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Autumn Schweiss returns to Roebke's Run horse trials

Sneaky Pete was one of four horses Schweiss used to compete in Dressage, Cross-Country and Stadium Jumping events. Here he easily clears the log jump.

Eventing at Roebke's Run this past weekend was like coming home for Autumn Schweiss of Ocala, Florida. Actually, it was coming home; as the Roebke's Run Magister Equitum course was developed and owned by her mom and dad, Julie and Mike Schweiss.

Autumn made the most of the trip competing with four horses, Roman Holiday, The Archer, Sneaky Pete and Ballygriffin Cool Guy. She came away with a number of ribbons competing in the Open Training, Open Novice and Open Beginner Novice divisions.

She calls Roman Holiday, the Bay Oldenburg she rode this weekend in the Open Training division, "Mom's horse." She gives credit to her mom, Julie, for seeing good talent in her horse and then passing him on to her to continue his Eventing journey.

Rising from Novice to compete at this level for the first time, Roman Holiday gave Autumn an excellent start, with a hefty first place lead following the first day Dressage with a 24.8 and equally good Cross-Country run. He was the only horse to score in the 20's in her Dressage division that consisted of 20 riders. Unfortunately he was unable to keep that lead after falling back slightly on the second day Stadium jumping course where he needed a clean run to win overall. Just the same; Autumn was pleased with his overall performance.

"He's always been pretty consistent in Dressage," said Schweiss. He's a naturally good mover and with a little finessing he performs quite well."

Autumn Schweiss, daughter of Mike and Julie Schweiss of Hector and her horse, Roman Holiday, performed well ahead of the competition in the Dressage event Saturday. They also did well on the Cross-Country course.

Schweiss rode four times in Dressage, competing on a warm and humid day. She said she's no newcomer to work, so the taxing schedule this weekend really didn't affect her or her horse, even when the temps rose to over 90 degrees. She also said that because her horses are stabled in Florida the heat doesn't seem to affect them much.

"I have somewhat of an advantage because I live in Florida. The last time I rode it was 98 degrees; heat is not uncommon. This (Minnesota heat) is actually cool for them. I do extensive physical fitness. Roman Holiday is not a thoroughbred, he's a warm blood and needs to be kept more physically fit than you average horse. By the time I got back to the barn, he was already cooled off and didn't need to be walked any additional time," said Schweiss. "I'm used to working all day, so it's not so bad, competing on a time schedule makes it more tough."

Schweiss says she doesn't pick out a particular rider to try and top. "My horse and I just need to go out and beat ourselves and aim for a better score each time. Something always needs to be fixed. Roman came out a lot more confident in the cross-country run than I expected, it's usually a kick around, get after 'em ride, today he was very forward and wanted to get at the course. The long course offered long jumps and some pretty tricky questions, so at age five he's actually quite young and not schooled at this level," noted Schweiss. "I was taking a gamble, and said, 'Let's try it.'"

Schweiss and "The Archer" clear one of the many obstacles during Stadium Jumping competition Sunday at Roebke's Run.

She said the highlight this year for Roman Holiday has been his performance in Dressage. "When I got him five months ago he was quite an unconfident horse and the biggest reward has been training this horse and finding out his abilities and building him up in the right ways. Stadium jumping is his biggest challenge. He also trained with Elisa Wallace who rode at Rolex on Simply Priceless. When he came to me he was more or less started. I think I produced him. He wasn't ready for Training Level in any significant time. I train with him daily anywhere from a half hour to an hour."

Schweiss, now 22, is no newcomer to the game, she's competed in the upper CCI** level and has been to North American Junior Young Rider Championships twice; once in 2010 at the CCI** level aboard The Real Deal, and again in 2014 at the CCI** level aboard Oakport Strauss. A recent college graduate in the field of biology, she is keeping Eventing at the forefront as the Area IV Young Rider Team Chef d'Equipe. Another goal she is currently pursuing is at a coaching level in Florida.

"I'm going to be coaching and taking in training horses and starting a boarding facility in Ocala. It's still in the works; it may be a year or more. In the meantime I've been training horses, buying and selling. We'll see where it goes from there. I want to focus my training on amateurs, novice and Young Riders," said Schweiss.

