Success feels twice as nice for Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer Heidi Degele. Two horses under her tutelage have qualified for the Four Year Old division at the 2016 United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Markel Young and Developing Horse National Championships.
With the spotlight on her rising star young horses, Degele and her team’s anticipation continues to grow for the Aug. 25-28 National Championship in Illinois.
A United States Dressage Federation gold medalist, Degele has been training the two qualified horses, who are both owned by Kathy Elliott, with rider Michele Sizemore since last October. Hercules is a 16.3-hand bay KWPN gelding bred by Chris Van Breugel out of Stal de Bekelaar in the Netherlands. Accompanying Hercules is Hylton Van De Kerkhoeve, or “Hylton,” a 17-hand bay KWPN gelding bred by Toby Horsting out of Dressage stable de Kerkhoeve in Belgium.
When the young horses arrived at her barn, Degele, Elliott and Sizemore formed a plan based on their shared understanding of the horses’ potential. Degele used her classical and systematic training routine, which she developed during her three years training with Olympic Gold Medalist Hubertus Schmidt. Degele also trains and consults with Danish Olympians Lars Petersen and Bent Jensen, and incorporates this wealth of knowledge into the training of all horses at Heidi Dressage LLC in Loxahatchee.
Sizemore is skilled with the art of navigating a young horse and retaining a patient and positive mindset while training. Sizemore also qualified two other mounts for previous years’ national championships. Coupled with Degele’s classical training regimen, Hercules and Hylton had the tools they needed for success.
Both horses took high and consistent marks in all shows they were entered into this winter, repeatedly scoring 80 percent at shows in the Wellington area. At the Welcome Back to White Fences I show at the White Fences Equestrian Center, Degele directed Sizemore and Hercules to an exceptional 81 percent in the USDF Four and Five Year Old Materiale Gelding/Stallion class. At the Wellington Classic Dressage Series Finale at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival show grounds, Sizemore and Hylton took home an 81.20 percent in the FEI Four Year Old test.
“I have no doubt that Hercules and Hylton can and will go into the CDI ring with the proper training,” Degele said. “Both horses have super qualities of being honest, having good work ethic and truly loving to work. They are forward-moving on their own, and have good hind leg action with the ability to sit and carry themselves, easily holding their poles high.”
For more information, visit www.heididressage.com or call (561) 294-4118.
ABOVE: (L-R) Trainer Heidi Degele, Michele Sizemore (riding), owner Kathy Elliott, Hyui Jin Vervoort and Cara Broderick with horse Hylton Van De Kerkhoeve.