Marisa Festerling is home in Moorpark after winning an individual bronze medal and a U.S. team gold medal in equestrian dressage at the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara earlier this month.
Her horse, Frankie, known as Big Tyme in competition, is getting much-needed rest after four airplane flights, training in New Jersey and competition in Mexico.
“We were thrilled with the outcome,” said Festerling, who made the U.S. Equestrian Team for the first time this year. “It was a really awesome experience, and our team did well.”
Now that she’s home, Festerling said her 2-year-old daughter, Ella, runs around the house with the medal around her neck.
Twelve teams from 14 countries competed in the dressage tournament at the Pan Am Games. The U.S. won the gold medal for team competition, with Canada placing second and Colombia third.
This year, Festerling’s rigorous training schedule and work earned her a spot on the team.
“I ride between four and six horses every day and I teach at the barn, as well, so that’s how I keep fit,” Festerling said. “A lot of riders will combine Pilates or core training, but I’m lucky enough that I ride and teach as often as I do and that’s been enough to keep me in shape to compete.”
Festerling represented the U.S. once before, but as an individual in 2006 in Germany at the World Championship for Young Horses.
“I came in the top 25, but there were no medals and I wasn’t part of a team there,” she said.
Working with Caitlin Zacha, her groom who cares for the horse, who hosted one of several fundraisers before she left for the East Coast, Festerling was able to raise about $25,000 to help defray the travel and transportation costs for the trip.
“Caitlin and her family really stepped up and helped and she was able to come and be my groom for two weeks,” Festerling said. In addition to Zacha, Festerling was joined in Guadalajara by her husband, Brian; her mother and father, Jerry and Mary Ann Muldoon; her brother and sister-in-law, Brian and Gabrielle Muldoon; and her business partner and trainer, Marie Myers.
“By the third day of competition, I knew I was in the running for an individual bronze,” Festerling said. “And two of my teammates were in first and second place.”
Steffen Peters took the gold medal and Heather Blitz took the silver. The fourth member of the team, Cesar Parra, did well in the competition and shared the gold but did not advance to the individuals, as only three riders are awarded.
“We won the gold for the team and we came in first, second and third individually,” Festerling said. It also was the fourth time the U.S. took team gold at the Pan American Games, a first for any nation in the sport.
Festerling also earned a personal best with a score of 80.775, a composite of scores given by judges for her performance on Big Tyme.
While the Pan Am Games are a level below the Olympics in competition, Festerling said she’s thinking about training for 2016’s games.
“Big Tyme won’t be ready for London in 2012 and neither am I. We’re looking to spend some time trail riding and have some time off,” she said.
Festerling said she intends to compete at the Grand Prix level in February.
“The main thing horses need at this level of competition is calm and their riders have to be calm, too. Marisa is very cool, very good in the ring and that helps a lot. If you get nervous, the horse senses it and that’s when things go wrong,” Myers said.
According to Myers, Frankie, a Belgian warmblood, was good friends with Peters’ horse, Magic.
“Magic is a very calm horse and Frankie is highly intelligent. That sense of calm really helped Frankie perform,” she said.Festerling said: “Ella got to stay with me for three weeks in New Jersey, but she came back home when we went to Mexico. Training and moving a horse like this takes a lot of effort and a lot of people. My family and Marie and Caitlin, I couldn’t have done it without their support.
“But now, it’s really great to be home.”
Comments » Disabled
Eternal Life Detox on Dressage to music: how to get…