After I returned home from the World Equestrian Games last summer, I had no idea that a syndicate to buy me a new horse was being discussed. When I got a phone call from Debbie McDonald one Sunday, I assumed she just had some questions about the horses at the barn.
Then she asked me, "Are you sitting down girl? I have some incredible news for you!" She told me that Akiko Yamazaki, who owns the horses Steffen Peters rides, Legolas and Rosamunde, had stepped up to lead the formation of a syndicate to purchase a new Grand Prix prospect for me.
I was speechless, and so honored that a group of incredible owners believed in me enough to come together and form a syndicate.
The idea of a syndicate isn’t very common in the dressage world, though it is in eventing, but these owners are hoping to change that. In addition to Akiko, they are Betsy Juliano, secretary of the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation; Bruce Hlavacek, chairman of the Dressage Owners Task Force and his wife, Jen; and a longtime friend of Debbie's, Elma Garcia-Cannavino and her husband, Jim Cannavino.
The concept of a syndicate is very exciting, and our hope is that this can inspire more people to find ways to get involved and support U.S. dressage. I think we have an incredible group of people involved in this, and I am so thankful for the chance to be part of such an exciting adventure.
After we learned about formation of the syndicate, Debbie and I began the lengthy search for a new horse. Our first trip to Europe was in October. We didn’t find what we were looking for on that trip. We returned home to Idaho, and then I had to undertake the process of moving the 14 horses in our barn to Florida for the winter season.
After we got everyone settled in Wellington, I proceeded to take three more trips to Europe by myself to look at horses. Debbie was very busy with her coaching duties during the show season in Wellington, so she wasn’t able to come along. But I would call her after every horse I tried, and we would discuss what I felt when riding it. I would send video clips and we analyzed them together, over the phone.
On my fourth trip to Europe, I went to Spain to try an 8-year-old Hanoverian stallion named Sandronnherhall, by Sandro Hit out of a Donnerhall mare. When I saw him the first time, I thought to myself, "He is very special." As I watched him work, I loved his scope, power and suppleness.
After I rode him, I knew I wanted to bring Debbie over and have her work with us and see if she liked him as much as I did. Debbie has an incredible eye and I really value her opinion. About a week after I first tried him, I made another trip to Spain with Debbie to ride Sandronnerhall again. I rode a few other horses on that trip as well, but in the end, the stallion stood above the others. He has competed in young horse classes in Spain, winning one in Toledo.
Sandronnerhall arrived in the U.S. two days ago. He will spend the month-long quarantine in Wellington. A groom will be taking care of him, and rider Kevin Kohmann has kindly offered to keep him in light work under saddle during his stay there. I will fly to Wellington near the end of the quarantine, and then fly back with the stallion to Idaho. We will begin training with Debbie upon his arrival, and he will come to Wellington with the rest of our barn this winter.
I am so excited for this new chapter after the retirement of my old friend Wizard last month, and I feel so honored to get to be a part of this wonderful syndicate. I hope it is a great success for all those involved, and that we can inspire more people to get involved and support dressage in our country. I think we are going to have a great time on this new journey.