Lisa Wilcox Adds Galant to USA 2016 Olympic Prospect Mix
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, July 27, 2015–Lisa Wilcox has begun competing at Grand Prix the the nine-year-old Galant that she has trained from four years of age to become a prospect for the United States’ team for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro along with the American-bred stallion Pikko del Cerro HU and the Canadian-owned Denzello.
Galant and Cerro will likely, in Lisa’s words, go “neck and neck” in the increasingly crowded campaign for one of the four spots on the American team as the number and quality of confirmed and prospective Big Tour horses has grown rapidly in the past two years.
“We’ll just sit back and may the best man win.”
The United States assured itself of a team start at Rio after taking gold at the Pan American Games earlier this month and now is focusing efforts over the next year on building the squad.
Galant improved dramatically over the month of the first two Grand Prix national competition with a single judge, scores jumping from mid-60 per cent to almost 74 per cent in vastly different circumstances, both in Wellington a few hundred yards (meters) apart. The first was in an outdoor arena on a typical hot and humid Florida summer day while the second was in a covered arena with two side-by-side competition arenas and a hectic adjacent warmup ring.
“I’m really thrilled with him,” Lisa said of the Belgian Warmblood she found as a four-year-old in the stables of Diederik Wigman in Belgium that was intended as a mount for owner Jacqueline Shear.
“You can’t tell with horses that age how they’ll turn out.
“He had three great gaits and a lot of temperament, a nice trot but not spectacular.”
The “temperament” combined with being spooky was what led Jacqueline to turn over the ride to Lisa.
Lisa did not show Galant until he was six years old. Then in the past year she competed him at Small Tour in a “half hearted” effort in the Pan Am Games qualifiers, while working on Grand Prix movements at the same time.
“Once he learned the piaffe and passage he just blossomed,” the 48-year-old Lisa said.
Lisa has established a base in Wellington since returning home a decade ago from Europe where she had became one of the top riders with the stallion Relevant. The pair were on the U.S. team that won silver at the 2002 World Games in Jerez, the best ever world championship finish for the nation, team bronze at the Olympics in Athens in 2004 and second at the 2003 Europeans (yes, Europeans, as it was open to all-comers that year).
She trains and competes Cerro and other horses bred and owned by Horses Unlimited of Albuquerque, New Mexico as well as Galant for Jacqueline Shear and Denzello for Canadian Betty Wells.
After the Global circuit this winter, Lisa stayed home in Wellington to work with the horses with no pressure of championship deadlines.
Although she began riding Galant at a young age so not inheriting issues from another rider,”we really needed him to develop mentally. He was very immature until this last season when he matured tremendously. The national shows we’ve done have really started to get him to relax. He’s phenomenal when he is relaxed.
“Relevant was fine around other horses but he was extremely shy in small arenas by himself.
“Galant is the opposite. He is more confident, not intimidated by the atmosphere as he is by other horses. When he gets into the arena it’s, phew! I can relax now. When someone drops something in the VIP area, he doesn’t react. That impresses me.
“He is further along than I expected, how mature he is in the Grand Prix. He’s surprising me; I didn’t expect that.
“He’s a pussycat around humans. ‘Rico suave’ is what we call him as he loves the ladies, when the grooms are messing with him he loves that. With his own kind he’s very shy and timid, but with people he’s right in your pocket.”
Pikko del Cerro also has become much stronger since winter and is “now extremely sound, extremely healthy.”
Both horses will compete at CDIs in the northeast United States in the Fall before returning to Florida for the winter circuit.
Europe is not on the schedule at this stage but that would change if she qualifies one or both of the horses for what may be a competition swing similar to this year’s tour of shows in Germany for the Pan Am Games short listed squad.