Melissa Galloway has announced herself to the European dressage competition scene in the best way possible.
The 29-year-old from Marlborough bagged an international personal best aboard Windermere J’Obei W when they scored 72.085% in the Grand Prix Special at the CDI3* in Lier, Belgium. The effort earnt second place behind class combination Fabienne Muller-Lutkemeier (GER) aboard Valencia AS who won on 77.234% on the 15-strong field.
It is an extraordinary effort for the Kiwi combo who only moved to Europe in November.
“It is incredibly exciting to get a result like this so early in my time here,” said Melissa. “I am so happy with how Joey (Windermere J’Obei W) is improving. He is the most wonderful horse to be taking on this journey and I owe him so much.”
They had their first outing in early February at CDN Peelbergen in the Netherlands where they scored just over 70% for fifth place in the Grand Prix. “Joey was just amazing,” she said.
“What a journey he has been on over the last few months with so much changed for both of us. To score just over 70% is beyond what I had dreamed for our first start in Europe and among such incredible company. It was very exciting and just so unexpected!”
She had no expectations going into the event, and just wanted to do her best and see where they were at. “To be straight into the 70s was a great surprise – that’s always the aim. I made a few errors in the test too so was very pleased knowing I had a lot of room for improvement.”
They also scored 68% in the Grand Prix, earning them their first qualifying score for the World Champs.
The Kiwi combo are based at Van Olst Stables in Den Hout, in The Netherlands. It is a dressage and breeding barn that Melissa says has some of the best dressage stallions in the world. Included in the rather illustrious list are the likes of Negro, Glamourdale, Everdale and Kjento.
The stable is owned by Anne and Gertjan van Olst, with Anne the head trainer and Melissa’s coach. British representative Lottie Fry is the head rider for the barn, and also works closely with Melissa.
“I am her riding assistant so help warm up her horses and ride a few of hers each day too, depending on what needs doing,” says Melissa who arrived at the stable a week before her horses, 11-year-old warmblood gelding Windermere J’Obie W and seven-year-old black gelding Windermere Integro.
“The horses settled into their new routine amazingly well.” The two are stabled at night and Melissa says she feels very fortunate to be able to turn them out in a field for the majority of the day. “They absolutely love that.”
Offshore riders who head to Europe can sometimes be harshly marked. “It is often said that if you are not well known or haven’t been on the circuit that it is hard to get the marks, so I was really pleased to be starting at this (70%) point. I am really looking forward to seeing how far up we can push those marks. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!”
Melissa has a number of CDI competitions in the pipeline in the lead up to the 2022 World Championships in Denmark. “That’s my first major goal,” she says, “to qualify for the World Champs. The following year I will be focussing on the World Cup series and of course the 2024 Paris Olympic Games are the big one.”
Joey, the winner of the ESNZ Horse of the Year crown in 2021, was bred by Rania Todd and David Woolley. He is by Johnson TN, out of Miss Pompeii XX (by Pompeii XX). Joey’s Grand Prix best is 70.087% at the CDI4* in Bawley Point, in New South Wales in 2020, with 75.655% his highest in the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music which he also achieved on the same Australian visit.
Windermere Integro, who was bred by Melissa’s father Rodney Parkes, is by Negro, out of SWE Wolkentanza (by Wolkentanz II), is set to have his first international start soon.
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
14th March 2022