Category Archives: USEF

Hamilton and Makari Design Maintain Their Lead at Southern Pines CDE

Photo: Nifty Hamilton and Makari Design (Picsofyou.com)

Raeford, N.C. – The USEF Advanced Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship continued on Saturday with the marathon phase at the Southern Pines Combined Driving Event (CDE). The athlete-and-horse combinations headed out on the Carolina Horse Park’s grounds to tackle Barry Hunter’s marathon track. Jennifer “Nifty” Hamilton and Makari Design held onto their lead to stay atop the overall leaderboard heading into the final phase on Sunday.

USEF Advanced Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Defending national champions Hamilton (Alva, Fla.) and Makari Design continued their quest for back-to-back titles by blazing around the marathon course. The duo won the marathon phase with a score of 81.92 penalties, having the fastest times in two of the seven obstacles. Hamilton and the 10-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Milton Hamilton head into the cones phase with an overall score of 130.01 penalties.

“[Makari Design] was perfect,” Hamilton said. “It was a wonderful course; Barry Hunter is a great course designer. The course drove very smooth, but there were two water hazards, so it was a tough course.”

Hamilton also had high praise for the combinations in the national championship. “It is a great field of competitors. Today was a good effort on everyone’s part. We all work together studying courses and sharing routes; it is a great group to be a part of.”

Jacob Arnold (Snow Camp, N.C.) and Uminco moved up from third place to second place overall on the strength of a strong marathon round. Arnold piloted Leslie Berndl’s 17-year-old Royal Dutch Warmblood gelding to the fastest times in four obstacles and finished the phase with 82.53 penalties. The combination heads into Sunday on an overall score of 135.42 penalties.

Barbara Chapman (Metamora, Mich.) and Meara Beval climbed from fourth place on the leaderboard to third following Saturday’ phase. With her 14-year-old American Warmblood mare, Chapman finished the marathon course with 88.34 penalties. She and Meara Beval sit on an overall score of 142.30 penalties.

Find more information on the Southern Pines CDE.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Hamilton and Makari Design Lead after Day One at Southern Pines CDE

Photo: Nifty Hamilton and Makari Design (Picsofyou.com)

Raeford, N.C. – The USEF Advanced Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship at the Southern Pines Combined Driving Event (CDE) began Friday with the dressage phase. Thirteen athlete-and-horse combinations headed down centerline to perform their tests, but Jennifer “Nifty” Hamilton and Makari Design stood out to the Ground Jury. The defending national champions lead the field heading into Saturday’s marathon phase.

USEF Advanced Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Hamilton (Alva, Fla.) and Makari Design had a lovely test to impress the judges with well-executed movements and a nice flow. Their steady performances this year have set them up for success at the Carolina Horse Park. Hamilton piloted the 10-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Milton Hamilton to a score of 48.09 penalties to take the early lead in the national championship.

“I thought [my test] was very good. [Makari Design] was strong and rhythmic today,” Hamilton said. “I am really happy with the way he is progressing; I wanted to bring him along slowly. He is just 10, so I think in another two years, he is going to be terrific.”

Gary Yeager (Ocala, Fla.) and Spring Brooks Galipso are in second place in the national championship after scoring 50.84 penalties in the dressage phase. Even though the duo only began competing at the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) level last fall, they have been consistent performers. Yeager and Sigrid Edwards’s seven-year-old American Dutch Harness gelding had a solid test in a strong field of competitors to position themselves well for the next phase.

Jacob Arnold (Snow Camp, N.C.) and Uminco round out the top three after receiving a score of 52.89 penalties. Arnold is coming off a win at Live Oak International with Leslie Berndl’s 17-year-old Royal Dutch Warmblood gelding and aims to continue their momentum at the national championship.

The exciting marathon phase is up next for the competitors.

“The marathon course looks great,” Hamilton explained. “It is gated really smooth, and I found really good routes. Today, [Makari Design] was really in my hand, so I hope to pick up speed and do it again tomorrow.”

Find more information on the Southern Pines CDE.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Chester Weber Claims 15th USEF Four-in-Hand Combined Driving National Championship Title

Photo: Chester Weber (Picsofyou.com)

Four Intermediate Champions Also Unveiled

Ocala, Fla. – The Live Oak International came to its exciting conclusion on Sunday with all five USEF Combined Driving National Championship divisions completing the cones phase. Chester Weber earned his record 15th USEF Four-In-Hand Combined Driving National Championship title with an overall score of 166.69 penalties, while four combined drivers earned inaugural USEF intermediate national titles. These included: Scott Adcox in the pair horse division with 185.39 penalties; Jennifer Keeler in the single pony division with an overall score of 144.70 penalties; Jennifer Thompson in the intermediate single horse division with 140.94 penalties; and Katie Whaley in the pair pony division with 140.29 penalties.

Advanced Four-in-Hand

USEF Advanced Four-in-Hand Combined Driving National Championship

Weber (Ocala, Fla.) added another championship title to his massive list of accolades on Sunday. With a big lead after the dressage and marathon phases, he was able to take it easy in the cones phase. He maneuvered his KWPN geldings, First Edition (eight years old), Boris W (11 years old), and Asjemenou (12 years old), along with Jane Clark’s Dutch Warmblood gelding Splash (14 years old) and knocked one minor ball, adding three penalties to his overnight total.

“I was very pleased with the horses in the warm-up. We have only driven this combination in one other competition. Live Oak is always a little confusing for them because they have the World Cup Qualifier [jumping course] with flowers and everything built in the arena, which isn’t typical in our sport. But they handled that. I think this is a team that can consistently go clear,” said Weber.

Commanding the same team in Thursday’s dressage phase, the unit performed a seamless test to start the competition with 40.11 penalties. Weber substituted Splash for Reno, his eight-year-old, for the marathon and the team earned the fastest time across all seven hazards adding 123.58 penalties to his score.

Weber, who serves as Co-President of the Live Oak International with his sister Juliet Reid, stepped up to add the intermediate USEF Combined Driving National Championships, and they were a resounding success.

“From an organizer’s standpoint, we were really pleased to [offer the intermediate championships]. To have them in this group has been great, and to see entries come from everywhere to support the championships has been well worth it for us as an organizing team. I’m really proud of all the people who came out and contested those medals,” added Weber.

