Category Archives: USEF

Marilyn Little Wins Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous (Photo by: Taylor Pence/US Equestrian)

Lexington, Ky. – Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous added another milestone accolade to their resume on Sunday. As the top American combination at the Land Rover® Kentucky Three-Day Event (LRK3DE), they earned the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship. A six-time competitor of the event, Little reached the LRK3DE podium for the first time with a score of 32.8. In a shocking twist, Great Britain’s Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class placed first with a score of 28.7 to strip Germany’s Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST’s chance of earning their fourth straight title.

“It is a really incredible feeling [to win the National Championship] and be next to Oliver Townend and Michael Jung. For ‘Kitty’ to have this performance this weekend, she just astounds me every day. I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to ride her, and it makes it even more special that [owners] Jacqueline Mars and Phoebe and Michael Manders were here,” said a thankful Little. “The people who brought this horse to this level, the hours, the tears, the time – it’s unimaginable to the outside world [of eventing], but we all feel it intensely in the prize giving ceremony, and it’s a very emotional experience. The partnership with [RF Scandalous] is strong, and I’m grateful for everything I have had with her, and I’m looking forward to the future with her.”

As the heavy favorite, Jung took the early lead in the LRK3DE following the first day of dressage on Thursday with a stellar score of 27.1. However, in an interesting turn of events, Little (Frederick, Md.) and RF Scandalous, a 13-year-old Oldenburg mare, put in a personal best dressage performance of 24.8 to steal the lead from Jung.

“She was a little bit excited with the Friday afternoon atmosphere, which we are familiar with at Kentucky. I was excited to go on Friday afternoon and knew she could handle it well. She was very businesslike, and it was a great ride. She was looking to please and she did her job,” said Little, who has focused heavily on improving Kitty’s dressage scores over the past year.

Not only did Little compete in the LRK3DE, she pulled double-duty and jumped in Friday’s inaugural Kentucky Invitational $35,000 Welcome Speed Cup CSI3* before conquering Saturday’s cross-country course. Little rode Derek di Grazia’s track cautiously, which resulted in eight time penalties, finishing 11 seconds over the time. As a result, they dropped to sixth place with a score of 32.8.

“I was thrilled with her; she jumped all the combinations well and gained confidence with every jump. She held her line great and tried hard. She has a long, lopey stride and was looking to go,” said Little.

Sitting in fourth place, Lynn Symansky (Middleburg, Va.) and The Donner Syndicate LLC’s Donner were the top-placed American combination following cross-country heading into Sunday’s show jumping finale with a score of 31.3. Only four jumping faults separated the top five, and Little and RF Scandalous produced a clean round, which put the pressure on Symansky to jump clean. Unfortunately, they dropped one rail, which moved Little to third place following a clean round by Townend and Cooley Master Class and two rails by Australia’s Christopher Burton and Nobilis 18.

Phillip Dutton (West Grove, Pa.) and Z, owned by Thomas Tierney, Simon Roosevelt, Suzanne Lacy, Ann Jones, and Caroline Moran, were the second highest-placed American combination and placed sixth overall with a score of 33.7 to earn the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Reserve National Championship. The Rio Olympic individual bronze medalist and Z finished on their dressage score, an impressive feat for the nine-year-old Zangersheide gelding’s first CCI4*.

Edited Press Release from Classic Communications

Jung Back on Top after Cross-Country

Lynn Symansky and Donner. Photo by: Taylor Pence/US Equestrian.

Symansky and Donner Ride to the Lead of Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship

Lexington, Ky. – The conditions could not have been more perfect for a day of brilliant cross-country action, and the riders and horses did not disappoint. Defending champion Michael Jung of Germany and fisherRocana FST showed the depth of their partnership to take over the top spot after adding only 0.4 penalties to his dressage score to lead with 27.5.

Breathing down his neck is Australia’s Chris Burton and Nobilis 18 (27.9) and Oliver Townend of Great Britain on Cooley Master Class (28.7). Townend also tied for fourth aboard MHS King Joules (31.3) with Lynn Symansky and Donner (31.3). Less than a rail separates all of them as they head into the show jumping finale.

Symansky (Middleburg, Va.) and Donner, the 15-year-old Thoroughbred owned by The Donner Syndicate, LLC, are the highest-placed American combination and currently lead the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship. Overnight leader Marilyn Little (Frederick, Md.) and RF Scandalous, Jacqueline Mars and Phoebe and Michael Manders’s 13-year-old Oldenburg mare, added 8 time penalties to drop to sixth overall (32.8), and second in the national championship.

Donner is competing in his ninth CCI4* and their experience showed as he and Symansky cruised around easily. “I don’t have any complaints,” she said with a smile. “He takes a bit to get into the groove, especially with the crowd… He went around like clockwork. It’s a tribute to knowing the horse so well and having a great partnership with him. He tried his heart out, and I’m pleased with how he came home.”

Overall, 11 pairs came home double-clear around Derek di Grazia’s course. Thirty-six horses finished the course, six with jumping faults. Three were eliminated and four retired on course.

Course designer di Grazia, who will design courses for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, was pleased with how his course rode, even though more made the time than he was expecting. “I’m generally very happy about how the course rode,” he said. “I think the faults were spread out, quite a number clean without jumping faults and I think all the combinations rode well and, at the same time, [the riders] didn’t have to do them all the same way. People did things differently and it still worked out for them. And, we didn’t have any horse falls or rider injuries, and, to me, that’s all a positive.

