Pinehurst, NC (September 29, 2015)— USDF Gold Medalist John Zopatti and KWPN-Half Arabian gelding Uwannabeme WH had lofty goals for the 2015 competition season. Their hard work and clever planning culminated in two national championship titles at the 2015 AHA Sport Horse National Arabian & Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show. Zopatti and Uwannabeme WH won both the Second and Third Level Championship for Arabians, Half-Arabians, and Anglo-Arabians at the Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. Horse Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Zopatti, a four-time Gold Coast Dressage Association Trainer of the Year, began working with the talented gelding in February 2015. Over the summer, Uwannabeme WH, or “Slim” as he is affectionately called, went into full training at Zopatti’s summer base – Gavilan Farm in Hoffman, North Carolina. Slim’s owner, Loxahatchee, Florida native Johnny Robb, thought the horse would benefit from training in the same area where the Sport Horse Nationals would be held.
Robb also competed with Slim at the 2015 Sport Horse National Arabian & Half-Arabian Championship Show. The pair spent some time bonding in the in-hand division, where Robb and Slim earned a top-ten finish in the Half-Arabian/Anglo-Arabian Sport Horse Geldings In-Hand Dressage Type Amateur to Handle Championship class.
Despite the hubbub of a national championship competition, Slim set about handling his business like the champion he is. Zopatti was proud with Slim’s performance over the course of the competition, particularly in the Third Level class where the horse gave an accurate and submissive performance, scoring an impressive 75.513% to best the class of 25 horses. “The same confidence that he shows at home, he is starting to bring to the horse show now,” said Zopatti.
“This was my first year at the Arabian Nationals. It was quite a different experience going to these Sport Horse Nationals,” said Zopatti. “The prizes that they give you- the statues and the ribbons- are really cool. They laid the roses across his withers and they have these ribbons that went from his head to the ground. I have to say, it was a really great experience.”
Earlier this year, Zopatti was named National Champion in the Open Dressage Show Hack division at the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association (IAHLA) National Championships, which was his first breed show championship. He bested the field of sixteen riders aboard Johnny Robb’s Zerbino Interagro, a twelve-year-old Lusitano gelding. Proving himself a talented rider for dressage horses of all breeds, Zopatti is becoming accustomed to winning the roses. “This was the year of breed shows for me,” Zopatti exclaims. “I had never done one before in my life. It is quite a different experience to have all different disciplines simultaneously competing at the show.”
At the 2015 Arabian Sport Horse Nationals, Slim caught the eye of spectators with his extravagant movement, causing many people to ask Robb and Zopatti about the horse’s breeding. Slim is out of a Dutch Warmblood mare and sired by the renowned Arabian stallion, Baske Afire. “We would say he was a Dutch-cross, but many people thought that meant he was a Dutch Harness horse. By the end of the horse show, I learned to say Dutch Warmblood cross,” said Zopatti.
Slim is now enjoying a well-deserved vacation in the paddock. After his rest, he will be getting back to training. “His real strength is in the FEI work,” commented Zopatti, who hopes to continue to develop the horse’s confidence and possibly begin showing the Prix St. Georges and small tour dressage in the 2016 show season in Wellington, Florida. “He is already scoring in the 70’s at Fourth Level and showing real promise for all the FEI level movements,” Zopatti added.
To learn more about John Zopatti, visit www.johnzopatti.com or call 561-722-7555.
John Zopatti and National Champion partner, Uwannabeme WH (Photo courtesy of Bob Tarr).