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Those Special Ones
courtesy of Chester Weber, USET team member
Visit his site at www.ChesterWeber.com
and visit www.CAIliveoak.com to see them compete March 2004.
Visit our article archives.

Hanzi is Goofy is Gaspy is the name or names this special horse had according to the records that were kept about him. To his friends, fans and care takers he was Hanzi, a name given to him by Michael Freund from some time in the season before the WEG in Den Hague in 1999. Named after the horse dealer, Johan (Hanzi) Reitdorf that Freund purchased him from. To the Officials at the FEI and his not so close admirers he was called by the name sloppily written on the cover of his Spanish FEI passport, Goofy. This name was give to him by Papine Lastra’s young son who was apparently an avid fan of the Disney cartoons. To the people at the German Federation he was Gaspy a misspelling of the name written in his passport.

He was driven at his first major championship in Den Hague in a team driven by the Spanish driver Jose-Luis De La Lastra or Papine and it was there that everyone noticed the small horse that made himself look so big in harness he was able to be partnered with a horse nearly 7cm taller. He then continued living in Spain at the beautiful Andalusia stud outside Seville where he would spend his falls winters and springs until coming to Freund’s Neu-Isenburg stable for the summers. Papine was able to win several Spanish championships with him and kept him until he decided to retire from competing after the WEG in Rome.

In the spring of 1999 I went to Seville to see the horses that Papine had for sale along with Michael Freund and wile I was there I selected Hanzi and Toledo T to help add the foundation allowing me to make the transition from pair to team. That spring Freund asked me if he could use Hanzi in the lead of his dressage team in Aachen where he later won the dressage and the prestigious Talbot prize for winning the event. In the first weekend of July ’99 I drove Hanzi and Toledo T in the CAI in Middlesdetten in Germany where I began to learn just how quirky this horse was. As he was often lazy in the dressage I found out the hard way that hitting him with the whip was probably not the correct way to encourage this experienced wise horse that had left Spain but certainly had not lost his Spanish work ethic. It was almost like he would say “who me push the carriage, no! I can’t do that and look beautiful too”. I also learned that he would continually flaunt his masculinity when he needed to pee, which was often during the competitions. This in it self gave him a reputation of a horse that had been treated by tranquilizers and certainly more then one time drew the attention of the show stewards and vets. However, to those who knew him it was apparent that no one in there right mind would give this lazy play boy a cocktail.

Chester Weber at WEG Jerez de la Frontera, Spain September 16, 2002In the first months of having Hanzi it was difficult to understand why Freund and many others would later rave about him. In the pair and in the single carriage he was just another horse with out special movement and as many tricks up his sleeve even the best of drivers would ask “what is this now” Just before leaving for the pair championship in Kechemet where I was going to finish off my pair career I had the US team vet Midge Leach look over all of the horses in the stable. Dr. Leach informed me that my recent acquisition had career ending front suspensery tendon damage. I guess she was wrong? In the end of ’99 Hanzi helped me and Max his new partner who was 5 at the time get through all the remaining international competitions in Europe and a second place finish at the National Championship in Fair Hill, Maryland.

The 2000 season was a development time in my driving team driving career. We nearly were selected to the US team for the World Championship in Wolfsburg Germany however the selection committee decided to side with the experience of Jimmy Fairclough instead of a team of mine that seemed to have enough experience to win the last major CAI before the championship. Headed up in the dressage and cones by Hanzi it was clear that this old horse was slowly making me in to a team driver instead of the pair driver I once was. The only problem was to find a suitable partner for the dressage. In 2000 first there was Jocamo a Dutch horse from Timmerman who seemed not to have the nerve to deal with the training required to get to the top. In the middle of the season Misdee Wrigley was king enough to allow Hanzi and I to work with Jag or Klaron for the European shows and the championships. However, I still knew there was a better partner so at the German Derby in Landstetten We tried Ines from Freund and were second in the dressage and third in the marathon with Hanzi now needing to fill the role as a cross country horse too. Later that year I found Jamaica who would be his last partner for the dressage and clearly the best mate he had ever had.

