Photo Report: Kicking into Gear for the 2024 Palm Beach Derby - Bohemian's U.S Coming Out

Thu, 02/29/2024 - 00:26
2024 Palm Beach Derby
Endel Ots and Bohemian ready for their show premier at the 2024 Palm Beach Derby :: Photo © Astrid Appels

The 2024 Palm Beach Derby is the benchmark of dressage competition in Florida as one of the oldest shows in the state. The first edition I attended was in 2000 and twenty-four years later I still believe it's one of the greatest shows on the year in the U.S.A. although its originality as a centerpiece event got a bit lost in the the slew of shows that make up the annual Global Dressage Festival.

The three-month non-stop series of national and international shows from January to the end of March puts you on a merry-go-round in the Equine Disneyland that Wellington is. You keep spinning and spinning, seeing the same people and same horses week after week. It's so much fun, but it's also quite repetitive and my craving for America's Next Superstar has not been fulfilled...

It's been a long wait to see who are America's Olympic team candidates. Suppenkasper and Fiontini are the only two horses who have marked themselves as clear contenders, safely protected in their California capsule with scores obtained at the microscopically small CDI's in Del Mar/Thermal. And keep in mind Fiontini has only done one CDI so far....In Florida there seems to be Anna Marek.. but who else.. there doesn't seem to be another rider "top of mind" that stands out... Only Steffen Peters seems solid on the road to Paris.

Kasey Perry trotting up Heartbeat for their CDI debut
I wonder why this coming out is taking sooo long. The powerful, medal winning dressage nation the U.S.A has proven to be in the past two decades, has now started an Olympic year dishevelled looking. Charlotte Jorst has a strong horse in the green Zhaplin Langholt, Genay Vaughn has a superstar in Gino, but they haven't truly proven their skills yet in the CDI ring (without a whip), Rio Olympian Kasey Perry-Glass will make her CDI debut this weekend on Heartbeart. Adrienne Lyle took her two brand new, experienced horses Lars van de Hoenderheide and Helix to the CDI Ocala two weeks ago to school them... but they are still not on any entry list. My guess is that we'll see them in action by the end of March and then maybe at the CDI Myakka City and Ocala in April/May... worth the wait? We'll see. 

But this weekend, at least there is one big "coming out": Endel Ots will premier the 14-year old Westfalian Bohemian (by Bordeaux x Samarant) in the national arena. After the CDI jog, when most people had left the show grounds, Ots schooled the liver chestnut in all peace and quiet with his long-time coach Albrecht Heidemann by his side.  Unlike a year ago, Bohemian looked healthy and on weight: shiny coat and no muscle loss. Endel only lightly schooled the horse: some posting trot, some light canter, a few single flying changes, and two short lines of passage and two piaffes and that was it. The horse looked good for his age, worked without pressure. Let's see what happens tomorrow when they ride down their first centerline. (Editor’s note: Endel scratched on Thursday and will compete in Friday’s morning Grand Prix)

Heidemann coaching Ots on Bohemian
For Ots it will be exciting too. Although he has competed two horses (Agastrofos and Donatus) at developing Grand Prix level, he only did his first national Grand Prix test in his life a few weeks ago on Heidi Humphries' schoolmaster Sai Baba Plus. It will be a baptism by fire for Endel and a good test of his nerves and skill at the start of an exciting career with Bo.

Text and Photos © Astrid Appels - NO REPRODUCTION ALLOWED / NO SCREEN SHOTS for social media

If interested in photos, please send me an email. Florida rates apply for this horse show as our colleague Sue Stickle is the official photographer.

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Only Fools and Horses, Eurodressage at the 2022 Palm Beach Dressage Derby