Next week Schweiss will be the eyes, ears and voice of the Young Riders team - the Jr. Olympics four-person team in Lexington, Kentucky. Two Minnesotans, Christine Burgess and Sam Kelley are on the team. From there she will go back to Ocala and will plan to show again in September.

Lily Geelan rides a new horse in a new division and captures first place

It was a blue ribbon first for Geelan after successfully outscoring her competition in the Open Preliminary Division.

The smile on her face told it all as she and her trusted mount, Luksor, were presented the Blue Ribbon for capturing first place in the Open Preliminary Division at Roebke's Run Horse Trials July 11-12. It was the first blue ribbon of her riding career.

Lily Geelan is the 15-year-old daughter of John and Mary Beth Geelan of Independence, MN, a city well known for an abundance of Eventers that make annual trips to participate at the Roebke's Run horse trials in Hector, MN.

Geelan and her horse Luksor had a double clear run on the Roebke's Run Stadium jumping course Sunday.

"I was really happy with my rides. This was only my second Open Prelim since I moved up at Fox River Valley. My Dressage was good, I'm still working on getting Luksor into the connection that's needed more because I only got him at the end of April. Cross-Country rode real well, We came in with a real nice time, I think I only had 10 seconds left until the optimum," said Geelan.

Geelan's horse is a Polish Warmblood, born in Poland, transported to Germany where he did jumpers and then brought to the United States where he started Eventing. Sue Martin owned him and he was trained by Robin Walker. Both she and Luksor like Cross-Country best, but Geelan said he is strong in all phases of Eventing.

"I really do like Dressage, but I'm still working on that connection with my new horse and really working him into that contact and getting him heavy; he's really light. Everything I've been doing with him is working well. All of our rails in Stadium jumping have been because of rider error," noted Geelan.

Geelan competed at Roebke's Run June horse trials and was here last year as well. Prior to this she competed at Fox River Valley and Otter Creek coming out with second, third and seventh place finishes.. She likes this Minnesota course for a number of reasons other than its beauty and well run operation.

"I love the course, it's a nice facility that helps riders get used to the bigger jumps and harder questions preparing them for Young Riders. It's really good what the Schweiss's do here," said Geelan.

Her plan is to do a One Star this fall and move up to Young Riders next year. Her first riding experience came at age six, from there she moved up to Jumpers and Hunters and then some Dressage shows under the tutorship of Liz Lund as her personal trainer.

Ellis Rold has developed a bond with her new horse, Mustard

Rold led the competition in the Trainer Rider Division after the first day and by a narrow margin captured first place after Stadium jumping.

Ellis Rold, 13, and her horse Fernhill Spring Lightly complete their last jump over the church on Roebke's Run Cross-Country course.

Ellis Rold, 13, was one of a contingent of young riders competing at Roebke's Run Horse Trials July 11-12. Her successful performance on her Irish Sport horse, Fernhill Spring Lightly, affectionately referred to by his barn name "Mustard," earned her a blue ribbon in the Training Rider Division.

Rold finished a close .03 ahead of her nearest competitor on the last day to capture the win. This was her fourth or fifth year competing at Roebke's Run.

"Roebke's Run is always an awesome course and a really good show. The courses rode well and is beautifully designed," said Rold. "I just got Mustard, so I'm still figuring him out. He's good at Dressage, really confident on Cross-Country and strong on Stadium, which is really nice because I consider Stadium my weaker phase."

The nine-year-old sport horse was imported from Ireland just this February and Ellis said she knew instantly when she got him that he was the horse for her. There was an immediate bond between the two of them and now that they have competed they both trust each other even more. Rold said Mustard competed in Ireland and England.

"I'm going to keep on training for the rest of this year and then hopefully move up to Prelim the beginning of next year. By 2017 I hope to make the Young Riders team," said Rold.

Rold trains in all phases of Eventing with Meaghan Marinovich, who was also competing at Roebke's Run on her horse, Kariba, in the Open Training division. Ellis is the daughter of Mike and Annette Rold of Delano, MN.

Deb Stern took to the saddle for something to do
following her daughter's graduation

Deb Stern was back in the barn with her Irish thoroughbred, Gogarty's Oliver Twist. She started competing about 10 years ago following her daughter's graduation from high school.

