Brittany Burson and Fiorenza. John Borys Photography
October 13, 2023 – Lexington, KY – The second of three weekends of 2023 Great American Insurance Group (GAIG)/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Regional Championships, held across a total of nine USDF regions, offered more riders the chance to pick up qualifying berths for the 2023 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® at the Kentucky Horse Park on November 9-12.
Five for Burson at Region 4
At Fourth Level it was Furst Emilio’s turn in the spotlight — once he overcame his fear of the spotted horse in the warm-up arena. Patricia Joy’s 13-year-old gelding by Fürst Fugger is another bought from Germany unseen during the pandemic, and was intended for Joy, but he can be complicated, so Burson is sharing the ride with his 70-year-old owner.
Linda Phifer’s seven-year-old Leonardo Z delivered Burson’s fifth victory. The Glamourdale son clinched the Third Level Freestyle with 74.688% and was reserve champion in the opening class with 71.188%. Leonardo has recently jumped up the levels.
Growing and Winning Together in Region 4
It was a memorable weekend for Adult Amateur (AA) Casey Eiten. Not only did she and the 14-year-old Eschaton win the Region 4 Intermediate II Championship title with 60.074%, but they also contested their first ever Grand Prix, gaining a score towards the rider’s USDF Gold Medal in one of the warm-up recognized classes that ran alongside the Regional classes. Eiten, who is 28 years old now, was 15 when she and her parents bought Eschaton, and they have climbed the competition ladder together.
“We didn’t know very much about what kind of baby horses we were looking for,” admitted Eiten, who liked the look of the young son of Sir Sinclair. “He was actually born and bred at the farm where I took lessons, and the breeding seemed right. I was out there every day when I was younger, getting him used to all the little stuff, like brushing and bringing him in.
“We started him, and I was the first person on him. It’s kind of crazy because I went through high school and college and now my adult career and life with him; he’s been there with me through it all. I feel really lucky that he turned out the way he did.”
Allen’s Four Wins Dominate Region 5
Adult Amateur Andria Allen had a stellar show at the Region 5 Championships on September 29 – October 1 in Scottsdale, AZ with her two horses. She scooped three Regional Championship titles and a reserve with the six-year-old Dutch-bred Mardeaux (Ferdeaux x Connoisseur) and Keno SSF (Governor x Contango).
Her double champion Mardeaux — at Second and Third Level — was yet another bought unseen from the Netherlands two years ago, mid-pandemic, and has been a little challenging since he arrived.
A fresh approach to saddle fitting has been the key for Allen’s other ride, the eight-year-old Keno SSF, whom she bought in-vitro from Shooting Star Farms.
“He’s such a big powerful horse, and as a five-year-old he was so naughty,” she explained. “We found a little bit of kissing spine, not much, but it needs managing. My Colorado trainer rode him in a different saddle — a Dresch — that sits further forward so the scapula can go underneath it. It puts my weight about four inches further forward, and it’s been an absolute game changer for Keno.”
Stacey Knox and Frosty Fox led an enormous Region 4 Second Level AA class, putting down an unassailable 71.429%, which was the only score above 70% out of the 25 starters. The seven-year-old Hanoverian by Floris Prince finished third at the Region 4 Championships in 2022 at First Level, and will be making his first trip to Finals.
The 2023 US Dressage Finals will be held November 9-12 in Lexington, KY at the Kentucky Horse Park, and is a national championship competition that showcases the Adult Amateur and Open divisions. Classes run at Training Level through Grand Prix, plus divisions for Junior/Young Riders at Training Level through Fourth Level. There is $120,000 in prize money up for grabs over the four days. Learn more at www.usdf.org/usdressagefinals/index.asp.
Founded in 1973, the United States Dressage Federation is a non-profit membership organization dedication to education, recognition of achievement, and promotion of dressage. For more information about USDF membership or programs, visit www.usdf.org or e-mail email@example.com
By Alice Collins for Jump Media/USDF