Dreamcatcher Meadows of Pemberton's classy Hanoverian mare, Ballerina DMV, is currently the top dressage horse in the United States in her age group after a big win at Whidbey Island, Washington.
The three-year-old filly scored 89.2 per cent at the Beaujolais Classic on June 22 and 23, and is currently the number one horse in United States competition for four, five and six year olds. The score is considered phenomenal for so young a horse, says her trainer Jill Giese.
Born, raised, and trained at Dreamcatcher Meadows, Ballerina is ridden by Giese's husband John Dingle. She is one of numerous winners in dressage to come from that stable.
"Ballerina is a complete Pemberton production. This is so exciting; if she stays in this form she could go to the worlds in Germany in 2013," Giese said. "The judges said they hadn't seen anything this exciting in 40 years of judging."
At three, Ballerina is still too young in 2012 to take part, Giese added.
The Hanoverians are judged over a season of competitive performance with their rider in the dressage ring. In December, Ballerina DMV was presented with the Materiale Horse of the Year award in San Diego, an award open to all breeds of young horses in the three-, four-, and five-year-old range, having gained a score of 87.5 per cent, the combined results for the entire 2011 season.
"If you score 70 per cent you're doing well," said Giese in an interview in February.
Since their return from Washington, Giese said the "phones are ringing off the hook" with media enquiries from American horse magazines.
"They're completely floored. I've been getting calls from Dressage Weekly, Dressage Today. They're all asking 'Where did you come from?'" she said.
While resident for training at Dreamcatcher Meadows, Ballerina is actually owned by the legendary restaurateur, Bus Fuller, who founded three of Canada's leading restaurant chains, Earl's, Joey Restaurants, and the Cactus Club. Fuller also pays for Ballerina to compete.
"I'm in awe about the horse myself," Fuller said in a phone interview. "I don't know what to say, I just bought this horse on speculation and she's just turned out to be a real dream. The marks she's getting are incredible compared to what the other horses are getting."
New to owning Hanoverians and competitive dressage, Fuller was on hand at Whidbey Island for her latest win and finds himself in the enviable position of having a filly that is top in North America as a three-year-old.
"She looks beautiful when she is performing out there, but I hate like hell to have to score any horse because I'm not that familiar with the sport, though I will probably attend all the rest of the shows she is entered in and by the end of the year I'll know a little more!" he said.
"I didn't go to any last year. I didn't realize what kind of horse this horse was, but she's turned out to be a real gem."
Fuller said his chats with other competitors and owners confirm it.
"I talked to a lady at the previous show where Ballerina had (scored) 88s, and she said she'd never heard of that high a score. This time she came out with 89-plus, which I understand is off the charts."
And making such an investment in a high-quality animal — as both a competitor and breeding mare — is another plus.
"I think it will help (Giese and Dingle) more than it will help me, and I hope it does. I think they're really hard-working people, they're so bloody devoted, it's incredible. These horses are like babies, you know. Unbelievable."
Is he hoping Ballerina will go all the way?
"I hope so. We'll see. I told Jill, we were talking about the 2016 Olympics, and I said let's take this one step at a time and see how we come out. We'll just keep it going — she's got the potential. It's nice to go to a place and have the best horse in the show, it makes you feel proud to say you're the owner."