WELLINGTON, FL - January 18, 2008 - Michelle Gibson Dressage client Shawna Harding riding her own Come On III started her Florida winter show season with a successful outing at the Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge I, held January 12-13 at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, claiming victory in both of her small tour classes. Coached by Gibson, Harding and Come On won the Prix St. Georges on Saturday and the Intermediaire I on Sunday.
In the Prix St. Georges, Harding and Come On were awarded an impressive score of 73.750% by Judge Betsey Berrey, topping the class of 15 horses. A total of 31 horses were entered in the Prix St. Georges, which was divided into two classes, and the winner of the other segment, Amy Stuhr, earned 70.750%. In the Intermediaire I, Harding and Come On earned the winning score of 71.00% from Judge Hilda Gurney, besting the field of 13 horses.
"Shawna is a good rider, so I'm basically just eyes on the ground for her," said Gibson. "I help her clean things up a little bit and fix things that get away from you before you realize that it's happened. Come On is a nice horse."
Come On III is a nine-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding that Harding has trained since he was five years old. For 2008, Gibson is working with the duo for their second consecutive season in Florida.
Harding first started working with Gibson in 2004 with a different horse. "I had a very hot World Cup horse that I was trying to settle. I knew Michelle had experience with the bloodline, having had one herself, so I went to her to see if she had any ideas on channeling his energy the right way," recounted Harding. "The horse was then sold and I returned to Europe for a year. In 2007, I was back in Wellington with Come On and had been on my own for a year and needed some eyes on the ground. I asked Michelle if she would and she did. She is great to have ringside at the shows. I am happy to have her as a coach and friend."
In 2007, Gibson coached Harding and Come On at the USEF National Developing Horse Dressage Championship, and she also competed against the duo. Gibson rode Don Angelo for owner Terri Kane and claimed the Championship title while Harding and Come On earned the Reserve Champion title. Both Gibson and Harding are currently aiming their Developing Horses for the 2008 USEF National Intermediaire I Championship.
"Last year we had a lot of fun competing against each other for the Developing Horse Championship," said Gibson. "This year we'll both be working towards the I-I Championship, so that will be good fun."
Gibson said it's not hard for her to compete against a rider she is coaching. "I think it's fun! Shawna is a really good sport and if she wins, I'm happy for her and if I win, she's happy for me," said Gibson, adding with a laugh, "And of course she wants to beat me, but that's the competitive nature of both of us. But if she wins, I'm happy for her."
Harding resides full time in Aiken, South Carolina, while Gibson is a full time resident in Wellington, Florida, so the Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge I was their first opportunity to work together since the USEF Developing Horse Championship in Kentucky in September.
"Shawna just got to Florida not long ago, so this horse show was the first time that I'd actually seen her this season," Gibson noted. "The horse looked good for the Prix St. Georges and then for the I-I we just made a few changes in the warm-up, just to get him a little bit looser, a little bit more on the aids. She was really, really happy with the I-I."
When not in Florida together, Gibson and Harding try to arrange their schedules so that they are competing at the same venues and work together during those horse shows.
"Shawna is a very good competitor," Gibson said. "She rides a really beautiful test - very accurate and she puts the test together well. She's a nice person and I enjoy working with her."
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 is currently showing two world-class FEI horses - 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: LEFT: Michelle Gibson Dressage client Shawna Harding and Come On III Claimed a Double Victory in Small Tour competition at Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge I. RIGHT: Michelle Gibson. PHOTO CREDIT: PMG Pictures and Susan J. Stickle.Â This photo may be used only in relation to this press release.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/michelle-gibson-shawna-harding-wellington-01-08.html">Michelle Gibson Dressage Client Shawna Harding and Come On III Claim Double Victory in Wellington</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com