The Piaffe Performance Farm team of dressage riders from around the world, led by Dr. Cesar Parra, has enjoyed a summer at Piaffe Performance’s home base in scenic Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, and is beginning the fall season by competing at Dressage at Devon in Devon, Pennsylvania. Taking center stage in Devon’s signature Dixon Oval is Piaffe Performance’s Merita Hagren. Hagren, who has called Piaffe Performance Farm her home for nearly two years, is enthusiastic about showing at the prestigious event, which will be her first FEI Young Rider Grand Prix.
“We are excited to have seven Piaffe Performance horses competing at Devon, and our friends, clients, and team riders are all coming to watch us ride. I have learned a lot from Don Perygnon and am grateful to have the opportunity to ride him at Devon,” Hagren said, crediting the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Martin Sosnoff.
Hagren learned of the opportunity to train with Dr. Cesar Parra, a U.S. Pan American Games Dressage Team Gold Medalist, online while in her home country of Finland. She quickly pursued the chance to join the Piaffe Performance team. Hagren recalled, “When I first came to the farm to try it out I was very excited, and when they were pleased with me and my riding, I was more than happy to stay. There are not a lot of facilities in Europe like Piaffe Performance, where you have great horses and great training every day. It’s a rare opportunity.”
Hagren has extensive experience training various breeds, and specializes in riding young horses. While in Europe, she competed in show jumping and brought young horses up the levels in dressage. She also had the unique opportunity to train Friesian horses in the breed’s native country of The Netherlands.
Her eclectic skills in developing performance horses has been proven during her time in the U.S., most notably in 2015 at Dressage at Devon. There, Hagren competed in the 6-Year-Old division with Belle Ami, a Westfalian (Belissimo M) mare co-owned by Parra and George and Brooke Feldman. The pair proudly took home a second place and two third place ribbons from their efforts in the division.
Since last year’s Dressage at Devon, Hagren has continued competing with Belle Ami, moving up to Third Level. While at Piaffe Performance’s winter facility near Wellington, Florida, Hagren competed the young mare at the elite Adequan Global Dressage Festival. The pair not only won their Third Level class during the show series, but also took home the highest score received during that entire week by any rider. For their distinguished accomplishment, Hagren and Belle Ami were awarded the High Score Award presented by The Horse of Course, Inc. Even after their impressive high score of 73.939 percent, Hagren remained modest, saying, “Belle Ami was super today. There is always something to improve on, but I’m very happy.”
Hagren has a deep appreciation for Parra and the wealth of knowledge that she has gained since joining his team. “I am very, very happy with Piaffe Performance; I have been learning so much,” she reflected. “I hope to continue learning more and more every day, trying very hard, and staying with Piaffe Performance for a long time.”
Dr. Cesar Parra provides top-notch training for both riders and horses at Piaffe Performance in Jupiter, Florida, as well as in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey. Piaffe Performance is a proud sponsor and partner of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. Piaffe Performance specializes in selecting, training, and showing outstanding horses, and also facilitates the sale of top dressage prospects for riders at every level. For more information on Piaffe Performance, visit www.piaffe-performance.com.
Photo: Mertia Hagren with Dr. Cesar Parra of Piaffe Performance Farm (Photo courtesy of Piaffe Performance – for full resolution contact firstname.lastname@example.org).