California’s Heidi Gaian Takes Sales Prospect to Top of Developing Horse Qualifiers
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LEXINGTON, Kentucky, Aug. 3–Heidi Gaian imported the gelding Chicago more than a year ago to sell from her farm in Hollister, California.
Now, after riding Chicago in competitions on both coasts, Gaian is taking the 17-hand (172mm) Holsteiner to his namesake city as the top ranked qualifier in the USEF National Developing Horse Dressage Championships presented by The Dutta Corporation & Performance Sales International Aug. 21-23.
The average of their top two scores–at Sonoma and Pebble Beach in California–was 72.857 per cent for seven-to-nine-year-old horses with potential to move from young horse to the highest levels of the sport in a program begun by the USEF in 2007.
The USEF National Developing Horse Dressage Championships presented by The Dutta Corporation & Performance Sales International will be held in conjunction with the Markel/USEF Young Horse National Championships at Lamplight Equestrian Center in the Chicago suburb of Wayne, Illinois.
“It will be really fun,” said Gaian, 44, who with her mother, “S” judge Pam Nelson, run a training and sales barn in Hollister, 90 miles (145km) south of San Francisco. As her mother is at the farm also daily, she provides “really good eyes on the ground anytime I need it.”
“Of course, a show in the city named after my horse is great, and I have friends and clients in the Midwest that will be able to come to Lamplight.”
Gaian has ridden for as long as she can remember, growing up in the Los Angeles suburb of Palos Verdes in the 1970s in Pony Club and pony hunters and jumpers. After college, her mother helped her buy a “nice young horse” from former Dutch coach Johann Hinneman and then “I was totally hooked on dressage.”
She has also “learned a tremendous amount” from working with U.S.Olympian Guenter Seidel, who won the Developing Horse Championship on Dick and Jane Brown’s U II in 2008.
Gaian said that Chicago was imported in the spring of 2008 to California by Hinneman, a top German trainer, in spring, 2008. The gelding was one of about 70 horses that Heidi and her mother have brought in from Hinneman as part of a partnership over the past 30 years.
“But after about six months I really felt a great connection with Chicago,” she said. “I worked hard with Johann and Coby Van Baalen to make an agreement that I would buy him.”
Chicago’s gaits and ring presence are strong points, as well as a natural suppleness and forward way of going.
But the horse is still inexperienced in the show ring and can be “quite fresh at times, but overall he is such an honest and willing horse, he’s just a blast to ride and train.”
Hinneman was in Florida last winter to train out of Shelly Francis’s barn in Loxahatchee.
So Gaian took the opportunity to fly Chicago to the East Coast to train and compete at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby.
During their trip to Florida, she worked with three-time Spanish Olympian Juan Matute, who now lives in Wellington.
“This has been great because I can get Juan to my farm in California on a regular basis,” she said.
“I work with Johann whenever possible.” she said. “I travel to Johann’s quite regularly to ride and meet horses that will be imported to our farm for sale.
“I am hoping to take Chicago to Johann’s sometime in the next two years for training.”
For more information about the USEF National Developing Horse Program presented by The Dutta Corporation and Performance Sales International click here: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/breedsdisciplines/discipline/alldressage/developingHorseInfo.aspx