Canada’s WEG Top Prospects Selected for European Shows

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Ashley Holzer and Pop Art. © 2010 Ken Braddick/
Ashley Holzer and Pop Art. © 2010 Ken Braddick/


Five horse and rider combination have qualified for the Equine Canada-funded series of European competitions in preparation for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky Sept. 25-Oct. 10.

The squad, to be led by Canadian coach Robert Dover, six-time U.S. Olympian, is scheduled to compete at Wiesbaden CDI4* May 21-24, Lingen CDI4* June 4-6, Rotterdam CDIO5* June 16-20 and Aachen CDIO5* July 13-18.

The squad has been confirmed as:

* Ashley Holzer and Pop Art, a 1997 Dutch Warmblood gelding that she competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2009 World Cup Final in Las Vegas and Exquis World Dressage Masters in Palm Beach in 2009 and 2010 and Hickstead in 2009. Ashley, 46, has competed in three Olympics including the bronze medal team in Seoul in 1988, and three World Equestrian Games, Stockholm 1990, Jerez 2002 and Aachen 2006. She is based in New York City and Wellington, Florida.

* Belinda Trussell and Anton, a 2000 Saxony gelding. The pair competed at Kaposvar and Weikersdorf last fall before returning to North America for the Florida winter circuit and the Kentucky Cup CDI3* test event. Belinda was born in Australia in 1971 and lived in several Asian nations and the U.S. as her family moved for business. She became a Canadian citizen in 1994 and represented Canada at the 2002 Jerez WEG, the European Championships, World Cup Final in Dusseldorf and the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Belinda Trussell and Anton. © 2010 Ken Braddick/
Belinda Trussell and Anton. © 2010 Ken Braddick/

* Bonny Bennello and Pikardi, a 13-year-old Canadian-bred Oldenburg gelding. Pikardi was competed on the Florida winter circuit in 2010 and qualified for the funded tour at the Kentucky Cup CDI3* WEG test event. Bonny, 59, lives in Calgary, Alberta, and is seeking to qualify for the Canadian WEG team 30 years after she first competed for her nation, at the 1980 alternate Olympics at Goodwood, England. She competed in the Olympics again, at Los Angeles in 1984. She took time out from international competition to focus on raising a family.

Bonny Bonnello on Pikardi. © 2010 Ken Braddick/
Bonny Bonnello on Pikardi. © 2010 Ken Braddick/

* Shannon Dueck and Ayscha, a nine-year-old Oldenburg mare by Welt Hit II began his Grand Prix career only this winter on the Florida winter circuit. Shannon, 42, now based in Loxahatchee, Florida, competed at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg; 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez; 2003 World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden, and 2003 Open European Championships in Hickstead. Although Shannon has both Canadian and American citizenship, she opted to ride for Canada when Robert Dover was appointed Canada’s coach. In 2009, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy.

Shannon Dueck and Ayscha. © 2010 Ken Braddick/
Shannon Dueck and Ayscha. © 2010 Ken Braddick/

* Wendy Christoff and Pfalstaff, a 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding, competed in Southern California. Their scores improved by almost 10 percentage points over the winter to qualify for the European tour. Wendy, 56, of Delta, British Columbia, started out riding Western and was a rodeo queen. She saw a dressage demonstration 25 years ago and switched disciplines but did not make it to Grand Prix until 2009 with Pfalstaff.

Wendy Christoff and Pfalstaff. © 2010 Selena Frederick/
Wendy Christoff and Pfalstaff. © 2010 Selena Frederick/
Robert Dover. © 2010 Ken Braddick/
Robert Dover. © 2010 Ken Braddick/

“I am really excited,” Robert Dover said. “It’s awesome. I feel like our prospects are very good.

“With the ongoing improvement we expect in Europe, I’m very, very confident in our ability to be in the medal hunt.”

In addition to the Equine Canada-funded European tour, a second squad of Canadian riders already there, including Cheryl Meisner with Paganini and Liebling II, Christilot Boylen and Famous Boy 2 and Evi Strasser, could undertake a second Canadian swing. And some combinations that did not make the funded tour–such as, Chris von Martels and Naomi, 2008 Olympian Jacqueline Brooks with Balmoral and Grand Gesto, Victoria Winter and Proton, and Diane Creech and Wiona and Devon L–can use CDI competitions in North America to seek to qualify for the Canadian WEG team.

Following a developing horse clinic in Canada at the end of April, he said, “I feel like what I’m seeing develop in Canada is really outstanding. There are truly some world class Grand Prix prospects. I expect an overlap in 2012 with multi-medal winning teams as it was in the U.S.”

A WEG team fund raiser with an “over the top” Kentucky theme will be held at Gary vander Ploeg’s Pine Ridge farm near Toronto on Sept. 12.