Lisa Stroud (Kennett Square, Pa.) and her and Willow Star, LLC’s team of Dutch Warmblood geldings (Anesco 4, 12 years old; Ulco, 16 years old; Olando, 21 years old; and Enzo, eight years old) followed Weber as the division’s reserve national champion, despite an inconsistent cones test, accumulating 9.34 penalties. They began competition in third place following dressage with 53.15 penalties and jumped to second after marathon with 127.72 penalties.

“Cones was difficult today because of the atmosphere. I loved my team [at Live Oak]; this was my ‘A’ team, and I had a lot of fun,” said Stroud, who returned this team of horses to competition for the first time since June’s Bromont International CDE. “I’m really fortunate because I have really great people working for me, and we only have solutions. When you have that sense of confidence in the day it makes a big difference and reflects in the performance.”

Intermediate

USEF Intermediate Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship

As the only competitor finishing in the intermediate pair horse division, Adcox (Myakka City, Fla.) earned the division’s national championship. Electing to continue with his KWPN gelding’s Nupafeed Auto Pilot (13 years old) and Pepe (six years old) for the cones phase, they added nine penalties to their overall score. Adcox borrowed Tom Warriner’s Harley, a 14-year-old Saddlebred/Friesian gelding, to help with the dressage phase. Along with Pepe, they finished with 60.88 penalties. The young Pepe stayed with the veteran Nupafeed Auto Pilot through the intimidating marathon course to add 105.07 penalties.

“It’s been great that we’re starting to recognize the lower levels and what they accomplish. We need to try and encourage the lower levels to move up and encourage more people into our sport, so we have a sport in the future. That’s key,” reflected Adcox. “So when you start to acknowledge the work everyone has to do to be here then people outside the sport start to realize that it’s a real sport and it’s tough.”

USEF Intermediate Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Despite 0.21 time penalties after the cones competition, Thompson (Lodi, Wis.) and her seven-year-old Funnominial C.G. retained their two-phase lead for the division’s national championship. She and her Dutch Warmblood gelding delivered a polished dressage test to take the lead early on Friday, collecting 53.84 penalties. Although they didn’t win Saturday’s marathon phase, their nice dressage start helped them maintain their lead, adding 86.89 penalties to their dressage score.

“To be in this position, with this horse who still is young, is just amazing and knocking my socks off,” said Thompson, who has only been to Live Oak as a spectator and volunteer. “We came this year for the experience, to learn what Live Oak is about, so that when we get in the ‘big time’ we know what we’re getting into. I never anticipated being in this position.”

Taylor Bradish (Windsor, S.C.) and Katrina Becker, owner of Bradish’s horse Katydid Duchess, decided to introduce the nine-year-old Welsh Pony Cross to intermediate competition at Live Oak. The decision paid off as they obtained the division’s reserve national championship title with 145.24 penalties. Sitting in second place after two phases, they dropped one ball on the cones course, adding three penalties. They began the competition in fourth place following dressage with 59.04 penalties. Although the youngest competitor in the national championship divisions, Bradish drove Katydid Duchess like a pro. She navigated the relatively inexperienced mare, quickly and efficiently, winning the marathon phase, adding 83.20 penalties.

“It feels good [to win the reserve championship] because it is at Live Oak, and you want to do well here. For [Live Oak] to serve as the national championships is even more exciting. Of course, I would have loved to win, but I am happy [as reserve] because this is her first intermediate,” said Bradish. “I thought we were going to have a lot of issues because of this atmosphere, but she went into today’s cones course ready to go.”

USEF Intermediate Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship

Whaley (Paris, Ky.) chose to continue with her Welsh Pony Cob’s Tommy (14 years old) and Tanner (11 years old) for the cones phase. They completed a clean round to retain their overall lead for the intermediate pair pony title. She partnered Tommy with her youngest Welsh Cob Teddy (five years old) for Friday’s dressage test, collecting 61.76 penalties. After sitting in second following dressage, Tommy and Tanner blazed through the marathon course, adding 78.53 penalties.

“I’m so thrilled that USEF has decided to acknowledge [intermediate] levels on a national stage. It’s going to enhance the driving in this country. Everyone works hard on every level, and to be recognized in the intermediate is exceptional,” said Whaley, who usually doesn’t compete intermediate. “I have a pony that has never been in a three-day event, so I thought perhaps this would be a good start. It’s really exciting for the sport that [Live Oak’s organizing team] had the foresight to bid for [the intermediate] championships. This really shows good things to come for the sport of driving.”

Boots Wright (Ocala, Fla.), using Marko and Rio for cones added three penalty points in the cones phase. With only two entries in the intermediate pair pony division, she won the division’s reserve title with 146.37 penalties. She gave an amazing dressage performance with her German Riding Pony geldings Marko (11 years old) and Mista Q (11 years old) for the division lead on Friday with 50.64 penalties. She dropped to second place following marathon with 92.73 penalties after driving Mista Q and Rio, her 14-year-old Welsh ‘B’ Pony gelding.

“I remember when Live Oak was a tiny horse show and seeing [this show] evolve into what it has become has been quite spectacular. It’s really the best driving show in America, and a lot of thought has been put into it. The hazards [in the marathon] are wonderful,” said Wright, who has competed at every Live Oak competition since it began 27 years ago.

USEF Intermediate Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship

Keeler (Paris, Ky.) drove a clean and cautious cones course with Zeppo to win the intermediate single pony title. Her six-year-old Hackney gelding made the leap to the intermediate at Live Oak and showed his strong potential, delivering three exceptional phases. They started with a steady dressage test to finish third with 62.40 penalties on Friday. They shot to first place due to a flashy marathon round for 82.30 penalties on Saturday.

“I had always hoped that I would be in this position winning a national championship. I think it’s safe to say if you had asked anyone, they would have expected it to be with our other pony [Amazing Grace]. To say that it’s unexpected to win this with Zeppo, it’s the most incredible fairy tale possible,” said an emotional Keeler. “This is a pony who was too small, too afraid …. and it’s just incredible that he was able to do what no one thought he could do. I’d also like to thank Chester and everyone that makes Live Oak possible. I always say, ‘there’s no place like Live Oak.’ I’m so proud to win this here on the toughest stage in our country.”

Janelle Marshall (Williston, S.C.) and Kennebec Joyce, John Merritt’s 10-year-old Morgan mare, earned the division’s reserve national championship title with 145.89 penalties. They began dressage with 67.04 penalties and rebounded in the marathon with the fastest time on course, adding 78.85 penalties. Although, she drove a clean cones round, it was not enough to move to the division lead.

