Cumming, IA – June 20, 2015 – Leatherdale Farms’ young horses continued to rack up blue ribbons and high scores in their second show of the year at the IaDCTA Iowa Classics I and II, held June 13-14 at Maffitt Lake Equestrian Center in Cumming, Iowa. Mike Suchanek rode six horses owned by Leatherdale Farms, including five sired by Leatherdale stallions, to strong performances in classes ranging from 4-year-old tests to Third Level.
Among the highlights of the weekend was a super effort by Dublin L in Sunday’s 4-year-old test. The Hanoverian gelding (Damsey-EM Wibranda, Wolkenstein II) scored 84.800 percent. Another Hanoverian gelding, Hannigan (Herzensdieb-EM Pia Colada, Pik L), scored 79.000 percent in Saturday’s 4-year-old test and 77.500 percent in First Level Test 3. Hannigan’s First Level performance earned him the Hanoverian breed award and the high point award for that day’s show.
“We are particularly happy with the two 4-year-olds, who had tremendous scores,” said Alison Sader Larson, who coaches Suchanek. “It shows the quality and temperament of the horses and the quality of the riding for them to do that well in their second horse show ever.”
Also competing in the Young Horse classes were two 6-year-olds: the Hanoverian gelding Fighting Chance L (First Dance-EM Helia, Hohenstein) and the Hanoverian mare Fleur de Lis L (First Dance-EM De La Rosa, De Niro). Fighting Chance L scored 78.400 percent on Sunday, taking second to Fleur de Lis L, who won the class with 79.200 percent.
The goal for the 4- and 6-year-olds is to qualify for the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Championships, and although their show season is just beginning, they’re already in a strong position. Fighting Chance L is in fourth place and Fleur de Lis L in 10th place on the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Ranking List for 6-year-olds, while Dublin L is now fourth on the Ranking List for 4-year-olds.
Completing the Leatherdale Farms contingent at the Iowa Classics shows were Corenzo, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Conteur-Ramira, Rotspon), and Rafferty L, a 6-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Rob Roy-EM Escora, Escudo I). Corenzo scored 75.513 percent for Saturday’s Third Level Test 3, while Rafferty L was competing in his first show of the season and came out strong with a score of 70.294 percent on Saturday in First Level Test 3.
“Rafferty has come along nicely, and he was even more relaxed in the ring this year,” Suchanek said. “He’s got a little bit more of a shy personality around other horses, but he has come to trust in me.”
Suchanek is a naturally talented horseman who has benefited from the guidance of Jessi Lash, the performance horse manager for Leatherdale Farms at their Minnesota base, and Sader Larson as he learns the ropes of dressage competition. He starts Leatherdale Farms’ young horses himself and brings them up through the ranks. At home in Minnesota, Sader Larson is teaching him upper level movements to fine-tune his skills and advance his knowledge of the sport.
“We’re schooling a lot of the FEI work: mastering the flying changes and how to teach them to the horses, counting the tempis, getting the pirouettes down, and finding the right piaffe and passage,” Sader Larson explained. “I’m very happy to be able to be part of the team and to pass on as much knowledge as I have to Mike to help him reach his goal in his riding. I think it’s an honor to be part of that.”
Suchanek knows he’s lucky to have the opportunity to bring along this talented group of horses. He doesn’t let competition pressure faze him, instead focusing on enjoying the experience and demonstrating the horses’ abilities.
“I go in there with a smile, and I go in there to have fun and show off these horses,” Suchanek said. “Their breeding is so great. They’re so rideable and trainable; it’s fulfilling work for me to be able to see them accomplish so much. I have a lot of pride in them, and I’m thankful to the Leatherdales for this opportunity.”