The only thing that was standing in the way of two-time Pan American Games reserve rider Endel Ots making his next prediction for Heidi Humphries’ black KWPN stallion, King’s Pleasure, was CDI experience, and soon they can check that off the list, as Ots and the 2022 Markel/USEF Seven Year Old Young Horse National Champion will deliver their first-ever CDI performance in front of some of the most discerning judges in the world, this week during CDI5* Week 10 in Wellington of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival.
Humphries, King’s Pleasure’s owner and owner of the Southwest Ranches facility, Zen Elite Equestrian Center, continues to prove her commitment to equestrian sports, passionately supporting an amazing team of equestrians and horses she truly believes in.
Seeing King’s Pleasure poised to perform at this level Humphries confided,” I am very proud of Endel and King. They have worked so hard, countless hours, getting to this point in their career. It’s like watching your kids move from the little leagues to the big leagues. Endel is a beautiful rider and King is such a special, talented stallion.”
Special might just be an understatement.
Prior to his importation, King’s Pleasure was among the horses selected by the Dutch Equestrian Federation to represent KWPN at the then-postponed World Championships for Young Dressage Horses. King’s Pleasure also finished in the top three in the prestigious 2019 Pavo Cup in Ermelo Netherlands, before arriving in the United States.
Two years later and now training in Florida, King’s Pleasure went into the 2022 Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championships seeded fifth (76.507%) in the rankings and less than two points out of first place, after scores in the strong 70’s.
Under a trainer and rider known for producing eight prior Markel/USEF National title or reserve title winners across nearly every division, they out-performed 14 of the finest horses in their age group anywhere in the country to win the Markel/USEF Seven Year Old title on an overall score of 78.295%.
Foray into the CDI Arena
When asked about the young stallion’s foray into the CDI arena, Ots described it as “a real transitional period to CDI’s and international competition. You not only have to deliver on gait scores, but consistently deliver on the technical movements. It’s a combination of expectations.”
Expectations are something this pair enjoys meeting and exceeding with almost uncanny prescience. Long before King’s Pleasure qualified for the US Dressage Festival of Champions at Lamplight, Ots predicted their success, gifting Humphries a sterling silver picture frame engraved with ‘2022 USEF National Champion.’
“Typical Heidi,” he said, “she told me I didn’t need to put that pressure on myself. She just wants her horse to be happy and have a long career. But after seeing everything, and everyone, important to her and King at Lamplight, there was no chance I wasn’t going to win. I felt it. That’s why, almost a year before, I got that frame. It felt inevitable.”
Pan American Dream
The duo now has their focus on a successful CDI career for King’s Pleasure with the hopes for a slot on the dressage squad for the 2023 Pan American Games, to take place October 20-November 5, 2023, in Chile.
“I really value the relationship I’ve developed with King in the arena,” Ots says. “Working with Debbie McDonald has been amazing; I love her depth of knowledge and admire her ability to get multiple riders to the next level in their international goals.”
“King has no weaknesses,” Ots says of the stallion that earned praise from the USEF Young Horse Evaluation for Developing Horses, with Christine Traurig and Charlotte Bredahl. “He’s in his first year at the FEI level and gaining experience.”
“Each challenge you give this horse, he steps up to the plate one hundred percent.”
King’s Pleasure is poised to add a CDI gem to his crown, as Ots feels he is well prepared for the CDI Prix St Georges and I-1 opportunities before them, as they aim for the Pan American Games and continue training towards some exciting debuts ahead.
-- press release by Johnny Robb - Photos © Sue Stickle
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