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Michelle Gibson Dressage Client Shawna Harding and Come On III Place 3rd at USEF National Intermediaire I Championship

WELLINGTON, FL - July 4, 2008 - Michelle Gibson Dressage client Shawna Harding of Aiken, SC, and her own Come On III finished in third place overall at the USEF National Intermediaire I Dressage Championship. The competition was held on June 27-29 at the 2008 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions at the Oaks Blenheim show grounds in San Juan Capistrano, CA.

Harding has owned and trained Come On III, a nine-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, since he was five years old. Based in South Carolina, Harding meets Gibson, who is based at Diamante Farms in Wellington, FL, at horse shows and works with her in the warm-up ring before she competes. Harding has worked with Gibson consistently during the three-month Florida winter circuit for the past two seasons. In 2008 in Florida, Harding and Come One accumulated 10 wins in the small tour and qualified for the USEF National Intermediaire I Dressage Championship ranked #3 in the United States.

Harding also serves as 'eyes on the ground' for Gibson when she competes on her small tour mount, Don Angelo. At the 2008 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions, Harding and Gibson coached each other throughout the entire competition. "We've had a lot of fun together in Florida," Harding said. "We help each other and we're both good competitors and good friends, so it's good fun."

At the national championships, contenders for the Intermediaire I title competed in the Prix St. Georges, Intermediaire I, and Intermediaire Freestyle, which were weighted 30%, 45% and 25% respectively.

Kicking off the competition on June 27, Harding and Come On placed second to Gibson and Don Angelo in the Prix St. Georges with a score of 70.150%. "He felt wonderful in the warm-up," Harding noted. "He recovered from the trip but he's still a little bit tired. We had a big mistake in the halt-reinback. Tomorrow he should be feeling good and strong and I hope that we have the warm-up that we had today. He seems in good spirits, so we'll just get in there and ride it."

On June 28, Harding and Come On again placed second to Gibson and Don Angelo in the Intermediaire I with an impressive score of 71.00%. Harding noted that she and Come On had some uncharacteristic mistakes in movements where the gelding is usually very solid, but that his trot work was ultra solid, the shoulder-ins were fluid and the pirouettes were improving.

Asked if either of them hold back coaching help in the warm-up when they are neck-and-neck for the top placings, Harding responded, "No - that's never a question because you're on your own when you get in the ring. So what happens outside the ring - she's a fantastic support and gives me little tips that keep me focused."

Michelle concurred with Harding. "It's great that we have a friendship and that we can support each other," Gibson said. "What makes us such good competitors, is that we can compete and we can be serious and we can be really driven about it, and then be like 'You know what, there was a mistake or there wasn't a mistake and today was his day or it wasn't his day, and let's go have a glass of wine' - and it's all good."

Wrapping up the competition on June 29, Harding and Come On rocked the house with their I-I Freestyle to rock ‘n’ roll tunes and placed fifth with 70.20%.

Harding’s unique soundtrack incorporates music from Fergie, ACDC, Scorpions, ZZ Top, Queen, and Joe Cocker. “Some judges like it, some don’t,” said Harding, “but riders in Europe are also using music that is more edgy. It draws more attention to the sport.” Harding commented that Come On had some errors in his performance today. “Technically he wasn’t on his game,” Harding said, adding, “He’s had a big week. We had a crunch of travel. He really tried from his heart to keep it together for me.”

Harding and Come On earned a final combined score of 70.545% for an overall third place finish in the 2008 USEF National Intermediaire I Dressage Championship.

Gibson and Don Angelo won the championship with a combined total of 72.898% and her Bronze Medal team mate from the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Steffen Peters, earned the Reserve Champion title with Montango on a combined total of 70.950%.

Harding was thrilled to be in such talented company as one of the top three combinations in the nation in the Intermediaire I. At the Press Conference following the awards ceremony Harding beamed, “I’m sitting in between two Olympic riders!”

Michelle Gibson Dressage

Michelle Gibson, a member of the Bronze Medal Team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, is based in Wellington, Florida. She is head trainer at Diamante Farms - a dressage training, showing, and boarding facility owned by Dick and Terri Kane. Gibson's current FEI mounts are Don Angelo and Lex Barker. Gibson's student, Devon Kane, won the Individual Gold and Team Bronze at the 2007 CN North American Junior/Young Rider Championships. Gibson is currently accepting new horses into her program for training, showing, and sales. Gibson is available for dressage clinics nationwide. For more information, contact Michelle Gibson at 678-575-1201 or visit http://www.michellegibson.com

PHOTO CAPTION: Shawna Harding and Come On III placed 3rd overall in USEF National Intermediaire I Championship. PHOTO CREDIT: Terri Miller. This photo may only be used in relation to this press release.


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