When Germany’s Paul Schockemöhle and Florian Meyer zu Hartum sent U.S. rider Ray Texel the Oldenburg mare Baldira (Baloubet Rouet x Carthago Z) to compete and train in late 2014, it was with the express belief that the horse suited Texel’s riding style. The prediction was proving to be true in 2015, when the pair won the Uryadi’s Village Grand Prix at Thunderbird CSI3* followed by a win and a 2nd-place finish in the CSI2* Prestige Trophy classes at the Longines Masters of Los Angeles.
The successful duo was on the rise and on the cusp of reaching a solid comfort level at the 1.50-meter height. But soon after their fall campaign in California, Texel momentarily lost the ride on the talented, 11-year-old mare when Baldira’s then-half owner Leslie Nelson moved her string to train with USA’s Rich Fellers.
“We were starting to rise to our peak, at that point,” Texel said. “It was an unfortunate time [when Baldira left], however, this is sport and business. Some decisions were made outside of my control—also, outside of Paul’s and Florian’s control.
“The mare, in the interim, was stabled with Rich Fellers, and I think he did a nice job to keep her going and did his best with what he was given. Ultimately, a resolution was found, and the horse is now under Paul’s full ownership, and subsequently, they’ve returned her to me. I’m very grateful for their support and belief in my horsemanship and my riding.”
Fellers and Baldira made their partnership debut at 2016 HITS Thermal Week 3 in the 1.30-meter and 1.40-meter divisions, riding to a few clear rounds but without any wins. Once the ownership situation was resolved, Texel and Baldira made their return during Week 8, the final week of HITS Thermal, to capture the victory in Friday’s $500 1.40m Enviro Equine Jumper.
“With this pause in the routine that we had experienced—that’s of course slowed us a little bit,” said Texel. “And I’ll take my time to re-establish our partnership together, and we’ll move forward mindfully. I’d like this mare to return to a solid, consistent performance. Then there’s no problem to ask more of her.
“My strategy in the 1.40-meter class was to continue our process as if nothing had changed. In the jump off, I intended to make very short turns and to take a shot at the last jump.”
The shot worked for the pair in a star-studded field that included USA’s McLain Ward, Christine McCrea, and Karl Cook. (Although, these three riders retired their top mounts in the class’s final round to save them for the AIG $1 Million on Sunday.)
Following the close of the HITS Desert Circuit, Baldira will return to Texel’s new base at Rancho Union in Penngrove, Calif. And for the upcoming season, Texel plans to focus Baldira on the 1.50-meter division, with a few instances of moving up to the 1.60-meter classes.
For the full results of Friday’s $500 1.40m Enviro Equine Jumper at HITS Thermal, see here.