US-Based Mikala Gundersen to Ride on Her First Danish Team in Rotterdam

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Mikala Gundersen and Leonberg competing in the Palm Beach World Cup competition in March. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Mikala Gundersen and Leonberg competing in the Palm Beach World Cup competition in March. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

WELLINGTON, Florida, June 4–Mikala Gundersen, who lives fulltime in the United States, is taking a U.S.-owned horse to Europe to compete on the Danish team for the first time.

She is taking with her the 1994 Leonberg, a 17-hand (173cm) bay RPSI stallion owned by Horses Unlimited of Albuquerque, New Mexico to compete initially at the Rotterdam CDIO3* in The Netherlands June 17-21. Depending on their performance in the team competition there, she could be selected for the Danish team at the World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen in Germany, the premier horse show in the world.

And she is scheduled to compete for the first.time at the Danish national championships later in July. She and her horses will be based with Ernst Hoyos in Germany.

Danish dressage coach Rudolf Zeillinger visited Wellington earlier in 2009 to review the progress of Gundersen and Lars Petersen, a Danish Olympic, World Games and World Cup competitor who also lives fulltime in Wellington. Denmark won the team bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Mikala, 40, the mother of two children, has been the trainer and rider of Anne Whitten’s Horses Unlimited horses for the past two years, based at the Wellington stable that she shares with her husband, Danish Grand Prix jumper rider Henrik Gundersen. He will take oe of his horses to Europe to be ridden by USA double Olympic gold medal rider McLain Ward. The Gundersen family moved to the U.S. more than five years ago.

Mikala Gundersen
Mikala Gundersen

Despite time out of competition due to injury, the scores for Leonberg have been improveing steadily in the past year, especially during the intensely competitive winter circuit. They competed in the Exquis World Dressage Masters in Palm Beach in January.

“For the past year Leonberg has been doing better and better,” she said. “During the winter season we were going up with the scores getting better.”

She understands the level of competition she will face–“there are so many good riders in Europe”–but is excited at the opportunity.