Complete Results

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

New Leaders Emerge Following Marathon in USEF Combined Driving National Championships

Photo: Chester Weber (Picsofyou.com)

Ocala, Fla. – All five divisions of the USEF Combined Driving National Championships faced an intimidating yet thrilling marathon course at the Live Oak International on Saturday. The course included seven technical, compact obstacles questioning the obedience and athleticism of the equine athletes. This influenced the fluctuation in the top three across all divisions, while two new drivers took the lead in the intermediate single pony and intermediate pony pair divisions.

The 14-time advanced four-in-hand national champion Chester Weber maintains his lead with 170.44 points and Jennifer Thompson holds the intermediate single horse division lead with 140.73 points. Scott Adcox has the intermediate pair horse lead off default as Shane Doyle elected to retire. Jennifer Keeler moved into the lead in the intermediate single pony division with 144.70 points, and Katie Whaley advanced to the intermediate pair pony lead with 140.29 penalties.

Advanced Four-in-Hand

USEF Advanced Four-in-Hand Combined Driving National Championship

Weber (Ocala, Fla.) is one phase closer to acquiring his 15th four-in-hand national title. He and his powerful team of KWPN geldings (First Edition, eight years old; Boris W, 11 years old; and Asjemenou, 12 years old) and Reno (eight years old) maneuvered the course efficiently, picking up 123.58 penalties. Despite a broken piece of equipment on course which cost them 10 penalties, they hold a dominating lead.

“There’s a lot going on for my entire family and the crew here to produce this tournament of sport, but I try to jump on the carriage, clear my mind and do my best,” said Weber. “I was pleased today with the horses. They really performed well for me and I think they’re in a good way as [FEI World Equestrian Games™] approaches.”

Lisa Stroud (Kennett Square, Pa.) and Willow Star, LLC’s team of Dutch Warmblood geldings (Anesco 4, 12 years old; Ulco, 16 years old; Olando; 21 years old; and Enzo, eight years old) added 127.72 penalties to move to second place going into Sunday’s cones phase.

“It’s a really fun, challenging course here. Lots of good questions are asked. I’ve been really fortunate with 10 years of experience with the ponies. The ponies weren’t little. They were big, so the transition to horses was not as difficult because it’s the same style of driving. That’s been really helpful,” said Stroud.

James Fairclough (Newton, N.J.) and his team of Dutch Warmblood geldings (Bento V, 11 years old; Dapper, nine years old; and Zenden, 13 years old) and a KWPN (Citens, 10 years old) gelding advanced to third place. He accumulated 133.59 penalties in the marathon for a score of 189.34.

Intermediate

USEF Intermediate Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Adcox (Myakka City, Fla.) remains as the only competitor in the intermediate pair horse division as Doyle (Hillsborough, N.J.) elected to retire from competition due to an injury to one of his marathon specialist horses. He drove his KWPN geldings Nupafeed Auto Pilot (13 years old) and Pepe (six years old) in the marathon and finished with 105.07 penalties. He was impressed with his young horses’ willingness throughout the course.

“This is only the third time [Pepe’s] been out, so he’s kind of a little shell-shocked, but he handled it. He stepped up to the plate and did his job. That’s all you can ask for. He was startled at the first [water obstacle] hazard, and he decided he didn’t want to go in the water, so I didn’t push him and that paid off,” said Adcox. [Losing Shane] is disappointing because nobody wants to win by default. I want to win because I earned the win, not because somebody [is a horse down]. You never want to win that way if you can help it.”

USEF Intermediate Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Thompson (Lodi, Wis.) and her seven-year-old Funnominial C.G. carried their momentum from Friday’s dressage phase over to an excellent marathon phase to remain the intermediate single horse leaders. She and the Dutch Warmblood gelding drove a consistent, cautious marathon to end the day with 86.89 penalties.

“Coming into the [first] water [hazard] there were lots of people and tents, but it went very well for us and it was a good start. The conditioning really paid off in ‘The Gulch’ and he soared through the path. My navigator [Terry Shaw] and I were pleased with his performance,” said Thompson. “This is such a top venue and a world championship level course, so it tests you and questions teams a bit more.”

Taylor Bradish (Windsor, S.C.) and Katydid Duchess, owned by Katrina Becker, added 83.20 penalties for an overall score of 142.24 penalties to move from fourth to second place following two phases. This is the toughest atmosphere the nine-year-old Welsh Pony Cross mare has faced but handled the environment exceptionally well for a first-timer.

“[The marathon] was a lot to ask because she is fairly green. Coming into the first water hazard I was a little nervous, but when she saw the first gap she never second guessed me,” said Bradish, who is competing in her second Live Oak competition. “This year I [especially] I want to do well. I knew [my] horse could [complete the marathon], so I really pushed us. Live Oak is the best show in the country, and you want to do well.”

Anna Koopman (Middleburg, Va.) and Night Chief LMS, Robert Koopman’s seven-year-old American Dutch Harness gelding, moved down to third place, adding 96.37 penalties, with an overall score of 150.69.

USEF Intermediate Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship

Whaley (Paris, Ky.), no stranger to Live Oak combined driving events, is using this opportunity to train her youngest Welsh Cob Pony Teddy (five years old), who competed in Friday’s dressage phase on behalf of the team with Tommy (14 years old). Not ready, for the challenges of a Live Oak marathon course, she hooked up Tommy and Tanner (11 years old) for marathon. Their experience propelled them to the lead, adding 78.53 penalties.

“My navigator [Colton] says this was our best [Live Oak marathon] round in years. The sixth [fountain] hazard was the most difficult, but we found the best route; Colton was exceptional,” said Whaley.

Boots Wright (Ocala, Fla.) dropped to second place adding 92.73 marathon penalties to her overall score of 143.37. She drove Mista Q, her 11-year-old German Riding Pony gelding, and Rio, her 14-year-old Welsh ‘B’ Pony gelding.

USEF Intermediate Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship

After a conservative dressage phase, Keeler and Zeppo exploded through the marathon course. They added 82.30 penalties and move into the lead by less than one penalty point. She is competing her six-year-old Hackney gelding in his first intermediate event and could not be more pleased with his development and heart.

