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Half-Arabian Earns U.S. Dressage Federation Gold Medal

Heather Oleson and her Half-Arabian dressage horse, SB Flame Dancer (Ralmas Roper x Hey Dance Alittle), captured one of the sport's highest accolades--a United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Gold Medal. Dancer was also the only Half-Arabian to earn a USDF All-Breeds award at the Grand Prix Level in 2002. To earn the Gold Medal, Heather and Dancer needed four scores of 60 percent or higher, two from Intermediate 1 or II and two at Grand Prix. Six other Arabians and Half-Arabians listed below earned USDF Silver and Bronze Medals.

Dancer was Oleson's first horse, a brash Arabian/Appaloosa yearling that was a good mover, spirited and spunky. Oleson's mother broke Dancer, and Oleson did all his early training with help from a local dressage trainer and a dressage-oriented 4-H club. She took Dancer to his first USDF-recognized show at First Level when he was 5 years old and she was 13. By then the two had started working as a team.

"I could always get him to do something pretty easily," says Oleson, who lives in Sherwood, Ore. "He was always very willing to work for me."

During junior high and high school, Oleson took Dancer up to Second Level and "toyed with Third." Then Oleson took a hiatus as a working student and didn't ride Dancer for almost nine months because she thought he was going lame. When Oleson picked up Dancer's reins again after nine months of training and setting goals, the two started to click.

"He had a good foundation and was pretty steady," says Oleson. "Once he figured out his changes, it was quite quick."

Oleson and Dancer rode in the North American Young Riders Championship in 1999, which requires Fourth and Prix St. Georges Level work, and they performed their first Grand Prix in 2002.

"His build is not ideal for dressage," admits Oleson, who credits his work ethic and a long-term relationship for their success. "They want a horse that is uphill and higher in the withers. He is downhill and about two inches higher in the croup. It was a constant problem to get him up. It is difficult to get collection in the trot and to get him to change his balance and push forward for piaffe and passage work. However, he could still do remarkable collected work even though he wasn't built to do it."

Oleson gives the 15.1-hand gelding high marks for his extended trot, trot half passes and canter pirouettes. However, the best compliments she gets are from judges who like to see a lot of harmony. "He has a nice look as he goes through the test, very quiet in the bridle, very rhythmic and steady. Everything looks very easy, and even if I have some difficulty with a movement, it never detracts from that harmonious picture."

Last fall Oleson sold the 16-year-old to Andrea Marek, an adult amateur she's known for years who is showing him Third Level. Oleson still rides Dancer once or twice a week and credits the spunky Half-Arabian with laying the foundation for her dressage career.

USDF Medalists

Gold Medal--Four scores of 60 percent or higher with two scores from Intermediate I or II and two scores at Grand Prix.

SB Flame Dancer (Ralmas Roper x Hey Dance Alittle)--Heather Oleson, owned by Andrea Marek

Silver Medal--Four scores of 60 percent or higher with two scores at Fourth and two at Prix St Georges.

Brambletyne Valor+// (Wierny+/ x Valaria)--Kristina Ehrle, owned by Fran Dearing

Fires Klassic (Le Fire x MHR Lola)--Lauren Luhmann

Satin Windsong (Virdon El Sancho x Windsongs Sedina)--Megan Hays

Bronze Medal--Six scores of 60 or higher are required with two from each of these levels: First, Second and Third.

Reshaheen (FF Elcondor x HV Bay Angel)--Joanna Simonton

Tstetson RA+ (Ivanhoe Tsultan x Mon Cie)--Heather Stalker, owned by Jean Chance

Tanjier (Tornado x TCA Trizeera)--Tevia McLaren

AHA is a 40,000 member equine association that registers and maintains a database of more then one million Arabian, Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horses. It administers more than $4 million in annual prize money, produces national events, maintains official event records, recognizes more than 400 Arabian horse shows and distance rides and provides activities and programs that promote breeding and ownership. For information about Arabian, Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horses, call 303-696-4500, e-mail or visit


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