Ebeling And FRH Rassolini Change It Up For A Freestyle Win At Del Mar CDI-W

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Jan Ebeling spent years riding his beloved mare Rafalca at the top levels of dressage, but since her retirement last year, a new Grand Prix horse, FRH Rassolini, is making his bid to become her successor. Ebeling’s enjoyed the challenges that come with riding the 12-year-old Hanoverian stallion, and they put all the pieces together on April 23-26 in Del Mar, Calif., at the Del Mar International CDI-W to take home the win in the Grand Prix freestyle (71.50%). “It was a great ride. The atmosphere was fantastic—it always is in Del Mar for freestyle night,” said Ebeling. “Very electric. I think he handled it quite well. I think there was one time when in the extended trot the audience was really getting loud and applauding. He had a little bit of a rhythm mistake in the canter, never really broke, but an ‘oopsy,’ but he was not getting nervous. He was really animated and fun to ride—super easy and very focused.”

Ebeling’s freestyle for the stallion (Rubioso N—Sweetheart, Silvano) was new for this season and featured canter work in the beginning, followed by piaffe and passage.

“It’s a Kygo remix of old Marvin Gaye songs—‘Sexual Healing,’ which we thought was very funny coming from a mare that was so successful, Rafalca, and now adding the song,” said Ebeling. “We watched the movie Chef, and they played it there, and my wife [Amy] said, ‘Wouldn’t that be fun to ride to this?’ She started investigating and came across this remix, which is sort of a techno remix, and it fit abso- lutely perfect to his beat. I talked to Karen Robinson, who had done many of my freestyles, and put it all together.”

Jan, 56, also rode the Grand Prix the day before his freestyle and scored a 65.50 percent for sixth place. Amateur rider Charlotte Jorst won that class on Kastel’s Nintendo (67.18%) and also claimed the Grand Prix Special (70.11%).

Since Jan’s only been showing “Rassopinsky” for a year, he’s still figuring out a warm-up routine.

“The Grand Prix, I was fairly happy with,” he said. “I had worked him a bit much the day before, and the footing was a little deep. I think he was a little tired from the day before, so he didn’t quite have the pizzazz that he typi- cally has. He had one mistake in the one-tempis, and the rest of it was good. The scores were not so high. It was a little bit disappointing, but I think after the freestyle everything was fine. There’s still a lot you have to learn about a horse as far as how much you school them today, the day before, in the warm-up, even the week before the competition.”

Riders at Del Mar had to contest with some footing issues, as the warm-up rings located on the race track deterio- rated thanks to wet weather, but Jan was quick to praise the organizers for making adjustments.

“It was unfortunate that we had a little bit of a California drizzle and rain, which made the footing into a little bit of a mess,” he said. “It was quite diffi- cult for the show management. They really tried hard to make it work, but the footing was a little bit challenging. The indoor arena is fantastic with Eurofooting, and they tried to let us in there whenever they could.”

Jan found Rassopinsky while shop- ping for his next Grand Prix horse in 2013. While in Germany, his friend and business partner, Christian Heinrich, who’d also found Rafalca for him, suggested he try him.

At the time, the stallion had been trained by Hans-Heinrich Meyer zu Strohen and shown successfully on the small tour by his wife, Kathrin. The day Jan saw him, he was being ridden by their 12-year-old daughter for her birthday present.

That temperament combined with his talent for piaffe and passage convinced Jan he was the one. Jan laughed when asked to compare riding a mare for so many years to riding a stallion.

“Around other horses, he’s very much a stallion, which makes me a little nervous when we go through the jog at the CDI,” he said. “So far, I’ve been lucky, and they allow me to go first and get him in and out. He’s really great to deal with by himself. He’s fine around other horses when you ride him.”

At shows, Rassopinsky has to have an isolated stall and tends to get a bit restless compared to Rafalca. “He gets very interested in what’s going on and sometimes doesn’t rest enough at night because he’s up and looking at what’s going on,” said Jan. “Rafalca—you put her in the stall, and she eats, and she works when you take her out.

May 11, 2015 Chronofhorse.com