Ever Robak and Shelly Francis' Danilo Score Double Win at Debut Show

Fri, 01/28/2022 - 19:11
2022 CDN Ocala
Ever Robak and Danilo at the 2022 CDN Ocala :: Photo © Sue Stickle

American 18-year old young rider Ever Robak has ridden down the centerline of her first Intermediaire II and Short Grand Prix test aboard Shelly Francis' former American A-squad listed top horse Danilo. 

At the 2022 CDN Ocala on 20 - 23 January, Robak and the now 18-year old Hanoverian gelding Danilo (by De Niro x Andiamo), Robak scored 70.735% in the Inter II and 70.641% in the Under 25 short Grand Prix, achieving a double win on their debut. 

"I am still waiting to wake up and be told it was just a dream," Robak smiled. "It was beyond amazing and I can not begin to express my gratitude to Shelly Francis for sharing her phenomenal boys (Danilo and Le Roi) with me)."

Francis and Danilo

Danilo is owned by Shelly Francis' long-time sponsor Patricia Stempel.

Francis and Danilo at the 2018 World Cup Finals
Francis and Danilo made their international show debut at small tour level in March 2013 in West Palm Beach and competed in Europe that spring. 

They moved up to Grand Prix level in 2014 and competed consistently at international Grand Prix level through 2019, always in the running for U.S. team selection for the major championships in Caen, Rio, and Tryon, but they never made the cut. They still bravely represented Team U.S.A. at numerous Nations' Cups in Aachen, Geesteren, Compiegne, Wellington, and Uggerhalne. Their highlight was finished 12th in the Kur Finals at the 2018 World Cup Finals in Paris, where they were 12th in the Kur finals. 

In 2020 Francis moved her business from Wellington to Little Tree Farm in Ocala, Florida, and only did one CDI that year. In 2021 they returned to compete in Wellington in five classes, followed by their last CDI as a combination in Ocala, where they won the Kur to Music with 75.065%.

Francis and Danilo's kur with A Capella music was  one of the most refreshing and different freestyles on the scene. 

From Dressage4Kids to Little Tree Farm

Robak is only at the beginning of her career as a dressage rider. She is one of several young professional who were successfully scouted and moulded by Lendon Gray's Dressage4Kids program.  Ever was invited to the Winter Intensive Training Program (WIT), an overall educational program for riders under age 26 in Wellington, Florida.

Ever on Nord La Devesa
Through WIT she received the ride on Marla Karimipour's PRE bred Nord La Devesa (by Libertado III x Cortesano) and made her international show debut as a junior in 2019.

"After WIT I worked for Hampton Green Farms," Ever reminisced. "Both do so much to aid young riders, and I am fortunate enough to have been on the receiving end of their generosity and learned so much from both opportunities."

At the start of 2020 she began working for Shelly Francis in Ocala and took place in the saddle of Shelly's schoolmaster, the now 18-year old Hanoverian gelding Le Roi (by L'Andiamo x Donnerhall), which was previously shown by Rebecca Waite.  Robak and Le Roi rode in three CDI's in Ocala at young riders' level and continued on the same form this year in the national shows at the World Equestrian Center. 

"I have learned a tremendous amount from her training program; all of her horses genuinely enjoy their jobs," said Robak about working with Shelly and her horses.

"Readiness in the Arena"

Ever has only been riding Danilo for half a year.

"I was fortunate enough to start exercising him a bit this past summer, just enough to keep him fit," Robak explained. "Although, it was not until about a month ago that we actively started prepping him to compete."

She was thrilled with her first competition on Danilo at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala.

Robak on Le Roi
"Danilo is a truly spectacular horse; he genuinely enjoys competing and as soon as I entered the arena, I could feel his excitement; he perked right up and all of his attention was focused on me," she said. "I made several rider errors, like not bringing him back enough in the piaffe the first day, or pushing too much in the ones, but he was so willing and kind, even when my riding was imperfect, he still attempted what I was asking. Due to his readiness in the arena, it allows a lot of room for improvement in the next show. Danilo is such a pleasure, and I am beyond grateful to Shelly and Little Tree Farm for the opportunity to ride such an amazing horse."

Privileged to Learn

As far as the future goes with Danilo, Ever and Shelly have decided to listen to him. She also has several years left in the Young Riders division and can continue to ride Le Roi.

"At the moment he is happy, healthy, and still enjoys competing," she said. "The U25 tests are not nearly as demanding as the senior tour, so it allows me to learn and he has a job that is not quite as rigorous.  The main purpose for my riding Danilo is not to be incredibly competitive in the U25 classes, but rather for me to gain experience riding the higher-level tests on an amazingly well-trained horse. We will likely do a couple more shows this season at the U25 level; after that we will see what happens. I am extraordinarily privileged to learn from such a successful horse and incredible trainer and mentor; really is a dream come true. I could not have imagined a better opportunity."

Photos © Sue Stickle - Astrid Appels

Related Links
Francis and Danilo Dance to Victory in 2021 Ocala Grand Prix Freestyle
Shelly Francis Says Wellington Adieu, Relocates to Ocala
Rebecca Waite Dreams Big Aboard Shelly Francis' Doktor
Shelly Francis and Patricia Stempel’s Doktor and Danilo Emerging in the International Dressage Arena