Gail and Formancier, 2014
Idaho professional Gail Redinger prepares her top-ranked young horse for his national debut
July 30, 2015
Gail Redinger, a dressage trainer, coach, and competitor in Sand Point, Idaho is preparing for a cross country trip of endings and beginnings. Ending is her 12 year partnership with Mitras, the Trakehner gelding she trained from the start through Grand Prix – Gail will be delivering him to his adoring new owner. Beginning is her national-level journey with Formancier (Furst Romancier x Bailys/Don Romantic), her Dutch warmblood gelding who is the top ranked USEF five-year-old in the nation. Gail and Formancier—Forman, as he’s known to his friends—will travel to Chicago to compete in the 2015 Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse National Dressage Championships, August 19-23.
Forman was a special horse from the start. In 2013, Gail, a gold medalist who has brought up several FEI horses, was searching for a youngster to train. While browsing the DG Bar Ranch website, she was struck by the portrait of handsome bay gelding. She emailed Willy Arts immediately and Willy responded with a password-protected video. Gail is sure that the password is the sole reason Forman hadn’t been snatched up. “I took one look at his video and knew he was the horse for me. I purchased him that day.”
Three-year-old Forman arrived at Gail’s Idaho farm and began his life as a dressage horse. Gail keeps a maximum of seven horses in training at a time “so all the horses can get the attention they need and deserve.” Gail’s training model is to work often, but to keep the sessions short, fun, and rewarding. “All my horses, whether they’re seasoned at Grand Prix or just starting out, work nearly every day for about 30 minutes—even in the winter. I get on, do a nice stretch, and spend 15-20 minutes schooling a concept.” Horses work outside of the arena too, whether it’s a stroll up the driveway to the mailbox or some basic hill work.
“My horses do well and get rewarded for their efforts. I end every ride with a square halt. Trust me—when you end the rides that way, horses learn quickly. I always get a square halt!” Gail laughs.
In the spring of 2014, Gail took Forman and three other horses down to Lilo Fore’s Sporthorse America in Santa Rosa, CA. She trained with Lilo for five weeks while living in her horse trailer. This trip solidified the tone for Forman’s training and helped to build his confidence as well as his ability. Gail believes strongly that her success is due to progressive, incremental training. “Don’t skip the basics---spend plenty of time at Training and First Level to ensure that there are no holes. If your horse can’t do a shoulder in without twisting this neck, don’t ignore it—take the time to correct before moving on.”
The DG Bar Ranch portrait that grabbed Gail's attention.
Gail describes Forman with affection. “He is an amazingly cool horse—he’s such a sweetheart and he loves his human!” To prepare for the three-day journey to Illinois, Gail will make some minor adjustments to Forman’s care, including extra vitamins to build his immunity and daily Ulcergard® to help combat the inevitable stress of traveling. Otherwise, his training does not change. “My number one goal is keeping Forman healthy and happy and getting him to Chicago and back home safely.”
Gail’s husband George will also make the trip. “I couldn’t do this without George!” Several friends will also be flying in from Idaho to root them on at Lamplight. The competition begins on Thursday, August 20th, with the preliminary five-year-old test, which is 40% of the total score. The FEI final test on Saturday, August 22nd makes up the remaining 60% of the score.
Good luck, Gail and Formancier! Your Region 6 fan base will be cheering you on from the Pacific Northwest… and we’ll be watching for those square halts!
Editor’s note: the FEI developing five-year-old tests are roughly comparable to second level. While there’s no lateral work, there are medium gaits, counter canter to simple changes, and serpentines and voltes. You can read more about the USEF National Dressage Championships and Dressage Seat Medal Finals here.
July 2015 at Spokane Sporthorse. Photo by Cyra Carlson.