Local rider grabs top finishes at regional dressage competition | SteamboatToday.com

Local rider grabs top finishes at regional dressage competition

Regina Wendler and her horse

— Regina Wendler is enjoying her new ride.

It’s not a Mustang. It’s not a Bronco or a Charger. In fact, Wendler’s new ride isn’t a car at all.

It’s a Belgian Warmblood horse named Walter, and last month, the pair captured two dressage titles and scored well in a couple of open class events at horse shows in Parker.

The top finishes capped off a successful summer for Wendler and Walter. Walter’s finishes were good enough to earn him a Silver Medal from the Belgian Warmblood Society, and Wendler is excited about the horse’s promising future.

“We bought him in February,” Wendler said about Walter. “He had only showed in Level 1 classes and had never shown at the second level.”

Wendler, who works as a trainer in the Steamboat Springs area and has competed in dressage for 14 years, has been working with her new horse five days per week and taking Walter to Boulder to work with another trainer twice per month since purchasing the horse.

She said Walter had a limited competitive schedule this summer but showed very well in the events that Wendler entered, which helped the pair to qualify for the end-of-summer championships.

Wendler feels like she has developed a special bond with Walter in the short time they’ve been working together and says the future is promising.

“Every time we get in the arena, he is always happy to go to work,” Wendler says. “Some of the judges referred to us as the happy couple, and Walter is a horse that truly enjoys his job. “

On Sept. 19, Walter and Wendler scored a 68 percent to win the Rocky Mountain Dressage Society’s second level open championship. The next day, the pair scored a 69 to win the second level open championship for United States Dressage Federation’s Regional 5. The team qualified to compete in the national championships, which will take place in early November in Kentucky, but Wendler had not nominated herself and has no plans of going to the high level event.

“I never expected to do this well,” Wendler said. “My goal is to go next year, and I feel like I still have plenty of time.”

The dressage season normally stretches from April to September in Colorado. Wendler said the championships were the finale of her season with Walter. But she plans to keep working this winter and hopefully have continued success next year.

In dressage, the riders and horses are judged by a panel as they complete a set course in the riding arena. Typically, the team hopes to score 60 percent or higher. The mid- and high-60s are considered a good ride, a score in the 70s is excellent, and Olympic-caliber competitors usually score in the low 80 percent range.

Walter scored a 70 and a 72 in two open class events following the championships.

Wendler hopes Walter someday will be recognized by the International Federation of Equestrian Sports and will be afforded the chance to compete at the highest levels in the sport of dressage. He isn’t their yet, but with a little work, Wendler thinks the sky is the limit for her new ride.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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