“I think that the ground ended up being quite fast today,” di Grazia continued. “[In part because] the conditions couldn’t be better. A little rain would have been different, but you never know. We also had a very good field of riders today. It may not have been a huge field, but the ones we had were good.”

For more information about the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, visit kentuckythreedayevent.com.

Edited Press Release from Classic Communications

Little Comes Up Big in Dressage at Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous (Photo by: Taylor Pence/US Equestrian)

Lexington, Ky. – It was no surprise that after the first day of dressage, reigning champions of the Kentucky Three-Day Event, Michael Jung of Germany and fischerRocana FST, were sitting comfortably in first place. However, the second day of dressage did hold some surprises, as American combination Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous took control by turning in a personal best to grab the lead with a 24.8, more than 2 points ahead of Jung’s 27.1. Australia’s Christopher Burton and Nobilis 18 are keeping pace in third with a 27.9.

In addition to her top placement on the international leaderboard, Little (Frederick, Md.) is also currently leading the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship. Her stunning score is believed to be the lowest in the history of the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event.

“She gave me a great ride today,” said Little. “She was a little bit excited with the Friday afternoon atmosphere, which we are familiar with at Kentucky. I was excited to go on Friday afternoon and knew she could handle it well. She was very businesslike, and it was a great ride. She was looking to please and she did her job.”

Little calls the 13-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Jacqueline Mars, and Phoebe and Michael Manders, “Kitty.” Kitty served as Little’s mount for the Pan American Games in 2015, where the pair brought home two gold medals.

“She’s been with me for a while, but she’s changed so much,” Little said. “I knew she was capable of putting in a great test today. She’s been steadily improving. We haven’t competed much because we’ve been focusing on training, but I thought if she had a personal best she could be on top today.”

Kim Severson (Charlottesville, Va.) and Cooley Cross Border, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by The Cross Syndicate, sits in second in the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship on a score of 28.3. Boyd Martin (Cochranville, Pa.) and Tsetserleg, the 11-year-old Trakehner gelding owned by Christine Turner, and Lauren Kieffer (The Plains, Va.) and Vermiculus, Jacqueline Mars’s 11-year-old Anglo-Arabian gelding, are tied for third on a score of 31.2.

For more information about the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, visit kentuckythreedayevent.com.

Edited Press Release from Classic Communications

Jung Rides to Early Lead at Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg (Photo by: Taylor Pence/US Equestrian)

Martin and Tsetserleg lead Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship after First Day of Dressage

Lexington, Ky. – Michael Jung of Germany has won the top prize at the Land Rover Kentucky Three Day-Event the last three years aboard fischerRocana FST, so it comes as no surprise that after the first day of competition he is sitting in the top spot on a score of 27.1 penalty points. Chasing him are two Americans: Boyd Martin in second riding Tsetserleg (31.2), who leads the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship as the top American combination, and Tamra Smith in third aboard Wembley (32.1).

Tsetserleg, a gleaming, black 11-year-old Trakehner gelding owned by Christine Turner, is contesting his first four-star, but he has history in his blood as a son of the Olympic and Kentucky Three-Day competitor, Windfall. “Thomas” put in a clean test punctuated with his flashy gaits.

“I was very pleased,” said Martin (Cochranville, Pa.). “It’s his first four-star, and our first through the new (dressage) test. When you finish you always wish one part here or there was a little better, but Thomas did as well as he could do for where we are at the moment. I’m very pleased with him.”

Martin’s most famous mounts have been Thoroughbreds, so a Trakehner like Thomas is a new experience for him. “He’s the first I’ve had into the top of the sport. Ten years ago when I first came to America, I saw Windfall, and I’ll never forget watching his dressage. Who would have thought 10 years later I’d be riding a Windfall baby? Thomas’ personality is wonderful, like a big pony, very cuddly in the barn. At home he doesn’t try that much, and you wouldn’t think he could do a four-star, but then you get to a big competition and he grows into an 18-hand horse. The atmosphere perks him up.”

Tamie Smith’s (Murrieta, Calif.) horse, Wembley, is 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Kevin Baumgardner, an upper-level rider and a former president of the U.S. Eventing Association. Baumgardner purchased Wembley in England, originally as a competition mount for himself. Baumgardner trains with Smith, and last fall he handed over the reins to her.

“It’s been great,” Smith said. “I’ll never forget when we tried him – we took him cross-country schooling and he said, ‘You get on him first,’ and I said, ‘No, because if I ride him I’ll just tell you to buy him.’ They are huge supporters of me, and that’s what it’s all about, really. They’ve become family to me, so to be here is really great.”

The big, gray Dutch Warmblood is a powerful mover and a flashy presence, but Smith seemed a little surprised to find herself in the top standings. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect, because he can go in and be quite tense in the ring, but he was quite relaxed, and very workmanlike,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked him to go better. I think I did a little too much warm up, so he got a little tired, but I was thrilled. He was very good.”

All three riders expressed some trepidation about Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course.

“I think it’s really tough,” admitted Martin. “The first half is forward and gallopy and looks nice, but the second half gets much more difficult, and we know horses tire a bit in that second half. It’ll be hard to make up time on course. (di Grazia) usually gives us a nice, long gallop somewhere in the second half, but not this year. It’s as tough as I’ve ever seen.”

“It’s pretty technical,” agreed Smith. “The Head of the Lake will be quite influential, and the brush combination towards the end might catch out some tired horses.”

For more information about the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, visit kentuckythreedayevent.com.

Edited Press Release from Classic Communications

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