The 2001 season was filled with great successes of competition and the trauma associated with his trials and tribulations. Those bumps in the road started wile traveling from JFK to Frankfurt where he fell down in the plain and was trapped upside down and then later got entrinitus. He seemed to look death in the eyes those warm days in Freund’ stable and was clearly showing us all just how stoic he was. After being concerned with leaving him in the wrong hands I decided to take him to Aachen knowing he was tough and by Thursday he would either be better or he would no longer be with us. He got better on Monday however on Tuesday he woke up with a thick hind leg and was unable to get through the vet inspection. The following afternoon we jogged him again for the jury and he passes after the German show jumping team vet Nolting treated him. The remainder of the summer was filled with top five results and we seemed to be reaching our stride until he gave us a small fright as he was very unsettled on his flight trip home. It seemed like all we had to do was wrap him in cotton and wait for the next championship. However, he colliced in August and surgery was the only option. Faith Hughes and the Peterson and Smith staff in Ocala fell in love with him as he recovered and wile recovery seemed to go with out a hitch for the 1st month when September 11th rolled around wile the towers were falling in New York he was cut by Chopper the blacksmith and a vein was severed . It was clearly not the fault of any one it is only the risk associated with showing and a lot of bad luck. At that time we found out that he was allergic to Ace (which incidentally is why I believe we had all of the troubles with him in the plain) Dr. Peterson was going to stitch him up standing and thought he would give him 2cc of Ace so that his heart rate would drop and he could stitch him up with out him moving. Well not only his heart rate dropped that day so did he, right to the ground. About an hour later he stood up --stitched up—looking at all of us around the stable that couldn’t decide weather what had just happened in New York was going to mean war or not. He later recovered fully from that problem and seemed to be recovered from the surgery too.

In 2002 I tried not to rely on Hanzi in the beginning because I was trying to limit his wear and tear and I decided to work with the young Rolex who I was hoping was going to be the next Hanzi. However, after receiving 60 points in the dressage in Aachen It was clear that I would be taking Hanzi to the next major in Breda. In Breda many of the other drivers commented on him looking good and just how strong he made the Americans who after coming second in the nations prize in Bred seemed like they were going to be buying for mettle in Jerez in the WEG later that summer. We finished up the European season with all top three dressage finishes at all of the major CIA’s including ending up 5th individually in Jerez and winning America’s first metal in team driving with a team silver. After the show I flew back with the horses as there was some concern over his traveling and frankly his last trip over the Atlantic was with out the slightest problem. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks?

Following the championship I decided to continue to work on Rolex and thought I would save the old horse and therefore I decided to leave Hanzi home from Fair Hill. During the start of the 2003 season it slowly became apparent that the Rolex was going to inevitably replace Hanzi for the next championship and I thought that I would try to retire him in August during a weekend of coaching in Newport. However in the last days of July he colliked again and after undergoing surgery it became apparent he was not going to retire to the green fields of Live Oak in Ocala but rather to horsy heaven where I hope he will continue to coach me and the rest of his peers on earth.

A list of FEI events from his passport:
CHIO Aachen, Germany June 14, 1994
CAI FL- Vaduz, Switzerland July 1,1994
WEG Den Hague, Netherlands August 2, 1994
CAIO Breda, Netherlands Sept. 22 1994
CAA Sevilla, Spain Nov. 1, 1994
CAI Wargem, Belgium Sept 6, 1995
CHI Donaueshiingen, Germany Sept. 14, 1995
CAIO Breda, Netherlands Sept. 21, 1995
CAI Vejer, Spain December 14, 1995
CAA Sevilla, Spain April 11, 1996
CAI Jerez de la Frontera, Spain May 1, 1996
World Championchips Wargem, Belgium August 27, 1996
CAI Jerez de la Frontera, Spain October 12, 1996
CAA Sevilla, Spain October 24, 1996
CAI Ecisa, Spain May 7 1998
CHI Donaueshiingen, Germany Sept. 19, 1998
WEG Pratoni (Rome), Italy October 5, 1998
CHIO Aachen, Germany June 16, 1999
CAI Mindelstetten, Germany July 1 1999
CAI Landstetten, Germany September 3, 1999
CHI Donaueshiingen, Germany Sept. 16, 1999
CAIO Breda, Netherlands Sept. 23, 1999
CAI Live Oak, Ocala FL USA March 20 2000
CAI Beekbergen, Netherlands July 26, 2000
World Championchips Wolfsburg, Germany Aug. 23 2000
CAI Landstetten, Germany September 10, 2000
CAI Live Oak, Ocala FL USA March 23 2001
CHIO Aachen, Germany June 12, 2001
CAI Saumur, France July 11, 2001
CAI Beekbergen, Netherlands July 18, 2001
CAIO Breda, Netherlands July 11, 2002
CAI Riesenbeck, Germany July 17, 2002
CHI Donaueshiingen, Germany August 22, 2002
WEG Jerez de la Frontera, Spain September 16, 2002


This article was provided courtesy of Chester Weber, USET Combined driving team member. Please visit him at http://www.ChesterWeber.com.

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