Olivia LaGoy-Weltz & Rassing’s Lonoir Among Top American Small Tour Partnerships Hidden No More

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Olivia LaGoy-Weltz and Rassing's Lonoir competing at Florida's Global Dressage Festival. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Olivia LaGoy-Weltz and Rassing’s Lonoir competing at Florida’s Global Dressage Festival. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

April 13, 2014

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Olivia LaGoy-Weltz on her Rassing’s Lonoir so impressed Steffen Peters, America’s No. 1 rider who was hosting a symposium for international level trainers from across the nation, that he asked “How is it we don’t know about you?” As it was the start of Florida’s intense Global Dressage Festival of seven CDIs over 12 weeks, he added: “we’re expecting big scores this season.”

The rider and the 10-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (De Noir x Loran) delivered–the highest scoring American at Intermediate 1 at GDF CDIs in Wellington and second at I-1 only to Steffen and Rosamunde in the nation this year.

The Wellington results were enough to boost the pair to No. 4 on the Tim Dutta national championship rankings and certain to be among the top 15 invited to the Dutta Corp. Festival of Champions in Gladstone, New Jersey in mid-June.

Olivia, who began riding in eventing and dressage in the San Francisco Bay area where she grew up, was never hiding out, but laboring in the equestrian hotspots of Europe to improve her riding and training.

Now, at the age of 30 and based near Middleburg, Virginia, she may have the horse that could put her on a United States championship team whether at Grand Prix where she is heading or possibly at small tour, a level vital to the country’s high performance dressage. The Pan American Games that have been at small tour but at Toronto in 2015 will move to mixed big tour and small tour teams is an Olympic qualifying championship.

Olivia moved to Europe when she was 18 to ride sales horses in the Netherlands for three years before deciding to focus on training and competition. She then went to work for a year with Udo Lange and Christilot Boylen and six months with German Olympic gold medalist Ulla Salzgeber.

Feeling “a little fried” and her father with health problems, Olivia came home in 2007. She worked with Kathy Priest in Kentucky in the sales horse business.

And through that csme an arrangement to buy Lonoir from Andreas Helgstrand in Denmark.

She described the horse as “very talented with lots of capablities” but extremely sensitive and “a bit quirky… a real project.”

At first, Lonoir screamed in the indoor arena when being ridden alone and the first time outside stood on his hind legs. Olivia understood why the horse wasn’t so expensive.

There has been, she said, a “lot of mental rebuilding” as well as physical training and the two have become a partnership.

Three years ago she became engaged; her fiancée works for Google in the Washington area.

She has her own training business in Virginia–an area she likes of grass fields that are natural for horses.

However, she is alone most of the summer though works with the Florida-based Danish Olympian Lars Petersen when he gives monthly clinics in the area, not the same as regular ring side help.

So, she said, “unless someone takes a lot of notice, I need to keep doing what I’m doing.

“I’m dying to learn anything anyone will teach me,” she said.

“Dressage is one of those things you have to have a feeling for, but so much is experience–and getting advice of those who have been there and done that, who are articulate and can explain things.”

The so-called “pipeline” clinics designed to help promising horses and riders develop through the levels have had the biggest impact in South Florida and Southern California, the regions with the greatest concentrations of dressage. The size of the country is an obstacle to spreading the message.

Lonoir, she said, is performing the Grand Prix movements but needs more time to develop and strengthen.

In the three victories in three CDI Intermediate I starts in Florida, the scores were 71.754 per cent, 73.421 per cent and 74.553 per cent.

“I’m not doing myself or the horse or the country a favor by doing it faster,” Olivia told dressage-news.com.

So she will decide after June’s national championships whether to stay at small tour as a prospect for the Pan Ams or keep an eye toward the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.