Young US rider Caitlin Ziegler has added former British showjumper Coco Bongo to her string.
Bought by Artisan Farms, the nine-year-old Dutch-bred Rheinlander stallion (Caretino x Calido) has spent the past two seasons with British rider Daniel Neilson. Together, the pair successfully competed throughout Europe, winning the CSI2* Grand Prix of Lummen, Belgium, in 2013, before stepping up to the five-star level in 2014. The pair contested World Cup Grand Prix events in Leipzig, Germany, and Zurich, Switzerland, and recently enjoyed a second place finish in the €24,000 1.50m Prix de la Ville de Paris at CSI5* Paris, France, in April.
“I took some time off from riding, it’s been a year and half since I’ve been doing the top level of grand prix, and I thought it was great to have the chance to have an up-and-coming horse that has its full career in front of him while I’m kick-starting my career again,” said Ziegler, who took a hiatus to concentrate on her studies.
“Coco Bongo really suited me, he’s the type of horse that I like,” continued Ziegler, who will make her competitive debut with the stallion at the Spruce Meadows “National” tournament in June in Calgary, Canada. “He has a motor and takes me to the fences but doesn’t pull me past them. He’s at a good age and at the point of his career where he’s ready to start jumping some bigger classes with me.”
Having enjoyed an impressive junior career, Ziegler, 19, is now competing as a professional focused full-time on her riding career. Artisan Farms is supporting her in building a top string of horses for the international level of show jumping. Coco Bongo is the most recent purchase in support of that objective while Tornado d’Armanville, a seven-year-old selle francais gelding (Lauxley de Breve x Baie de Villeclare) was bought in April as an up-and-coming mount. They join Nevada, Christine, Touchdown, and Zuara in Ziegler’s current arsenal.
According to her coach, 2008 Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze, “She really clicked with Coco Bongo; she fit it well. It’s a wonderful animal, very scopey, and very much Cait’s type. The horse is nine years old and has already done a few World Cup classes and has a very good record. After watching many videos, it looks like a solid horse and shows a lot of quality. Cait can mature with the horse and get to know him as he comes into his prime; they can grow together. It’s nice to have her back riding, and to have a horse at this caliber is going to be great for her.”
Neilson was also the rider of Zigali P S before he was bought by Artisan Farms last November as a mount for Lamaze. At the end of the 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, Lamaze and Zigali P S emerged as the leading money winner in the highly competitive 12-week Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Series. Agent Gilbert de Roock of Belgium suggested that Ziegler return to Neilson’s yard to try Coco Bongo.
The Artisan Farms team, which also includes Canadian Olympian Tiffany Foster and Andy Ziegler, will continue to compete in Europe before heading to Calgary for the Spruce Meadows Summer Series.