“This is the toughest course in the country, and we didn’t know what to expect with him. However, everything drove according to plan, and his size played to his advantage,” said Keeler, who had the fastest time at hazard four, the Ariat maze. “To be competing for our first national championship with the pony that no one expected anything from, it’s pretty special, and none of this would be possible without [my navigator] David.”

Janelle Marshall (Williston, S.C.) and Kennebec Joyce, John Merritt’s 10-year-old Morgan mare, earned the fastest marathon time in the division to advance to second place, adding 78.85 penalties for an overall score of 145.89 penalties.

“Her fitness and air intake was huge [for the marathon]. In the sixth [fountain hazard], she was a machine and stayed very true and honest, so I was super proud of her,” said Marshall.

Kristin Whittington (Edinburgh, Ind.) and Symphony dropped to third place overall with a score of 150.52 penalties. She and the eight-year-old Welsh Pony Cross mare added 93.08 penalties to their dressage score.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department 

Adcox and Weber Take Division Leads in USEF Combined Driving National Championships

Photo: Scott Adcox (Picsofyou.com)

Ocala, Fla. – The USEF Combined Driving National Championships got underway with the first of three phases at Live Oak International. Two of the five championship divisions completed their dressage tests; Scott Adcox takes the early lead in the Intermediate Pair Horse division with a score of 60.88 penalties. Chester Weber tops the leaderboard in the four-in-hand division with a score of 40.11 penalties.

Intermediate

USEF Intermediate Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Adcox (Myakka City, Fla.) and Shane Doyle (Hillsborough, N.J.) broke in the arena footing as the Intermediate Pair Horse division opened the first day of competition. Adcox, who returned to combined driving this year after taking a year off from competition, finds himself in the lead with Harley, Tom Warriner’s 14-year-old Saddlebred/Friesian gelding, and Pepe, his six-year-old KWPN gelding.

“Dressage is not my strong suit. I borrowed Harley from Tom Warriner a week ago to see if we could do a bit better and help with my other horse’s [Pepe’s] weak points. However, in a week there is not a lot of time to change that, but he tried. [Harley] is such a steady eddie, so I can count on him to do his job, whereas [Pepe] the six-year-old I had to manage a little more.”

Doyle follows with a score of 66.64 penalties with his geldings Valentino, a 15-year-old KWPN, and Bono, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood.

Advanced Four-in-Hand

USEF Advanced Four-in-Hand Combined Driving National Championship

The 14-time USEF Four-in-Hand National Champion Chester Weber (Ocala, Fla.) carries the early lead in the four-in-hand division. He and his KWPN geldings, First Edition (eight years old), Boris W (11 years old), and Asjemenou (12 years old), along with Jane Clark’s Dutch Warmblood gelding Splash (14 years old), executed a near flawless test to finish on 40.11 penalties.

“I was very pleased with my horses today; they are coming together. Tryon [FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018] is our goal in September. We had two minor errors in the walk, and without those we may have been in the 30s, but I was pleased with them and how they showed up,” said Weber, who also serves as Co-President of the Live Oak International alongside his sister Juliet Reid. “The [USEF Combined Driving] national championships, whether the first or 14th, mean a lot. It’s one of the two goals we go after every year. It’s important to me, and I would like to see us get it done.”

Following Weber is the 2017 USEF Four-in-Hand Reserve National Champion Misdee Wrigley Miller (Paris, Ky.) and her KWPN geldings Beau (11 years old), Bravour 54 (10 years old) and Bolino D (11 years old) and her Dutch Warmblood gelding Calipso 86 (10 years old) with 46.84 penalties.

“The history here at Live Oak [International]; we know we are going to get the best America has to offer when we come to compete,” said Wrigley Miller. “I took a bit of a gamble today and used a new leader [Bravour 54] to see how he reacted to the atmosphere. I was really pleased with him until towards the end of the test at our last extension near the television screen. He saw himself on the screen, so that unsettled the team a little bit.”

Allison Stroud (Kennett Square, Pa.) and Willow Star, LLC’s Dutch Warmblood gelding team of Anesco 4 (12 years old), Ulco (16 years old), Olando (21 years old) and Enzo (eight years old) sit in third place with 53.15 penalties.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

US Dressage Festival of Champions to Host 14 USEF Dressage National Championship Titles

US Dressage Festival of Champions to Host 14 USEF Dressage Lexington, Ky. – The U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions has been named as the home for all 14 USEF Dressage National Championships in 2018. Hosted at the Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Ill. from August 21 through 26, the Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse Dressage National Championships as well as the USEF Young Adult ‘Brentina Cup’ Dressage National Championship presented by Dressage Today will be hosted in conjunction with the other dressage divisions.

The U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions will host the following championships and divisions:

  • USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship
  • USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship
  • USEF Young Adult ‘Brentina Cup’ Dressage National Championships presented by Dressage Today
  • USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship
  • USEF Junior Dressage National Championship
  • USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship
  • USEF Children Dressage National Championship
  • Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse Dressage National Championships for four-, five-, and six-year-olds, as well as Developing Grand Prix and Developing Prix St. Georges
  • USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals for the 13 & Under, and 14-18 divisions

Previous years have seen the championships held at two separate locations. 2018 will be the first time that all 14 USEF Dressage National Championships are held under the same roof, at the same event, under the banner of the 2018 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions.

“Previously, our USEF Dressage National Championships have felt splintered by having two different events, in different locations,” says Hallye Griffin, Managing Director of Dressage. “Holding the full spectrum of the championships in one location, over a weeklong period, will give us the opportunity to showcase the talented athlete/horse combinations across the full spectrum of the divisions. We hope that this will also prove to be an exciting event for spectators, sponsors, vendors, and supporters as we look to grow the event into something very special, while continuing to highlight our dressage competition pathways and programs in an effort to deliver continued sustainable success in our sport.”

Find out more information on the 2018 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions or contact Kristen Brett, Director, Dressage Programs at kbrett@usef.org.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Halie Robinson Wins USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – West

Halie Robinson and Caracas 89 (McCool)

September 24, 2017 – San Juan Capistrano, Calif. – The third time in the top 10 of the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – West was the charm for Halie Robinson. Having placed second and fifth in years past, Robinson rode with precision, consistency and previous experience that earned her the top call in this year’s challenging four-phase competition.

