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Kathy Rizzoni and Latino JAV


Kathy Rizzoni: "For competitors thinking about joining the high point program—do it!"


Welcome to our interview series spotlighting riders who have excelled through the USPRE High Point program. These interviews explore the stories of riders and their horses, from their motivations to their triumphs.

Today let’s Introduce Kathy Rizzoni and Latino JAV, who took home the USPRE High Point Award at the Ohio Dressage Society Competition on May 18 - 19. Riding Third Level, Test 3, they scored 69.875%. 

Can you tell us more about your horse?
Latino Jav (barn name, Leon) is a 12 year old PRE bred by Yeguada JA Varona in Spain. He showed successfully through the I-1 in Spain, ridden by Jose Manuel Lucena Estrada at the Small Tour. He was a stallion at that time, and has some babies on the ground, but I had him gelded prior to importing him. I bought him sight unseen, which was risky and scary, but I am beyond glad that I did. My trainer and I used an agent, and she had a test rider ride him for me, and her feedback was spot on, and very helpful in my decision making.

What initially drew you to the PRE horse breed, and what aspects of the breed do you particularly admire or enjoy?
 I was drawn to the PRE breed initially due to some health challenges I faced.  I was diagnosed with cancer in 2021, and as I began to recover from my illness and from cancer treatment, I wanted a horse that had easier gaits to sit than the typical warmblood - I was a lot weaker after treatment, but I still wanted to progress in my riding and keep learning.  I have an older warmblood who I have taken through Fourth Level, and after my illness, he really challenged my fitness.  I started looking for my next partner in early 2023, and I bought Leon in late June, 2023, and he arrived in the US at the end of August. Leon is much easier to sit, and as an older adult amateur coming back from a serious illness, he is exactly what I need.  Leon is comfortable, safe, affectionate, and truly a unicorn of a horse.  He's very patient with me, as I learn the intricacies of riding an FEI horse.  I've never had so much fun on a horse, or learned so much so fast!  I will never own another warmblood - PREs are the breed for me!

As I continue to get to know Leon and learn how to access all of his many "buttons" I have to say that riding a PRE is different from riding a warmblood. The most obvious difference is how comfortable they are to sit.  But he is also incredibly intelligent, and he is so motivated to please his rider.  He has a super work ethic, and just tries so hard every single ride. He's talented and beautiful.  It's an absolute joy to ride this horse, and I feel beyond lucky to be his new person.

What motivated you to participate in the USPRE High Point program?
I was motivated to sign up for the US PRE high point program because I'm really proud of this horse! I hope that we are going to be fairly successful in the show ring, and it's lovely to get recognition when you are, especially when riding a non-traditional breed.

Can you share some highlights from your experience competing in the USPRE High Point shows?
Leon and I have only done two shows together so far; I've had him for less than one year.  At our first outing, we chose to come out at Third Level, which is a level I was already comfortable with.  We got some great scores, just under 70% both days, and won the show's Third Level high score on the second day and won the US PRE high point for the show. At our second show, we did the Third Level Freestyle, so we weren't eligible for the US PRE high point, but we got great scores (74.15% and 70.325%) and are qualified for regionals for third level and third level freestyle.  We will try to qualify second level and second level freestyle at our next show, while I continue to learn how to do the Fourth Level and Prix St. Georges movements.

How has winning the USPRE High Point award impacted your riding journey?
I think having breed high point awards at shows is very motivating. Having recognition from our breed societies is a wonderful, fun way to celebrate our horses.

Finally, what advice would you give to other PRE riders who are considering participating in the USPRE High Point program?
For competitors thinking about joining the high point program - do it!  It's easy to sign up for, the recognition is lovely, and it's a way to showcase this special breed as it grows in popularity in the US.

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