American international small tour dressage rider Jovanna Stepan got engaged to her long-time partner, Manny Garcia, who is originally from Caracas, Venezuela. The 48-year old Stepan made her international show debut in Wellington in January 2020 aboard Fürstin Romantica (by Furst Romancier x Sandro Hit). In 2023 she also began competing Benedetto (by Benicio x Diamond Hit) in the CDI ring. Stepan is from Rhinebeck, NY, and has a medical background as a physicians assistant, having graduated in 2009. She worked for the Albany Medical Center but is now based in Florida. "Of course I said YES!!!" Jovanna took to Facebook. "YES to this amazing man! YES to this incredible father! YES to our adventures in life! YES to this circus and beautiful family!"
UAE team rider Natalia Lankester and her husband, Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmed al Maktoum, are expected their third child together. Lankester recently competed at the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. She trains with French Olympian Morgan Barbançon in Belgium.
Lucie-Anouk Baumgurtel has premiered a new horse, Damien Hirst FH, in her first ever Intermediaire II test in a Test of Choice class at the CDN Ankum on 8 November 2023. Damien Hirst is a 12-year old Hanoverian (by Diamond Hit x Walzertraum x Eiger II) who was first competed by Nico Kapche. In 2018 and 2019 he was shown by Marcus Hermes.
German former B-squad rider Bernadette Brune has decided to geld her Oldenburg licensed stallion Spirit of the Age (by Stedinger x Donnerhall) in order to give him a good retirement in the field with other horses. The horse was Brune's career-making dressage horse and retired from sport in 2020. "At 19 years of age my Spirit of the Age OLD is still in very good spirits," Brune explained. "But I would like him to be able to go out to pasture with other horses when he is old. So I decided to geld him. Spirit went through this with absolutely no problems. Everyone at the Mühlen equine clinic took wonderful care of him."
Nanna Skodborg Merrald has been nominated for Denmark's Athlete of the Year 2023 Award following her team bronze and individual silver medal at the 2023 European Dressage Championships in Riesenbeck. Fifteen athletes have been nominated and are fighting for Denmark's most prestigious sports award. The first five nominees are now revealed. The winner will be chosen at Sport 2023 in Herning on 6 January 2024.
Last June Danish pony rider Frederikke Lindhardt Gimsing has taken over the ride on Dr. Doolittle, a 17-year old German riding pony by Don't Worry Junior x Brooklands Moonwalker. Under Caroline Jorgensen the chestnut won a bronze medal at the Nordic Baltic Championship and competed at several CDI's in Europe. In 2022 he sold to Laura Qvist, but she only showed at national level.
Dressage Ireland has elected a new Board at its Annual General Meeting on 8 November 2023: Mark Ruddock has been elected chair and will be succeeding Marguerite Kavangh. Lucinda Blakiston Houston is vice chair. The board members are: Jane Whitaker, Simone Hession, Christine Newton, Dane Rawlins, Petra Larkin, Eilish Smith, Jane Averill, and Aisling Deverell.
Diederik van Silfhout has received the ride on the KWPN licensed stallion Las Vegas (by Ferdeaux x Wynton x Houston). The stallion has been competed by three riders so far. Under Franka Loos he won the 2021 and 2022 KWPN Stallion Competition finals and the 2021 Pavo Cup. They were fifth at the 2021 World Young Horse Championships. Under Emmelie Scholtens he was fourth at the 2022 World YH Championships and this year he was 9th with Hans Peter Minderhoud at the WCYH. Owned by Nol Gerritsen and Nico Witte, Las Vegas now moved to Van Silfhout, most likely to be sold as former Dutch team rider Diederik has made horse dealing his core business.
Bosco, the 10-year old Oldenburg stallion by Benicio x Quaterback, famous for his palomino coat, has been sold to Japan. He has had several names in his life: Baysan MD, Altmarkshof's Be Happy, and Bosco. Owned by Rom Vermunt and Bruver, he was first trained by Kirsten and Annemarie Brouwer, then Esmee van Gijtenbeek produced him to Grand Prix level and in 2022 Febe van Zwambagt took over the ride. He's only done a handful of shows in Holland.
At the private, home approval, the NRPS studbook has licensed three stallions at Next Level Stables in The Netherlands. They are the 3-year old Popeye (by Geniaal x United), the 8-year old Gouvernant (by Governor x Krack - he was originally named Kaylen's Boy), and the 11-year old internationally competed Hennessy (by De Niro x Jazz).
And to finish things on a sad note....
Mid november a scandal broke out at equestrian centre Breugelhoeve in Grote Brogel, Belgium, the venue of several CDI's, CPEDI's and CVI's. A Belgian show jumping rider who was instructing a small child on a pony severely abused that pony by whipping it incessantly. Then the tall man mounted the small pony and rode it to fatigue. The videos caused a gigantic uproar on Belgian social media and this abuse case was broadcast on national television. It led to a frenzy on Facebook where the trainer got attacked and threatened. The Flemish Department of Animal Welfare started an investigation and transferred the file to the public prosecutor. The Flemish equestrian federation issued a statement: "The riding centre involved and the trained-r have already been interpellated about this. Equestrian Sports Flanders has now started the internal procedure and is taking further measures in consultation with other authorities involved." The stable Breugelhoeve is owned by the city of Peer/Grote Brogel and the management was leased to M&M, who ran a yard in Diepenbeek before (also hosted CDI's there). The city of Peer is considering whether it can file civil proceedings for the damage to its image. "The city of Peer emphasizes once again that the situation, as shown in the video, is absolutely unacceptable. For many years, the Breugelhoeve has been a site where fun, education and animal welfare should be central," said Grote Brogel mayor Steven Matheï.