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Michelle Gibson Rides Don Angelo to 73% in Intermediaire I at Wellington Classic Spring Challenge

Gibson's Dressage Clients Shawna Harding and Amy Bock Capture Blue Ribbons

WELLINGTON, FL - February 22, 2008 - It was quite a weekend for Michelle Gibson as both rider and coach at the Wellington Classic Spring Challenge, held February 16-17, at the Jim Brandon Center in West Palm Beach, FL. Riding Don Angelo for owner Terri Kane of Diamante Farm, Gibson competed in the small tour open classes earning ribbons both times out. Gibson also coached three FEI riders, Shawna Harding, Amy Bock, and Lily Zilo, with both Harding and Bock earning blue ribbon honors.

On opening day of the show, a field of 33 entries in the FEI Prix St. Georges Open was divided into two groups. Gibson rode Don Angelo, a seven-year-old Oldenburg stallion, in the afternoon group against 13 horses and earned 67.50% for fifth place. The following day, Gibson and Don Angelo contested the FEI Intermediaire I Open against a field of 18 horses, earning an impressive 73.00% for second place.

The Wellington Classic Spring Challenge was Don Angelo's second show as a competitor in the open ranks, as his previous experience has been in the USEF Young Horse division where he captured the 2007 USEF Developing Horse Championship.

Commenting on her Prix St. Georges ride with the young stallion, Gibson said, "The shoulder-ins felt good, half-passes were all good, the halt-reinback felt super. But then in the second walk pirouette he started to get a little bit behind me and when I asked for the canter he was a little bit slow to canter off, so I had to sacrifice my medium canter to make a correction. He's a young horse and he has to learn in the ring that he has to be honest in the ring. They try these things, so it's my job as trainer to make the appropriate corrections. But then, the whole canter tour, the half passes, the changes, the pirouettes felt really, really good."

Gibson and Don Angelo upped their score considerably the next day in the I-I and she beamed, "I was quite happy today. He felt like he was in front of me and he was really listening to me, so the correction I made yesterday in the test definitely paid off today. It was his second I-I and we had no major mistakes. Everything flowed really nicely so I was really happy with today." Gibson pointed out that Don Angelo's best movements in the test were his shoulder-ins, half-passes, mediums and extensions. "The rhythm felt good, the lift felt good," she noted. "My favorite moment of the whole test was the last centerline because he was just so through and so in front of me and in my hand. He just really gave me a super feeling."

Owner Terri Kane of San Antonio, TX, and Wellington, FL, was at the show to watch Don Angelo compete and observed, "He is fabulous. He's a stallion, but he's also got this personality like a big teddy bear. He's fun. I can even get on him and hack him on Sundays when I'm down here. It's a lot of fun. He's a good boy."

Mrs. Kane complimented Gibson's talents as rider and trainer for Don Angelo saying, "I trust her so much. I have so much faith in her riding. Each ride is different. Each time they go in the ring has a different purpose."

Commenting on the talented young stallion's future, Mrs. Kane said, "We just take each year at a time. Last year we went into the Developing Horse program thinking that if he makes it to the championships, that will be great because he's going in as one of the younger ones, and if he doesn't, that's fine too - and he won! So we were very excited. Michelle is so good at not pushing the horses because you want them around for the long run. If they need more time, she takes her time with it. That's one thing I really like about her. This year, if he makes the national I-I championship, then that's awesome, and if he doesn't, there's next year. He's got plenty of time."

Mrs. Kane noted that in the future, Don Angelo would begin his career as a breeding stallion. "He's just so sweet in the barn, and an easy-going and cooperative stallion, so right now while he's still learning, he's not going to be a breeding stallion," she said. "But in the future, yes."

Gibson Coaches FEI Clients to Blue Ribbons

As a coach at the Wellington Classic Spring Challenge, Gibson was in the unique position of not only competing in the small tour but also coaching two students, Shawna Harding and Amy Bock, who were also competing in that division.

Gibson coached Shawna Harding of Aiken, SC, and her Come On III, a nine-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, in the morning division of the FEI Prix St. Georges Open on Saturday. Harding and Come On topped the class of 20 horses, claiming victory with 71.00%.

"Shawna rode a really nice test," Gibson complimented. "One or two little bobbles, but no big mistakes, so I think she was pretty happy with that. I was happy with that!"

On Saturday, Gibson also coached Amy Bock of Argyle, TX, aboard her 11-year-old KWPN stallion Parcival in the FEI Intermediaire I Adult Amateur class. Bock and Parcival bested the field of six horses with a winning score of 70.750%.

Bock and Parcival also competed in the FEI Prix St. Georges Adult Amateur class on Sunday, earning 69.75% for second place.

Commenting on Bock's two successful rides, Gibson noted, "We've been working really hard on some things - getting him a little bit more up in the poll and more on the aids."

Bock is an attorney in Texas and has participated in clinics with Gibson since 2002. "This is the first year I've been able to come to Florida and stay for the season," Bock said. "I've always had to fly in and out because of my job. I just convinced my law firm to let me work from down here. Thank goodness for the Internet - that's going really well!"

In full-time training with Gibson for the first time, Bock noted her appreciation saying, "Michelle has just been incredible. I've really enjoyed spending the time with her. She's put all kinds of thought and energy into it. She's been addressing everything from my position and my riding and my horse's way of going, to every health and feed issue, as well as the mental aspects - how to prepare for the show, how to make the work at home translate to the show grounds. It's just been more than I could have hoped for coming down, so I don't want to go home!"

Bock will compete Parcival in upcoming CDIs with the goal of qualifying for the USEF Intermediaire I National Championship in California in June. "Last year was our first season together and we were USDF AA Prix St. Georges Champion, which was a pleasant surprise," Bock said. "We have good hopes for him and decided the national championship is what we're going to try to do this year."

Gibson and Harding are also aiming for the USEF Intermediaire National Championship and Bock beamed, "I think it's great! It makes it more fun when you can cheer each other on and have some fun with it. I know Michelle is going to be at all the shows and she'll be there if I make it to the championship to school me. It's collegial and it's a little bit of good-natured competition. It makes you raise your game. I enjoy watching Michelle in the classes and I learn things from watching her riding and schooling and warming up. I actually really enjoy that aspect of it."

Lily Zilo and Stradivari 14 Upping Scores Towards Qualifying for Hong Kong

Michelle Gibson coached her newest student, Lily Zilo of Wellington, FL, and her 15-year-old Hanoverian Stradivari 14 in the FEI Grand Prix de Dressage Adult Amateur class on Saturday, where the duo placed third, and the Grand Prix in the FEI Test of Choice Open on Sunday.

Zilo assessed her ride on Sunday saying, "It was slightly better than the last ride, but still plenty of room for improvement. We will keep going at it - again and again!"

A native of Hong Kong, Zilo holds a Hong Kong passport and aims to earn a Wild Card to represent Hong Kong at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

PHOTO CAPTION: Michelle Gibson and Don Angelo earned 73% in the FEI I-I at the Wellington Classic Spring Challenge. PHOTO CREDIT: Susan J. Stickle. This photo may only be used in relation to this press release.


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