Long Lake, MN – Sept. 18, 2019 – As the summer show season comes to a close, Leatherdale Farms reflects on its team’s development and success over the past few months. While Leatherdale Farm riders in Germany, Canada, Florida and California have all had standout performances so far this year, this summer has been extra special. The Minnesota-based team, consisting of their young horse rider Mike Suchanek, performance horse manager Jessi Lash and trainer Alison Sader Larson, has returned to the ring following a year away from competition due to several serious health setbacks.
“No strangers to the winner’s circle, Mike’s impressive record developing our young horses has contributed to multiple Adequan/USDF Dressage Breeder of the Year awards, as well as many regional and national championship titles over the years,” Louise Leatherdale, owner of Leatherdale Farms said. “It has been a very heartfelt return for our Minnesota team and nothing brings me more joy than to see Mike back in the saddle in the show ring with Jessi helping manage the crucial details that makes it all possible.”
With Suchanek in the irons and determined to return as strong as ever, he kicked the summer off with a bang, racking up over 40 wins in three months on five Leatherdale owned mounts.
The opening show of their 2019 season, Bara Trac I & II in Mason City, Iowa, was an exciting debut for Suchanek and Duchess L (Damsey FRH-De La Rosa, De Niro). The 8-year-old mare competed in her first Developing Prix St. Georges to earn scores of 70.813 and 71.471, kicking the year off in winning fashion with blue ribbons in both tests. In July Duchess L earned her highest score of the season, a 77.125, at Lamplight I and qualified for the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Dressage National Championships at the prestigious U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions. At the championships, the talented bay mare placed third during the first day of competition and finished overall seventh in the country in the Developing Prix St. Georges division.
“Duchess L is coming along nicely and has developed so well this summer,” Suchanek said. “She loves to work and she reminds me a lot of Damsey himself – she looks a lot like him. In training she has been a joy to work with. In the past year she has put on so much muscle and gained so much strength, she really enjoys her work and is so happy to get out there, exercise and move her body. She is stronger and looking and feeling a lot more like an upper-level FEI ride now.”
Getting her start later in the season, 8-year-old Delta L (Damsey FRH-Weltbekanna L, Weltbekannt) made her 2019 show ring debut in July at Lamplight. Moving up to Third Level, Delta L won five of the six tests she showed in this summer, receiving a season high score of 72.750. Similar to Duchess L, lateral movements are a strength for Delta L as she continues her development with Suchanek.
“With Delta L we are working on gaining confidence in the tempis but I’m quite pleased with her development and she is a pleasure to ride,” he explained. “She is growing a lot in her ability to execute a powerful medium trot with cadence in it. Delta is much longer in the body compared to Duchess but she can still really move it.”
Hannigan L (EH Herzensdieb- Pia Colada, Pik L) also competed at Third Level earlier in the summer but soon moved up to Fourth Level. Despite moving up a division, the 9-year-old went undefeated throughout the season and scored consistently in the high 60s to 70s.
“Hannigan enjoys showing off – he is our class clown that loves to go out there and show what he can do.” Suchanek continued. “He is learning his tempis very well and staying very straight, along with gaining a lot of strength for the pirouettes. He has come a long way and he is always really fun! Even though he likes to joke around and play with me, Hannigan likes to get down to work and he knows his stuff and works hard.”
An exciting new young horse bred by Leatherdale Farms, Foxey Lady L (First Dance-Weltbekanna L, Weltbekannt), made her show debut and dominated her summer circuit. The young mare consistently scored in the high 70s in her tests, even earning an 83.103% at Lamplight in July. Most recently in the national show at Lamplight Equestrian Center in August, Suchanek rode Foxey Lady L to multiple wins with scores up to 76.897%.
“She had a lot of growing to do in her body when we first started her. She was growing like crazy so we waited for her to mature and get a little more balanced,” Suchanek stated. “This year she has come out a lot stronger and we have been able to work up to getting her stronger and more balanced in her work. That all really made a difference. The judges comment that she is a lovely mare and they love her active hind leg.”
With his long-time partner, 12-year-old Hero L (His Highness-Waterlily L, Wolkenstein II), Suchanek went for quality over quantity in his summer show circuit schedule, competing the gelding at only two shows but winning both. In June, Hero L showed in the MLEC Dressage Classic I and the 2019 Dressage Lite horse show, scoring a 68.970 and 71.765 in Intermediate I.
On his relationship with Hero L, Suchanek said, “Hero is my favorite, he is Hero through and through. It has been great to get him back out there. He is schooling well and we have been focusing mainly on qualifying the younger horses so we didn’t take him as much, but it has been exciting to get this horse back in the ring.”
“I want to thank Louise Leatherdale for all of her help and giving me the opportunity to train and compete her talented horses. I am so thankful to have her in my life, and to be working for her and riding horses for her,” concluded Suchanek. “I also want to thank Alison [Sader Larson] for being my coach and being there every step of the way helping me teach these horses more. Thank you to Jessi Lash, my performance horse manager, and the rest of my team for always being there as well. All five horses are now qualified for regional championships so we are looking forward to getting back to the ring soon!”
To learn more about Leatherdale Farms, click here.