Thermal, California, USA – February 02, 2023 – Fourteen-year-old Michelle Berry (USA) made her FEI debut a memorable one. On Thursday of Desert Circuit IV, she and Mecho Van’t Kiezelhof sped to an impressive win in the $10,000 Lost Lake Farm Two Phase CSI 2*, claiming top honors in her first-ever international appearance.
“I was definitely a little nervous coming into my first FEI event, and it was against some pretty big riders,” Berry remarked. “But today was supposed to be a nice warmup class. I wasn’t supposed to go too fast, turn up my turbo boost all the way, but I followed my trainer’s plan and it worked out really well so I was happy with that.”
In second place was Skylar Wireman (USA) with Shayne Wireman’s D-Laloma (Colandro x Quidam de Revel), being clear right to the wire before stopping the final timers just two-hundredths of a second slower than the eventual winners.
Kate Hovland (USA) aboard Cruz and Ali Ramsay (CAN) with Conrado 12 ( Volstrups Casillas x Lorentin) tied for third place on the exact same time.
Berry has been climbing the ranks as a young rider, taking victories in the $30,000 1.40m Open Classic against top professionals, and moving right along into international divisions. Her trusty partner, “Mike”, is teaching her the ropes after successfully competing at the top levels with elite riders including Shane Sweetnam and Kaitlin Campbell.
“He’s a special horse to me,” Berry said of the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Echo Van’t Spieveld x Puccini). “I wouldn’t ever give him up for the world. He always knows how I’m feeling and he helps me when I’m down. When I’m not riding my best he knows how to cover up my mistakes and make it look good. He really knows what he’s doing; he’s a caretaker.”
But their time together isn’t just in the ring; Berry cherishes every moment she gets with Mike, further developing their relationship and helping them get to know one another. “I really love spending time with him. Just going and sitting in his stall, he really loves being all in your business. Anytime you’re opening a bag or brushing your boots off he always has to be a part of it. He has to see what you’re doing. He always pricks his ears up and is a big fan of cookies. He really loves his cookies,” she said.
Final Results – $10,000 Lost Lake Farm LLC CSI2* 1.40m Two Phase
1. MICHELLE BERRY (USA) & MECHO VAN’T KIEZELHOF: 2012 BWP gelding by Echo Van’t Spieveld x Puccini, Professional Maintenance Systems – 0 / 0 – 27.54
2. SKYLAR WIREMAN (USA) & D-LALOMA: 2008 KWPN mare by Colandro x Quidam De Revel, Shayne Wireman – 0 / 0 – 27.56
3. KATE HOVLAND (USA) & CRUZ: 2009 BWP gelding by Volstrups Casillas x Lorentin, Kate Hovland – 0 / 0 – 28.40
3. ALI RAMSAY (CAN) & CONRADO 12: 2013 ZANG gelding by Cardento x Diarado
Ramsay Equestrian LLC – 0 / 0 – 28.40
5. KAITLIN CAMPBELL (USA) & SUN WARRIOR: 2014 gelding by Flexible x Fasolt, Linda Starkman – 0 / 0 – 29.13
6. SKYLAR WIREMAN (USA) & CITOKI: 2006 HOLST gelding by Catoki x Chambertin, Shayne Wireman – 0 / 0 – 29.20
7. SAVANNAH JENKINS (USA) & CASALLANTUM: 2012 HOLST gelding by Casall x Quantum, Lavender Creek – 0 / 0 – 29.26
8. ROBERT BLANCHETTE (IRL) & CHARDONNAY: 2011 WESTF mare by Comme Il Faut x Jus De Pomme, RTS LLC – 0 / 0 – 29.52
9. VANESSA MANNIX (CAN) & VALENTINO D’ELTE: 2009 SF gelding by Castronom Z De Hus x Windsor, Vanessa Mannix – 0 / 0 – 30.92
10. CHANDLER MEADOWS (USA) & ITALY HDH: 2013 KWPN gelding by Cream On Top x Numero Uno, Chandler Meadows – 0 / 0 –30.95
11. TRACEY EPP (CAN) & CHICAGO: 2007 KWPN stallion by Cicero Z Van Paemel x Heartbreaker, Tracey Epp – 0 / 0 – 32.61
12. SUSAN ARTES (USA) & CALIFORNIA SUNSHINE: 2013 DSP mare by Captain Z x Bollvorm’s Lauriston, Alix Fargo – 0 / 0 –32.93
Source: Press Release by Tori Bilas for Desert International Horse Park
Photos: © DIHP / High Desert Photo / ON
Categories: CSI 2*, Desert Horse Park, Results