USEF Talent Search judges, Andre Dignelli of Katonah, NY and Patricia Griffith of New York City, designed the courses with Anthony D’Ambrosio serving as Technical Delegate. Well-suited for their roles, Dignelli won the prestigious class in 1986, and has since taken countless riders to success at this level; Griffith was second under Dignelli’s tutelage in 1998 and has been a part of Dignelli’s Heritage Farm since 1997. D’Ambrosio has been a technical delegate as well as a course designer at venues all over the world.

Friday morning’s flat phase asked riders to demonstrate knowledge of the elementary principles of dressage training as they affect a show jumper’s performance. Divided into three groups, riders were tested with half-pass, counter-canter, flying lead changes and other exercises. The gymnastics phase asked riders to apply mastery of that flat work to jumping patterns, including the skills of shortening and lengthening the horse’s stride while riding the track, which proved challenging for many.

Aboard Caracas 89, owned by Elvenstar, Robinson earned high scores in the competition’s first two phases, the flat phase and the gymnastics phase. With her cumulative 217.5 score going into the jumping phase, she had 16-point lead, which helped her maintain a top position. However once the top four were named, they each started the Final Phase with a score of zero.

Jayme Omand, Emma Catherine Reichow and Natalie Dean joined Robinson in a work-off patterned like that used in the World Equestrian Games. The final four rode a shortened course on their own horse, then on each other’s horses. After the 16 rounds were complete, all handled the questions asked on the different mounts without major fault. To all who watched, including the judges, Robinson dominated this phase.

“It’s always nice when the winner is so obvious, even to the crowd,” commented Griffith. Dignelli concurred: “Our winner was clear and away the winner. She rode beautifully throughout all phases: accurate and she has a beautiful style.” An elated Robinson promised she’d be working on her pace. Currently studying abroad in Europe, she had flown home specifically for the Talent Search. She called Caracas 89 “the sweetest horse I’ve ever met and he tries his heart out no matter what.” He’s also a miracle. This was his third show back after having a 27-pound “artifact” tumor removed in February.

For her prestigious win, Robinson received the Denali Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by Mrs. Maya Z Hamburger. Caracas 89 earned the Gulliver Perpetual Trophy, donated by Karen Healey, as the best horse per the judges. Jim Hagman received the Leading Trainer Award, donated by Mr. Hugh J. B. Cassiday III. Hagman also credits all those who work at Elvenstar, including those not pictured in the presentation photo below, Kay Altheuser and Rachel Mahowald.

Reserve champion Jayme Omand topped the flat phase and recovered from challenges with the gymnastics exercises to finish in the top four. The 21-year-old credited her lifelong trainer Kelly Van Vleck for preparing her and her relatively inexperienced jumper, Zador, specifically for the USEF Talent Search. Schooling courses with S-tracks and striding options were the substance of their summer and it paid off. Regularly riding unfamiliar horses as a member of the Texas Christian University NCAA Equestrian Team was a big help in the horse-swapping final round.

The youngest of the final four riders by several years, 15-year-old Emma Catherine Reichow had never competed in this final and came into the competition with no expectations. She felt her spot as an alternate for the Zone 10 North American Junior Young Rider Championships and its difficult courses helped prepare her for this event. A student of Harley and Olivia Brown, Reichow likened the USEF Talent Search to the NAJYRC Championships because “you need to be consistent and get the job done.”

Both Reichow and fourth-place finisher Natalie Dean have aspirations to represent the United States in international jumping. Dean trains with Butch, Lu and Guy Thomas of Willow Tree.

U.S. Show Jumping Youth Chef d’Equipe DiAnn Langer commented that riders ought to target the USEF Talent Search early in the year and tailor their practice and show schedule to prepare for its unique tests. She emphasized that the program is a prestigious step in the pathway of the sport’s young athlete development program.

The format of the Talent Search has evolved considerably since it originated in the 1950s, but it has always been a method for identifying and helping prepare young riders aspiring to represent the U.S. in international jumping competition. McLain Ward (1990), Lauren Hough (1994) and California-born German rider Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (1986) are among the Talent Search winners who went on to become show jumping Olympians. Several winners of the West Finals are major players on the Grand Prix circuit, Joie Gatlin (1982), Richard Spooner (1988), Kirsten Coe (1996) and Kasey Ament (2004) among them.

“It really gave me a leg up in my career,” said Dignelli, as it put him on a track to his current role as one of the country’s top hunter/jumper trainers.

From Blenheim EquiSports

Mills, McCutcheon, Reynolds Crowned at USEF Reining National Championships

Photo: Matt Mills and Wimps Cool Breeze (Waltenberry)

Lexington, Ky. – Three 2017 USEF Reining National Championship titles were up for grabs at the Tulsa Reining Classic at Expo Square in Tulsa, Okla. Matt Mills and Wimps Cool Breeze claimed top honors in the Adequan $10,000 Added USEF Open National Championship presented by Markel Insurance. In the $2,000 Added USEF Youth National Championship, Kalena Reynolds and Gun Whiz It won the 13 & Under division, while Cade McCutcheon and REF Sturgis were crowned the champions in the 14-18 division.

In the Adequan $10,000 Added USEF Open National Championship presented by Markel Insurance, Mills (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Wimps Cool Breeze performed a great round across the board to impress the judges as they performed pattern nine. Mills and Janice Dickson’s seven-year-old Quarter Horse stallion earned a score of 221.5 to win the championship.

“I think the horse really circled well. It felt like a round where nothing stood out more than anything else. It was a really solid round from start to finish, but if I have to pick something, I would say the circles were very good,” Mills said of his ride on Wimps Cool Breeze. “I have had this horse going for quite a while, and he has always been good in the show ring.”

Mills last won a USEF national championship title in 2006 and was happy to add another accolade to his resume. “It feels great and feels great for the owners. This is their second experience with an FEI/USEF horse. … We are aiming for the WEG [the FEI World Equestrian Games] next year.”

Casey Deary (Weatherford, Texas) finished second and third after finishing one point apart on his two mounts. Deary and Reeboks Rerun, his son Owen Deary’s 15-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, took the reserve champion title with a score of 219.5, while he and Who Dat Hot Chic, Neiberger Performance Horses LLC’s seven-year-old Quarter Horse mare, finished third with a score of 218.5.

