De Nice

De Nice in England

My new Danish mare, De Nice, is out of quarantine on Friday. David Folden is picking her up for me at the quarantine facilities in Southern Pines, NC and I'm looking forward to having her home in Charleston. To begin with I will keep riding Bonnie as well, and eventually De Nice will be my full-time partner.

She's just under 16 hands tall and was found in Denmark by Mette Assouline, who is the wife of US Para Dressage coach Michele Assouline.  I had told Mette that I'd love to find a horse similar to Gigi Mcintosh's mare; Mette purchased De Nice in Denmark and then brought her back to their farm in England, and I traveled over to see her a couple of months ago. David accompanied me and we sent videos home to Michelle and decided she would be a good fit.

Amazingly, I have been selected for a World Equestrian Game training session in Purcellville, Virginia next month. I will probably take Bonnie there and see if De Nice can come as a spare horse.  After that things depend on whether I'm selected for the WEG team, which is a bit of a long shot since there is a lot of talent in Para Dressage right now, but you never know - I'm not discounting anything yet. In any case, De Nice is only 12 years old, so she is my hope for the future!


2018 WEG Para Dressage Test Event and CPEDI3* at Tryon International Equestrian Center

Debbie and Bonnie at Tryon

Bonnie and I had a super weekend in Tryon at the WEG Test Event and CPEDI3* at the fabulous Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, NC. On 4/20 we placed 6th on a score of 65.9% and on 4/21 we placed 4th with 67.321%.

Video from our ride on 4/20 can be found here:

Video from from 4/21 can be found here:

Top Score of the Day at AGDF!

Debbie and Butterfinger Bonanza

We're back in Wellington, staying with Michelle's former working student Gracia Huenefeld. Yesterday I received the high point of the day award for scoring 78.3% in the Grade I Team Test riding Butterfield Bonanza with judge Lilo Fore. I'm feeling fortunate that I was downgraded from Grade II to Grade I in January because I no longer have to hang on through the sitting trot that always left me in the back seat!


We will be showing through the week, with a test today at 1:30, tomorrow at 1, and on Sunday the Musical Freestyle (with music from Madonna!) at 1:25pm.

While I'm enjoying riding Bonnie, I'm still looking for a long-term horse for myself. I told Michel Assouline that I'd like to find a similar horse to Gigi Mackentosh's new horse, though Gigi is 6" taller than I am so it needs to be a smaller version. Michel knows my size and what my problems are by now, and he found a nice mare in England who is 15.3hh and competing at Prix St. Georges level - though I don't need that level of training, she looks like a good fit. I'm going to fly over next week with Michelle's husband David and give her a try.


Debbie Officially Classified as Para Grade 1

I was examined statically on Wednesday and observed while riding on Thursday, and finally got downgraded to Grade I. I had to do the Grade I team test yesterday and scored 68.09% and took home a pink ribbon (5th place)-  not bad for just getting started at this level!

Click HERE for an explanation of classification levels for Para Dressage.


Para Dressage Clinic with Michel Assouline

2018-01-09 Debbie Assouline Clinic FL.JPG

I am fortunate to be able to participate in the clinic with Para Dressage coach Michel Assouline here in Wellington, Florida. The year is off to a good start as we work on getting the redheaded mare, Butterfinger Bonanza or "Bonnie" more relaxed and obedient. I am looking forward to competing at the National show this weekend and the national show and the next CPEDI at GDF2.


First Show of 2018

We escaped the snow(!) in Charleston, SC for sunny Wellington, Florida for the first CPEDI of 2018, where I'm competing Butterfinger Bonanza, the redheaded mare. She was a little tense with all the atmosphere but we finished second in both the Team and Individual tests.


Many thanks to Angel Holwell for scooter and car unloading, stall set up, horse care, Debbie care, etc. and to Kathie LaCroix for night checks and her great sense of humor. “Bonnie” has weathered the long trip well thanks to David Folden Jr. and his wife, my trainer, Michelle Folden.

Thanks to Michelle for all of her expertise and encouragement. It's exciting to be back in the show ring!


A Few New Developments in the Works

When I showed at the CPEDI in Tryon in September my performance with Butterfinger Bonanza wasn't all I had hoped, but we did have a couple of interesting developments. Someone observing suggested that because of my brain injury it's hard to remember the test and I should be allowed to have a "commander" or someone who can read the test to me while I ride. This is not generally allowed in FEI tests but they do make exceptions.

The biggest problem for me is when I get anxious, everything gets worse. It’s like anything else. When I’m anxious I tend to have a major brain fart…as soon as someone says left though I know right where I am. Memory issues are well documented with brain injuries, and she gave me the paperwork to have a “commander” as part of my dispensation. It’s sort of like having white noise…it’s one less thing to worry about. I still know the test but anxiety makes it hard to both remember the test and ride is well at the same time.

In the works currently: Last Wednesday I had the testing for whether I will be allowed to use a “commander” or reader during my test. I don’t know if the results will be “bad” enough that I’ll be allowed a reader. It took about two hours.

At this point the examination for possible downgrading of my status as a para equestrian only occurs in a CPEDI – the next one is in January and I was going to compete. Even though I’m taking Bonnie, I want to be prepared for my grade and the next lower one.

It was a wild few weeks; We evacuated to Stable View in Aiken for the hurricane then I went to Tryon for the show with two suitcases, one with my Aiken clothes and show clothes, then I came home and did laundry and met my husband in Prague – he had a meeting at Oxford University and we were able to do a little traveling together after that. We evacuated 22 horses and 30 people to Stable View in Aiken, and they had apartments and rooms so we were all fine.

Now we are home in Charleston and I am still riding Bonnie, or Butterfinger Bonanza. Bam Bam should be coming back from his injury soon and we will make a plan for 2018.