Ashley Holzer Competes for First Time as American, 4-Time Olympian for Canada “Thrilled, Speechless” at Support by USA

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Ashley Holzer leaving the competition arena after riding Sir Caramello at Tryon in the horse’s Big Tour debut. © 2017 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

MILL SPRING, North Carolina, April 21, 2017–In her first international competition for the the United States, Ashley Holzer debuted two young Grand Prix mounts and one at Small Tour at the Tryon CDI3* Friday with such strong support from her new country as to leave her “thrilled” and “speechless.”

“I am thrilled, I though it would be different; I thought I would be a little sad,” said the 53-year-old rider who competed at four Olympics for her native Canada, including the bronze medal team at the 1988 Games and lives in New York City and Wellington, Florida.

“I feel like I have an incredible support team already from this country. Robert (Dover, United States Technical Advisor) has been 150 per cent. I feel really lucky.

“I rode in the Grand Prix today on two incredible very young horses coming into their first tests and I had incredible support from my new country. It’s so incredible to come into something like this that’s a little tricky with two new horses and you have no idea which ways it’s going to go and to have that behind me. I’m speechless.”

The two horses Ashley competed at Grand Prix were both 10 years old and owned by Americans, who acquired the horses last year, were:

Sir Caramello, an Oldenburg stallion (Sir Donnerhall x Feiner Stern) owned by Peacock Ridge Farm that scored to 67.642 per cent for sixth place and Havanna, a Hanoverian mare (Hochadel x Rodgau) owned by Diane Fellows that scored 65.940 for seventh place.

(Breaking Dawn, the horse owned by P.J. Rizvi’s Peacock Ridge Farm and that Ashley rode at the 2012 London Olympics was ridden by PJ for second place in the Grand Prix.)

She also rode Radondo, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Diana Rose, at Prix St. Georges.

Havanna beimg ridden by Ashley Holzer in the horse’s debut CDI Gramd Prix. © 2017 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Ashley’s performances at this CDI were not lost on Mark Bellissimo who heads up the partnership that is spending more than $100 million in private funding to prepare Tryon International Equestrian Center for the World Equestrian Games next year.

“We’re honored that Ashley chose to make her international debut as an American here,” he said.

Ashley, married to an American with whom she has two children, both Americans, and has lived in the United States for 25 years, said she was thrilled with the efforts of both horses that she described as performing “amazing jobs but had costly very green mistakes.”

“I am so thrilled because I had two horses that went in and were trying,” she told dressage-news.com. “You can’t make that. They either try or they don’t try and to feel a young horse do great then struggle but still try to do the job for me, as a trainer that is the biggest compliment.”

Ashley Holzer on Radondo in the Tryon CDI3* Prix St. Georges. © 2017 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Ashley plans to be involved in America’s substantial increase in the past three years in competing in Europe. P.J. Rizvi, long-time Canadian supporter Jill Irving and Ashley plan to compete at the highly regarded Achleiten and Fritzens shows in Austria in June.

“I think it’s a good idea to keep exposing the horses to different facilities, to different show grounds and different judges,” she said. “They haven’t been seen at all.

“I’m not getting any younger.” she joked. “So I just have to go and try. I love riding, I love showing, I love competing and I have two amazing horses and I am going to go show and have fun.”

Although Ashley has been widely admired on both sides of the Atlantic for many years, she is still amazed that she has two young talented horses at the same time.

“I don’t know many people who have two 10 year-old Grand Prix horses,” she said. “I’m pretty lucky. You can be in the sport long enough, you can want to teach them all you want but if they don’t want to play ball that’s a hard horse to canter down the centerline.

“Both horses wanted to play ball. I think I’ve got two top horses. So I’m pretty excited.”