Fresh off his trip to the 2017 SVAG FEI World Reining Championships for Juniors and Young Riders, McCutcheon (Aubrey, Texas) rode REF Sturgis to the win in the 14-18 division of the $2,000 Added USEF Youth National Championship. He and Anne-Marie Burns’s five-year-old Quarter Horse gelding had a solid performance of pattern 12 to receive a score of 219.0.

“He was really good. Easy. His circles were good, he stopped well, and the whole round was pretty dang good,” McCutcheon said of his first-ever ride on REF Sturgis. “It feels good. This was my first time in this division, so it was fun to do something new.”

Dani Latimer (Marietta, Okla.) was McCutcheon’s teammate on the Platinum Performance U.S. Young Rider Team at the world championships, and she was not far behind him. She and Sparklin Nite, Elaine Latimer’s five-year-old Quarter Horse stallion, scored 217.5 to be named the reserve champion. Blair Thompson (Amarillo, Texas) and Whiz N Chica Dee, her own eight-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, finished third with a score of 214.0.

In the $2,000 Added USEF Youth National Championship 13 & Under division, Reynolds (Whitesboro, Texas) and Gun Whiz It laid down a good run of pattern 12 to finish atop the leaderboard. Reynolds and Tammy Reynolds’s six-year-old Quarter Horse mare won with a score of 212.5.

“It was very good; we were together on all maneuvers. She was really with me,” Reynolds said. “It’s really amazing! I’m very thankful. I haven’t had this mare very long, but we have gotten along well together.”

Carlee McCutcheon (Aubrey, Texas) and Whatta Royal Vintage, Tom and Mandy McCutcheon’s eight-year-old Quarter Horse mare, were the reserve champions with a score of 208.0.

Find more information at www.tulsareining.com.

By Kathleen Landwehr, US Equestrian Communications Department

McCormick and Roberts Headline Successful USEF/AVA Vaulting National Championships

South Jordan, Utah – The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF)/American Vaulting Association (AVA) Vaulting National Championships were held on August 24-27, 2017, at the Salt Lake County Equestrian Park in South Jordan, Utah. Leading the way were U.S. vaulting veterans Mary McCormick and Kristian Roberts, who won the Female Gold and Male Gold divisions, respectively.

Individual Competition

McCormick (Cañon City, Colo.), captured an astonishing seventh national championship in her star-studded career, which includes two top-five individual finishes at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010 and 2014. This week, she and Duke Wilhem, Sydney Frankel’s 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding, along with lunger Carolyn Bland, won the Female Gold division with a compulsory score of 7.700. She and RF Bentley, owned by Rick and Virginia Hawthorne, along with lunger Jill Palmer, scored 7.417 in the technical test, and in the freestyle she scored 7.247. Her final score was 7.455.

“Being crowned national champion is a tremendous honor that never gets old,” McCormick said. “I’m just as excited about this victory as I was with my first one. It takes a huge effort and the support from many to make it to the top, and I’m left feeling humbly grateful that I was able to do it again.”

McCormick revealed that she made a last-minute horse change when her horse pulled up sore before the competition. “It was by the grace and support of others that I was able to be successful at this competition!” she said.

While acknowledging her “good genes” with a smile, McCormick attributes her success at the top of the sport for more than two decades to her team, her training, and her mindset.

“I definitely consider my age when I’m thinking about the future, but I don’t let it get in my way,” she said. “I show up each year with an open mind, and as long as I feel like I am able to handle the physical demands and keep improving, I keep going! I love this sport and hope to compete in it for as long as possible.”

Second place in the Female Gold division went to Kimberly Palmer (Half Moon Bay, Calif.), who was on her and Jill Palmer’s Zygo, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding, with lunger Jill Palmer (7.200 compulsory/6.113 technical/7.578 freestyle/6.964 overall), while Bonnie Ubben (Gig Harbor, Wash.), finished third on Indiana Jones IV, Lorilie Robison’s 19-year-old Thoroughbred-cross gelding, with lunger Robison (6.150 compulsory/6.085 technical/6.975 freestyle/6.403 overall).

Equally dominating in the Male Gold division was Kristian Roberts (Moss Beach, Calif.), who won his fifth national championship. Roberts and Cypress Hill, Frankel’s eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding, along with lunger Carolyn Bland, had scores of 7.347 in the compulsory, and he vaulted with Palatine and Bland to a 5.852 in the technical test. With Duke Wilhem and Bland, Roberts scored 7.472 in the freestyle for a 6.890 final score.

“It was good competition,” Roberts said. “I’m excited to still be here and be at the top. This one especially means a lot to me.”

Roberts ended up competing on three different horses. His freestyle horse, Duke Wilhem, has only been vaulting for a year and he only had one week of practice with him. “He went the best he could have gone. I’m so grateful for that horse.”

Second place in the Male Gold division went to Kaleb Patterson (Stanwood, Wash.), who with Satie, Bethany Wilhelmsen’s 14-year-old American Warmblood gelding, and lunger Kelly Gee, scored 6.983 (compulsory), 4.217 (technical), and 6.108 (freestyle) for a final score of 5.769.

Team Competition

The A team division victory went to the F.A.C.E. team of Alena Hammond (Eagle Mountain, Utah), Shaina Hammond (Eagle Mountain, Utah), Madeline Lampard (Topanga, Calif.), Kalyn Noah (Calabasas, Calif.), Luke Overton (Stanwood, Wash.), and Alyssa Stoddard (Saratoga Springs, Utah), with their horse Maximillian, Gayle Glisson-Kuhlberg’s Holsteiner gelding, and lunger Devon Maitozo. Their compulsories score was 6.659 and their freestyle score was 6.778 for a final team score of 6.719.

Maitozo, one of the most well-known and decorated American vaulters, started the F.A.C.E. team in 2000. While he has always been a part of it, he returned to the team full-time in 2012 as the coach. The decision was made to take their junior team and compete at the A Team level after just missing the cut to qualify for the FEI World Vaulting Championships for Juniors.

“We decided that the Nationals would be our final competition and be our final goal [for the year],” Maitozo said. “It is a very nice way to end a very difficult and meaningful year for us. For me and the club, it’s always a step toward something else to see what else we can do with our momentum. We have hopes of looking to [the World Equestrian Games] next year and potentially putting a team together.”

The F.A.C.E. team is now based out of El Campeon Farm in Thousand Oaks, Calif. and Maitozo believes that has taken them to the next level. He said, “They’ve embraced us, and we’re just in heaven there. It’s helped us in the last month keeping our horses healthy and prepared. Our horses were really fit and ready. [El Campeon is] about high performance and showing the best at elite level. Now we come back as National Champions. It’s nice to do this and represent them well.”

