Zantke’s Holsteiners On Top Again At Arizona CDE

by Sara Light-Waller

Published in The Chronicle of the Horse

Californian Hardy Zanke and his Holsteiner geldings, Fidibus and Luemmel, brought home top honors for the second consecutive year at the Arizona combined Driving Event, Coolidge Ariz. March 4-6.

With 122.3 penalty points, Zantke easily won the overall modified intermediate, single/pair ponies and horses, division and the award for the best performance in the cones for the modified intermediate division.

Zantke and his 17-hand pair have been busy the past two years. When he competed and won his division at last year’s Arizona CDE, he had already been campaigning hard for several months on his way to securing an alternate spot on the U.S. Equestrian Team competing at the World Pair Driving Championships at Gladstone, N.J.

After his rigorous competition schedule on the East and West Coasts last year, Zantke could see a definite improvement in his team at this year’s event.

“In the marathon, they were super,” he said. “In each hazard they were listening to me. They were moving forward when I wanted them to; they were coming  back when I wanted them to; they were bending and springy, soft in my hands, just the way I like them.”

He was especially pleased by their improvement in the cones, where the turned in a clear round. “Last year the cones were not as good as this year. This year it was quite nice,” he said.

Zantke intends to tighten his competition schedule for a while, showing in some pleasure driving and show ring classes near his home n Torrance, Calif..

“For the last two years horses came first and business second,” he said. In the near future he looks forward to getting back to his business as an international freight forwarder, and letting Fidibus and Luemmel take a break.

Randy McFarland and his 6-year-old black Friesian-Thoroughbred cross, Camille, brought home a blue in the open preliminary division, single horse and pony, division with 101.1 penalties. They also won honors for best performance in the cones for the open preliminary division, pairs or singles, and for the best American Warmblood at the show.

McFarland, who has been driving since 1981, was very pleased with his homebred’s performance. The goal was to get her relaxed for each phase,” he said. “Each day she relaxed more.”

He attributed much of their success to the dressage work they have done over the past few months. Camille spends five to six days a week in training, mainly in the dressage arena. “The dressage gets her round and bending calmly,” he said.

McFarland said by getting her responding well in the dressage arena she is better prepared for the obstacles in the marathon and the cones. “We took smooth flowing routes in the obstacles, so as not to get her too hyped-up for future marathons.”

The California owner/driver makes each event a learning experience. “After every event I write down the mistakes and review them before the next event,” he said. “It’s a very objective sport. You know what you’re shooting for.”

To date, McFarland has bred four Friesian-Thoroughbred crosses, with Camille being the eldest. In the future, he would like to put her in a pair with one of the younger horses and let her confidence and experience teach the less experienced horse. But for now, following  her victory at Coolidge. Camille returns to her home in Southern California to prepare for future events.

“We’ll do perhaps one more preliminary and then maybe intermediate,” McFarland said.

In the open preliminary, pair horses and ponies, division, Irene Gillis of Bonita, Calif., and her gray Welsh ponies, Chloe Silver Leaf and Chloe Bluebell, took home the blue and 129.0 penalties.

Gillis, who has had the 12.2-hand ponies for 1 1/2 years, said they did well overall in their first Arizona competition and their second competition as a pair. “They went into the obstacles really well,” she said, “but they were not as smooth as usual in the cones.”

Gillis brought the mares in New Jersey, where they had been the wheelers from a four-in-hand. She didn’t compete them much in their first year with her, as “they were broke to drive but not to compete.”

According to Gillis, ponies present a different set of problems in training and driving than so horses. “Because they are so small and agile, they have an advantage in the obstacles, but on the [marathon] course they had a disadvantage because they have to pull a carriage and two adults,’ said Gillis. “They have to be very fit.”

In order to make the task as easy as possible for her ponies, Gillis commissioned a special lightweight cart from an Amish builder in Pennsylvania. All the parts are scaled down to pony size. Unlike some competitors who have two competition carts — one for the marathon and one for the dressage and cones — Gillis uses the same carriage for all three phases, with the addition of a groom’s step for the marathon.

Jennie Nichols of Scottsdale, Ariz., and her 15-hand Morgan, Greentree Night Out, won the limited preliminary, single horse, division blue with 137.4 penalties and best performance in the cones for limited preliminary, single horse and pony. Greentree Night Out also won the show’s best performing Morgan award.

In the limited preliminary, single pony class, Vicki English and Born to Command, her 14.2 hand chestnut Morgan, won the class and the best conditioned award for the entire preliminary division.

The days’ closest race was in the open intermediate, single horse division. carol Thompson and her gray Thoroughbred, County Clare, narrowly beat Doris Ganton and her Russian Orlov, Gold Canyon. The final scores were 138.2 penalties for the blue and 138.5 penalties for the red.

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