After six exciting days of 2021 Dressage at Devon, competition concluded with the CDI3* Intermediate I Freestyle. Under sunny skies and with a beautiful fall breeze, 11 horse and rider combinations wrapped up the week to the beat of their own "drum," if you will.
The class was split into two halves, one group starting at 10:30 a.m. and the second group at 1:45 p.m. after a lunch break. In the first half of the class, judges saw six competitors perform their Freestyle tests. At the break, Silva Martin and Blueberry Hill, a 10-year-old Westphalian mare, held the first place position with a score of 70.050%.
During the lunch break, dozens of children, accompanied by two very cute mini donkeys, poured into the Dixon Oval for the annual Dressage at Devon stick horse contest. Part of Dressage Explorers Day, kids were given a pool noodle and all the trimmings to create their very own stick horse. Once in the ring, the "judge" called out a walk, trot, halt and back-up test and then awarded each of the "competitors" a first place ribbon. Needless to say, it was one of the highlights of the last day of Devon.
When competition resumed, the judges saw the remaining five competitors. Last to go in the order, Cesar Parra (USA) and his new mount, Belle Ami, a 12-year-old Westphalian mare, soared to the top of the leaderboard to claim victory with a 73.575%.
"We are new to each other. We really started working together like three weeks ago," shared Parra. "I think she's not 100 percent fit for the whole tour, but I got to know her. I think today she would have needed a little bit less of a warm-up. She was a little bit tired, she's working more ... which she's not used to. She's like, 'Ugh, I'm too pretty and too big, I don't want to.' You could see that a little bit in the movements, so I struggled to keep a nice profile, a nice posture of the neck. That was it, but the rest was a lovely ride."
Parra, who has garnered 32 blue ribbons at Devon over 20 years, was glad to be back after the show was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19. "Devon is amazing. It's just the atmosphere, the people, the proximity. I think most of the dressage shows get to be boring because we riders become, I call it 'too sterile'—[we] don't move. I personally need the public—I love it. So, I love Devon."
In second place behind Parra was Kimberly Herslow (USA) and Elvis HI, a 13-year-old IALHA gelding, with a score of 72.725%. Rounding out the top three was Jannake Gray (USA) aboard Ravanti C, a 12-year-old Hanoverian mare, who earned a 70.675%.