Christian Hartung, German Based in California, Wins USA Five-Year-Old Championship, Adrienne Lyle & Horizon Capture Developing St. Georges Title
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WAYNE, Illinois, Aug. 27, 2016–Christian Hartung, a German who came to California to improve his English and go to college, rode Desario to win the United States Five-Year-Old Championship Saturday.
The 31-year-old who lives in Vacaville, outside the California capital of Sacramento, scored 89.200 per cent, that he admitted was the first result above 80 per cent for the pair and a “big surprise” in their first national championships.
The day was marked by international highlights–U.S. Olympian Adrienne Lyle on Wizard won the Developing Prix St. Georges championship while an Australian also based in California rode an American horse he bred himself to the four-year-old title (see separate story).
Swedish transplant Karin Persson on Guliano B was reserve five-year-old champion on 84.600 per cent, with support from a contingent of Swedes who came from New York to help and cheer.
Christian, who comes from the ancient city of Schwerin in Mecklenburg that was part of East Germany in the Cold War, came to the United States 10 years ago “just to improve my English” and to study business economics at the University of California Davis.
After graduation, he took a job in software at the high tech company Autodesk in San Francisco.
Now, he commutes at least an hour each way to work by car and ferry that he catches up on emails so he can ride a couple of his horses at night.
His mother, who was on East Germany’s jumping team, came over to help Christian in jumping but he ended up in a dressage barn and pursued that discipline.
Desario was acquired by Christiane Noelting after the Oldenburg gelding by De Champ was brought over for a warmblood auction that Christian started, an example of the entrepreneurship in the U.S. in which he has immersed himself.
“I love this country,” he explained, “you can do whatever you want, try things out. Here the culture is to go try it out and if it doesn’t work you’re encouraged to go try again.”
Christian has very much become a part of the California dressage community. He drove his horse the 2,000 miles/3,220km in a convoy with other competitors from California to these championships.
Although horse sports require more effort in the U.S. than in Germany where they are mainstream, that doesn’t put him off. He sees the Olympic bronze medal won by a team of riders most of whom came through the development “pipeline” as an example of “exactly what was supposed to happen.”
The goal is to keep developing Desario.
“He is a lot of fun to work with,” Christian said, “very laid back. At show time he is 100 per cent with me, exactly what you want in a dressage horse.”
For Adrienne Lyle the victory on Horizon was emotional–as an assistant trainer to Debbie McDonald at River Grove Farm in Hailey, Idaho she rode the Parry Thomas family-owned Wizard at the 2012 Olympics and 2014 World Games.
Parry died Friday at his farm at the age of 95, and had followed Adrienne’s success in the first Prix St. Georges championship ride on Horizon on Thursday.
“He was still excited about the competition until the day he want,”Adrienne said. “He was watching over us. This ride was for him today. It was very special.”
Elizabeth Juliano, the owner of Horizon, had taken Adrienne and Debbie to dinner Friday night in a tribute to Parry whose involvement in dressage embraced ownership of Brentina that Debbie rode to Olympic, world and regional championship medals as well as World Cup winner, Adrienne on Wizard and the donation of he and his banking partner of land to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas for construction of the Thomas & Mack Arena that staged the 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2015 dual World Cup finals of dressage and jumping.