Text and Photos by Lily Forado
The Palm Beach Dressage Derby has been recognizing outstanding performances for more than a quarter-century, making it one of the oldest dressage shows in the country.
Several sport breed associations presented their high point awards at the final awards ceremony on Sunday, and many of the winning pairs have gone on to represent their studbooks and countries outside the United States.
The United States PRE Association has sponsored the PRE High Point award at the Derby since 2008, thanks to the generosity of Palm Beach Dressage Derby founder and former USPRE board member, Janne Rumbough.
The USPRE High Point Series is designed to encourage PRE riders of all levels to train and compete in rated dressage shows.
At the 2023 Palm Beach Dressage Derby, held in Wellington, Florida from March 03-05, professional Canadian rider David Marcus won the USPRE High Point Award riding SILVER DRACHE FARM’s Urbano FSR II stallion at a national level. He achieved the award with 68.676%. David is based at Marcus Fyffe Dressage in Wellington, Florida.
The Olympic rider is not a newcomer to the USPRE series awards. Through the years, David has trained several horses, but Urbano FSR II (by Lucero CXLVIII- Faraon XXXIV) has a special place in his heart.
The Adequan Global Dressage Festival has seen unprecedented numbers of PRE entries this year. During the 12-week circuit, 138 Spanish horses have competed in both national and international shows. This serves as proof that the PRE breed on American soil is expanding rapidly, a positive sign of growth for the equestrian industry.
Do you have any fond memories of your first contact with a Spanish horse?
Absolutely, my husband Nicholas Fyffe was asked to back and start the initial training on Robert Dover’s incredibly charismatic Fiero HGF. Fiero was just coming 3 yr old but I remember being so impressed by the youngster’s ride-ability and natural balance he possessed. That same year my husband got the ride on Tamara Gerber’s GP horse Sentimiento. Another wonderful representation of the talent, showmanship, and talent of the breed. Nicholas kept the ride on Fiero, developing him to international GP and my love of the breed was official.
What do you like most about the Spanish Horse?
I think it’s the connection they have with their rider. Of course, some have more quality than others but all the ones I’ve had really love their person and will work incredibly hard for them.
If you could ride a famous PRE horse right now, which would it be?
I think it would have to be Fuego, his freestyle at the 2010 WEG I believe was game-changing for the breed in our sport and very inspiring. To me, that ride epitomized how much joy we can have with our horses and still be competitive at top sport. I’d love to feel that.
On several occasions, you won USPRE High Point Award. Did you expect such results?
Thank you. I’m definitely competitive but I never expect results. I do appreciate the recognition of our hard work, however.
Can you tell us more about Urbano FSR II?
Sure, I found Urbano for his owner Andrea Eppley in Belgium, during Covid. She purchased him upon seeing videos and the recommendation of my friend in Belgium who went to try him for us. I remember the first time I saw and rode him was in quarantine. I brought a saddle but forgot stirrups. I lunged at him briefly and hopped on with no stirrups. My first impression was how comfortable his canter was, probably one of the most comfortable I’ve ever ridden. I said to his owner Andrea, oh we’re going to have fun!’
How you can describe your 2023 season with Urbano FSR II?
Urbano spends the summers in Indiana with his owner and comes back to me in the fall, so at the beginning of the season, I spent reacquainting myself with him. I really only competed him to keep that routine a part of his life and prepare him for Andrea. Having the judges reward us has been such an added bonus.