Not all Eventers are new kids on the block. Deb Stern of Independence, MN decided 10 years ago after her daughter graduated from high school and went on to college that she would get back on the saddle again. The horse she had was her daughter's so she decided to put him to use.

She and her Irish thoroughbred paint horse, Gogarty's Oliver Twist, returned for another round of competition in the Open Novice division at the July Roebke's Run horse trials.

Stern started Saturday off in fine fashion, leading her pack of competitors going into the final day of Stadium Jumping competition Sunday. Unfortunately, her horse decided he didn't want to have anything to do with the first stadium jump and the refusal sent her down in the standings. But, as all riders know, that's not uncommon, especially at the lower divisions of competition with horses working their way up the ranks.

"We either do really well and get first or second place finishes or do poorly and get eliminated occasionally. I haven't shown much for a couple of years so he's having a few issues with getting back into jumping, but hopefully after this show we'll be back on track. I showed him once last year and at three other shows this Spring. I'm hoping now we will have all those issues behind us. He used to be perfect at everything, but occasionally he has a little attitude," explained Stern.

Stern said Oliver Twist is really good at Dressage, with beautiful movements. He is up for a challenge and ready to try things, responsive to the training and coming along this summer. When his attitude is right, he can be excellent at jumping.

Stern said as a rider she's patient and loves Dressage, but is a little chicken at jumping so she needs a horse that is confident.

"I've been to Roebke's Run horse trials many times since they opened. The course is really, really fun, it's beautiful, challenging, but friendly. They are always improving it,; they always throw a couple technical questions in that makes it more challenging each year. It's a lot more friendly for lower level jumpers than when they first opened it. At that time the jumps were all at maximum height," noted Stern.

She gives credit to her trainer, Liz Lund, who has over the years prepared her for showing. She said she also appreciates the fact that the Schweiss's allow riders to practice the technical stuff on their course, something other facilities don't offer. With three or four more shows on her schedule for the year, she and Oliver Twist should be ready again to consistently finish at the top of their field.

Tara Doubek has her eyes on moving up the ranks of Eventing

Tara Doubek flashes her very first, first place smile and holds the blue ribbon proudly beside her thoroughbred Rumor Has It.

Tara and Tessa Doubek of Eden Prairie, MN are a sister duo that circulate to Eventing horse trials to learn and hone their skills in Dressage, Cross-Country and Stadium jumping.

Tara and her beautiful chestnut thoroughbred, Rumor Has It, competed in the Beginner Novice Rider division at Roebke's Run horse trials July 11-12. An unfortunate fall put Tessa and her horse, Canadian Cancade, out of the ribbon count. Tessa, 17, was competing for the first time at the Training Rider level, but sister Tara led the competition after the first day managing a double clear on the Stadium course to capture first place in her division. It was her first victory in the Beginner Novice division.

"She's a 10-year-old horse that knows a little more than me I think," said Tara, who competes at the young age of 14. "Stadium is probably our weakest point. She gets strong on Cross-Country, she's really brave and a good mover in Dressage."

Tara hopes to move up to the Novice division this year, compete at the Training level next year, and has her eyes on making it to Prelim and One Star sometime after that. This has been her second full year of Eventing. She has also competed at Otter Creek in Wisconsin, Catalpa Corner in Iowa, Hagyard in Kentucky. Tara is the daughter of Mary and Tim Doubek.

"I just wanted to have a confident ride, I wasn't concentrating on winning. It's my first show with her. I was here last year competing on Angel Good As Gold. This is one of my favorite shows. The course is really fun, beautiful and well organized. It's one of the more challenging ones but a great place to test your horses," added Doubek.

Doubek keeps her horse at Cross Creek Stables in Cologne and trains with Heather Salden-Kurtz. Salden-Kurtz is a USDF Certified Instructor/Trainer, USDF Bronze and Silver Medalist, and a USEA Gold Medalist. She has been working out of Cross Creek Stables in Cologne, MN since 1997, beginning as an assistant manager and working student before starting her own training business in 2006. Heather has ridden with many of the world's greatest trainers, including Betsy Steiner, Rafael Heiligers, Ralph Hill, and Janet Foy, and rides regularly with USEF's' judge Bill Solyntjes.

It's been said you need to learn from the best to be the best. With this level of training,Tara and Tessa Doubek will undoubtedly be future top contenders in whatever division they compete at.

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