Shelly Francis Building Success at Big & Small Tours
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(Dressage-news.com begins the first in occasional articles on combinations seeking to qualify for the United States Championships presented by Dutta Corp. scheduled for Lexington, Kentucky in October)
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Shelly Francis has built a string of the best horses she’s ever had in aiming to make a United States championship team 15 years since the last time she represented the United States, at the World Equestrian Games in 1998.
At the age of 54, she jokes, “I’ve got to do it now or I won’t do it too much later.”
Shelly, based in Loxahatchee, Florida now has two horses competing at international level, Doktor at Grand Prix that she will ride on the United States I team in the Wellington Nations Cup CDIO3* this week, and Danilo, one of the top small tour horses in the nation. Both horses are owned by Patricia A Stempel, as are two other of Shelly’s up-and-coming mounts.
Doktor, a 10-year-old Oldenberg gelding (Diamond Hit x Gurena x Renoir 1) is ranked 10th on the Tim Dutta National Grand Prix Championships standings, while Danilo, a nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding (De Niro x Annabelle x Andiamo) is third on the Tim Dutta National Intermediate I Championships rankings.
Doktor began his CDI Grand Prix career this winter and Danilo did his first CDI Prix St. Georges less than a month ago and based on results to date, both horses will qualify for the Festival of Champions presented by the Dutta Corp. in Lexington, Kentucky in October. Before that, however, Shelly plans to take them to Europe.
Getting to this point has not been without its setback for Shelly.
At the WEG in Rome in 1998 she rode the Hanoverian gelding, Pikant, for the United States that placed fourth in the Nations Cup. Two years earlier she had been second reserve for the Olympic team in Atlanta.
Then in 2004, Shelly found a six-year-old Hanoverian gelding named Dominion in Europe as a ride for Pat Stempel, her longtime sponsor. While training Dominion, Shelly discovered the horse had “more of an engine” than she thought and Pat turned over the ride to her.
Dominion was showing potential as a U.S. team horse and after four CDIs at Grand Prix on the Florida winter circuit in 2009 Shelly was preparing to take the horse to Europe ahead of making a bid for the World Equestrian Games squad in Kentucky in 2010.
Dominion broke his leg in his stall and bled to death before a veterinarian could treat him.
Doktor was acquired four years ago and she has trained him to Grand Prix that he started at CDIs this winter and need more experience in the show ring.
Although she qualified Doktor for the World Cup Final in Gothenberg, Sweden this year she declined the invitation because he is only starting to do “gentle little award ceremonies” and “if he gets afraid we will have to deal with it for years to come. Another one or two years may be fine.
“He’s very, very alert and aware of everything around him; he sees everything. He used to be quite afraid of things, but is getting less afraid.
“I’m trying to give him a better experience,” she said. “He needs to do more nights under the lights” at Wellington’s Global Dressage Festival to get used to more atmosphere.
Shelly has applied to go to Europe, but most of all hopes to qualify to compete at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany.
“Of course I want that 75 per cent but I may have to wait ’til next year,” she said. “I don’t want to push him too hard. He wants to do it; that’s a nice feeling.”
Shelly has also put herself on a fitness program and says she has lost 33 pounds (15kg).
“I’ve got these horses,” she said, “and I can’t ride like that. gotthese hores cant ide like that.
“These are the best horses I’ve ever had. I’ve got to do it now or I won’t do it too much later… before I get too old.”
Tim Dutta National Grand Prix Rankings
1. Steffen Peters – Legolas – 75.117%
2. Heather Blitz – Paragon – 73.032%
3. Tina Konyot – Calecto V – 71.138%
4. Adrienne Lyle – Wizard – 71.096%
5. Pierre St. Jacques – Lucky Tiger – 70.745%
6. Lisa Wilcox – Pikko Del Cerru HU – 69.670%
7. Günter Seidel – Coral Reef Wylea – 69.543%
8. Shelly Francis – Doktor – 68.805%
9. David Blake – Ikaros – 68.117%
10. Cesar Parra – Van the Man – 68.029%
Tim Dutta National Intermediate I Rankings
1. Caroline Roffman – Her Highness O – 71.634%
2. Steffen Peters – Vaya Con Dios – 71.518%
3. Shelly Francis – Danilo – 71.513%
4. Kimberly Herslow – Rosmarin – 71.146%
5. Christopher Hickey – Witness Hilltop – 69.294%
6. Jami Kment – Zania – 68.992%
7. Heather Mason – Zar – 68.193%
8. Justin Hardin – Wyatt Star – 67.852%
9. Silva Martin – Rosa W Char – 67.566%
10. Jennifer Hoffman – XXXL Rubino NRW – 67.500%