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January 18, 2017

Winner Of The Week: Amateur Rider Melissa Torreano Enjoys The Process On The Way To FEI And Blue

Around her full-time job, Melissa Torreano has developed Brunello M from green-broke to winning at Intermediaire I.

When Brunello M was a younger horse, Melissa Torreano wasn’t quite sure that the little white ring was where he belonged.

“He was a little bit of a hot youngster—he was great under saddle but kind of a brat out in his pasture,” she said. “He’ll chase deer out of his paddock, jump the fence, go running through the woods. We were wondering if maybe his dream was to be an eventer.”

But that was five years ago, and now Brunello M has grown up quite a bit and feels at home as a dressage horse. “He seems to have settled down and is doing well. He’s a bit of an overachiever,” Torreano said.

On Jan. 14-15, Brunello M and Torreano placed first and second in the Intermediaire I classes at the Dressage Under The Oaks I show in Grand Oaks, Fla., with scores of 65.26 percent and 62.50 percent. It was Brunello M’s first outing at the level.

“It was my first show of the season to get into 2017. It’s a local show for me, only 35 minutes away, and great show management,” said Torreano, who lives in Winter Park, Fla. “We’re getting going this season and hopefully going to go to some CDIs [in Wellington].

“He has a wonderful work ethic once you’re in the saddle. He will try his heart out every day for you. He’s not a horse that ever says no,” Torreano said. “He turns out and also hacks and goes swimming and goes for gallops in the woods. He does a lot outside the ring, which I think has helped his brain and helped make him so competitive. He’s seen it all and done it all. He lives life like a regular horse.”

Torreano has brought Brunello M up the levels herself with the help of her mother, Sandy Dziak’s, training. “Usually the parent/child training relationship doesn’t work so well, but it has for us. We’ve gotten three horses up to FEI with just her and I working together with some occasional clinics. I’ve gotten help from Laura Graves, Robert Dover and Michael Poulin,” she said.

She bought Brunello M, who turns 9 this year, in 2012 as a 4-year-old Hanoverian with 30 days under saddle. “I always like to buy the horses young. I used to buy them unstarted, but now that I’m a little older, I decided I’d let someone put 30 days on them,” Torreano said.

“But I really like competing to see that I’m on the right track with the training and their progression. I try to follow classical methods with keeping the rhythm and relaxation. I’ve been very lucky because I’ve always been rewarded in my scores. That gives me reassurance that we’re on the right track and the horses are staying happy, sane and sound.”

Torreano has moved up Brunello M (Bellisimo M—La Rochelle) a level per year, getting to third level in 2015. But in 2016, she broke her ankle and had to take a few months off showing. “So we skipped fourth level and did his first Prix St. Georges in September. He got high 60s in that, and he just keeps moving up!” she said.

Brunello M lives at Dziak’s farm about 40 minutes from Torreano’s home, and she balances riding him and her two other horses with a demanding full-time job as the business development director for a national security firm. “I work probably 60 to 70 hours a week,” Torreano said. She leaves the house at 5 a.m. to drive to the barn. “I’ll ride all three, and then get to the office by 9 a.m., and then I’m there until about 8 p.m. It’s a long day, but my employer is great and allows the time to travel and work remotely, so I can compete in Wellington during the winter as well,” she said.

Torreano hopes to have a solid season at Intermediaire with Brunello M, then hopefully move him up to Grand Prix next year. “He’s got the piaffe and the ones and the passage; it’s just putting it all together. He’s still young, so we’re letting him tell us how much he can do and how fast,” she said.

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