Despite the rainy weather, a modest field of dressage riders showed up to compete in the WEC Stadium for the first two classes of the World Equestrian Center (WEC) November Dressage CDI3* on Thursday, November 16, 2023.
Christoph Koschel (GER) on Masahiro Kosaka’s Eddieni won the Grand Prix for kur 3*, and Allison Zarembowicz (USA) rode her own Happy Khan to win the Prix St. Georges 1*.
Koschel Back on U.S. Soil to Win
Koschel, the veteran German dressage rider that has competed at the 2010 World Equestrian Games and European Championships and won team bronze and team silver, respectively, has made the trip to WEC – Ocala before as a coach, but this was his first time competing.
He started off by winning the Grand Prix for Freestyle on Eddieni with a score of 68.478% from the judge’s panel of Maria Colliander (FIN), Raphaël Saleh (FRA), Clive Halsall (GBR), Marlena Gruca-Rucinska (POL), and Janet Foy (USA).
“Today we had a couple expensive mistakes, but overall, I was happy," said Koschel. "We had a piaffe – it’s normally his highlight – but he slipped one time. I rode him a little too big into the one-tempi changes, so I had a mistake there. With the coefficient it costs double, so it’s expensive. Overall, I won, and the horse was great. He loved the Stadium. It’s raining, but the footing is great. I love this place; it’s amazing.”
Owned by Masahiro Kosaka, a Japanese dressage rider and Koschel’s student, Eddieni is a new ride for Koschel, who was riding the horse in only their fourth Grand Prix class together.
Kosaka started competing with Eddieni in 2018 in Small Tour; the horse then moved up to the big tour with Malin Wahlkomp-Nilsson (SWE) and Swedish Olympic dressage rider Patrik Kittel before Masahiro started competing it again. They have shown lightly in FEI competition since early 2020 before Koschel took over the ride in June of 2023.
“He has been at Grand Prix for a couple of years, but it’s my first season with the horse. “He’s a really, really nice horse with super piaffe/passage. Masahiro and I share him a little bit. It’s a nice project,” said Koschel of the 14-year-old KWPN gelding by Johnson x Negro. “He has had some great results already, so I hope we can still improve and have less mistakes.”
Koschel has been a steady snowbird in Florida, bringing over students from Japan and Europe for years in a row. He is also closely connected to U.S. dressage sport as the coach of the Ebeling family and the German seems to be intensifying this connection upcoming year.
From Santiago to Ocala
It was a return to competition for Losos de Muñiz and Aquamarijn, her 18-year-old KWPN mare by United x I.P.S. Gribaldi – the pair represented the Dominican Republic at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, in October. They scored 67.935% to finish in second.
Kerrigan Gluch and Mejorano HGF, a 12-year-old PRE gelding by Grandioso x Galan XVI owned by Hampton Green Farm, were third with 66.978%.
A Happy Victory for Zarembowicz
Allison Zarembowicz completed her first-ever FEI-rated class in the Prix St. Georges 1* on her own Happy Khan, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding by Zjengis Khan, and took the win with a score of 64.794%.
In a field of only two competitors, Canadian Denielle Gallagher and Jeroboam De Massa, a 9-year-old Lusitano gelding by Tabaco De Massa x Xaquiro CIP, finished second with 59.470%.
Zarembowicz and her husband Thorsten, a FEI Single Horse Individual World Champion in driving for Germany and former USEF Combined Driving Coach, have their own business based out of Ocala, FL. While this is Allison Zarembowicz’s first FEI competition riding, she has plenty of horse experience in her lifetime, including reselling ponies as a child, Pony Club, Eventing, working with pack horses in Utah, being a veterinary technician, teaching therapeutic riding, and grooming a four-in-hand combined driving team at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games.
She found Happy Khan 18 months ago, and although “Happy” knew the basics of dressage, it was not an immediate connection in the ring.
“My horse was actually an FEI driving horse,” explained Zarembowicz. “He’s now done FEI driving and FEI dressage. I brought him up from Second Level to Prix St. Georges in the last year. He was a very naughty, bad horse. When I got him, I didn’t even know if we would be able to go into one dressage arena. We kept doing it every day and not making a fight about it, and finally he started going in. Now he’s a little bit special and we have to work everything just right and then he’s fantastic.
Zarembowicz was particularly pleased with Happy’s extended trot and flying changes, noting, “He felt so good today, the best he’s probably ever felt in the ring, so I was absolutely thrilled. He’s really floaty and naturally very forward. I cannot believe that we got the fours. We literally started doing them six weeks ago, so it’s crazy. I just had a huge smile and could not believe that we got that. That was really fun.”