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A Big Win for Karl and VDL Ulando H at Rocking Horse Winter II

It was an incredible weekend for Karl and VDL Ulando H at Rocking Horse Stables in Altoona, FL  with a win at their very first advanced horse trial together.  VDL Ulando H is owned by Ruth Armstrong and his partnership with Karl began in the spring of 2011 and since then they have been steadily progressing through the ranks.  This was an even more meaningful weekend for the Slezak team following the devastating loss of  Katlyn Hewson’s Jacks Irish Z one week ago at the Florida Horse Park. “We’re a close knit team and this weekend’s turnaround with Ulando is helping us push through some very tough times. I have no doubts that Irish was keeping an eye on us this weekend at Rocking Horse.”

Following a strong start to the competition season in Florida, Karl decided it was time for VDL Ulando H to make the move up to the Advanced level and through the help of Canadian Team Coach, David O’Connor as well as FEI dressage rider Jackie Brooks they began the weekend with a beautiful dressage test that put them in good standing for the rest of the competition. “Ulando is just unreal. He tries so hard to please both during training sessions and at each competition. His dressage has definitely improved through the coaching I’ve received from Jackie and David. It has helped us put in a smoother test and knocked a few points off of our score. It’s always nice to move into the show jumping sitting in one of the top placings”, says Karl.

While VDL Ulando H’s dressage test turned heads this weekend with a 33.10 from the judges, he always seems to save his best for the show jumping laughs Karl, “This is where Ulando gets to play. This is a horse that literally jumps for fun. Giving every fence two feet of extra air is just something that he does. That being said, it’s taken me time to get used to a horse with so much jump! I think this round was one of our best. It flowed really well and Ulando didn’t touch a thing.”

Karl and VDL Ulando H went into Saturday’s cross country sitting in second place behind Olympian Karen O’Connor and her mount Veronica. “My goal for Ulando’s first Advanced cross country run was to set a steady pace and really focus on a confident, smooth and safe round. I feel as though that’s exactly what we did.  He skipped around the course and was always ready for my instructions heading into some challenging questions. He is so good at jumping out of stride that I didn’t need to push him at all to come close to the time which gave us the win.”

With a start like this to his advanced career Karl and owner Ruth Armstrong couldn’t be more thrilled for what’s in store in the months and years to come. ” While I’m thrilled with the win, my focus is always on building confidence, following a plan and using these horse trials as preparations for the larger FEI events to follow. I’m beyond thrilled with his performance this weekend and am so grateful to Ruth for giving me the ride on VDL Ulando H. I also want to thank all of my sponsors as well as Team Slezak for their support and enthusiasm along the way”.

Next up for this pair will be Poplar Place from March 23-25th as preparation for their first CIC*** at The Fork from April 5-8, 2012.

Photography by XpressFoto