Szepesi and Majco Thunder's Hattrick Shine in Inter I Kur at 2014 CDIO Wellington
Alix Szepesi (USA) and Majco Thunder's Hattrick topped the Intermediaire I Kur to Music on Sunday morning 23 February at the 2014 CDIO Wellington in Florida. She scored 68.542%. Second place went to fellow American Bent Jensen and Saracen, who earned a 67.833%. Sonia Zugel of Ireland rounded out the top three with Ungaro with a 67.083%.
Szepesi was quite pleased to see "Hattrick," a 13-year-old Danish bred Knabstrupper gelding co-owned by Szepesi and Michelle Doucette, coming along nicely during his first year the CDI level.
"He came in, he had good energy. He was on the aids. I think we were right on the music. It was a lot of fun. I got a little over eager in one of the canter pirouettes. We were going into our first canter pirouette and I was thinking 'This is great!' and I didn't keep him connected enough, so he kind of had a little fumble coming out of it," Szepesi explained. "Our first line of two tempis was really good, I think the three [tempis] were right on. I think I hit the music like right on. We had a little bobble in our second line of two tempis, but he felt great and it just flowed with the music."
Hattrick enjoys his freestyle music so much, he's memorized all of the markers in the music to transition between movements. Szepesi enjoys feeling him light up in anticipation of the next element of choreography.
Szepesi described that managing Hattrick in a CDI environment outside of the ring has been a big adjustment for the gelding, with the biggest test being how Hattrick would react to staying in FEI stabling instead of going home each day to several hours of turn-out after a National show.
"I really believe in turn-out and he's used to getting turn-out like four or six hours a day, even down here in Wellington. We found a place that has enough turn-out for the horses to go out and have grass and just be normal. What we'd done in the past, [for National shows], we just put him the trailer, did the class, and went home," Szepesi described.
Szepesi credited groom Emily LaGrave for making the smooth transition into CDI possible. "I have a wonderful groom, Emily LaGrave. She stays with him all day. She walks him, and she grazes him, so he's not just standing in the stall. It makes a huge difference," Szepesi expressed. "She's been doing an incredible job with keeping him sparkling white. That is all Emily! She gets a lot of compliments on that."
Hattrick's gleaming white coat and spotted skin tends to turn heads amongst the sea of bay and chestnut horses often seen ringside. Szepesi admitted she didn't even know the Knabstrupper breed existed before watching a video of Hattrick, and the gelding simply happened to fall in her lap.
"A Danish dealer that we had worked with before just sent videos. I think he must have just had a video of this horse and he sent to everyone he knew, so we just got this video at the barn one day. We looked at the video and pretty much everybody in the beginning said, 'No, he's got spots,'" Szepesi described.
But a few weeks later, now co-owner Doucette came back to Szepesi to ask about the horse with the spots. The video had struck a chord with her and despite hearing he had already been sold, Doucette urged Szepesi to reach out to the dealer.
"We called the dealer and he said, 'As a matter of fact, the guy's sponsorship fell through and I have the horse back in the barn now.' It's one of those things that was kind of meant to be," Szepesi recalled.
The only trait that stands out more than his looks is Hattrick's remarkably laid-back attitude on the showgrounds. He stood calmly while being adorned with his blue ribbon and winner's cooler before quietly walking into the ring for the awards presentation. He's so quiet Szepesi doesn't even worry about putting protective wraps or boots on him for the victory lap.
"He's always been like that! The woman that bred him [Ingrid Mikkelsen] actually did some Monty Roberts [natural horsemanship] stuff," Szepesi commented. "She sent us some foal pictures and there were ones of him with the big ball and walking under tarps."
By the end of the season, Szepesi hopes to ride him in an Intermediaire A class to continue to move towards a Grand Prix debut.
Text by Laura Cardon - Photo © Astrid Appels
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