The Mile-High Vaulters Club fielded the Rocky Mountain Team: Finding Neverland with vaulters Jace Brooks (Eagle Mountain, Utah), Calle Davis (Spanish Fork, Utah), Melanie Ford (Fort Collins, Colo.), Rhianon Hampton (Greeley, Colo.), Rachel Jensen (Provo, Utah), and Jim Roedel (Fort Lupton, Colo.). They had a compulsories score of 5.828 on their horse Hampton with lunger Jorden Hobbs. In the freestyle, with their horse Sampson, Jodi Rinard’s 19-year-old Percheron gelding, and lunger Rinard, they scored 7.262.They finished second in the division with a final team score of 6.545.

The B Team victory went to Mt. Eden Vaulting Club – Safari, who had a compulsories score of 5.784, a freestyle score of 6.757, and a final team score of 6.271. Second place were the “Guardians of Disco” team from Mile-High Vaulters, who scored 5.922 in compulsories, 6.215 in freestyle, and 6.069 in their final team score. The winner of the C Team division was Mt. Eden Vaulting Club – Toy Story, who had a compulsories score of 5.050, freestyle score of 5.107, and final score of 5.079.

In the Trot Team, OC Vaulting came away with the win on a final score of 5.716, while Mile-High Vaulters “Spy Kids” team was second (5.420) and Mt. Eden Vaulting Club – Peter Pan was third (5.363).

The Los Angeles Equestrian Vaulting Club “California’s Girls” won the Open 2-Phase Team division with a score of 7.374. Mile-High Vaulters “The Lost Boys” were second (6.592), and Oak Hills Vaulting was third (6.265). The Prelim 2-Phase Team division winner was OC Vaulting (7.031), Technique Equestrian Vaulting Club was second (6.433), and A Vaulting Connection/Therapeutic Horse Connection was third (6.086).

Junior 2* Vaulters Shine

In the Female Junior 2* division, the top placing went to Caroline Morse (Los Gatos, Calif.). She and Grasshopper AF, Jana Morse’s eight-year-old American Warmblood gelding, along with lunger and coach Samantha Matson had a compulsory score of 7.374 for a final score of 3.687.

Second place went to Hallie Dudley (Elizabeth, Colo.) on Briar Rose, Lee Dudley’s 12-year-old Clydesdale mare, with lunger Dudley (compulsory 6.468, final score 3.234). Helen Mills-Selch and Rembrandt, Connie Geisler’s nine-year-old Percheron/Thoroughbred gelding, with lunger Geisler, finished third (compulsory 6.016, final score 3.008).

Morse competed in her seventh national championship and has been vaulting for 10 years. This is her first individual national championship win. She and Grasshopper AF have been vaulting together for two years.

“He’s a pretty trusty horse, and I have a lot of faith in him. I know he’s going to do his job,” she said. “My coach [Samantha Matson] was the one who trained him and made everything happen for me and him.”

After competing at the FEI World Vaulting Championships for Juniors at the beginning of August, Morse came to the USEF/AVA Vaulting National Championships with a different attitude.

She explained, “When we came here, I just wanted to have fun and be stress-free. I was excited to go in and have fun and be relaxed. I think it helped my performance.”

In addition to her Junior 2* victory, Morse also won the Female Silver Individual division with scores of 7.253 and 7.082 for a final score of 7.168. Calle Davis placed second on a final score of 6.849, while Tessa Belardi (Aptos, Calif.) was third with a final score of 6.654.

The winner of the Male Junior 2* division was Jace Brooks. He and Satie with lunger Kelly Gee scored 6.549 in the compulsory for a final score of 3.275.

It was a family affair for Brooks, as lunger Kelly Gee is also his father. This was Gee’s, as well as his horse Satie’s, second competition ever. Brooks has only been working together with his father and Satie since February. It was also the first national championship for Brooks’ team, Wasatch Peak Vaulters.

“It means a lot more [to win] when it’s your dad and your own horse,” Brooks said. “I haven’t been on my own horse for two or three years, so to be with my own horse and my own lunger, it felt really cool.”

Brooks has set his next goal, to compete at the 2019 FEI World Vaulting Championships for Juniors with Satie and his father.

Brooks also placed second in the Male Silver Individual division on a final score of 6.722. The win went to Luke Overton who had a final score of 7.328. Christian Ramos (Cañon City, Colo.) placed third on a score of 6.560.

Pas de Deux Competition

In the Prelim Pas de Deux Freestyle, victory went to Sydney Schimack (Laporte, Colo.) and Jim Roedel (Fort Lupton, Colo.) of Mile-High Vaulters. With horse Sampson and lunger Jodi Rinard, they scored 6.362 to win.

Second place in the Prelim Pas de Deux Freestyle went to Caitlyn Mendik (Castle Rock, Calif.) and Hallie Dudley on Briar Rose with lunger Lee Dudley of Velocity Vaulters with a score of 6.015. The Mile-High Vaulters also placed third with the pair of Augusta Rose Lewis (Longmont, Colo.) and Emma Milito (Centennial, Colo.) on Shelby, Rinard’s 16-year-old Percheron mare, with lunger Rinard. They posted a score of 5.945.

The OC Vaulting Club vaulters Olivia Carlucci and Allison Binckes won the Trot Pas de Deux Freestyle with a final score of 6.156. Claire Jones and Hailey Williams (Great Falls Vaulters) were second on 5.895, while Persephone Brown and Calli Ann Kennedy (Mile-High Vaulters) were third with a score of 5.761.

Additional Individual Results

Schimack also took the Female Bronze Individual division on a final score of 6.732, while Marie Obeloer (Sunnyvale, Calif.) was second with a 6.640 final score and Dudley was third with a 6.294.

Charles Smith (Temple City, Calif.) won the Male Bronze Individual division with a final score of 5.549.

In the Female Copper Individual division, Maya Drusinsky (Cupertino, Calif.) won with a 6.522, Hayden Avakian (Costa Mesa, Calif.) was second on 6.460, and Augusta Rose Lewis (Longmont, Colo.) placed third with a score of 6.394. Marshall Collins (Fort Collins, Colo.) won the Male Copper Individual division with a score of 5.609, while Martin Valdez was second on 5.560, and third place went to Stefano Como with a score of 5.550.

