Liebling II & Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muñiz Come Through in Florida World Cup event
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, Jan. 20–Liebling II, given a new lease on competition life after a year away from the show ring and a short-term change of rider, returned to form for the Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muñiz in the Gold Coast Opener World Cup event Friday.
In the first Grand Prix since Yvonne arranged to compete the 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Lorentin I, the pair finished in third place on 66.426 per cent behind Canada’s Ashley Holzer and Breaking Dawn on 71.106 per cent and Shawna Harding of Aiken, South Crolina, and Come On III on 69.894 per cent.
Liebling won team silver for Great Britain at the 2009 European Championships when ridden by Carl Hester, then was bought by John Risley for Cheryl Meisner to compete for Canada as a prospective World Equestrian Games mount. But after four shows with disappointing results in early 2010, the horse was returned to Carl who then rode the gelding on the British team at the WEG in Kentucky and a second silver medal.
That was the last competition ride for Liebling until Yvonne arranged to take over the horse as a mount for her to seek an individual start in the 2012 Olympics in London.
On Friday, she succeeded in the first stage of that quest by receiving the first of two scores of 64 per cent required for Olympic qualifying as well as having to be at the top of the standings for her geographic group covering Central and South America by the deadline of Mar. 1.
Preparation for this first test was not without a little drama, as Yvonne tells it, when the warmup at the competition show grounds on Thursday did not go well when a crowd gathered to watch and she began to feel pressure.
She telephoned Carl at two o’clock in the morning his time for a morale boost.
“I feel like I’m under a microscope,” she said. “I’ve never been under this sort of pressure. I have huge shoes to fill with this horse. He has been there, done it. There is no excuse I can come up with to not do it. The horse can do it.”
Carl told her: “Back off. Don’t be a dumbo. You know how to ride, so ride.”
His advice worked, as it had when he convinced her to fly to England after the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, in September to try Liebling because he believed it would be a good match. Although Liebling had not been ridden for months when she tried him, she felt from the very beginning the partnership could work.
After Friday’s ride, she said, “Liebling is a mature horse who knows his job. I’ve got to learn to do the job with him.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement from my side. I’m a little too strong and a little too weak at times. He’s a little different in the ring, but I am , too.”
Her longtime trainer Diederick Wigmans was on hand to help and will be in Florida for the next two weeks while Carl is here for the World Dressage Masters so she will be able to work on improvements to help gain points in the movements that might help her win an invitation to the World Cup Final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, in mid-April.
“I think it’s going to go extremely well,” she said. “I’m incredibly excited.”