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Shelley Lawder and Balancee Step into Small Tour Win

Canadian dressage rider and 2023 Pan American Games hopeful Shelley Lawder had a mission with Balancee heading into the Thunderbird Dressage CDI Show, presented by Winifred Steinkopf Hall, Gordon & Wendy Christoff, and Blue Heron Farm.

“We’ve been trying really, really hard to crack the 70s since March. And we finally did it!” smiled the Langley-based rider.

Lawder and the nine-year-old Westphalian mare made their international debut in June this year, competing in a CDI1* in Sherwood, Oregon followed by the Touch of Class Dressage Show CDI1* at tbird. They closed their CDI tour that month at tbird with a win in the FEI Intermediate Freestyle CDI1*. On Friday, they picked up where they left off in Langley, taking victory in the CDI1* FEI Prix St. Georges, sponsored by Winifred Steinkopf Hall.

Seven combinations took to the tbird ring for the Small Tour class. Lawder and Balancee were the only combination to break the 70 barrier, earning a 71.382% from the judges. Stablemates Erin Silo (CAN) and Jett took second on a score of 69.588%. Gloria Schriever (CAN) and Hilton finished third on 68.588%.

“I’m happy that we’re making some progress, that the scores are coming up, and that the judges see improvement because that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Lawder, 56. “We’re trying to get better.”

Specifically, she’s been working to better Balancee’s self-carriage over the past four weeks.

“That has been our number one priority in training at home and we’ve just been 100% staying on that topic. That’s our drumbeat: hind legs under, self carriage and no gray zone,” continued Lawder, who trains with [Canadian Olympian] Leslie Reid.

“For these CDI [shows] and for this level of judging, they absolutely want to see the horse in self-carriage, engaged, in front of the rider, and on the hind leg—no ifs, ands or buts.”

For Lawder, who hopes to represent Canada at the Santiago 2023 Games, the result is simply the next step in her bigger plan.

“We try to really focus on each necessary step. Step one was getting through the FEI jog. Step two was cracking the 70s in the Prix St Georges because the Prix St George counts more than the Intermediate I [toward team selection]. [On Saturday], it will be to try to take the suggestions and observations from these judges and show them that we’ve read our tests and we’re able to respond to the corrections and adjustments that they want to see,” she explained.

“And so we just do it step by step by step.”

Lawder and Balancee will contest the CDI1* FEI Intermediate I on Saturday at tbird.

FEI Prix St. Georges CDI1* Results
Rider / Nation / Horse / E / H / C / M / B / Total 

1. Shelley Lawder / CAN / Balancee / 68.529 / 73.529 / 72.941 / 70.588 / 71.324 / 71.382
2. Erin Silo / CAN / Jett / 71.324 / 69.853 / 69.412 / 67.941 / 69.412 / 69.588
3. Gloria Schriever / CAN / Hilton / 769.706 / 67.794 / 68.529 / 68.676 / 68.235 / 68.588
4. Amy Wellburn / CAN / Dinamico TG / 69.118 / 69.706 / 69.118 / 66.471 / 66.618 / 68.206
5. Kelly Irving / CAN / Fresco LD / 65.882 / 64.265 / 67.647 / 68.529 / 65.588 / 66.382
6. Carol Robinson / CAN / Lightfoot / 66.912 / 64.706 / 64.706 / 62.353 / 65.294 / 64.794
7. Eiren Crawford / CAN / Hendrix / 63.529 / 63.676 / 63.529 / 62.206 / 63.529 / 63.294