Whitehouse Station, NJ (December 22, 2015) — While Piaffe Performance prepared two horses and riders to compete in the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions, presented by the Dutta Corp. earlier this month, another exciting opportunity arose for one of the horses destined for the Festival of Champions. Right before the Festival, Piaffe Performance found a new owner for one of its stars, Toy Story, who was sold before he had the chance to show his stuff in The Dutta Corp./USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship. While he was missed at the Festival of Champions, Toy Story (Trento B x Vroukje, Jazz) transfers hands from owner Heather Hornor to new owners in Germany. Toy Story’s rider, USDF Gold Medalist Katie Riley of Piaffe Performance, was happy to have had such a successful journey with the Dutch Warmblood gelding, especially qualifying for the 2015 Festival of Champions.
Hornor, who owned the 2006 bay gelding with her husband, Gurdon, said that it was a difficult decision to sell Toy Story before the Festival. And despite the offer from the new owner for Riley to ride him, Horner, Parra, and Riley felt it was in the horse’s best interest to not go to Florida before heading across the pond to his new owner. “Ultimately, this is an incredible opportunity for him to embark on the next phase of his career,” said Horner. Even so, the goodbye is bittersweet. “I know that he is moving on to enormous opportunities in Europe; however, he worked so hard with Katie over the past year to qualify, and I would love to have been able to witness the two of them showing off their amazing talent to everyone at the Festival.”
Riley and Toy Story started together at the 2014 Dressage at Devon show after Toy Story had only been in the country for a few months. The pair finished first, and second at Fourth Level at Devon last year. They then started a successful winter season in Florida at Fourth Level in 2015, and finished the season competing in the Developing Prix St. Georges.
They then went on to compete in the 2015 Markel/USEF Developing Horse Championships. Before his last performance with Riley at this year’s Dressage at Devon, Toy Story had his CDI debut at the NEDA Fall Festival. The pair placed in the top three at both Dressage at Devon and NEDA in the Prix St. Georges and Intermediare I, earning the scores they needed to qualify for the Festival of Champions. “I am so extremely proud of how much he accomplished in our short time together,” said Riley.
“Toy is a super special horse, and I know he is going to go on to do great things; I will always have a special place in my heart for him. I always believed that Toy would be a star at Grand Prix,” Riley continued. He now has become so confident in his work and is really excelling at it, so I am confident we will hear from him again when he begins his show career in Europe.”
Even though it is the end of the partnership between Riley and Toy Story, Riley shared her excitement for the gelding’s future competing at the Grand Prix level in European competitions. “I am happy for Toy. I know he is going to an awesome home with a great training system in place,” said Riley. “I know that he will get the very best treatment and care.”
One of Piaffe Performance’s specialties, that they have done successfully many times, is to develop young horses like Toy Story to the Grand Prix level and then sell them in Europe. “Still It is always a little bittersweet when we sell a horse,” said Riley. “They become a part of our life and I truly enjoy their unique characters, so I always get emotional when it’s time for them to leave. Yet we do our best to make a good match with the new owner and rider that will love them and care for them, and make sure that they are happy in their new life.”
Hornor said that Toy Story was a part of her family. “My children, husband, and I all love him for his endearing personality,” she said. “Toy is unique in that he really is the perfect marriage of beauty, athleticism, and a willingness to please. I hope that Toy joins his new owner in a highly successful partnership in the show arena. But just as importantly, I hope that they develop a mutual appreciation and camaraderie outside the arena.”
Piaffe Performance is owned by Dr. Cesar Parra, a Pan American Games Gold medalist who provides top-notch sales, training, and lessons for both riders and horses at locations in Jupiter, Florida, and Whitehouse Station, New Jersey. To learn more about Piaffe Performance, visit www.piaffe-performance.com.
Photo 1: USDF Gold Medalist Katie Riley of Piaffe Performance, Katie Riley with recently sold Toy Story (Photo courtesy of Stacy Lynne Photography)