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2020 Carol Lavell Advanced Prize Recipient: Lehua Custer and FJ Ramzes

Photo credit: Joanna Jodko

I am so thankful to have received the Carol Lavell Advanced Dressage Prize two years in a row. F.J. Ramzes and I have become quite solid in our Grand Prix work under the eagle eye of Allison Brock. We have spent the past year taking every aspect of the Grand Prix test and breaking it down into small parts to demystify it for both of us.

Ramzes is a very large horse and extremely forward, with a motor that never ends! We have worked very hard to help him find his balance in the smaller gaits and really become truly recyclable in every half-halt.

Ramzes is now 11 years old, and it feels like everything is really coming together well to begin competing in CDI competitions for the 2022 season. I know that COVID was a huge issue for everyone, and it hit our team hard as well. We had planned to begin competing last season and start to get solid in the national ring, but everything was paused for the whole world. We used that time to truly become a confident partnership for Grand Prix and to get to know our new coach, Ali, better.

This spring and early summer we finally began to compete in national classes in Grand Prix with scores up to 74%. Ramzes has been reliable and willing to ride, and Ali has helped us develop a methodical and effective warm-up for the competitions. Our partnership feels even more solid, and we look forward to the next step.

Our team would not have been able to relocate to Florida from California or been able to fund the intensive training required to build ourselves into a partnership ready for the high-performance world without this grant. I want to thank everyone involved with The Dressage Foundation for making dreams come true for riders.

Ramzes is developing into an international quality athlete, and I have been lucky enough to be immersed in an intensive training program to become a proper partner for this horse. I have been able to see how other high-performance riders train and manage their horses and I make time to watch the CDI riders warm up and compete whenever possible. Being fully immersed in the high-performance world, even before actually competing, has been very helpful for me and has helped me grow in so many ways. We look forward to the future and appreciate the help from the Carol Lavell Advanced Dressage Prize and The Dressage Foundation.

FJ Ramzes with Lehua