German Pony Rider Lisa Widmayer's 12-Weeks at the 2017 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival

Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage - Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lisa Widmayer at the 2017 Adequan Global Dressage Festival

The advancements and experience the 15-year-old pony rider Lisa Widmayer gained during the 2017 series has been intensive and pivotal in preparation for the upcoming pony classes and qualifications in Germany. Travelling to Wellington for her first time ever at an Adequan® Global Dressage Festival, she has embraced its electric atmosphere. “I learned a lot about the competition experience here,” she marveled. “It has helped me feel more relaxed and confident, and I feel safer riding the tests. It has been so fun to ride here in the big ring.”

Within five minutes of the AGDF’s showgrounds, the young teen has been training intensively with Christoph Koschel for the upcoming 2017 German qualifications in her division. “The one big thing I have worked on the most with Christoph is the walk,” Lisa described. “We have worked really hard to keep it relaxed and loose and it is so good now. Also, my freestyle, we really needed to improve it and I feel great about it.”

At first, it was difficult for the very sensitive Paso Double, Lisa shared, “The noise made her lose focus, especially in the warm-up with the loud clapping coming from the bleachers,” Lisa disclosed.  Throughout the weeks, Lisa revealed that Paso Double was settling in, "She has been more focused, getting better and better. She’s super quiet now.”

Christoph recalled, “I met Lisa the first time last September where she did a national class in Germany. It was her first FEI Pony test and it was very hard for her. So, we made the decision to work through it by coming to Wellington for very intensive training because I had the same trouble with my niece Felicitas [Hendricks] and she, too, learned so much in her short time here. With Lisa, she has greatly improved and is now riding over 70% in the international arena with 5* judges. This is like a dream come true.”

Steadily riding since age six in her hometown of Hamburg, Lisa began learning about competitive riding through low level tests. About a year-and-a-half ago, she started preparing for Germany’s FEI Pony Classes by riding Paso Double, an 11-year-old Dutch Riding Pony mare (Bodo x Inselfurst), one of three horses currently owned by her family.

Lisa’s other horse is Solitaire, her up-and-coming Junior division horse; the family’s third horse is one her mom rides. “I am so grateful to my parents, Katja and Peter Widmayer, and to Antonio Do Vale and Joana Sierra Lopez Do Vale. They have helped me so much.” Lisa continued in gratefulness, “And, I am so very grateful to Christoph Koschel. He had the idea to come here. I have learned so much from him. He is incredible.”

Paso Double and Solitaire arrived in South Florida the 27th of December and Lisa arrived the 9th of January. She and Paso Double immediately began competing to take advantage of getting the pony in the ring as often as possible to help both the rider and pony get settled in and gain confidence. “It’s so big here, and with five judges!” 

Cheering Lisa on is Paso Double’s former rider, Semmieke Rothenberger, the 2016 Gold Medalist at the European Championships in the Young rider division. Lisa said, “Semmieke, is always reassuring me and giving me confidence because she knows Paso is a very sensitive mare. Semmieke and I will sometimes talk after competitions. I’m so thankful to her because she is so busy and still finds the time to encourage me. She is amazing.”

Germany’s Academics while in Florida (Palm Beach International Academy)

To meet her school’s tough requirements when she is at home in Germany, Lisa can only ride on weekends. During this winter season in Florida, though, she has been attending the Palm Beach International Academy (PBIA) daily, which is located across the street from the AGDF showgrounds. There, the teachers instruct her on the assignments sent by her school in Germany so that Lisa can keep up with her ninth grade classmates back home. “Being here has been a great experience. I love it. It is not only the competitions, it is also the school. I never thought I could love school, but the instructors here are really good. And my friends are here, too, Mathilda Von Guttenberg and Anna Von Guttenberg.”Lisa Widmayer and Paso Double at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival Photo: Lily Forado

Looking Ahead to 2017

Lisa, Paso Double and Solitaire are returning to Germany on the 26th of March and two weeks later will be competing in the Preis der Besten, a huge national qualifying competition for youth in Warendorf. The show is the commencement competition that is part of the qualifying process for the four coveted spots on the Germany Pony Division Team in the European Championships taking place in August. “My goal is to ride in the Future Champions,” Lisa explained. “It looks so amazing and so big.” Asked if she would like to go to the European Championships for ponies, she said, “It’s so hard. I mean it’s just so hard to get on the team. I cannot say or think about anything yet. It would be a big, BIG dream for that to happen.” She emphasized again, “It’s just so hard, especially in the pony division in Germany.” 

Christoph said of Lisa and the pony, “She has learned so much to ride in an arena like this. And for the pony, as well, she is a little sound sensitive, but we can see after showing and showing, she is so much better." He reinterated, "To be honest, we also have big stadiums in Europe and this is what she needs now. The good thing here is that you get to stay in one place and the horses get so much better. They learn so much. It’s good for Lisa and it’s good for the pony. We get so well prepared for our own season." He continued, "She will go home and compete in the Preis de Besten, the first German National qualifier for the European Championships. There are around 15 top pony and rider combinations there where the official qualifications start for all of Germany. Yes, we will see. It is very tough. We have to remember that she is only riding on the international level for two-and-a-half months. At home, I will speak to our Pony Coach Connie Andrews and we will see. We had good results here. Let’s hope.”

Christoph said about the Florida experience, “Especially for the young people, it is remarkable how much they learn while they are here in Florida for the three months. For instance, Felicitas returned to Germany last year as ranked number one in the world in her division. You can really see how much better they get. It’s the same with Lisa. The scores are getting higher and higher and this is what we want, the experience and the quality and the improvements. It’s remarkable.” 

 To see Lisa Widmayer and Paso Double's FEI Results CLICK HERE