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Guenter Seidel and UII…back in the saddle

Terri Miller photo

Guenter Seidel and UII…back in the saddle

DEL MAR – Through three days of the California Dressage Affaire CDI, the nearly 300 horses from four states and three nations provided a spectacle for dressage fans, but one particular entry caught the eye and hearts more than most.

Guenter Seidel, a three-time Olympian from Cardiff who was severely injured last June from a fall in Germany on UII, made his return to the arena on the talented horse and won the Grandprix Freestyle with a 71.900% performance that electrified the grandstand.

The event, held March 10-13 at Horse Park, featured entries from California, Oregon, Arizona and Colorado s well as Mexico and Canada.

On Friday, Guenter rode UII, the 17.2-hand, 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood by Jazz, in the FEI Grand Prix, and the spectators greeted him enthusiastically before and after the effort – even if the piaffe showed some rustiness. The pair returned Sunday in sync, winning the Grandprix Freestyle before the sell-out crowd.

“He was a little spooky in the arena on Friday but it’s been awhile since he’s been in a show environment,” admitted Seidel, who mounted UII in January for the first time since the accident that had left him with a broken pelvis, cracked rib and collapsed lung — and a long, painful road back to competition. “Sunday, he felt more relaxed. Overall I’m very happy with him.”

It was at last year’s Dressage Affaire that Seidel wore a riding helmet for the first time. That show came briefly after Courtney King-Dye had suffered serious head trauma when her horse tripped and fell, a tragic catalyst for change in the sport. Today, estimates are that 90 percent of riders wear helmets, up from only about 20 percent beforehand.

When Seidel took his fall from UII last June, he was hearing a helmet.

“Thank God, because otherwise I might not be talking,” Seidel emphasized. “Sooner or later, (helmet use) will become a law in our sport. (King-Dye) was such a good and competent rider, and it was such a freak thing. These horses are so unpredictable, and if something happens, you’re done.”

Also in the Dressage Affaire Granddprix Freestyle, Jan Ebeling of Moorpark on Rafalca took second with a 71.675% score. Eberling also teamed with Rafalca to win Saturday’s CDI FEI Grand Prix with a 69.596% mark. 2Susan Blinks of Encinitas on Robin Hood took second with a 68.447% score, and Seidel and UII were third with a 67.638%.
Shannon Peters of San Diego and Odyssey, who took fourth in Saturday’s event behind Seidel, won Sunday’s class with a 66.250%, followed by Alisa Wilson of Chino Hills on Weltclassiker with a 64.792%.

More results: See website http://www.devonwoodscores.com

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