Grand Prix dressage rider John Zopatti and Zerbino Interagro, owned by Johnny Robb of Wellington, claimed an unexpected victory at the 2015 International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association (IALHA) National Championships held Aug. 25-30 at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Va.
The pair entered the Dressage Open Hack class, where 16 riders vied for the judges’ attention and the championship title. It was Zopatti and Zerbino, a 12-year-old Lusitano gelding, who claimed the 2015 IALHA National Champion Show Hack crown in their first time ever entering a hack class.
“It was quite different,” Zopatti explained. “It was a coliseum with bleacher seating all the way around, and a giant judges’ booth set up in the middle with computers, tabulators and announcers. The judges watched you go around and around as a group on the rail.”
With no prior show preparation as a team, they took a chance in entering the class. Zerbino had been training in Grand Prix with his owner in Wellington, while Zopatti was summering at Will Faudree’s Gavilan Farm in Hoffman, N.C. Zopatti said it was the first time he had ever competed in a catch ride type of situation, and he was pleased to add the national championship title to his already impressive resume.
The USDF gold medalist and four-time Gold Coast Dressage Association Trainer of the Year was also successful a few days before, when he showed Robb’s gelding Uwannabeme WH, a KWPN/Arabian cross, at the Aug. 25 IALHA Virginia Open Dressage Show, also held at the Virginia Horse Center.
Zopatti used the IALHA Virginia Open Dressage Show as an opportunity to prepare Uwannabeme WH, known as Slim, for the Arabian Sport Horse National Championships to be held on Sept. 15-20. Uwannabeme and Zopatti are qualified in dressage for second, third and fourth levels at the championships, so the pair competed at second and third levels at the IALHA show.
To learn more about Zopatti, visit www.johnzopatti.com.
ABOVE: John Zopatti and Zerbino Interagro, shown with owner Johnny Robb, won the Open Dressage Hack National Championship title at the 2015 International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association (IALHA) National Championships.