Fiesta Caballo con el Paso Fino in Frankenwinheim

Our annual open house has already become a tradition but this year we were planning something different. In previous years we had fun classes for my students and Paso Fino demonstrations, this time our focus was on showing the versatility of the Paso Fino breed. My goal was to put together a varied show program with every aspect of the „work“ with our horses.

A traditional part is essential since this is what makes the Paso Fino unique. Initially the plan was a breed display with the different types of Paso Finos. We thought to be well diversified with Baika, Bandolera, Carino, Paloma, Pianola and Sinaida.

During the clinic with Michael Gascon I dis- covered the fun in playing„horse soccer“ and so we planned a„Soccer Cup“, with 2 rounds and 4 teams. The other two parts of our little program were created more by accident. Ursula, the owner of Pianola, one day forgot her umbrella at the stable and when I saw it all of a sudden „Mary Poppins“ came to mind (even though I never saw the movie!). When I told Ursula about it she was hooked - she is a„Goth“ and actively involved in Medieval reenactment and therefore owns many dresses and accessories from the Victorian era and such. We sat down to brainstorm and developed a„Mary Poppins“ show act. At this point I should probably mention that it was the first time for both of us doing something like this. Never once before had I ridden with a quadrille or drill team, let alone planned one. It’s much easier said than done! Our initial casting consisted of Pianola and Carino.

Another presentation was supposed to be a dressage test ridden only with a neck ring. My plan was to use the Dressage B of the PFAE rule- book which I had already trained with Carino for his performance test. And last but not least we wanted to show our horses for sale. In addi- tion we were having Daniela Wolf with us for a demonstration of horse assisted coaching.

We had a plan - at least roughly outlined - and started advertising with the help of Pia from Gessner Entertainment, who first came for a photo shoot and then created flyers and posters which we distributed pretty much everywhere. We were doing things in a big way his time!

But as always in life, things never turn out the way you expect. The first in a row of unfore- seen events was Paloma breaking her splint bone. Then while browsing the web I came across a dream property and we started making plans for relocating which caused a chain reac- tion. Ursula moved Pianola to a different stable only a week before the Fiesta which made it impossible to include her into the show. So a quick change of plans - she will ride Carino and I Baika. We managed to practice only 3 times before our big event and we also had to change the choreography several times, the last time after we put the sounding board (lend to us by PFAE) into place only to realize that it was in our way pretty much all the time. It has a considerable weight and our first idea of simply removing it for the time being and put it back again was quickly abandoned. Without the help of our men - who had to take care of the barbe- cue - this would have taken too long.

So we made a virtue out of necessity and included the sounding board into our choreography and simply hoped that 3 times practicing would be enough. With all the hustle and bustle I did not have the nerve for my neck ring dressage and decided to skip the Dressage test. Instead I would just choose some nice music and play it by ear. To prepare Sinaida and myself for this new and unusual situation I included a short Liberty sequence on the ground. This was born more or less out of necessity but proved to be the main attraction!

To make things more exciting than they already were, first Baika and then Sinaida showed some lameness. After the dropping out of Palmi and then Pianola I was starting to worry that I would have to cancel the Fiesta due to the lack of four-legged protagonists. Then we had a severe change of weather and went from week-long heat and drought to a forecast of rain all day long which brought me to the point of finally canceling the whole event. Had we not taken such big effort in preparation, I would have done it. But as they say - the show must go on!

In the end we were really lucky. The weather was alright and we only had do make do with- out Palmi, Pianola and Bandolera who injured herself dring the warm-up. The slightly reduced program - in the breed demonstration only 3 horses and only 2 teams with one match in the Soccer Cup - took place while the weather stayed dry. As soon as we finished the last part of our show it started pouring. The following get together was cut a bit short but all in all it could have been worse!

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The breed demonstration consisting of Carino with his rider Christina, Sinaida with Leonie and Baika with Rosa (who usually rides another horse and was not used to her) went very well and the nervousness of all involved was quickly gone. The Soccer Cup was a lot of fun and the spectators - by then we had a big number of guests - absolutely loved it.

After a short break we continued with our show. By now we had a surprisingly high num- ber of spectators, more than we had expected. A little struggle with the equipment resulted in forcing us to play the music from a smartphone held next to the microphone. Carino was not too happy about the background noise but Ursula kept her cool and showed him very well. I think everyone liked it, at least we received a big hand of applause for our efforts.

Then came my big moment and to be honest, I felt more than a bit uneasy. But when I started with the ground work it soon became clear that everything was going to be alright. Sinaida stayed with me as if we were connected by an invisible lead line and my uneasiness soon gave way to a feeling of elation. As soon as I got into the saddle and the music started to play, all tension left me and with this weird but very comfortable feeling of relief, exhilaration and exhaustion I of course forgot a few of the things I had planned to show. Our timing was not perfect and I was still going on when the music finished. But this did not put a stop to my excitement and I could also feel the enthusiasm of our spectators.

We even had a guest from the local press and the article including photo slideshow turned out much bigger than we had hoped for. Considering the circumstances our Fiesta was a big success!

Report by Katja Spies, photos by Gessner Entertainment and Manuela Klein