Olivia LaGoy-Weltz Weighs Next Step for Rassing’s Lonoir After Devon Small Tour Sweep
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Sept. 29, 2014
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Olivia LaGoy-Weltz on her Rassing’s Lomoir may have been a surprise to Steffen Peters at the beginning of this year but after breathing down his neck at the United States Intermediate championships the pair capped their summer circuit with a sweep of the Dressage at Devon World Cup small tour to leave no doubt about the talent of the pair.
With success she never guessed she would have, Olivia is now faced with whether to move the 10-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding up to Grand Prix or stay at Prix St.Georges to seek a place on the U.S. team that in 2015 will need the best pairs of both small and big tour horses and riders for the unique format of the Pan American Games to try to book a berth at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Either way, she and Lonoir captured attention as a pair to watch that emerged at a dressage symposium in Florida early this year when Steffen Peters as one of the guest trainers declared how impressed he was. She and the horse went on to post three victories in six starts at Global Dressage Festival CDIs to qualify for the Festival of Champions.
At the U.S. championships in June, the pair placed third behind Steffen on Rosamunde as champion and Apassionata as reserve for the Intermediate title.
Then, at the premier summer’s end Dressage at Devon World Cup on tony Main Line Philadelphia the 30-year-old rider and Lonoir swept all three St. Georges and Intermediate competitions that began with 46 starting combinations from 11 countries.
In her low-key manner, she rates stabling with her good friend Allison Brock, also resident in Virginia and who won the Grand Prix and the Special as a highlight of Devon. “We help each other out and cheer one another on a lot,” she said, “so it was really fun and exciting for us to have won our divisions.”
And would she have guessed that she would produce the results she has?
“I take it one step at a time,” she said, “but if you had asked if I planned to make a clean sweep at Devon at the beginning of the year I probably would have laughed and made a joke about just staying in the ring at Devon would be like winning, so no I would have not guessed.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay area, Olivia headed to Europe for six years to pursue her passion for dressage and returned in 2007. She is as focused as ever on Lonoir (De Noir x Loran) that she has trained from when the horse would not stay in the arena through U.S. third level to one of the top small tour horses over the past two years.
“Becoming a really top rider/trainer/competitor/horse person has always been the goal,” she told dressage-news.com. “I guess I’m making some progress, but there’s still much room for improvement.
“Doing Devon was a good test for how he might handle a more stadium-like setting and a more electric atmosphere. He’s not been out to a show since Gladstone so I would say he handled things really well right out of the gate.”
While Olivia weighs Lonoir’s future, she is back to polishing the one-tempi changes, piaffe and passage and building strength that she had been working on in preparation for the Grand Prix.
Although Olivia and Lonoir are not at Grand Prix where the focus of the U.S. Equestrian Federation high performance program has been this year of the World Equestrian Games she suggests ways of extending support.
“I think once someone like me has been ‘noticed’ or attracted attention it would be really helpful if the powers that be could try to help facilitate matching riders with appropriate trainers who are willing and able to mentor,” she said in response to questions.
“And then check in on and keep tabs on the riders, see how they are doing, how the horse is doing what the progress is and so on. Request short training videos and give pointers and advice between training programs would probably be a good idea as well.”
Although she was awarded a training grant through a donation by Akiko Yamazaki, she described as “challenging” getting attention from trainers, many of whom were involved with WEG.
But she “absolutely” wants help.
“You learn a lot from the horses themselves but you also need a trainer,” she said. “Everyone needs help. You look at the top riders in the world and they all have eyes on the ground almost all the time.
“Charlotte (Dujardin) would not be Charlotte without Carl (Hester). How it looks and what it feels like are often really different. Plus you always need someone to pick on your position and your technique.”