Canadians Turn Dressage at Devon Into Maple Leaf Affair

The theme song for Dressage at Devon might has well have been "Canada, My Canada" as north of the border riders dominated last week's three-star affair.The theme song for Dressage at Devon might has well have been "Canada, My Canada" as north of the border riders dominated last week's three-star affair.

Story originally posted by: Nancy Degutis

The theme song for Dressage at Devon might has well have been "Canada, My Canada" as north of the border riders dominated last week’s three-star affair.
Neil Ishoy, back in competition after a 17-year hiatus, led the charge with back-to-back grandprix wins on Linda Fowler’s Andiamo/Tyme. The California woman may have bought the horse as an investment but the 17.1-hand gray more than returned her money by taking Friday’s Grand Prix with a 67.960 percent. That mark blew past the leader, U.S. team Olympic Bronze Medallist Susan Blinks on her Flim Flam (67.560).

"This is only the sixth time in 19 years I rode down the center line," a modest Ishoy said with a slight Danish accent he got from his parents who immigrated to North America just before he was born. "I prefer to stay home and train my horses and students. I get more enjoyment from a smile of a student that has had success in a class, be it from basic level to the Pam Ams."

The next night the former international three-day eventer was ready for his victory Molson’s beer. The 48-year-old horseman and his Oldenburg mount with classic looks who was making his first grand prix appearance brought the Saturday night house down with a toe-tapping, hand clapping routine. The music was devised by his family with wife and dressage rider Cindy Ishoy "suggesting the canter music while my daughter, Kahla (also his groom at the show) gave me the trot music. I just added the walk work," beamed Ishoy whose 74.875 was four points ahead of last year’s prix winners, Cheri Reiber and G Tudor.

The long span between rides (he represented Canada at the 1980 Alternate Olympics and the 1982 World Championships) was well worth the wait, said Cindy who led the Canadian squad to a second at the show’s Can-Am Challenge. For years "people have said ‘well, he’s good trainer but he never shows.’ Now he will get the credit he deserves," said wife, Cindy, who helped the Canadians to second in the show’s Can-Am Challenge.

Shannon Oldham-Dueck "rides for fun," chuckled the Massachusetts woman who holds Canadian citizenship from the country where she grew up. "I just want to make the World Championships, ride in the Olympics and have fun. That’s what it is all about and if you can’t enjoy it, it’s not worthwhile."
Good thing her sense of humor lasted all day that was the time she waited until she was the last of 40 to go in the FEI Prix St. Georges with Leoliet. Rather than twiddling her thumbs in that period she rode her Korona in the Grand Prix before hopping off to warm up Judy Bernier’s Leoliet.

What a difference, laughed Oldham-Dueck who won Fourth Level classes with the bay last year. "I kept thinking, how much more simpler this was than the Grand Prix. After the Prix, doing the I1s and the PSG is a walk in the park," said Oldham-Dueck who moved to the Bay state to be closer to U.S. shows and Boston’s airport where she flies abroad to train with her coach in Holland. First, though, she will stop at the bank to store her diamond stud pendant she got for being the Canadian with the highest score total at the show.

Flim Flam was feeling a little too sassy, a mood that surfaced as disobediences in Friday night’s Prix, according to Blinks. She is very familiar with the Hanoverian that "thinks of himself as royalty." He has been that way since she got him from the Fritz Kundrun Dressage Sport Horses’ German-bred when he was a less than three years old. She could excuse his behavior in the Prix, even his mistakes since "they were positive. He had them because he was really electric and that was important. It tells me he has maintained his excitement about competing." The Special, where they tallied a 70.651 win on Sunday, "was two days later in his life" and a different story as he adjusted to Devon’s vibrant atmosphere.

Their appearance there "was a last minute thing" in their march toward qualifying for the selection trials for their long term goal, qualifying for the U.S. trials leading to next year’s World Equestrian Games. However, the Mt. Kisco, N.Y., woman also was thinking in near terms. She donated her prize money toward the American Red Cross disaster relief fund for the recent suicide bombings in New York and Washington. "But I’m driving, not flying, to Florida" for the winter circuit.

Aigo is a multi faceted horse that can run away, spook and jump almost simultaneously during a dressage workout. The Dutch warmblood kept his other talents under wraps for his Intermediaire I victory (68.500) with trainer Suzanne van Cuyk. He showed no signs of a year’s layoff from an injury but already is accepting work in upper level movements.

"He’s fighter. We call him ‘the little engine that could.’ You have to think every moment you are in the ring with him," said van Cuyk, of nearby Doylestown, Pa. A Dutch national who rode for her homeland’s team, she is considering her American husband’s frequent hints to apply for U.S. citizenship so she can ride for this country.