Todd Flettrich Returns to U.S. Following Successful European Training and Dressage Show Tour
WELLINGTON, FL - January 18, 2008 - Todd Flettrich of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, and Wellington, Florida, has returned to the United States after a six-month stint in Europe where he resided in Germany and trained with German Olympic Team Gold Medalist Hubertus Schmidt. Flettrich brought seven horses with him to Europe, ranging from FEI Five-Year-Olds to Grand Prix. Aboard his Grand Prix mount Amadeus, a nine-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding owned by Cherry Knoll Farm, Flettrich competed in a tour of four European dressage shows. Flettrich is currently in Wellington preparing to compete in the upcoming Concours de Dressage International (CDI) competitions on the Florida winter circuit. His goal is to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Selection Trials.
European Show Tour Wrap - Verden, Zierow, Paderborn, Odense
Verden, Germany - Flettrich started his European show tour at the prestigious CDI3* in Verden, Germany, August 2-5, 2007. He rode Amadeus against a class of 65 topnotch international horses. "It was the horse's first show in almost a year," noted Flettrich. "I did it at Verden because I wanted to have help from Hubertus while I was in Germany. We had mistakes, but the horse looked very good."
Zierow, Germany - One month later, Flettrich competed Amadeus in two Grand Prix classes at an indoor national horse show in Zierow, Germany, on October 6-7. Flettrich successfully improved his scores and finished in the top three on both days.
On Saturday, Flettrich and Amadeus contested the Short Grand Prix and finished with 65.70%, placing third in a field of 14 horses. On Sunday, Flettrich and Amadeus competed in the Grand Prix, earning 66.70% for second on the roster of 14 contenders.
Assessing his ride in the Short Grand Prix, Flettrich said, "I was a little concerned that Amadeus might be spooky because this was an indoor show and they had bleachers along the kickboard, but he went in the arena and was not spooky at all. I rode conservatively, but I made no obvious mistakes, which was my goal. I was delighted with the test."
In the Grand Prix, Flettrich was edged out of the win by only 24 points. "I tried to go for it a little bit more - to ride a little bit more expression in his movements," Flettrich noted. "At the beginning of my two-tempis I had a few ones, but Amadeus was really on my side. It was just a miscommunication. He was really trying to please. He was very eager."
Paderborn, Germany - With three Americans competing at "Porsche Dressage Trophy," a German national indoor dressage tournament held in Paderborn, Germany, on November 2-4, Flettrich rode Amadeus to third place in the Grand Prix Special, earning the distinction of being the highest placed American in the FEI classes at the show.
"Amadeus did everything I asked. He was very good," said Flettrich of his Grand Prix Special ride, which held the lead for most of the class. "I honestly feel it was the best test I've done."
Flettrich and Amadeus started off on Friday contesting the Grand Prix against an international field of 26 horses. "Unfortunately, on the first day I had several mistakes," said Flettrich, noting that he had to forego 15 minutes of his warm-up, which took its toll in the arena. But Flettrich and Amadeus came back in super form on Sunday in the Grand Prix Special. In an international field of 13 horses, Flettrich and Amadeus claimed third place.Â Three of the five judges placed the duo second.
"I had a very good go in the Special. I was winning the majority of the day and ended up being third," Flettrich said. "I had no technical mistakes. The judges gave me many 7s. I was extremely happy. It was a very good test. Most of the horses were spooky in that arena, but Amadeus wasn't. He was looking, but he really was on my aids. My first piaffe was one of the better piaffes that I have done in the ring. The passage was very regular and consistent to the extensions - very nice. I was very happy with him."
Odense, Denmark - Flettrich and Amadeus wrapped up their European show tour at the JBK Horse Shows CDI*** held in Odense, Denmark, on November 22-25.
The Odense Congress Center - a huge indoor venue that hosts sports ranging from gymnastics to basketball - presented the CDI*** simultaneously with a jumping CSI***, creating an exciting atmosphere at the two-building site. "It was a huge show. It was beautiful and very well done," Flettrich said. "Major competitors were there, lots of spectators in the grandstands, and great vendors - it was fabulous and really fun. Amadeus performed more beautifully than in any of our previous competitions."
Flettrich and Amadeus competed on November 22 in the Dansk Ride Forbund Cup Grand Prix. A field of 24 horses representing nine countries contested the class. Only the top 15 moved forward to the Grand Prix Special, and Flettrich and Amadeus qualified to be among them.
"Overall, the relaxation of the horse and the quality of the work was very good," Flettrich said. "My goal was a mistake-free test, but we had a mistake in the one-tempis that really cost us points. On the leader board, we were at 67% before the ones. Amadeus normally is a little bit hot in the one-tempis, but at this show he was very willing and really relaxed. I should have asked for a little bit more."
On November 23, Flettrich and Amadeus competed in the Ecco Cup Grand Prix Special. The duo placed 14th. "We were mistake-free in the one-tempis and the two-tempis, so I was really pleased," enthused Flettrich. "The pirouettes and the half passes were also very good. However, I went for it a couple of times in the passage work and we had mistakes that cost us points, but it was mainly over-exuberance. The rest of the test was good and very high quality." Flettrich admitted with a laugh, "I went off course, which I haven't done in years, and that cost us points!" Flettrich noted that Odense was the most electric atmosphere that he and Amadeus have experienced in their two-year partnership.
The European Experience
Flettrich pointed out how important it is to compete in Europe and gain exposure to the caliber of shows like Odense. "For instance, before the Grand Prix, we entered the arena after an awards ceremony and went around the ring in the dark with flashing disco lights and the grandstand alive with people in motion," Flettrich said. "Amadeus was lit up like a Christmas tree, but he was really well behaved. The horse has the talent and ability to be an Olympic horse; it's just experiencing these things and working through them. It's the year before the Olympics, so it's great that we're getting these experiences now."
Flettrich noted that pre-show experiences are also valuable in gaining international mileage. "The arena in Odense wasn't set up when we arrived, so riders weren't allowed in until 8:00 p.m. the night before the show - and then it was absolutely jam-packed," Flettrich said. "Even the next morning at 6:00 a.m. it was absolutely jammed with all the top competitors riding. It just goes to show, these people are serious! We also had to get used to the temperature change because we were stabled in tents on concrete outdoors where the temperature was zero or below, and then we came into a warm arena. There are the little things to adjust to as well, such as shipping commercially. Amadeus shipped eight hours facing backwards and was sore when he got to the show. You have no control over things like that, which you would back home. People here are used to all this. Competing in Europe is really a great experience. It is definitely an eye-opener."
Above all, the strict judging in Europe is the most important part of the learning experience, Flettrich pointed out. Odense sealed that assessment. "More than ever, I feel that it's not good enough just to have some brilliant moments - it's also got to be mistake-free," Flettrich emphasized. "At Odense, I realized that the most. It gave me a great experience."
Flettrich and Amadeus will compete next at the Gold Coast Dressage Association CDI-W, January 25-27, in Wellington, FL.
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