Strength in the FEI Pony – A Tribute to Poldy 10
Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage - Monday, October 13, 2014
It was in June of this year that fifteen-year-old Katrina Sadis piloted German leading dressage pony Poldy 10 to the title of 2014 USEF National Pony Rider Champion in Gladstone, New Jersey. Katrina’s journey into dressage started in Ann Arbor, Michigan where she struggled to get a quarter horse up to First Level, and it was only one year ago that Katrina began leasing the 18-year-old pony owned by Dressage4Kids, Inc.
Sadis appreciatively explained, “About a year ago, Lendon Gray presented me with the opportunity to lease Poldy from Dressage4Kids after being donated to the organization by the Davis family. I am so grateful to Lendon for giving me this opportunity and for all she does to help kids like me in dressage.”
The FEI Pony Rider Division rules state that any rider turning 16 will age out of the Pony division. The Division and the road to the Championships gives young riders a chance to build their educational foundations early for the long journey that upper level dressage requires.
Taking any pony or horse up the levels, even if the pony has been shown and schooled to a higher level, requires a rider to take apart and master each of the large puzzle pieces of movements, balance and proficiency.
Together, they attended the Dressage4Kids Winter Intensive Training Program taught by Lendon Gray, a three-month day in, day out training camp that includes long days to prepare for a CDI (international dressage competition.) Taking place in Wellington, Florida from January 2014 to March 2014, Katrina shared, “It was amazing. The opportunity to train with Lendon just made everything achievable. Poldy gave me the feel of a big warmblood in a little pony body. I had never ridden anything like that before.”
The Lendon Gray Winter Intensive Training Program is for aspiring young riders who commit to the work. This program requires determination, drive and passion from its participants. Taking place during the Wellington dressage winter season, the participants have full schedules of instruction that include fitness, theory, tests, riding lessons, field trips and lectures on many pertinent subjects. With the three months of instructions and pure growth, the young riders work to be the best dressage riders they can be.
Katrina and Poldy not only took on the Winter Intensive Training Program, but also the USEF Pipeline Clinic with six-time Olympian Robert Dover. She and Poldy also competed at the Florida Youth Dressage Championships at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival WEF Dressage Classic 3* CDI March 14-17, 2014 presented by PanaCavallo and Dressage4Kids. Together they won the FEI Pony Division. “It was a little intimidating my first time showing at the CDI level. Luckily, Poldy always had enough confidence for the both of us and would always take care of me. Showing in CDIs at the FEI Pony level was a great way to get started and learn all the rules and processes for showing at the international level,” she revealed.
2014 National Pony Rider Champion
By June, Katrina and Poldy scored a 73.561% in their individual test and a 70.385% in their team test to clinch the win at the National Pony Championships at Gladstone. The pair topped the field of 11, earning the remaining 50% of their championship score to win the championships. She and the 18-year-old gelding finished almost four percentage points ahead of the second place competitor. For their efforts in the championship, she and Poldy 10 claimed the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship with an overall score of 71.973%.
“Poldy changed my life,” Katrina acknowledged. “He brought me up to a new level of riding. He showed me what a true partnership was. Although in the first part of our relationship he didn’t quite believe I was a good enough rider to pilot him,” she revealed, “it was by our last show where he was so in touch with me that I only barely had to ask for a movement and he would give me exactly what I had asked in the best way that he could do it.”
It was just a couple of weeks ago that America's most successful FEI dressage pony to date, Poldy 10, passed away unexpectedly. The 18-year-old German gelding suffered from a tear in his rectum. The veterinarians at Michigan State University (MSU) felt he could not be saved, despite surgery.
“Poldy had the best personality you could hope for in a horse,” Katrina praised. “He really just seemed to love life. He was always happy, whether he was out in the pasture, training, competing or just hanging out with me in the barn. He was always serious at shows and loved to show off and have people applaud him.”
“Every day when I walked into the barn,” she reminisced, “he would greet me like he had been waiting all day to see me. And, every time I got on him to train, he’d walk off like ‘Alright kid, let’s go conquer the world!”
Poldy 10 (Platello x Wirbelwind) was born in 1996 and bred by Karl Mittmann. First with Franziska Knuf, he won the German National FEI Pony level from 2004 to 2006. Charlotte Emert continued to compete him from 2007 to 2009 in Germany.
In 2010, he competed in the European Pony Championships in Great Britain to take 41st with Karla Yona Nahmiyas from Turkey. In 2012, he became the United States FEI Dressage Pony Champion with up-and-coming superstar rider Barbara "BeBe" Davis.
FEI Ponies are needed in the United States and Canada. They must be in our future. Poldy 10 will be missed, but his legacy will live on in so many riders, and it will affect the training of so many horses that these riders train up the levels.
Please watch Katrina Sadis and Poldy 10 this summer at the National Pony Championships in Gladstone, NJ.
Some of the top FEI pony riders who became top young riders for the United States and Canada are: