to get her feeling good,” King said. “Then when I got on her, she was so supple and loose and wonderful – I was thrilled. I was very conservative in the Prix St. Georges because I knew that her muscles were still recuperating. It was a very nice clean, steady test, but I didn’t go for it as much.”
King noted that for the Intermediaire I, Rendezvous came out feeling even better. “She felt so good and through and light, and with most horses when they feel that way you can just sit and allow and then they move even better and it’s just an amazing connection,” King said. “So when I went into the test I was riding that way – just very passive, just asking and then letting her do it, but Rendezvous does not like that at all. She feels a little abandoned. She needs to always have the contact, have a little bit of pressure and it took me a few movements to realize that and to snap into place.” Still, Rendezvous earned a higher score in the I-I than the Prix St. Georges and reaffirmed to King what she already knows about the talented mare –“I always have to be there for her.”
After the World Cup, King will return to her base at Lendon Gray’s Gleneden in Bedford, New York, and plans to show both Mythilus and Rendezvous one more time before the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF National Intermediaire I Championship/Pan American Games Selection Trials.
“Right now they’re both qualified for Gladstone and standing pretty safely, so I may just do one more show in May to ride the freestyle again – just so that we don’t have two months without showing,” King related. “I’d like to keep going with the Grand Prix work. If they make the Pan Ams, then we’ll go in Grand Prix afterwards, and if they don’t make the Pan Ams, then we’ll go in Grand Prix at the end of the summer. That’s my goal with both of them.”
King and Harmony’s Wyoming Score High in FEI Six-Year-Olds at Burbank
King and her own Harmony’s Wyoming competed in the FEI Test for Six Year Olds on Saturday and scored 8.17 for second place. The judges awarded 8.7 on the canter; 7.9 on the trot; 7 on the walk, 8.9 for general impression; and 8.5 for submission. Harmony’s Wyoming is a coming six-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Weltmeyer.
“He was going great,” King said, and then laughed, “He was a little bit in a snotty mood because he doesn’t like to ride in the afternoon, which he’s going to have to get over, but the judges loved, loved, loved his canter! He was not as expressive as usual in the trot. He has a really super walk, but the way the test is set up with all tight turns, it doesn’t allow him to really move and free up and he needs that for the walk. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get that better for the Young Horse test, but certainly in open classes his walk is excellent, so I’m not concerned about it for the future.”
King is aiming Harmony’s Wyoming for the 2007 FEI World Breeding Championships, scheduled for August 2 - 5 in Verden, Germany.
A Successful Trip to California for King and Four of Her Horses
King has not been home since she left Connecticut in January to compete on the Florida winter circuit, where she chalked up numerous wins including victories at the Cosequin Wellington Dressage Show, the Gold Coast Dressage Association CDI, and the PhelpsSports.com Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI-W. She departed for California the third week of March after qualifying for the U.S. League Final. King was pleased overall with her experiences at the Festival of the Horse CDI-W/Y in Burbank.
“Florida was a big surprise to me. California has been the same thing,” King averred. “I had no idea how my riding or my horses would measure up to the competition out here because I was very impressed with the horses and the riders in California. All four of my horses – I couldn’t have been prouder of their performances. Their quality, condition, and training is equal standard of anybody that I’ve seen. I feel very lucky to have the quality of horseflesh under my seat right now that I do and the support of the owners sending their horses away for another month at a large expense.”
King explained that the trip to the west coast was not only worth it in terms of show results but also because of what the next few weeks are going to bring as she remains in California at Peters’ barn in San Diego before the World Cup. “All my horses are in a great stage for further development and between Klaus Balkenhol [U.S. Dressage Chef d’Equipe] and Steffen, I have such great help. Guenter and Debbie [McDonald] have been nothing but supportive and encouraging. It feels truly inspiring to be around all of them. My horses here, as well as my horses at home, are really going to benefit from this month excursion.”
Ultimately, the crowning achievement for King was being named to the World Cup team to represent the United States. “I’m not an overly emotional person by nature, but I definitely had a very strong wave of emotions during the playing of the National Anthem in Burbank,” King shared. “It’s one thing to hear it played at a CDI where it’s mostly national competitors but this was different – it filled me with pride. It’s a very ‘team’ feeling – patriotic, doing something for your country, representing your country – and that word ‘representing’ is often used loosely – but when you are representing your country, that word has a lot more weight. So it’s a thrill. I was hoping that some day I would represent a team and to be able to do that on Idocus, who is the love of my life, is really special.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Courtney King and Idocus perform their freestyle at the USEF National Grand Prix Freestyle Championship/U.S. League Final in Burbank, CA. PHOTO CREDIT: Terri Miller.
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