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Sue Bush
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"Comtesso" And Kapiloff: Grace On The Grass

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Saturday, September 30, 2006

Dressage champion Gail Kapiloff and "Comtesso"
North Adams - An award-winning dressage horse-and-rider team raised over $500 to benefit the Eileen Barrett Cancer Fund and the Berkshire Hematology and Oncology unit at the North Adams Regional Hospital.

United States Dressage Federation gold, silver and bronze medalist Gail Kapiloff of Williamstown and her 18-year-old Trakehner horse "Comtesso" delivered two dressage performances at the Joe Wolfe athletic field. No admission was required for the event however those who attended were encouraged to offer a cash donation. A Sept. 29 evening performance generated $310 and a Sept. 30 afternoon performance collected $256 in revenues.


Chelsea Boyer wrapped bandages around "Comtesso's" legs prior to the dressage exhibition.
Dressage is a horse training discipline which requires specific skills on the part of horse and rider. Dressage organizations such as the USDF host competitive events that range from amateur to Olympic-level skill levels, with Grand Prix events considered the most challenging.

Kapiloff and "Comtesso" have competed at the Grand Prix level.

Dressage involves a series of very precise gaits and movements. The techniques are rooted in ancient war, when battles were fought on horseback. Battle horses were required to move quickly and with precision while on the battlefield.

As Kapiloff and "Comtesso" maneuvered within a temporary show ring, Chelsea Boyer explained the history of dressage and the details of movements being exhibited. About 70 spectators applauded frequently as "Comtesso" executed specific steps and leads under Kapiloff's direction.

The horses's legs were wrapped with traditional white bandages that offer support and protection. The white wraps also make viewing the horse's movements easier, Kapiloff said.

Kapiloff offered to host a dressage exhibition, said REACH Community Health Foundation Community Health Program Coordinator Sharon Leary.

"She contacted the Mayor [Mayor John Barrett III] and offered to do this," Leary said. "It's another great event added to the Fall Foliage Festival weekend and it focuses some attention on cancer."

Kapiloff purchased "Comtesso" as a stallion performing stud services at a Trakehner horse farm in Holland. The horse was brought to Cornell University upon his United States arrival. "Comtesso was gelded, which is the equine equivalent of being neutered, while at Cornell's veterinary facility.

Kapiloff and "Comtesso" execute a precise dressage movement.


"I'm not certain he's forgiven me for that yet," Kapiloff told the spectators.

Trakehner is a horse breed which originated in Europe, in East Prussia, in the 1700s. Modern-day Trakehner horses are known for

Another dressage manuveur
their height, which is between 16 and 17 "hands" [a hand equals about 4 inches] and their elegance. The natural grace, intelligence, and agility of Trakehner horses contribute to their dressage abilities, according to information available at a http://americantrakehner.com Internet web site.

Susan Bush may be contacted via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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