Anna Sullivan (Rutherford, Calif.) won the Female Trot Individual class, while Bryan Sutherland was victorious in the Male Trot Individual class.

For more information about the USEF/AVA National Championships, go to americanvaulting.org.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Woodard, Parra Named Champions at USEF Young & Developing Horse Dressage Nat’l Championships

Patricia Becker and Freedom, Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage National Champions. Photo: SusanJStickle.com.

Wayne, IL – The final two division titles of the 2017 Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse Dressage National Championships were determined as competition came to an end at the Lamplight Equestrian Center. Andrea Woodard and Ravenna maintained their top position following Friday’s test to earn the Markel/USEF Six-Year-Old Dressage National Championship, following the FEI Six-Year-Old Final Test. Cesar Parra and Fashion Designer OLD also held onto their lead from Friday’s test to claim the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage National Championship. The tests counted 60% towards their overall score. The remaining 40% came from Friday’s preliminary tests.

Markel/USEF Six-Year-Old Dressage National Championship

On Sunday, the judges were impressed with the quality and overall delivery of the tests by the young horses. However, they ultimately awarded Woodard (Wellington, Fla.) and her own Oldenburg mare Ravenna the Markel/USEF Six-Year-Old Dressage National Championship. They had a superb preliminary test on Friday, winning the class with a score of 7.9. The combination only improved, scoring the only 8 in the final test and winning handedly with an 8.3 and overall score of 8.1.

The highlights of their test included the canter. With a normally expressive trot, Ravenna also showed the lightness and smoothness of this gait. With a careful plan for young horses, Woodard has cautiously aimed for the championships this year, allowing her mare time to grow up and mature.

“It feels wonderful of course. This is what I have been building up towards for such a long time now,” said Woodard. “I’ve had my eyes on this championship. She actually qualified as a five-year-old, but I didn’t feel like she was mentally ready to take this long trip. This year, I felt like she was much more prepared and mentally ready, so I went for it and it paid off. I am super excited and very happy with her.”

Ravenna also received the Oldenburg Award, given to the highest scoring Oldenburg of the class by the Oldenburg Horse Breeder’s Society.

Placing second in the preliminary test on Friday with a 7.8, Werner Van Den Brande (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) and Flyby FLF, Linda Sommer’s Hanoverian stallion, put in an impressive final test, scoring a 7.9 and keeping them in second for the final test and overall reserve. With more energy in their second test and an improvement in the strength of the trot and canter work, the combination scored a 7.9 overall.

“We have been working for this for the last couple of months to get ready,” said Werner. “We did it and it, of course, feels really nice.”

Additionally, Flyby FLF was awarded the U.S.-Bred Award as recognition of the top U.S.-bred horse in the class.

Michael Bragdell (Colora, Md.) and Anne Howard’s Oldenburg stallion Finery kept their poise, finishing third overall with a score of 7.6. The combination finished third in Friday’s preliminary test with a 7.6, replicating their score and position in the final test to finish in the top-three.

“He held it together and stayed focused through the test,” said Bragdell. “I really couldn’t have asked him for anymore. I was just so proud of him. It is fun to come here and be here with all the great competitors. It really gives it a championship feel. I am just so proud that we made it this far and competed here.”

Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage National Championship

Maintaining the top position, Parra (White House Station, N.J.) and Fashion Designer OLD, his own and Martin Sosnoff’s nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding, scored an overall score of 67.30%. Fashion Designer OLD is a true product of success from the USEF Young & Developing Horse Program, competing and placing first in the 5-Year-Old division in 2013, third in the 6-Year-Old division in 2014, and second in the Developing Horse Prix St. Georges division over the years.

“First of all, I am super, super happy to get another title here at the national championships,” said Parra. “I am very, very proud of my horse. I am super grateful, too. It takes a whole village to make it out here; from the owners, from the farrier and the grooms – there are so many people that helped us to get here. Expectations are very high. You want to do well for the horse, for the team, for yourself. I am very, very happy. The footing was excellent, and I think we had a good panel of judges. I am very happy.”

The combination also earned the Oldenburg Award, given to the highest scoring Oldenburg by the Oldenburg Horse Breeder’s Society. Parra and Fashion Designer OLD scored a 69.56%, winning Friday’s FEI Intermediate II Test and a 67.30% in Sunday’s USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Test, placing third.

Winning Sunday’s USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Test with a 66.25%, Patricia Becker (Wadsworth, Ill.) and Dr. Anne Ramsay’s 10-year-old Oldenburg stallion Freedom were the reserve champions of the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage National Championship with an overall score of 66.68%.

Tying for second in Friday’s preliminary test with a 67.32%, Becker was pleased with Freedom’s attitude and work ethic moving into the final test.

“Freedom is always a bit more tired towards the end of a big competition. Today, he felt very good in his body going in. He was very much with me. He really tried and gave me all of his focus and I was super proud of him,” said Becker.

Freedom was also the recipient of the U.S.-Bred Horse Award, given to the highest scoring U.S.-bred horse of the class.

Perhaps riding the most talked-about horse of the show due to her coloration, James Koford (Lexington, N.C.) expertly navigated his final test aboard Adiah HP, Sherry Koella’s 10-year-old Friesian/Dutch Warmblood mare. Moving from fifth place with a score of 66.84% in Friday’s preliminary test to second place in the final test with a 66.04%, Koford and Adiah HP claimed the overall third position in the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage National Championship with a 66.36%.

Koford’s relationship with Adiah HP is special and they never take themselves too seriously.

“She is three-quarters Friesian and a quarter Dutch Warmblood – she is just a horse that makes me happy every day,” said Koford. “She looks at me and it’s like she’s smiling. Every day the highlight of her day is when she goes to work.”

Koford’s expectations coming into the championship were to perform their best, giving Adiah HP an opportunity to shine.

“[Adiah HP] is new to the Grand Prix, and I just want her to feel like a champion every time she goes in,” said Koford. “I want her to be happy, have the best time, and feel really good about herself. In that way, it was a win. Honestly, she gives me chill bumps when I ride her – she makes me happy. The whole day, the whole week was really fun.”

Relive memorable moments from the 2017 Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse Dressage National Championships with photo galleries, rider video clips, and much more on the USEF Network.

By Julian McPeak, US Equestrian Communications Department