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Dressage Trainer John Zopatti and Fabio Take Top Honors at Rise n’ Shine Dressage
Pinehurst, NC (July 25, 2014)– It couldn’t have been any better of a weekend for longtime pair John Zopatti and Fabio, who were named the high scorers in the FEI Open Grand Prix Freestyle division at the Rise n’ Shine dressage show in Pinehurst, NC. The event was held July 19-20. Zopatti, a USDF Gold Medalist who trains horses and riders from beginning to grand prix, and Fabio, an 18-year-old Oldenburg, by West Coast out of a Thoroughbred mare, are no stranger to championship ribbons and to each other. They have been together as a pair since Zopatti began training Kristy Truebenbach Lund’s gelding.
Zopatti and Fabio scored 75.000% and 74.750% in their Grand Prix Freestyle tests designed by Applause Dressage’s Karen Robinson. “The freestyle was actually made for another horse that never got to show Grand Prix Freestyle because of an injury,” explained Zopatti. “It actually fits Fabio great. It’s a mixture of some nursery rhymes and some fun, fun music.
“It has a lot of difficult parts,” he described. “It has two tempis on a half circle straight into one-time changes and double pirouettes in both directions. And some passage to an extended trot. And that is pretty hard for any horse, let alone an 18-year-old guy.”
Zopatti, a four-time winner of the Gold Coast Dressage Association Trainer of the Year Award, has spent the past 14 summers teaching clinics and training amateurs, young riders, and upper-level riders in Pinehurst. While Zopatti is currently relocated to his partner Michael Edwards’ home, Fabio is spending his days at Gavalan Farms, a full-service training facility owned by Will Faudree in nearby Hoffman, NC. Faudree is a four-star internationally known eventer who is currently on the U.S. training squad.
There, Fabio has been doing cross-training on Faudree’s 1¼-mile all-weather Attwood footing galloping track. Cross training is paying off for Fabio and Zopatti. “This 18-year-old horse is as fit as he’s ever been in his entire life,” Zopatti said. “So it was fun to get in a test and have him have plenty of power and a little bit to spare.”
This older gelding doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon since he recently won the FEI Intermediate B Open GAIG/USDF qualifying division of the Gold Coast Dressage Grand Finale 2 with a score of 66.786% on April 13. He also finished 2013 placing sixth in the nation at the inaugural United States Dressage Finals.
Due to the large audience, this past weekend’s event at the Pinehurst Harness Track was a lot of fun, according to Zopatti. “My friends and family that are in the area around here also came out,” said Zopatti. “We had a big tent and we served breakfast and drinks in the morning for my performance. It was great to have all of my friends here and for my non-horsey friends to actually be able to see what I do.
“It was a little déjà vu coming back to that show facility,” said Zopatti. “I had shown there in a selection trials for the 1999 Pan American Games on my first FEI horse. And so when I pulled into the facility with the horse in the trailer and they gave me my stall assignment, I was actually stabled two stalls down in the same barn that I was in 15 years ago.”
Zopatti makes his home during the winters in Wellington, FL, where he runs his training and showing business out of Blue Marlin Farms. Not only is he busy training dressage riders year-round, he also assists top eventing riders with the dressage phase of eventing. His students excel at all levels right on up to national championships. When he isn’t accepting ribbons for himself or watching his students bring in their own ribbons, Zopatti assists with the Challenge of the Americas, a Grand Prix-level quadrille freestyle competition to benefit breast cancer research. He also a graduate of the USDF Judges “L” Program with Distinction.
To learn more about John Zopatti, visit www.johnzopatti.com or call 561-722-7555.
Photo: John Zopatti and Fabio. (Photo courtesy of Michael Pritchett)